You will typically need to release the hood inside the car and then use the lever to open the hood. However, if the lever in your car is broken, you will need an alternative approach.

Head to the hood’s front before inserting a copper wire into the spring holding the hood latch. Drag the latch to the left with the spanner. You have now learned how to open a car hood without a release. A screwdriver should work if you don’t have a spanner or a copper wire. Drag the latch down with the screwdriver to instantly open the hood. 

Unfortunately, I’ve had to open my car’s hood without a lever several times. Most of the time, my car’s battery was dead, or I had locked my keys inside. It can be stressful, especially when hurrying to get the kids to school. 

This article is for you if you are here because you found yourself in this situation. I will explain how the latch mechanism works and several potential reasons why your car hood won’t open. If you’re using a car unfamiliar, I review several options for finding the hood lever. 

How Does A Hood Latch System Work?

how to open car hood

Even though different cars may have different hood latch systems, they all use the exact mechanism. Did I finally find intelligent ways to find lost car keys at home? 

A car hood latch system consists of three main parts, which I present in greater detail below: 

Hood Release Cable

Like a bicycle’s brake cable, the wood release cable has a protective layer covering an inner metal cable. The release handle attaches to one end, while the secondary latch attaches to the other. 

Potential problem: The cable may disconnect at one end or be damaged. The latch cannot operate when this occurs. Unfortunately, the car hood must be opened to fix or replace the hood release cable. 

Hood Lock/Latch Handle

It’s either in the door frame, next to the driver’s seat, or beneath the steering wheel near the dashboard. Usually, it fastens to the cable that releases the hood. 

Potential problem: The latch is stuck. This occurs due to rust or other environmental degradation to the hood latch’s metal. It occurs frequently in the winter, mainly when the deicer is on the roadways. 

Another possibility is that the hood lock is broken. The lock could be stiff and loose or stuck, but this is a rare issue. 

Hood Latch/Assembly Point

The hood latch/assembly point combines a secondary latch with a safety latch. The hood cable moves the secondary latch. The safety latch at the front of the car must push for the hood to open fully. The safety latch has springs that attach to the shut panel. 

Potential problem: This could be due to a broken latch. Either the hood won’t close, or it’s jammed shut. It might also be out of alignment, loose, or covered in rust and grease.

A Detailed Guide On Opening A Car Bonnet For Beginners 

Opening a car bonnet is simple and should not take much time. Most new car owners struggle with how to open a car bonnet. You must open the bonnet when refilling the wiper fluid, changing or filling the car’s oil, or jump-starting the engine. Or you feel something is wrong with your car, and you want to take a closer look. 

If you’re a beginner, here is a guide on how to open the bonnet. 

  1. Find the hood release, usually beneath the left side of the dash or next to the kick panel on the driver’s side.  
  2. To activate the hood latch, firmly pull outward while holding the release. The lever connects to the actual latch release mechanism via a release cable. 
  3. You can see a tiny gap between the fender and the hood line after pushing the release, which causes the hood to pop open.  
  4. Once the hood is open, find the secondary release and activate it. 
  5. While activating the latch, lightly press down on the hood. 
  6. Release the pressure after the secondary release has activated, then raise the hood slowly.

The 2CarsPro YouTube channel provides instructions on opening most cars’ hoods in the video below. 

It’s important to remember that certain cars have more than one release hatch, and some have the hood latch handle on the outside. 

How To Locate The Hood Lever

If you’re using your car, you probably already know where the hood lever is. But if you’re using a car hire or a friend’s car, the story may be different. Because of this, you might need to check online or in the owner’s manual for precise diagrams showing the lever’s location on the specific car make and model.

There are various approaches to locating the hood lever, though. 

  • Use a flashlight to shine through the grill of your car. Most of the levers lie a little to the right and front center. Depending on the car’s model, you can remove the grille without opening the hood. 
  • Alternatively, place a tiny mirror within the grill to search for the lever. You should be able to locate the lever if you carefully probe with your fingertips or a screwdriver. 
  • You can jack up your car and find the lever when the engine cools off. Directly beneath the point where the front center of the hood joins the car’s frame, look for a small metal latch. Or follow the release cable, which attaches to the latch on the vehicle’s driver’s latch. Use a sturdy support before working on the car from below; do not use your car’s emergency jack. 

How To Open A Car Hood Without The Release

Even if your car’s hood release lever is broken, you can still open the hood. So don’t worry! However, the method will vary depending on the broken part of the release. When you open the hood, you won’t damage other car parts if you know which component is broken.  

Before going up to the grille or crawling underneath the car to find the latch, ensure the engine has had time to cool down. To avoid being burned, 30 minutes is sufficient time for cooling down. 

An underhood work lamp, copper wire, a spanner, and a screwdriver are a few of the items you might need. A screwdriver is one of the tools that you should always have in your car. You can use it to start a car without a key too.  

The table below shows how to open the car hood depending on the damaged component. 

ComponentAction to Take
Broken or loose release handleRemove the handle if it is still connected to the cable.
Pull on the cable with pliers or a vice grip until the hood pops open. 
Overstretched/broken hood cableThe cable has a problem if the release stays in a pulled-out position after you’ve tagged on it.
Follow the cable line to the latch trigger by peeking through or underneath the grille.
To press and release the latch trigger, use a long screwdriver. 
The cable has a problem if the release stays in a pulled-out position after you’ve tagged on it.
If the hood does not open after tripping the latch, take your car to a mechanic.
The latch is stuckUse a long piece of metal (26 inches) to trip the latch if the screwdriver can’t reach it. 
To grease the latch, spray it with WD-40 or lithium spray lubricant. Never use a silicone spray since it can contaminate the oxygen sensor and reduce engine power. If you apply the lubricant underneath your car, wear safety eyewear.
Request someone to pull the hood latch handle repeatedly as you apply pressure to the hood.
This releases the tension in the hood latch (from the safety latch) and pops your hood open.
Your hood still doesn’t open even after pulling the release handle.

You can avoid frequent release lever breakage by routinely lubricating the latch mechanism, both ends of the wire, and the latch’s working springs. Additionally, it would be best to clean the latch to keep it free of debris frequently. 


After reading this article, how to open a car hood without a lever should no longer be a problem. I explained the operation of the latch system and possible explanations for failure. I have shown you how to open the car’s hood for each likely cause. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I open the car bonnet of a Toyota Corolla 2017?

You can see a small tab with an image of a car with its hood open if you open the driver-side door and look straight up on the floorboard where your left foot would be. Pull it up until you hear a pop, the primary release. 

When you approach the front of the Toyota car, you’ll see that the bonnet is now a little slack. Take a position in the center of your Toyota Corolla’s front end. Slide your fingers to the right until you feel a small tab; gently raise it with your little finger. 

You can use your hands to raise the bonnet after you hear a pop.

What are the steps to safely pop the hood of a car?

There is a straightforward process for how to pop the car’s hood. The steps are:  

  1. Find the lever on the driver’s side. 
  2. Keep pulling the lever until the hood clicks or pops. 
  3. The hood doesn’t open completely, so you must go to the front bumper. 
  4. Ensure the car grille is not too hot before opening the hood to avoid burns. 
  5. Feel for the latch by placing your fingertips under the hood’s center point.  
  6. Lift the hood after pushing the latch to the side.

Is there a way to open a car hood without using the release lever?

Yes, opening the car hood without using a release liver is possible. Go outside your car with a hook. Locate the cable that connects to the hood latch inside your vehicle. Pull off the spring with the bent hook. Ply up the hood mechanism. Slightly raise the hood. The hood should then pop up. Slide your hand under the hood and pull the latch the usual way.


Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren

Keren Simanova

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren