If you have a car with a hood latch stuck, you might not be able to open or close the hood. Luckily there are solutions, and sometimes it’s as simple as cleaning the hood latch. This article explains how to fix, open or close a hood if the hood latch is stuck or broken and won’t lock or unlock.
How to Diagnose and Fix a Hood Latch that Won’t Lock or Unlock
Symptoms of a Broken or Stuck Hood Latch
- Hood won’t close
- Hood won’t open
- For vehicles with multiple hood latches, one side might unlatch while the other doesn’t
Causes of a Broken or Stuck Hood Latch
Broken or Stuck Latch Levers
The hood latch is usually exposed to outside elements if it sits behind the grille. The grille has openings to let air pass through to cool the radiator, but sometimes elements and debris like dirt, moisture, and road salt sneak in. This can rust and rot out the hood latch and affect its operation.
Many hood latches on cars today have two safety release latches—a primary latch that is controlled by a lever that initially unlocks the hood latch and a secondary latch that is also controlled by a lever that is usually unlocked directly by hand at the front of the vehicle to release the hood. If either of these levers are stuck from corrosion, it can keep the hood from opening or closing.
Broken Latch Release Handle or Cable
Since not all hood latches are designed the same, a hood latch that won’t open or close could be caused by a bad lever or cable. If the hood latch cable or hood latch handle is broken, it’s likely because there is a rusted hood latch that isn’t functioning properly and is putting extra strain on these parts.
Misadjusted Hood Latch
A misadjusted hoot latch will shift from where it’s bolted, possibly causing the latch to only partially unlatch.
Broken Hood Stoppers
Stoppers apply light pressure to the hood in the upward position to stabilize the hood when the latch is released. If they are broken or not adjusted properly, it can cause an issue with the hood latch not releasing the hood.
How to Fix a Broken or Stuck Hood Latch
How to Open the Hood If the Hood Latch Is Broken
Two ways to open the hood if the hood latch or hood latch cable is broken
- Locate the Primary Latch Lever
If the hood is stuck closed, see if you can see the primary latch lever through the grille. If you can’t access the primary latch lever through the grille, see if you can access it by laying underneath the vehicle.
- Apply Upward Pressure to the Hood
If able, apply upward pressure to the hood with a plastic trim tool to protect the paint.
- Shift the Primary Lever
Shift the primary latch lever with a screwdriver to open the hood. If the latch won’t move, rust and rot are likely preventing the hood latch parts from functioning. If the latch does function but still doesn’t open, it could be a defective hood latch cable or hood latch release handle, but that is likely from a binding hood latch straining those parts.
- Spray the Hood Latch with Rust Penetrant
If the hood latch lever won’t move, try spraying the hood latch with rust penetrant to loosen the parts.
How to Fix a Hood Latch that Won’t Close or Open the Hood
The hood latch is usually the issue, so check that first, which is usually located at the front of the vehicle behind the hood.
Clean the Hood Latch
- If the hood latch is rusted or rotted, try cleaning it with parts cleaner and a brush.
- After you have removed the rust from the hood latch, spray it with rust penetrant to lubricate it.
- Apply protective coating to protect it from moisture.
Replace the Hood Latch
If cleaning the hood latch doesn’t improve its functionality, replace yours with an affordable and quality replacement at 1aauto.com. Install it yourself with thousands of how-to videos for many makes and models.