How to close my hood?
June 30, 2006 5:59 PM   Subscribe

I was topping off the windshield washer fluid on my 1999 Toyota Tercel. That was easy enough, but now the hood won't completely shut. It will catch on the very first latch, but will not completely shut. How do I make it shut on my own? And if I can't do that, will it be safe enough to drive (not on major highways) until then?

So far I have attempted to use WD-40 on the latch mechanism, but that hasn't shown any effect. This happened once before, and it magically closed perfectly the next morning - is this a factor of the car now being hot? Should I wait for it to cool off and try again?

Any advice would be very much apppreciated. I have plenty of Canada Day driving to do... the beech *needs* me tomorrow!
posted by BlzOfGlry to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: and yes, by beech I mean beach... though the tree is pretty too.
posted by BlzOfGlry at 6:03 PM on June 30, 2006

As a veteran of many POS cars, I wouldn't chance driving it the way it is. If the remaining latch fails, your hood will catch just a little bit of air, fly up, wreck the hood, dent the roof and possibly break the windshiled. A good fix is to buy some lightweight chain along with a nut and bolt and chain your hood shut.
posted by buggzzee23 at 6:32 PM on June 30, 2006

Have you tried re-releasing the hood latch? I assume it's an inside pull under the dash. Try pulling it again and see if the second latch got engaged without the hood in it.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 6:51 PM on June 30, 2006

Make sure that the hood release cable is still attached and make sure that you've moved it back and forth and not stuck in the open position. I usually deal with troublesome hoods by sitting down HARD right over the hood release to make it snap closed. I'd worry a bit about driving with the hood the way it is, though I have done it on my own car for a while with no ill effect. The worst case scenario is pretty bad though, so I'd invest in bungee cord or the chain solution above.
posted by jessamyn at 6:52 PM on June 30, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions folks.

The hood release lever inside the car moves, but it doesn't really seem like it's doing a whole lot. From my vantage point (at a tricky angle, with no helps around) the actual latch mechanism isn't moving... should it be?). I guess it's possible that the cable has come detached from the latch. Is this something that I can fix myself?
posted by BlzOfGlry at 7:06 PM on June 30, 2006

If the latch isn't moving AND the cable is still attached, that means that the latch was already in the open position. I don't know where to look to see if the cable's still attached.

How hard are you trying to close the hood? When I had my Dodge I couldn't put it down and press on it, I had to let the weight of the hood do the work from about 18 inches up.

I am not an auto mechanic, however.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:17 PM on June 30, 2006

I honestly don't mean to be insulting, but did you snap the prop rod back into it's place? If it's not properly placed/seated, it'll interfere with the fit of the hood. Otherwise, yeah, sticky cable.
posted by klarck at 7:31 PM on June 30, 2006

Response by poster: ahh, at frist glace I thought you had it for a second there klarck... but alas, the prop rod is properly secured. dang!

It doesn't seem to close, no matter how I high I slam the hood down from. Judging for the way that the piece that connects to the latch looks (on the hood side) it's meeting a great deal of resistance.

I'll keep messing around
posted by BlzOfGlry at 7:40 PM on June 30, 2006

ok, try this: have one person pull the hood release, while a second person trys to open the hood. maybe that will work?
posted by lester at 8:05 PM on June 30, 2006

Sometimes the cable that pulls the latch open when you pull the release lever inside the car sticks, holding the latch in the open position. Take a look around the neighborhood of the latch under the hood, and see if you can see where the cable hooks into the latch mechanism. If you spot it, try to pull the cable or the arm that it's attached to out of its sleeve. This should allow the hood to close and latch properly.
posted by davey_darling at 8:56 PM on June 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

I don't know the '99 Tercel enough to know if this is a dumb question, and I don't mean to insult you, it's the sort of thing I've done many times, but have you checked to make sure the lid of the wind shield washer reservoir is properly down and not blocking the hood from closing?
posted by jamjam at 11:01 PM on June 30, 2006

Best answer: Sorry if this is stupid, but I am stupid when it comes to cars...

My old Accord had a problem where the hook-y part in the hood latch (not the part on the hood, but the part that grabs the hood) would stick in the closed position when the hood was open. So no amount of forcing the hood down would catch the hook-y part, because it was already in the closed position.

So I would have to get a screwdriver and pry it open, then grow a third arm with which to hold it open while trying to close the hood at the same time, and let go of the screwdriver at just the right moment so the hook would close and catch the hood.

Can you get someone to gently lower the hood down into the latch, while you watch from below to see if the mechanism is already closed?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:36 AM on July 1, 2006

Along with all the other good suggestions above may i submit the following;

Rubber Mallet.

Not for the hood though, give the locking mechanism a good solid whack. It sounds to me like the spring that causes the hook to return to center isn't pushing/ pulling it to where it's supposed to be.

It might fix the problem. And if it doesn't, it shouldn't hurt anything.

Barring that, go with the chain/ bungie cord idea. You really don't want your hood popping up unexpectedly.
posted by quin at 1:20 PM on July 1, 2006

Response by poster: SuperSquirrel.... you were exactly right! Thanks a million. I tried prying it before but it took a hell of a lot more pressure that I thought it would take in order to move it.

Thanks everyone for the help... you guys made Canada Day at the beach a great success!
posted by BlzOfGlry at 1:37 PM on July 2, 2006

Good lord. I solved someone's car problem, and without even being there in person. This kind of makes up for forgetting that the little red "Check Engine" light on the dash meant something important. I may live that one down yet.

Thanks for the update! :-)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:59 PM on July 2, 2006

Hey, I had exactly the same situation on my '99 Tercel - from the windshield washer fluid refill to the WD-40. (Is your Tercel also green?) The only difference is that I wasn't planning on going to the beach (it's January!).

For me, the problem was the hood release being stuck open (as davey_darling suggested). Just to clarify for the next person who Googles "hood doesn't close completely":
  1. Check the hood release latch from inside the car. If it doesn't spring back when you pull it, then it's stuck.)
  2. Take a careful look at the latch mechanism under the hood. One piece is where the hood catches. I'll call this the "catcher" If you look down at this mechanism from above, you can see the cable from the trunk release coming in from the right. That pulls on a rotating metal piece that holds the "catcher" in place once it catches your hood.
  3. Take a screw driver and push that catcher-holder piece back in. The easiest way to do this is to push the bottom of it to the left (you're fighting the stuck trunk release cable)

posted by JeremyStein at 3:53 PM on January 29, 2007

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