Why are the trunks open?
August 31, 2005 6:50 AM   Subscribe

What's the deal with the open trunk lids? Are the cars left with their trunks open, or are they forced open as a result of the flooding?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow to Travel & Transportation (25 answers total)
I wondered that, too. My best guess was that people popped them with remote keychains so the cars would be less likely to float and do further damage, but the more I think about it, the less I think it sounds reasonable.
posted by littlegreenlights at 7:01 AM on August 31, 2005

Looting. Or finding.
posted by jellicle at 7:06 AM on August 31, 2005

Maybe they expected looting and left their trunks open to prevent people from trying to break in. Just a guess.
posted by I Foody at 7:08 AM on August 31, 2005

It could be that this is a rental car lot. Rental car lots often leave the trunk lids open on those cars that are "on deck" and are about to be rented so that it is one step easier to load for the renter.
posted by dabradfo at 7:11 AM on August 31, 2005

Um, why bother when your car is totaled anyway?

I'd say air pressure (from the water rising in the trunk) forced them open, that or looters. They all appear to be the same type of car as if this was a sales or rental lot of some kind, so that would maybe explain the uniformity (all would have been opened for the same reason).
posted by Pollomacho at 7:13 AM on August 31, 2005

Perhaps an electrical short?
posted by bachelor#3 at 7:29 AM on August 31, 2005

I too have been wondering the same thing. None of the theories posited here satisfy me. I suspect that it is a result of some safety feature, but I have not yet been able to craft the right google query.
posted by mds35 at 8:08 AM on August 31, 2005

I doubt that looters would bother to force open car trunks - too much work for probably no result. My guess is that there's some component in the lock that water forces or floats open, but that's just a guess.
posted by crabintheocean at 8:15 AM on August 31, 2005

They all look like the late model GM cars if that helps any searches.

I would think that as a safety feature, the manufacturer would prefer that the car not sink quicker and thus would not want the trunk to pop.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:20 AM on August 31, 2005

On second thought, maybe having the trunk pop keeps a submerged car from going nose (engine) down and makes for a safer egress?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:21 AM on August 31, 2005

It doesn't look like in the picture, but if they've been floating around and running into other cars/objects then that could cause the locks to have popped open. A lot of times in a car accident you'll see the trunk popped open, and after some fender benders you'll find that the trunk will no longer stay closed. I guess it's because the fixed end of the lock deforms and is no longer aligned to receive the other half in the lid. In fact you can sometimes pop a trunk right open using a heavy hammer or baseball bat applied with force to the rear of a car. (Don't ask how I know.)
posted by Rhomboid at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2005

Maybe Bernoulli did it.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:32 AM on August 31, 2005

items (spare tires) in the trunk floating around and hitting the manual trunk release cable? Just a theory.
posted by m@ at 8:45 AM on August 31, 2005

I'm going with dabradfo. Rental lot.

In fact, all the cars in that image look like Mercury Sables, and I'm pretty sure that minivan is a Ford Freestar. All Ford products, so it's probably Hertz.

I'll take my cookies with whipped cream, thanks!
posted by bhayes82 at 9:02 AM on August 31, 2005

My wife asked me the same thing about some cars that were parked in front of homes so I don't think the rental car lot theory explains all of these open trunks. The linked picture is just one instance of this.
posted by probablysteve at 9:21 AM on August 31, 2005

Perhaps car owners left them open so rescuers wouldn't waste their time looking for people hiding inside? (Or, conversely, perhaps rescue workers popped the trunks to check and left them open.) Kinda like how FDNY was spray-painting "CLEAR" on buildings that had been checked for survivors after 9/11.
posted by Vidiot at 9:49 AM on August 31, 2005

I think m@ gets the cookie, spare tires.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:06 AM on August 31, 2005

think m@ gets the cookie, spare tires.
The spare tire is bolted down. You turn a lock nut to secure or unsecured it.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:54 AM on August 31, 2005

Aren't spare tires secured inside the trunk... screwed down, something? I don't think the tires are just laying in there to be rattled around. My spare tire is secured to my vehicle.

I'm going with a "saftey feature" as well. I bet the door locks are unlocked as well, for the same reason.
posted by Witty at 11:57 AM on August 31, 2005

It's not rental cars. There were no rental cars left in the city for anyone to get out during the mandatory evacuation. Tourists were stranded.
posted by Corky at 12:12 PM on August 31, 2005

It's probably a car-specific "feature"--whether intentional or not, I have no idea. Here are some pics of other flooded cars that don't have popped trunks: One, Two, Three, Etc.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:16 PM on August 31, 2005

My guess would be that all those cars have automatic trunk openers and as bachelor#3 suggests, immersing the car in water interferes with the normal operation of the trunk release mechanism.
posted by cardboard at 2:04 PM on August 31, 2005

I'm going with the electrical short theory. I lived in N.O. for awhile as a kid, and during one of the couple of floods that happened while I was there, my dad told us a story that had happened to one of his coworkers. She'd been driving home from work when the flood hit, and as the waters rose into her car, reaching the floorboards and bottom of her seat, the automatic seat adjustment things went crazy, sending her forward, backward, up, down, all over the place. I saw the same picture and that was the first thing that came to my mind - it's gotta be the electrical system shorting out.
posted by salad spork at 4:38 PM on August 31, 2005

I'm going with the electrical short theory
Thought it is a cable that manually opens the trunk lid, not an electric switch.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:14 PM on September 1, 2005

people popped them with remote keychains
I'm thinking of the trunk lid button in the glove box.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:28 PM on September 1, 2005

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