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How to open a stuck bonnet

bonnet cannot open hood stuck

Can't open the bonnet with the release lever? Is it stuck fast? Here's how to open a bonnet that's jammed shut.

You've pulled the lever in the driver's or passenger's footwell (or inserted the key behind the badge in the grille on certain models) but you didn't get the famiilar thunk or clunk which indicates that the bonnet can now be raised. What do you do?

1.  Get some help

Ask your assistant to push down at the front of the bonnet (gently but firmly) while you pull on the release lever again. If the cable is jammed between the lever and the catch, this may free it and the bonnet will pop up as usual.

2. Pull the cable manually

Take a closer look at the release lever. You may be able to release the handle and the trim around it to reveal the cable that's attached to it. If the lever is part of the dashboard, take a look underneath - you should see the cable.

Carefully detach the end of the cable from the mechanism (take a photo of how it was secured to make sure you can put it back) and, using a pair of pliers, grip the end and pull the cable towards you to replicate the motion of the lever.

If the bonnet pops up, the cable is likely to have lost its tension and will need to be replaced. Have another look at the lever, though, because the mechanism may have broken.

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3. Work through the grille

On some cars you'll be able to unlatch the bonnet release catch by working a pair of long-reach pliers or similar through the grille.

Look for a hook that the release cable attaches to. Pull this hook with the pliers and the bonnet should open. Take care not to damage the grille as you do this.

4. Jack up the car

If you can't work through the grille, use a trolley jack and axle stands (with the car on solid, level ground, the handbrake on and chocks behind the rear wheels) to raise the front of the car. Don't use your car's emergency jack - the car needs to be properly supported before you work on it from below.

Now reach an arm up from behind the front bumper and release the bonnet lever/mechanism. You may be able to peer through the grille with a torch to see what you're doing but will probably need to look up from underneath for the best view.

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