If you’ve been in this situation before, you might know the feeling of fighting with a latch handle trying to open a hood that just won’t budge. After giving up on your fight with the latch, do you know the next steps you should take?
There are a few methods you can use to open a hood with a broken latch. Before we get into them, it’s important to remember the most important first step of each of these methods is allowing your car to completely cool down before attempting to open the hood. Usually, it takes a car’s engine about a half an hour to cool down after being driven.
Once you’re confident your engine has cooled down, try out one of these methods to open your hood.
1. Try the release latch
Start by having someone pull on the hood release lever inside the car while you push down (lightly) on the hood. This might relieve enough pressure to release the latch that secures the hood.
2. Probe under the hood
If this doesn’t work, probe underneath the hood (if possible). The hood latch is hook shaped and latches into a metal loop underneath the center of the hood. If accessible, use a flathead screwdriver to push down on the latch and release it. Alternatively, you might be able to release the latch by hand by reaching under the hood and pulling the latch open.
3. Enter through the grill
Another way to access the hood latch is through your car’s grill. This is especially helpful if you can’t access the latch by reaching through the gap between the hood and the car body. For this method you‘ll need a piece of wire.
- Locate the hood latch: Start by looking through the grill of your car and finding the hood latch, using a flashlight if necessary. You may need to remove the grill cover to be able to see. Check your vehicle owner’s manual or visit the vehicle manufacturer’s website for instructions on how to do this.
- Make a loop: Once you’ve located the latch, make a loop with the piece of wire to open the hood. A wire that is bendable but stiff enough to hold its shape, such as one made from aluminum, is best. If possible, tie a knot so that the loop won’t come loose.
- Slide the loop around the latch: Slide the wire through the grill or opening and slip the end of the loop over the hook of the hood locking mechanism. You might need both hands for this, so it’s a good idea to have someone shining a flashlight for you.
- Pull the wire: Once secured on the latching mechanism, pull the wire in the opposite direction from where it latches. You should also slightly compress the hood while doing this to relieve some of the pressure on the latch and make it easier to pull it open. While maintaining tension on the wire, pull up on the hood.
4. Enter from beneath the car
If you’re unable to open the hood of your car using the above methods, you can try accessing it from under your vehicle. For this method you might need a car jack, jack stands, a pair of pliers, a flashlight, and a friend’s help. Once you have all of this, follow the steps below.
- Jack up the car: Start by jacking up the car. For safety precautions, put some jack stands in place.
- Find the hood-locking mechanism: Get underneath the car (near the center of the hood) and locate the hood locking mechanism using a flashlight.
- Pull the hook: Reach up behind the radiator with a pair of pliers and grab hold of the hood latch. Pull the hood latch open with the pliers.
- Lift the hood: As you continue to pull on the latch with the pilers have your friend lift the hood of the car.
If you’re still unable to open your car’s hood after trying these methods, it’s time to enlist the help of a mechanic. They have the expertise to fix your car’s hood latch quickly and efficiently.