Car Hood Won’t Open – What Should I Do?

Car Hood Won’t Open – What Should I Do?

Most times, when it’s challenging to open the hood of your vehicle, it’s because of the faulty latch.

A stuck hood wouldn’t allow you to check your vehicle’s engine compartment, which means no repair or maintenance. In other words, there’s no way to refill the washer fluid or to know the oil level, not even to mention diagnosing an engine problem.

Frustrating, right? That is why we came up with this article to provide you simple steps to fix a stuck car hood.

The Working Mechanism Of A Car Hood

Car hood won’t open – Information, Causes, What should I do

The hood in most vehicles has a release security system. It consists of a latch cable, a handle in the interior, and a latch on the hood. The latch of a car has a simple opening mechanism that also prevents an accident.

The mechanism starts from the interior compartment, either under the driver’s seat, under the steering wheel, or on the door of most cars.

The release handle further connects to the latch cable, which passes through the dashboard to the vehicle’s front and then connects to the latches.

Typically, most vehicles have two latches in their hood, namely the primary and secondary latch.

The latch that connects the cable to the release mechanism is also known as the primary latch. When the release handle is pulled, it strains the cable. This, in turn, maneuvers the primary latch and causes the hood to unlock.

For safety reasons, your vehicle’s hood wouldn’t completely spring open, but only a few inches. This is because the secondary latch engages immediately after the primary latch is disengaged.

This system helps prevent accidents on the road when you accidentally pull the hood release.

To fully open, the secondary latch needs to be manipulated to release the secondary latch by sliding your hand under the vehicle’s hood.

Also, if you use an automated hood release system, it working is quite different. It features an electronic mechanism that releases the latches and lifts the hood. All you need to do is press a button, and the hood would pop open as the hydraulic strut raises the hood to your desired height.

Why Your Car Hood Is Stuck

Now that we’ve built a solid background on how a vehicle hood works, let’s look at what could make it not work as it’s supposed.

Here are five of the most commonly reported reasons why a vehicle’s hood gets stuck.

1. Snowy Weather Or Frost

Snowy weather or frost is a common cause why vehicle hoods get stuck. Packing your car outside on a snowy day could cause problems, especially a frozen hood that wouldn’t open.

The vehicle’s hood opens when the moving parts in the mechanism, known as latches, are free to move, but they might get frozen and stuck in cold weather.

There’s also a possibility the latch cable attached to the hood release to the latches is frozen. A frozen latch cable won’t move and can’t pull the latch, which means a stuck hood.

There are easy steps you can take to fix this issue, and we shall be looking at that in the next section.

2. Jammed Hood (latch Problem)

A latch problem is one of the so many challenges most people face when their vehicle’s hood gets stuck.

Virtually, there are lots of “why” surrounding the cause of a jammed hood, and the most common is because it has an old and rusty lock.

The rust doesn’t allow free movement. There’s also a possibility the latches or hood itself is bent, causing it not to open. A jammed hood is also fixable, which we shall address in the next section.

3. Broken Cable

The cable connecting the latches could also be a reason for the stuck hood.

If the cable is not tight enough to pull the latches open or if the cable was cut, you’ll have issues with opening the hood.

When the cable is cut or loose, the latch handle would not have proper control of the latches.

Your best bet is to either replace it or tighten it. We’d describe the process below.

4. Broken Lever

If your vehicle has a broken lever, you don’t need anyone to diagnose you.

So, if you were trying to get our vehicle’s hood opened, and accidentally the lever broke, it might seem as though you’re never going to get your vehicle’s hood opened again.

A broken latch lever makes it difficult or completely impossible to pull the lever from the interior of the car to move the latch.

Fortunately, it’s still possible to open a vehicle hood in some simple steps we shall highlight in the next section.

What To Do When My Car Hood Gets Stuck?

Now, let us discuss solutions to the problems of the stuck car hood we have identified above.

1. Letting it warm up

Firstly, on a snowy day, if your car hood gets stuck, you could try switching on your car and letting it warm up. When the car gets warm enough, the frozen parts will defrost, allowing it to move again.

If you’re still having issues, you could try moving your vehicle from the snow into your garage.

When the car gets warm enough, the frozen parts would have melted, and the hood would open easily.

2. Release the latches

If your case is a jammed latch, you should get an extra hand to solve this issue.

First, pull the release lever inside the vehicle. Then, from under the stuck hood, use your hand to try to release the latches while someone pulls the bonnet, trying to open it simultaneously.

If it doesn’t work, then push the hood down as though closing it. It might free the latches and then try to open it again manually.

When it finally opens, you should apply penetrating oil to the surface of the latch assembly and any moving parts. Then, move it back and forth several times to ensure it works smoothly.

You could follow it up by coating it with lithium grease.

If the latch is bent, use a hammer to straighten it up.

But still, after getting your vehicle’s hood opened, it is recommended that you take your car to a professional to have it checked or perhaps replace the whole latch system.

3. Pulling latch cable’s clip

You can change a broken latch cable if that’s what’s keeping it stuck. But before changing it, you must first open your vehicle’s hood.

In this case, you can open the vehicle’s hood by going under the car to find the latch cable connecting the interior release handle to the exterior latches system. In some models, it can be done from the vehicle’s hood radiator cover.

Get a screwdriver and use it for pulling the cable’s clip, which will eventually open up the latch. On opening the vehicle’s hood, detach the release cable from the latch assembly.

From the interior, disconnect the release handle. Then, change it after fixing the new one and running it back through the same access hole.

Finally, attach it back to the hood latch, and you’re good to go.

In a case it’s the plastic latch that got broken, you could still temporarily open your vehicle’s hood by using a plier to pull the cable.

After opening it, you could go to the junkyard to get a spare part for it or better take your vehicle to an automobile and have it fixed for you.


We have highlighted the most common factors that might cause your hood to get stuck.

If you try to troubleshoot your hood with the solutions offered here, and none seems to work, you should call for help from a professional mechanic.

There are other severe, more complex factors that could affect the hood not opening, especially after you had an accident.

A change in the car’s bodywork could also contribute to the hood being stuck.

But in most cases, the solutions described above should be enough.