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How to Open Your Toyota Prius Trunk (a.k.a Boot) When Your Battery Is Dead

The Toyota Prius Owner's Manual makes opening the rear door from the inside look easy. It's not a simple two step process.

The Toyota Prius Owner's Manual makes opening the rear door from the inside look easy. It's not a simple two step process.

It's bad enough that you got into your Toyota Prius, pressed the Power button, and nothing happened. It's made infuriating when you discover that your trunk lid doesn't open because that little black button that pops it up is battery operated.

If you want to jump start your Toyota Prius with jumper cables, you DO NOT NEED TO OPEN THE REAR DOOR. Just like a regular car, there is a regular car battery under the hood. Open the hood, and you will find it under the black cover in the back, right corner. I've included a great video at the end of this article with step-by-step instructions to jump-start your Prius.

However, if you are awaiting roadside service or a friend with a car and jumper cables and you need to get into the trunk in the meantime, this is the problem I will show you how to solve. You probably tried to consult your owner's manual and found easy-looking instructions. An easy two-step process: 1) remove the cover and 2) pull the lever.

If you are reading this, you learned that 1) it's not an easy two-step process 2) there is nothing in your trunk that remotely resembles either of those diagrams and 3) it's not easy to get to the trunk when the rear door doesn't open.

Here's a step-by-step photographic guide to open your Prius trunk (a.k.a Boot, a.k.a Rear Door) when your battery is dead.

Step 1: Flip Down the Rear Seats

Push the button next to the seat belts on both rear seats and pull down the seat backs.

Push the button next to the seat belts on both rear seats and pull down the seat backs.

To begin, you need access to your trunk from inside the car. Unless you are exceptionally small and Barbie doll thin, you will not fit through the narrow opening between the top of the rear seats and the inside of your roof. Of course, this is where small children can come in handy, but that's the subject for another article.

Press down on the button, and pull down the seat backs for both rear seats. You can now go caving into your Prius trunk in search of the Holy Grail: The Door Lever.

Step 2: Pull Back the Carpet to Expose the Tool Box

Pull back the carpet to expose access to the tool box.

Pull back the carpet to expose access to the tool box.

Hopefully, you are one of those rare individuals that doesn't actually store anything in their car trunk. If you are not, step 1a is to empty your trunk.

Once empty, you can pull back the carpet to expose the toolbox. You are looking for the tiny fabric tab very near the rear door.

Step 3: Pull Back the Tool Box Lid

You need to pull the tiny fabric tab near the rear door to open the tool box.

You need to pull the tiny fabric tab near the rear door to open the tool box.

Pull on that fabric tab to open the toolbox lid. It should open easily, but If the lid resists you, take a breath. It's not trying to add to your already bad day, it's just locked.

To the left and right of the tab, respectively, are two locks. To unlock the toolbox, the arrows on the locks should point to the side (left for the left side lock, right for the right side lock). If they point to your rear door, they are laughing at you and keeping your toolbox lid locked.

Turn the two tool box locks to 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. If the arrow points at your closed trunk lid, your tool box lid is locked.

Turn the two tool box locks to 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. If the arrow points at your closed trunk lid, your tool box lid is locked.

Step 4: Remove the Cover

There is a plastic cover in the tool box lining that protects access to the trunk lever. Remove it. This picture is with cover removed.

There is a plastic cover in the tool box lining that protects access to the trunk lever. Remove it. This picture is with cover removed.

We have now joined the owner's manual already in progress... you can now remove the plastic cover.

The toolbox lining has a small plastic cover that protects access to The Door Lever. You can easily pry it off. If it makes you feel better to express your increasing anger at this process, use a screwdriver and damn the owner's manual... pry that cover off and don't use a rag to protect it. It's a cheap piece of plastic whose sole purpose is to obscure access to the door lever.

Personally, I threw my cover out. It was gratifying, and it will never again block my access to the door lever.

Step 5: Pull the Door Lever

Pull that silver, backward c-shaped lever toward you. The trunk door will pop open.

Pull that silver, backward c-shaped lever toward you. The trunk door will pop open.

This is where the owner's manual writers were seriously smoking something. The manual makes it appear that 1) this lever is easy to find and 2) you can pull it up.

First of all, you are going to have to feel around for this lever. It's buried inside the rear door and, because you are already reaching through the toolbox liner that is IN the body of your car, it is below your eye level. You head won't fit into the toolbox to look the door lever in the eye.

Second, the owner's manual arrow is drawn incorrectly. You couldn't possibly pull that lever up from the position in which you are contorted. It defies physics.

Reach two fingers straight into the black abyss, once you feel this lever, pull it TOWARDS you. Voila! Trunk door pops open, you can push it up, and feel the freedom like Tim Robbins at the end of The Shawshank Redemption.

Finally, Relax

Your trunk door is open. Take a breath. Lie in your trunk, enjoy the moment, drink that margarita. You still have to jump-start your Prius.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Tony on June 13, 2020:

This was extremely helpful....right up to the point where I pulled the "silver C" handle towards me and the rear door made a popping sound and only moved up a bit, and still was not free. Then my wife told me that the hydraulic arms holding the back door up had gotten really weak, so it turned into a two person job, with me inside pulling the handle, and having her at the same time lift the lid/ trunk door up. This did the trick. But if you have worn out or weak hydraulic cylinders, you will need a second person outside to assist.

Jim on January 15, 2020:

By the way, you can jump start your Prius under the front hood and avoid all this (see the owner's manual on jump starting).

Paul on January 04, 2020:

Thanks so much for your tips. Charging my battery now!

M. Saeed on December 02, 2019:

Got stuck with the discharged batter in my Prius 2014. This article was a big help because I was able to open the boot simply by jump-connecting the metallic point under red colored cover marked +ve in the fuse box under the front hood. I started the car while still under jump-connection, removed the jump-wires and took the car to battery shop. Battery was tested and was in need of replacement. It was replaced and I am happily back on road.

ricci on October 07, 2019:

I can't find the trunk release. Help!

Dave pereira on September 30, 2019:

You got that right, worked like a charm. After searching for information in the Toyota manuals I was ready to give up then I found your instructions. First time out I could not find the lever but that was hampered by my bum leg which did not allow me to go in the trunk deep enough. Second time worked like a charm. Pulled the tool tray out and using a flash lite l could see the lever. I pulled as instructed and like magic the trunk door opened up.

Thanks for your help and excellent instruction and attitude. Now if the battery will just charge it will complete my day

Hank Stamper on August 14, 2019:

Wonderfully written! I wish many other "how-to" instructions were this funny, common-sense oriented and accurate. I'm throwing that little plastic cover OUT, dammit!

Bkbound on July 10, 2019:

Your humor helped mitigate a stressful situation. And, I think you have a book in you. Start writing.

Ziamomma on May 02, 2019:

Loved your sense of humor on a very frustrating day!

Toyotaman on April 01, 2019:

1 /. Open bonnet

2/ Remove fusebox cover

3/ connect either battery charger or

jump battery to+ terminal - to body


4/ Walk to rear of car and open boot.

Romulud on March 23, 2019:

No need to jump it like that....open the hood and you can find terminals for jumping where is fuse box.easy easy....for those who are questioning safety bla bla....prius is a hatchback...just lay down rear seats if u get somehow stucked there...lol...and u are saved....best car ever made!

Frank on March 23, 2019:

I still think the best car in the world. I use the battery charging terminal in the front hood.QED

Thomas on October 04, 2018:

You said there was a video...no video...grrr

Mikeydude on August 25, 2018:

Great instructions

I can’t believe Toyota passed nhtsa requirements for releasing the latch if someone is locked inside

That’s a horrible design for a release latch and near impossible to access

Karen on August 23, 2018:

Thank you. This is such a ridiculous design flaw. There should be a manual pull in the dash like there is for the hood. I'm astounded.

Mike on June 21, 2018:

Excellent step by step instruction. Thanks a lot

mlf on January 10, 2018:

couldn't remember how to get the back hatch open even tho i had done it before; called two dealerships and both said there was no way to do it; i knew there was because i had done it before; thanks for your post

baazeegar on January 07, 2018:

Thanks for simplifying the process. This is a lifesaver. Removed my 12v battery for charging and also had to disconnected the broken trunk opener switch for replacement. Wedged a piece of cloth thinking the trunk would not get locked but was wrong. Was totally stuck, your article showed me the way out.

Bill Pfeiffer on December 30, 2017:

yes, yes, yes. Thank you. And funny too. Who could ask for more.

tarita virtue from los angeles, ca on November 04, 2017:

i cannot begin to express the depth of my gratitude for both your website & SPECIFICALLY THIS POST! not even the 2-inch thick bentley publishers prius repair and maintenance textbook had any reference to this emergency trunk release latch & attempting to decipher that crap toyota manual drawing has caused me to bleed and curse like a sailor!

climbing thru a dead prius in over 112 degree blazing southern CA heat like a sweating acrobatic ninja ( more times than i care to admit ) - in order to access the external car jumper ( which i bought after discovering that AAA does not carry replacement Prius batteries - regardless of the popularity of these annoying golf cart type vehicles may be ).

since car thefts & break-in’s are a daily occurrance this personal jumpstarter has to be stowed in that insanely designed carpet covered, plastic compartment box buried trunk storage area.

the next thing i need to look-up in your BRILLIANT SITE is how to replace the batteries in both key fobs....

you are a godsend & i cannot thank you enough!

James G. on October 23, 2017:

Great video! Never knew about the under-hood access to the 12-volt system.

Colin on October 05, 2017:

So I wish I watched the video 1st as the jumping technique does not require opening the trunk to get the battery ..


Janet on September 25, 2017:

You are fabulous. What a great article. Thank you!

Stephanie on September 23, 2017:

I can't use this method or any method because the doors are locked

jaime on August 01, 2017:

Cool it work!

k on May 21, 2017:

Hallelujah!! You are a terrific writer -- you made me laugh in the midst of my cursing the sadists at Toyota -- and a huge help!! How would anyone ever do this without you. About to replace that 12-volt battery now that just DIED with no warning whatsoever . . . thank you, thank you, thank you dear lady!

Brnard on December 29, 2016:

Just like a regular car, there is a regular car battery under the hood.

Nope, the battery is in the trunk you are trying to acces in your tutorial...

; )

Fran S. on November 15, 2016:

I couldn't find any thing in there that moved at all, let alone a backwards C. This is a 2011 Prius, would it be different?

Thanks a lot for your help on July 16, 2016:

I like your style

Steve, Manchester, UK on June 26, 2016:

Thanks a lot. I never knew there was a battery under the hood. Now I can jumpstart without being a contortionist.

Gary M on May 08, 2016:

We would never have been able to open the hatch without your article. Battery seemed dead but as soon as the hatch opened everything came back on and off we went. Somehow the hatch in the closed position shorted out the system.

Steve on April 05, 2016:

So useful, Thank you for your advice, was able to open and am now charging the battery, hoping I can get started to make it to an Advanced Auto to replace the battery. If not I will try jump starting, and if that doesn't work will borrow the wrenches to take the battery in for a replacement. I had no idea there was a small battery in the car, this thing lasted 10 years!

Yu on January 31, 2016:

Great help! Thanks!!!

Big Al on January 31, 2016:

Worked like a charm. Thank you. The Service Manager at the dealer didn't have a clue--and then I went online.

Stephanie on December 25, 2015:

Do you mean pull the lever counter clockwise or towards you (front of the car)? If it's the front of the car, does it require some force?

I'm trying to release the hatch as I have a piece of cloth stuck in the latch.

Barbara Dee on October 22, 2015:

Thank you, thank you. When we called the dealership for help, we were told to jump the 12V from the other battery to open the locked hatch. Well I followed your directions instead and had success. I'm 73 YO woman who climbed into the trunk via back seat and figured it out thanks to you. If I can do it anyone can! There's gotta be a better way Toyota!

NL on October 16, 2015:

Your most helpful bit was: "Reach two fingers straight into the black abyss, once you feel this lever," That worked! Actually, at first it didn't because I was by myself, but then somewhere I read that you need 2 people, one inside & one outside, and that DID work! Thank you! (And it was so FUN, having to clean out the entire trunk through the middle seat opening!)

Confused owner on May 20, 2015:

My problem is the trunk won't open period. Pretty sure the battery is fine cause I don't have any trouble starting the car. With me, it just won't open. It's like the lock doesn't get a signal.

mad hacker on March 29, 2014:

I keep a hide a key so I can get in if need be, The spare key is on the key bob unit

MUS on November 13, 2013:

Thank you very much for the helpful advice

Terrence on October 19, 2013:

Thanks -- it worked! After many tries I first got it to open by charging the shorted out battery from under the hood. But then, after removing the battery, I closed the hatch gently, thinking the thickness of the jumper cables would keep it open. I was wrong. The mechanical lever was the only option left.

Pat on July 07, 2013:

Thanks so much. What a challenge!

Malawi on May 19, 2013:

This looks like a 2004-2009 Prius.

Just wanted to say that the battery is not located under the hood. You can jump-start it from the under the hood, but the battery itself is at the rear-right side. Beside the tool box lining, under a lid with a strap attached.

BTW: Went here to check how to open the trunk to change my dead battery, thnx for the nice instructions. ;-)

MickiS (author) from San Francisco on March 13, 2013:

You're welcome, Julia. Glad to be of service.

Julia on March 12, 2013:

Thank you so much for all your help!

kata on February 14, 2013:

what if the battery is so dead that even using a key wont unlock the car doors, thus you cannot gain entry into the vehicle at all????? how do you jump a locked prius with no entry into it, or to the hood!

MickiS (author) from San Francisco on January 29, 2013:

It's the back left if you are sitting in the car, but since the point of reference for the battery door is standing in front of the car facing an open hood, it's on the reader's right.

Btw, it's always on that side of the car, but that is not always the driver side. The driver side of the car is the right side of a car in 164 countries including Great Britain, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, just to name a few.

Nikki on January 28, 2013:

Technically, it's the back left. The drivers side is always the left side.

Herman Antonov from St. Paul, MN on December 31, 2012:

Thanks for this article! i own a Prius and live in Minnesota, today is super cold, bateery is dead, couldn't get into a trunk so had to follow your steps :) Finally started it anad listing it for sale tomorrow!

MickiS (author) from San Francisco on November 28, 2012:

Gopal, sorry, but I'm not a mechanic. And I certainly can't diagnose your issue from a brief online comment...after a mechanic has "dismantled everything twice."

Gopal on November 28, 2012:

But now my problem is not able to open the trunk using remote.

What do you suggest. they changed the computer and dismantled everything twice to find the short circuit, if any, but couldn't figure out. What is the option now? Thanks

K Smith on July 02, 2012:

Thanks for the info. It worked like a charm.

MickiS (author) from San Francisco on June 14, 2012:

Based on talking to other Prius owners and the number of views I get from search, I'm guessing A LOT of Prius owners run into this problem. Thanks for the comment.

Barry Rutherford from Queensland Australia on June 14, 2012:

Great read and explanation. You explained very well a fix that I am sure more than yourself would have got into.

MickiS (author) from San Francisco on May 25, 2012:

Yes, well, I'm learning that these little lessons in life make for good Hubs!

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on May 25, 2012:

Huh! I had no idea there was an issue with dead batteries and opening Prius trunks. Props on offering a clear solution!

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