Among the most important things every driver should know is how to open the hood of a car.
Simply, it’s necessary knowledge and without it, you can’t be a complete driver. Some may say that only the mechanic should open the hood, but trust me, you’ll need this sooner or later.
So, this article should explain this very simple procedure. If you’re not in the mood for reading, you have our video at the end of the article which you can also watch on our YouTube channel.
HOW TO OPEN THE HOOD OF A CAR?
Before we start, I would like to mention that this example is shown on a Skoda Fabia mk1 and on an older Renault Clio. But the basic principle of opening the hood is the same for almost all cars.
Also, if you want to see how to properly close the hood of your car without causing dents or damage, click here to see the article and video dedicated to that topic.
1. FIND THE RELEASE HANDLE AND PULL IT
The first step is to find the release handle. Its purpose is to pull a cable that’s connected to the locking mechanism that holds the hood in place.
By pulling the handle you release the lock and open the hood.
The usual location is on the driver’s side at the beginning of the footwell near the door.
It may have markings on it or not, but you can’t miss it as it’s usually the only handle in that vicinity.
But there may be other locations like under the steering wheel for instance. If you have trouble finding it, best look in the user manual of your car.
I doubt you’ll have many problems since, in most cars, it’s immediately visible as soon as you open the door.
Once you pull the handle you’ll hear the sound of the hood opening (popping).
2. FIND THE RELEASE LATCH
Go to the hood and start searching for the release latch. This is a small handle-like latch that is hidden under the front part of the hood, usually near the lock mechanism.
When talking about how to open the hood of a car, finding this latch is perhaps the trickiest part.
The main purpose of this safety latch is to hold the hood down in case the main locking mechanism doesn’t hold or you don’t accidentally close the hood properly.
If it wasn’t there and the hood isn’t closed properly, there’s a good chance that the hood would go airborne when you start driving.
From what I’ve seen there are two most common types of release latches. One that has an extension that pops out when you pull the release handle. The other type is hidden under the hood.
With the first type, once the hood is opened it’s obvious what to do. The extension pops out, you pull it, and then raise the hood.
But how to find the hidden release latch?
This can be a bit more complicated. You’ll have to stick your fingers under the rim of the hood and find it by touch.
This can be an obstacle as some latches are a bit more tucked in towards the engine bay or a bit farther from the lock mechanism.
The usual way to solve this on almost any car is to slide your fingers under the rim of the hood. Search in the vicinity of the locking mechanism which is located, in most cases, in the middle.
So, slide your fingers under, go left and right from the center of the hood and you should be able to touch it.
Once you find it, press, pull or move the latch to one side and it should release.
Know that on some cars the mechanism is somewhat more complicated both to release and find, so you’ll have to have some patience.
3. PUT THE METAL PROP ROD IN PLACE
Once you raise the hood, you’ll find a metal prop rod meant for holding the hood in place.
It’s usually held with a plastic clip. Release it from the clip and push it into the place meant for it.
In the case of the Skoda, the rod is attached to the hood and is lowered into the engine bay, into a predefined place. This place has a distinctive color so you can recognize it easily.
The other common option is that the prop rod sits on the front part of the engine bay, above the grill. Here, you’re supposed to raise the rod and insert it into the hood in a place meant for this.
So, the principle is the same, only the location of the prop rod is different. The mentioned examples are the two most common ones for almost all cars.
Make sure that the rod is set in place properly. This is very important when talking about how to open the hood of a car. If you don’t set the rod properly, you are at risk of the hood falling on you.
If you have gas-powered hood struts, then you don’t have to worry about this, just raise the hood and the struts will hold it in place.
So, a very simple procedure. The only problem you may encounter when learning how to open the hood of a car is to find the release handle and, more often, the release latch.
This goes double if you for instance borrow a car or use a rental. But even then, you should be able to manage because, as mentioned, the locations of both are pretty much standardized.
If you know where the release handle is on your car, you’ll know about other ones for sure.
Make sure to mount the prop rod properly so you can safely move under the hood and around the engine bay.
Again, when searching for the release latch, if it’s hidden, just slide your fingers under the rim of the hood (in the center). Go from one side to the other and you should find it quickly.
More or less, if you’ve opened one hood you’ve opened them all.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
HOW TO OPEN THE HOOD OF A CAR? YOUTUBE VIDEO