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Adjusting the Beetle Trunk Latch (Cable)

by Bill C. -

Last month, we talked about the perils of being locked out of your Beetle's trunk and how to "break and enter." This month you will get some insight into adjusting your latch so this won't happen again! So, here we go.

If the release handle in the glove box had "play" in it as you pushed down on it, before you "felt" it grab and work the latch... you will probably have problems again in the future. You need to get ALL of the slack out of the release cable that runs to the glove box. This is done at the latch.

EXPLANATION: There is a Phillips-head screw that secures the cable to the release. That empty hole next to the latch is the access hole to insert the screwdriver. Remove the spare tire &  USE A MIRROR and flashlight to see what I'm talking about.


1.       Grasp the end of the cable, near the latch, with pliers or vise-grips; then pull the cable until the Phillips-head cable screw can be seen through the access hole.

2.       Loosen the screw slightly; then pull on the cable to take out any slack.

3.       While keeping the cable tight, tighten the Phillips-head screw... REAL tight

4.       Check operation of the release lever in the glove box to ensure the free-play has been removed. If there is still considerable play, repeat the above steps.

Testing Latch Operation

1.       Remove the TOP latch assembly from the trunk lid.

2.       Insert the conical piece into the female latch half in the front apron until you feel it latch with a "snap." Pull up on the top latch half to ensure that it is locked.
If it does not latch check for binding/drag in the cable and also recheck/adjust the cable adjustment.

3.       Push down on the release lever in the glove box. With the aid of its spring the top latch half should pop out of the other half. If it does not, you will need to check/adjust the cable.

You can install a "BACKUP" release wire (aka coat hanger), in case my latch fails to open in the future.

1.       One end of the wire hooks around the latch mechanism and the other end goes through a grommet in the passenger side fender-well (near the head light loom) with a finger hole bent into it.

2.       Of course, the end hooked onto the latch needs to hook onto the little arm that is part of the release.

3.       The wire has to go out the passenger side, since that is the direction of needed travel.


Adjusting the Trunk
Top Latch Half

The closed position of the trunk can be adjusted tighter or looser. This can affect how hard the trunk closes or whether it is so loose that it might leak air or water.


Adjustment is completed by changing the length of the bolt (conical head) of the upper latch half.

The latch bracket mounting holes are also slotted to allow for alignment with the receiver half.

1.      Slowly begin to close the lid, while observing the alignment of the cone to the center of the receiver hole in the apron.

2.      If it is misaligned, you can loosen the bolts that secure the bracket to the handle, moving the bracket and re-tightening.

3.      Finally, the closed height of the lid can be adjusted, if needed. You want the latch bolt long enough so that it latches easily without having to "slam" it hard. However, it must close tight enough so as to seal against water leaks.

IMPORTANT: If the latch bolt is set too short and the hood seals too tightly, it can make it difficult to unlatch the trunk hood.

a.       Loosen the lock nut on top of the top latch bolt.

b.       Using a flat tipped screwdriver inserted into the slot on the tip of the latch cone, turn the screw/bolt in to "tighten" latching or out to "loosen" latching.

c.       Tighten the lock nut, while holding the bolt with the screwdriver.

4.      If you are not sure about the correctness of all your adjustments, you may want to consider the tip suggestion above.