How to break in with minimal damage.
Applies to all E85/E86 cars
A few owners have recently found themselves locked out of the centre storage cubby. This would typically be caused by the failure of the lock driver motor, part of the central locking system. Pre facelift cars have a manual release in the boot. Check your owner's manual. It takes a steady, firm pull for the lock to slowly release. If this fails or you have a facelift car, you can break in with minimal damage as follows.
DISCLAIMER. I have not actually done this procedure, but from my previous examination, it seems the best way to proceed. If you have more information on this procedure, please contribute.
You need to access the lock mechanism under the upper cover panel above the cubby door. Removal normally entails removal of two expansion screws in the cubby door jamb. You obviously can't access them if you're locked out.
Do not try to pry the cover up from the bottom. You can damage the retaining tabs connected to the cubby box enclosure. You do not want to break and have to replace this part! Instead, pry the panel up at either side near the top, just forward of the rear bulkhead. There are two plastic hooks retaining this portion of the cover. They will likely break, but you may be able to still use the cover if no further damage is done by using trim tape to adhere the part back in place.
Under the upper cover, note right hook has been broken off. The hooks fit in the square holes of the black bar below.
Tape up the adjacent panels and use plastic trim tools to avoid damaging the adjacent trim. You need to get the end of the pry tool as close as possible to these hooks before applying significant force to avoid damage to the cover panel itself. They are about an inch in from either side and 2 inches forward of the rear edge. Start prying near the rear corner, and work you tool towards the hook positions. Note little tabs preventing tool insertion at the very corner.
Once the hooks release or break, you can bend the cover forward enough to barely access the lock mechanism. Do not bend too far or something else could break. Find the top of the lock mechanism in the lowest opening, about 2/3 of the way down. Locate the release string from the boot running down the center ((#4 below) DIY version shown). It first runs through a guide tab (9) before terminating on a teardrop shaped post (2). Facelift cars have all the same parts except for the string itself. The post is attached to a spring loaded pivot plate(3). Pull upwards on this post to rotate the plate and push the lock mechanism open (oval to right of (2), shown in unlocked position). It takes steady, firm pressure. It will move slowly. You can alternately use any other means at your disposal to rotate the plate clockwise. Once greater resistance is felt and movement stops, the door should be unlocked. It takes about 1 inch of travel. The spring loaded plate will return to it's original position, but the door will remain unlocked. Restore the original panel position, hold down the panel, and press the release button to find your hidden treasure.
1. Lock driver
2. Anchor post
3. Pivot plate
4. DIY cable
5. Latch actuator
7. Lock block
9. Guide tab (not visible)
You will now have access to the expansion screws and can properly remove the cover. Evaluate whether you want to replace the failed motor (1) or disable the lock mechanism so it cannot ever be locked. Condsider the driver motor may lock but not unlock. (You might grind down the lock tabs (on 7) so they cannot restrict the movement of the release button? Remove driver motor?). When your correction work is finished, reinstall the cover, using trim tape as needed, or replace if too badly damaged.
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