Ford bonnet latches are actuated by a cable that runs from the latch assembly down through the engine well and into the passenger compartment where it attaches to the bonnet release handle. If the bonnet latch is not cleaned and lubed semi-regularly, it can begin to stick, placing abnormal stress on the cable and release handle. If this issue is not corrected, the latch can ultimately bind, causing the cable or handle to snap. If this happens, you will have to learn to open the bonnet the hard way.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Sturdy pliers or vice grips
- Brake cleaner
- White lithium grease
Pull on the bonnet release handle and note how it reacts. If the handle is very stiff and does not move, the latch is binding, but the cable and handle are still intact. Try pulling on the handle while a helper thumps on the bonnet above the latch with the side of his fist. If the handle moves freely with no resistance, chances are either the cable or handle is broken and will need to be replaced. In either case, you can still use the cable to open the bonnet.
Slide under the front of the car with the flashlight and pliers. Shine the light up towards the location of the bonnet latch and locate the latch release cable, which should either run to the driver's side fender or down to the base of the radiator and then to the fender, depending on the vehicle's year and model.
Reach in with the pliers and grab the cable as close to the latch as possible. Once you have a firm grip on the cable, pull on it in the direction it naturally moves (i.e., towards the fender or down, depending on its routing). If the latch does not release, have a helper thump on the bonnet above the latch with his fist a few times until the latch releases and the bonnet opens.
Clean the latch thoroughly with brake cleaner once you have it opened then apply white lithium grease to the latch. Open and close it several times until it moves freely and easily.
Request that your oil service technician clean and lubricate your bonnet latch at every service. If you change your own oil, service the latch at least every other oil change unless you live in a dusty environment, in which case you should clean and lubricate it every time.
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