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Premium Member
2002 Camry
450 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This procedure explains how to troubleshoot and fix the trunk light on a GEN5 2002 Camry.

Use this guide at your own risk! I assume no responsibility for any damage to your vehicle or personal injury as a result of following this guide. Any comments to improve the procedure will be gratefully received.

Time Required
It took me 2 hours from start to finish, including the time to take photos and make notes. If I had to do it again, I think I could cut this down to 1 hour or less.

Tools Required:
Simple hand tools and a multimeter.

Let’s Get Started!

1. Remove clear plastic cover from the trunk light. It is held in place by four snaps. It is a bit tough to pull off. If necessary, use a thin flat screw driver to gently pry it off. Note that the cover is not symmetrical. The snaps on one side are spaced further apart than the other side. You will need to pay attention to this when replacing the cover.

2. Pull the light bulb out of the socket and check for continuity (resistance) across the bulb. FYI. the bulb looks like a fuse and is marked Kioto 12V3W. In my case the bulb was good.

3. Measure the voltage between one side of the bulb holder (red arrow) and ground. It should read 12V. Mine did. This means that the bulb is getting power from the fuse.

4. Measure the voltage across the bulb holder (ie. Between the red arrow and the green arrow). With the trunk open, it should read 12V. Min read 412mV or about ½ a volt. This means that that either the switch is not working correctly or there is a break in the wire between the bulb and the switch.

5. Remove the “carpet” cover on the inside of the trunk. There are 15 plastic snaps (including on under the emergency trunk release lever) holding it in place. I did not have a special tool to remove them, so I gently pried them out with my side cutters. I could not get my “glow in the dark” emergency trunk release lever off, so I just cut a few slits in the cover to facilitate removal of the cover.

6. Disconnect the electrical connector by pressing down on the latch (red arrow) and pulling on the connector.

7. There are two male pins inside the connector. Check the continuity between right pin (green arrow) and ground. With the trunk open, there should be continuity (ie. a closed connection) between the right pin and ground. On mine, there was no continuity (ie. a open connection), indicating that the contacts in the switch were not closing properly or there was a break in the wiring somewhere. In order to further troubleshoot, it was necessary to remove the entire trunk latch assembly by following the instructions below.

8. Remove the two 10mm bolts (red arrows) securing the latch assembly to the trunk lid.

9. Disconnect the linkage arm from the emergency release handle by rotating the black plastic connector and then dropping the rod.

10. Disconnect the linkage arm from the key release mechanism by rotating the red plastic connector and then dropping the rod.

11. Open the black plastic cover. It is hinged with latches on both sides and slide the plastic cover off of the latch mechanism.

12. In the unlatched state (ie trunk open) as shown above, the contacts (red arrow) are closed. This closes the circuit so that the trunk light turns on. I checked this with my multimeter and there was continuity (ie. Low resistance) between the pin on the connector and ground, indicating that the switch was working correctly.

13. Using a small screwdriver to move the trunk latch to the latched state (ie trunk open), as shown above, the contacts opened. This opens the circuit so that the trunk light turns off. I checked this with my multimeter and the circuit was open, indicating that the switch was working correctly.

14. Upon closer examination, I determined that the copper strip on the switch assembly (red arrow) was not mating correctly with the copper strip on the motor assembly (green arrow). As a result the connection was open the whole time. This ended up being the source of the problem.

15. To correct this problem, I removed the motor assembly (four Philips screws), and reassembled the motor such that the copper connectors were properly mating.

16. After reassembly, I checked with my multimeter. With the assembly “unlatched”, simulating an open trunk, there was continuity (ie. a closed circuit)....

17. ...and with the assembly “latched”, simulating a closed trunk, there was no continuity (ie. an open circuit). Reinstall the latch assembly into the trunk and test before replacing the cover.

18. Voila! We now have light in the trunk. Just to be sure that the light would turn off when the trunk was closed, I simulated a closed trunk by using a small screwdriver to close the latch. It worked fine. Tug on the emergency lever to “unlatch” the assembly and re-install the cover. Install the light bulb and clear plastic cover. Thats it! That is all there is to it!
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