How to Fix a Suitcase Latch

Some suppliers will make a custom clasp to match a vintage suitcase.
Some suppliers will make a custom clasp to match a vintage suitcase. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Suitcase latches come in many different sizes and styles, so when a latch breaks it may seem like a difficult problem to fix. Luckily, many hardware suppliers carry a wide variety of latches and latch mounting hardware. Usually, a latch similar to the original can be found for a reasonable price. A few simple steps can be taken to detect and fix a latch problem before you invest in new hardware.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Forceps, nail or bobby-pin
  • Penetrating oil
  • Replacement latch
  • Pen

Fix Loose or Missing Screws

Inspect the latch to determine if any screws are missing or damaged. If so, obtain identical screws from the hardware store.

Determine the type of screwdriver required for the screw-heads.

Tighten all screws with the appropriate hand-operated screwdriver.

Fix a Sticky Lock

Check the hole for debris. A nail, thin forceps or bobby pin will work well to feel inside the keyhole and force out any obstructions.

Inspect the keyhole for signs of rust.

Spray the key and inside the rusty keyhole with a penetrating oil. Only use enough oil to lightly wet the surface.

Insert the key into the lock and turn back and forth.

Replace Latch

Obtain a new latch. The suitcase manufacturer may still produce identical latches, so contact it first to request a new latch. A general hardware supplier may sell a similar latch.

Remove the broken latch from the lid and bottom of the suitcase. Loosen and remove all mounting screws, bolts or rivets. Pull the latch off of the suitcase.

Close the suitcase and position the clasped new latch against the suitcase.

Insert and tighten the mounting hardware. Some latch types cannot be installed when the suitcase is closed. In this case, mark all mounting screw locations with a pen and open the case to complete the installation.

Tips & Warnings

  • Follow any installation instructions that come with the new latch.
  • Do not pry at an old latch to remove it because you may rip the suitcase fabric.

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