So, you pull the handle and the hood won’t open.
This problem isn’t that common but when it happens you’re literally blocked from accessing the engine.
That means no checkups, no repairs, or any kind of access and this can be a big problem.
In this article, we’ll show you a couple of reasons why this happens and offer some solutions.
Besides this, you can also watch a video at the end of the article or on our YouTube channel.
HOW DOES THE HOOD MECHANISM WORK?
Before we start talking about why the hood won’t open, just a few words about how the whole mechanism works.
The standard mechanism is very simple and basically consists of a handle for pulling, a releasing cable, and a latch.
When you pull the handle, it pulls the release cable which then pulls the latch mechanism which releases the catch on the hood.
So, the whole mechanism is essentially a type of remote control so you can open the hood from the passenger cabin.
Besides the latch, you also have as a standard, a secondary latch that has the main purpose of preventing the hood from fully opening (especially when driving) if the primary latch is released.
If you want to read more on how to properly close the hood and avoid damaging it, click here to read the article.
WHY THE CAR HOOD HOOD WON’T OPEN?
1. BROKEN OR STUCK RELEASE CABLE
This is by far the most common reason why the hood won’t open and the first thing you should check.
As mentioned, this cable is the physical connection between the handle in the passenger cabin and the latch mechanism.
It mostly fails due to material fatigue. Over time the cable gets weaker and weaker and can eventually snap. This will happen faster if the latch mechanism is faulty because it then puts more strain on the cable.
One more common fault is that the cable gets stuck. The wire inside the cable may get rusty over time causing it to completely jam or have a lag when returning.
When the cable is broken, you’ll easily recognize it as when you pull the handle, it will easily retract, and you won’t sense any resistance.
When the cable is stuck, the hood may open but you’ll have to give the handle a strong pull and the handle won’t go back into place immediately, you may have to push it back.
In both cases, it’s best to replace the whole release cable even if it’s just stuck. Rarely does it help to try to lubricate or clean it.
2. STUCK OR BROKEN LATCH MECHANISM
The mechanism for opening the hood is a very resilient and simple one. Because of this, rarely does it happen that it actually breaks.
It’s more probable that the cable will break first.
The more common problem is that it gets stuck due to rust and filth getting into the mechanism and blocking it.
However, if the latch mechanism is broken or damaged in some way, best replace it completely to avoid future problems.
If it’s just stuck, it’s best to use some WD-40 spray to get it working and then some lubricant to keep it rust-free.
3. BROKEN HANDLE MECHANISM
Most handles for releasing the hood are made out of plastic. On the inner side of the handle, there’s a connector for the cable which may break.
When this happens, the cable can’t be pulled, the latch can’t be released, and the hood won’t open.
This is due to material fatigue but also to putting excessive strain on the handle. A stuck release cable, a stuck latch mechanism for instance will cause this.
A rare occasion is that the cable connector gets loose and falls off the handle.
Also, yanking the handle intensively when opening the hood will break it.
This cause has the same symptoms as a broken cable. You pull the handle but there’s no resistance at all.
One way to spot the problem is to look behind or under the handle. See if the cable is properly connected but this is sometimes hard because of how the handle is installed or because of the trimming panel close to it.
With this problem, in most cases, the only solution is to replace the whole handle. Since it’s plastic, rarely can you make a good and long-lasting repair by improvising something.
4. BAD HOOD ALIGNMENT
The hood, when mounted has to be properly aligned with the rest of the car body to close properly and to be able to open again.
Otherwise, it may get stuck and the hood won’t open
This is one of the more rare reasons for problems and you should consider it if there was any sort of body repair on the front side of the car, the hood was replaced or the latch mechanism was replaced.
The best way to recognize this is to look at the gaps between the hood and the car body. If they’re even on both sides, as opposed to the side panels, then it’s set properly.
Also, look at the gaps in the front part of the hood and the front grill, if it’s aligned and the gaps are even, then it’s OK.
Any kind of crookedness or inequality in the gaps may mean you have a problem.
The solution for this is to properly align the hood. In most cases it’s not that much of a problem, you have to release a couple of screws, perhaps release the latch mechanism a bit or else.
The bigger problem is to properly align it as this can be touchy.
On this part, I would recommend, that if you have a trusted body shop let them do the job. They have more routine and expertise and it will probably be faster and better done.
5. LEFTOVER THINGS UNDER THE HOOD
For the final reason worth checking, especially if you’re a DIY enthusiast, did you leave anything under the hood?
It’s rare but if you left some tools or a part in a position where the hood can press it, once the hood closes, the latch mechanism may get stuck.
The hood sort of bends and the latch can’t open nor release properly.
Of course, this problem is easy to solve provided you can open the hood if it gets stuck.
In this case, prevention is the best solution so always check for leftover tools or parts when you’ve finished the repair. Also, if you sense any resistance when you lower the hood and want to finally close it, stop and make another check.
If you’ve lost something in the engine bay or have problems retrieving it, click here and see some possible solutions.
As you’ve seen, if the hood won’t open, the reasons are pretty simple, and fixing the problem is usually a DIY job.
You may have more trouble actually opening the hood when it’s stuck than fixing the problem.
Another obstacle you may encounter is accessibility issues like when changing the cable or handle for instance.
You may have to fight with trim panels, plastic clips that break easily, or tight spots where the cable exits the passenger cabin for instance.
But, all in all, the repair is definitely worth the try and can be an interesting job to do.
In the end, if you notice any remote sign that the hood won’t open (the release handle is hard to pull, the hood doesn’t pop up as it normally does, etc.), check out what’s wrong immediately.
Maybe just a bit of WD-40 may solve the problem, for instance.
Otherwise, you might face at least an hour of work to get the hood open.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
REASONS WHY THE HOOD WON’T OPEN-YOUTUBE VIDEO