Hood Cable 101: Quick and Simple Guide
- The hood latch system, which consists of a hood release cable, a handle, and latches, makes it easy to pop the hood when needed and keeps the hood firmly shut to keep it from popping out unexpectedly.
- The hood cable, which is covered with a protective lining, is connected to the hood release handle, while the other end is linked to a secondary latch.
- Once the handle or lever is pulled and released, tension is applied to the cable. This pivots the secondary latch, which then pulls away from the retainer. Once the hood is disengaged from the safety latch, the hood will shift and will pop open for a few inches slightly.
- When the cable breaks, this usually happens at the release point or at the latch. The lining that protects the cable may also form cracks, letting in moisture and dirt that damages the cable inside. The cable may also slide out of alignment due to a front-end collision or any accident.
- A sticking or broken hood latch release cable makes it impossible or rather difficult to open the hood, while a malfunctioning latch keeps the hood from closing fully or staying shut.
- Apply a small amount of white lithium grease on both ends of the cable and the latches to keep them from seizing up. This can be done every time you change the vehicle’s engine oil.
- The cable replacement must be of the right length to maintain proper tension and to cover its paths. The cable cannot be too tight nor too loose.
- The cable is sold at wide price points, from less than $10 to more than $80, depending on the brand and the make and model of your vehicle.
All you have to do is pull the release lever and pop the hood to get into the engine compartment for inspection, tune-up, and service. But once the taut hood cable snaps or seizes up, the safely latched hood can get stuck or stay shut. At this point, opening the hood would be challenging. To fix it, you will have to replace the old, broken cable.
How does the hood latch cable work?
Your vehicle has a hood latch system in place for safety and convenience. The safety latch keeps the hood firmly shut, so even when you are driving at highway speeds or when driving over bumps, it will not pop out accidentally and block the windshield. The hood latch system, which consists of a hood release cable, a handle, and latches, also makes it easy to pop the hood when needed.
The hood cable runs from the cockpit along the driver’s side fender well to the front end of the vehicle near the driver’s side headlight. One end of the cable is connected to the hood release handle, while the other end is linked to a secondary latch. Once the handle or lever is pulled and released, tension is applied to the cable. This pivots the secondary latch, which then pulls away from the retainer. Once the hood is disengaged from the safety latch, the hood will shift and will pop open for a few inches slightly.
The hood latch cable is built with a protective outer lining. This lining keeps the raw cable from being exposed to the elements and protects it from corrosion. The cable is tugged back and forth inside as the lever or handle is pulled. Over time, the tension placed on the cable can lead to its wear and tear.
What causes the hood cable to be broken?
The hood cable is made to withstand the tension placed on it from countless pulling when opening the hood. But as time goes by, the cable becomes brittle. It can get too stretched and may get jammed. When it breaks, this usually happens at the release point or at the latch. Although this cable can break at any point, the ends of the cable are most prone to damage.
The lining that protects the cable may also form cracks, letting in moisture and dirt that damages the cable inside. This allows rust to form and spread along the length and eat away at the cable bit by bit. This will shorten the cable’s service life. Other than getting rusty and worn, the old cable can also slide out of alignment or may get jammed. This is most often caused by a front-end collision or any accident.
What are the signs of a broken hood latch release cable?
Once the cable breaks, the hood will not pop open like it used to. You can tell there is a problem with the hood latch system if you pull the release handle or lever and you do not feel any resistance at all. The handle can also get stuck that.you cannot pull the handle anymore. Or, even if you get to pull and release the handle or lever, the hood stays latched. A sticking or broken hood latch release cable makes it impossible or rather difficult to open the hood, while a malfunctioning latch keeps the hood from closing fully or staying shut.
In any case, proper inspection of the hood latch system will reveal the underlying cause. If this points to a faulty cable, then this needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Buying a cable replacement is fairly easy, as long as you buy one that is built for the vehicle you drive. Fixing it is more complicated since this requires routing the cable from the latch to the handle.
How can you keep the hood cable and latch in good condition?
The hood latch system also needs proper care and maintenance. This will extend the life of the hood latch mechanism, keeping the latches from drying up and sticking, the handle from breaking, and the cable from seizing up or cracking inside the lining.
When pulling the lever and opening the hood, make sure not to put too much force into it. The hood latch system should not be operated roughly. Keeping the parts lubricated also helps. Apply a small amount of white lithium grease on both ends of the cable to keep it from seizing up. The grease will also help the latches move smoothly on riveted hinges and retain tension on springs. This can be done every time you change the vehicle’s engine oil.
If the cable is already jammed, stuck, or corroded, at this point there is not much you can do other than to to replace it.
How can you find the right hood cable replacement?
The hood latch system of different vehicles pretty much works the same way. Although they are similar in concept, the schematics may vary for each make and model. This is why when you look for a hood cable replacement, the cable should be specifically built for your vehicle. This guarantees that the cable will be of the right length to maintain proper tension and to cover its paths. The cable should not be too tight nor too loose. This also makes it easier to thread in the new cable and attach it to the system with no trouble.
Other than the exact fit, you should also look into buying a cable that is made of quality materials. Cables may be manufactured using stainless steel and may come with reinforced or more durable lining to prevent wear caused by damaging elements such as moisture, dirt, and ice. The cable may also be bought along with the handle. You must explore all available options to find great deals.
The cable is sold at wider price points, from less than $10 to more than $80, depending on the brand and the make and model of your vehicle.
Things to Look for in a Hood Cable
Popping the hood is made fast and easy with the help of a good hood release cable. Without this simple yet important device, access to the engine compartment for repairs and tune-ups become very time consuming. Eventually, this cable snaps or break due to repetitive pulling and opening. When that happens, you must buy a replacement as soon as possible. Since aftermarket hood cables are made to fit specific models, here are a few things to look out for that may make picking a new one for your car easier.
Common causes of hood cable failure are the following: regular wear and tear due to opening, natural elements, and heinous theft. Look for a replacement that is protected from any form of tampering. To combat rain, ice, dirt, and other elements, look for a cable that is encased in a cover for protection. There are ones that use tougher material built to last for years. A stronger cable also gives car thieves a harder time cutting through it to steal anything from your car.
There are plenty of hood cables on the market that offer quality OE replacements. These are designed to be a close match to the original part used on your car. If you want an improvement to your stock cable, look for a set that uses a different and improved material for the lever and ends. For example, some aftermarket sets do away with the plastic lever of stock cables and replaces them with a sturdier aluminum or steel one. These are also secured by tougher screws and bolts to ensure that each pull of the handle results to an open hood.
Opening the hood means pulling and putting stress on the cable. Do away with ones that don't have free replacement and service attached to the purchase. To spare yourself extra cost and unnecessary stress when it breaks, look for a cable that has a long warranty period. This can span from 1 to 5 years. Despite the higher price, it's best to go for those that have multiple-year warranties.
Installing and Rerouting a Hood Cable
One pull of the hood release lever should give you an open hood in one try. However, with a broken hood cable, you won't have that certainty especially during an emergency. When you think you start to have some difficulty opening your hood, it is important to do a replacement at once. This is also a good time to reroute the cable to give your car a crude anti-theft feature.
Difficulty level: Moderate
- Socket set
- Wrench set
- Screwdriver set
- Needle-nose pliers
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Small cutter
- Zip ties
- Replacement hood cable
Step 1: Park your car on a flat surface and open the hood. With your needle-nose pliers, detach the hood release cable from the latch. Carefully pull and guide the cable out of the engine compartment. Remove any clips holding the cable along the car's body if there are any. By the end of this, the cable should be dangling freely inside. Set it aside on a safe area.
Step 2: Step inside the driver-side of your car to remove the foot rest and the kick panel. There should be a couple of bolts holding it in place. This will expose the insides of the hood lever with the cable. Use a wrench to disconnect the hood release lever from the frame. Carefully pull the lever-end of the cable. You should now have both ends of the cable dangling.
Step 3: Completely guide the cable out of the car. Most hood cables are lined near the fender area. For some cars, the rest of the cable is located inside the driver-side wheel well. To access this, raise your vehicle using a floor jack and secure it with jack stands. Grab a screwdriver to remove the screws of the wheel well. Peel it off afterwards. Push the lever-end of the hood cable through the firewall and into the engine compartment. Once you are done pulling, return the wheel well and lower the car.
Step 4: Before you install the replacement cable, prepare the engine firewall for rerouting. Use a cutter to make a small slit on the driver-side rubber firewall for the cable to pass through. Be careful not to damage any sensitive wires.
Step 5: Grab the new hood cable and connect one end to the release latch. Next, run the cable along the other lines and hoses of the car up to the slit on the firewall. Secure the hood cable to the body with clips and on the other wires and hoses with zip ties. Inside the car, connect the other end to the release lever.
Step 6: Finish the repair by lowering the car and returning the other interior panels removed.