Open Hood Release

How to Open a Car Hood Video

Opening your vehicles hood is a relatively simple task that can be done in a few minutes with no tools required. It is a good idea to know how to open your car's hood. Once the hood is open it can help gain access to the inner workings of your car's engine and other accessories. This is mandatory for anyone needing to perform a service, repair or maintenance their vehicle. The hood release consists of two separate latches that include a primary and secondary latch. Most vehicles are equipped with an inside primary latch and a outside secondary latch. Both must be activated to open the car hood. The latch used to open your hood is usually located in the passenger compartment on the driver's side, under the dash or built right into the dash. Once the primary latch has been located pull the hood release and the hood will pop up a noticeable amount.

Then, located the secondary latch, push the hood down slightly and move the secondary latch and lift the hood into the upright position. This secondary latch is a safety device so that if the hood is accidentally released while driving the hood doesn't open completely and cause vision obstruction. Always make sure the hood is properly secured by using the prop rod or helper springs before removing your grip. If your hood is equipped with a "prop rod" you will need to install it in the designated position to hold the hood up properly. 

Some hoods are held in the upright position with hood elevation springs or shocks. These springs or shocks help lift the hood and then hold the hood in position until closed. To close this style of hood holder simply pull down on the hood slightly. If a hood is slightly damaged or just sticky it can cause the hood not to "pop" open, in this case you might need a helper to pull up on the hood to allow the primary latch to release.

Open Car Hood
Open Car Hood

Sometimes it will take a small rap with your hand on the hood near the latch to allow the hood latch to release. When performing this action use caution to not dent the hood. Sometimes once a hood has been opened and you are tiring to close the hood but it wont stay down it could be because the latch has fallen to the closed position. If this is the case you must pull the hood latch while the hood is in the open position and make sure the latch is in the open position. If this doesn't help you might have to help the latch open by using a screwdriver to help the latch open. Once the latch has re-opened the hood can now be closed into it normal closed position. 

Remember to close the hood firmly and recheck the latches ability to keep the hood closed by pulling up on the hood to confirm closure. If you have pulled the hood release and have a helper pulling up on the hood but it still won't open it could be the cable the actuated the hood has broken or is maladjusted. In this case the hood latch must be opened manually from the outside of the car. To do this it takes some imagination because there are many different ways to perform this action. Sometimes you can retrieve the activation cable through the front grill while other times the only way to activate the hood release is to gain access to the latch from underneath the vehicle.

How to Open a Car's Hood Guide:

To open a car's hood in most cases is a very simple operation that almost anyone can perform. Start with your car on level ground, in park with the emergency brake on. Then, locate the primary hood latch on the inside of the car on the drivers side. This primary latch location can vary because every manufacturer is different. Most primary latch locations are on or near the left kick panel, but they can be in the dash or under the steering column also. Most hood release handles are clearly marked with a white illustration of an open hood. If you cannot locate the primary or secondary release consult an online car repair manual.

Step 1 - Locate and pull the primary hood release until the hood "pops" open exposing the secondary latch

Step 2 - Locate the secondary latch

Step 3 - Push down slightly on the hood and active the secondary latch

Step 4 - Lift hood into the full open position

Step 5 - Properly install hood prop rod to hold the hood in the open position (If your car is equipped with a helper spring or shock skip this step)

Step 6 - Once the service or repairs have been completed remove the prop rod or simply push down on the hood to lower.

Step 7 - With a firm burst of energy push the hood to the latched position

Step 8 - Grasp the hood and try to pull up, the hood should stay in the complete down position, if not repeat this procedure

Potential Tools Needed to Release a Stuck or Sticking Hood

  • Long Flat Bladed Screw Driver
  • Pliers
  • Flashlight
  • Long pry bar

Common Problems:

  • Once the primary latch has been activated the hood will not "pop" to the semi open position due to a sticky latch
  • Primary hood activation latch cable fails, leaving you to open the hood manually from the front or underneath the car
  • Hood will not close due to the latch failing closed while the service or repairs are being performed
If further technical assistance is needed, our certified car repair technicians are ready to answer your car questions.

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Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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Article first published (Updated 2013-11-15)