How To Open A Car Hood: Simple and Effective Solution to A Commonly Occurring Problem

Are you stuck with a car hood that fails to open? Without opening the hood, you will not be able to see whether the engine oil, washer fluid, or other fluids are adequate enough or need a refill. And worse if your engine is faulty, you will not be able to diagnose it. If you are stranded on a highway and your car doesn’t start, opening the hood to check the engine bay is the first thing you do.


With the stuck hood, you will not know whether the problem is a simple one that you can repair on your own or if it needs expert help. For instance, you might not know what happens when a car overheats.

So, it is important to know how to open a car hood. If you face such a stuck hood situation, this guide will help you resolve this issue in a jiffy, diagnose the fault, and get your car to its normal working state.

Image source: Wheelzine

Why Does A Car Hood Get Stuck?

The reasons for a car hood getting stuck are many. The hood may open partly or will not move at all. Often times you may not identify the issue until you try to open the hood to check the fluids or the engine. Here are some of the common reasons:

  • The most common reason for a stuck hood is improper maintenance of the latch mechanism in the hood. Grime sticking to the latch may cause the opening mechanism to malfunction.
  • Lack of sufficient lubrication can lead to malfunction of the springs, hinges, and cable present in hood opening system.
  • Fault in the cable mobility or latch system of the hood also cause the hood to get stuck.
  • In electronic hood release system, defect in this electronic system can be a reason for the hood problem. In most cases, using the emergency release button provided will help.
  • Damage to the vehicle body leading to misaligned latches is also another reason for the stuck car hood

How to Open a Car Hood

Here is a step wise instruction guide to help you open your stuck car hood easily. This applies to most models of cars in use now

Step 1:

Identify the hood release system. This is present generally near the kick panel on the driver’s side. 

Sometimes it may be present under the dashboard too on the left side.

Step 2:

Grip hood release and pull it outward firmly. This will activate the latch mechanism in the hood. The actual release latch is connected to the release switch by a cable.

Image Source: Mercedes Medic

Step 3:

When you pull the release, you will find the hood opening up with a small gap being seen between the hood line and fender.

Step 4:

When you hear the hood popping open, find the secondary release system, and activate it.

Pneumatic braces are used to hold your hood open while you work on your engine. These braces are only effective for a certain range of motion and are designed to only hold the weight of your hood. Proper use insures your safety.

Step 5:

Press the hood slowly downward when you activate the secondary release. This will help in making the opening easier.

Step 6:

Once you have activated the secondary hood release, relieve the downward pressure, and raise the hood gently upward.

Step 7:

Now you will be able to open the hood fully. Keep the hood open with the help of hood shock. This is present near the hood hinge at the base.

The hood shock or pneumatic braces help hold the hood while you get to work on the car’s engine. But remember that the braces are designed to help only in holding the hood weight and not anything that is too heavy. And they are effective only for a particular range of motion.

You can also use prop rod to keep the hood in open position. You have to place this support by hand unlike the hood shock.

Step 8:

Now that you have the car hood opened, you can inspect the engine bay, complete the required repairs and have your car performing in top condition. When you have done the necessary repairs close the hood gently by pulling it downward. Once the hood is closed, check whether it is closed properly by pulling it upward slightly.

As you can see, opening the hood of your vehicle is a very simple job that takes just very few minutes.

You can also watch this video with some tools below to open the car hood easily:

Ensure Hood Works Properly

Once the hood closes and opens smoothly, close it by lowering the hood to about 6 inches from the engine. Drop the hood down. The force will help in engaging properly with the latch. If the latch does not reengage, you have to just put some pressure on the hood or try dropping the hood from a level higher than what you tried before.

Now that you know how to open a car hood you need not panic anymore when the hood fails to open. This step by step process is sure to clear all your queries regarding car hood not opening issue.

In a majority of hood issues, the problem is with lack of sufficient lubrication and cleaning. If you fail to address the hood problem it can cause equipment malfunction. Hence it necessary to maintain the car hood properly by cleaning the latch mechanism of any grime or dirt. This will help avoid being faced with frequently stuck hood situation.

Use a carb cleaner to remove oil, grime, and dirt on the latches. Use lithium grease for smooth latch functioning on the two ends of release cable. This prevents corrosion of the mechanism. WD-40 is also another option for lubrication of the hood latch system.


So, this is how you can open your car’s hood. You can take cue from this handy guide and solve this issue within a few minutes. We hope you liked our tutorial on how to open a car hood. If you found this guide satisfactory, please share it with your friends and family on your social media accounts.

About the Author Alice Brown

I am just a car girl. Simply interested in the automotive and vehicular world. I started out as an apprentice mechanic working at my father’s garage. I'm hoping my two cents will help you fix a blinking light on the dashboard or that cranking noise that you don’t seem to know where it is coming from.

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