Opening a glove box that is stuck shut on a 1997 Honda Civic

My wife’s 1997 Honda Civic is nearing 300,000 miles and we continue to nurse it along. Recently the glove box wouldn’t open. Working the latch did no good, and removing the two screws that secure it on the bottom didn’t help either. The latch is stuck closed, and the whole glove compartment just hangs from the latch. I wasn’t interested in breaking anything, so I did a little research. I finally found this video that helped me understand the problem:

Here are some pictures I took:









Basically, you remove the bottom screws that hold the glove box in place. The latch will still be holding it on, but you now have enough room to reach into the glove box from behind.

The next obstacle is the latch. In normal operation, to stay closed, the latch holds onto a very heavy duty piece of steel shaped like a square loop. Part of the latch mechanism works like a button. When the glove box closes normally, the latch button gets pushed down as the metal loop goes past it. Once loop moves past, the button snaps back up and traps the loop. Ordinarily the latch handle would move the button down to allow the glove box to open, but this is now the source of the problem—a part is broken and the handle can’t activate the button.

The solution is to activate the button from the inside. To do this, you must reach your hand underneath and then into the glove box. Then reach forward to the latch. When I tried it, it was easy to find, but it wasn’t easy to push. There was too much tension on the latch in my initial attempts, so the button wouldn’t budge. I pressed the glove box hard against my arm, trying to get it closer to its normal position. The back of the box is flexible, so it bends, but the pressure against my arm was painful and left some red marks for a while. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to wrap the arm in something protective. After a bit of trying I felt the latch button move when I pushed it. I was able to pull the whole glove box off. Rather than bother trying to fix it I just ordered a replacement latch on Ebay. It was around $11 and I had it in just a few days.

Putting the new latch on was snap. Two screws hold it in place. I pulled out the broken one and replaced it with the good one. Then I secured the bottom of the glove box with the two screws I had removed previously. In just a few minutes I had it installed and the glove box works great.