Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Open stuck hood

Open stuck hood — How to

Why your hood is stuck closed

Your hood latch is located right up front on top of the radiator where it’s exposed to rain, salt and road grit. Over time, the mechanism rusts and that’s when it refuses to open. Here’s how to open a stuck hood.

What you’ll need to open a stuck hood

• Can of rust penetrant — PB Blaster is a very good product, WD-40 isn’t good for this application.
• A set of nylon trim tools — available at any auto parts store
• Philips Screwdrivers
• Can of spray white lithium grease
• Flashlight
• Needle nose plier

nylon trim tools

Start with the lubrication before getting full-on ugly with the hood latch

Hood latches have a primary and secondary latch. When you operate the latch release, a spring hook in the primary portion of the latch, swings out of the way and a hood spring pops up the hood about an inch. The secondary latch prevents the hood from opening any further. Then you reach in and move the secondary lever out of the way.

In this case, your hood probably doesn’t even pop up when  you operate the hood latch release cable. That’s an indication that the latch is rusted shut.

rusted hood latch

Shine your flashlight through the grille to locate the hood latch cable. Follow the cable up toward the latch. Once you locate the latch, attach the straw to the can of rust penetrant and aim it directly at the hood latch. Soak the entire latch with rust penetrant (about half the can). Then walk away and let it soak for about a half hour before trying again. If it still won’t open, lift lifting up on the hood and then pushing down. This is to work the rust penetrate into the latch mechanism.

If the hood is still stuck closed, remove the grille

This is where the job gets involved. Remove all the screws and plastic clips from the grille and try to remove it or at least move it out of the way. Your goal is to gain access to the latch and latch cable.

Next, use the needle nose pliers to reach the hood latch cable. Pull the cable to the side to operate the hood latch. If the cable moves the primary latch but the hood still doesn’t pop up, it needs more penetrant.

Reach your hand and spray can into the grille and soak the hood latch a second time. Then operate the hood latch cable with the needle nose pliers.

Once the hood is open, lubricate the latch

Liberally spray the hood latch with white lithium grease. Then close and open the hood multiple times to loosen up the mechanism.

If the hood latch spring is broken, replace the entire hood latch mechanism.

©, 2022 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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