How to open a broken car bonnet

Written by ken mccarron | 13/05/2017
How to open a broken car bonnet
A car bonnet can be opened from the outside. (Bright yellow and black American muscle car image by Christopher Dodge from

If you have ever needed to get your car bonnet open to add fluids or for a repair and it just wouldn't budge, you know how frustrating it can be. There are a few different reasons why your car bonnet won't open when you pull the bonnet release lever. Usually, it is either the latch cable that has broken, or the latch assembly itself. Opening your bonnet from the outside takes a little manoeuvring, but it can be accomplished.

Pull on the bonnet release lever inside the car, while at the same time having someone pull up on the bonnet itself. This will rule out the bonnet just being jammed shut.

Determine the reason for the bonnet not opening. Pull the latch handle. If it doesn't go back into place when you release it, the cable is likely broken or damaged. If it does and you can feel it trying to release the latch, it is probably the latch assembly itself.

Shine a torch up into the grille of the car. Locate the latch assembly. When you can see it, stick a long screw driver in through the grille and attempt to pop the latch until it releases. You may have to move it around quite a bit before the latch opens. It is spring loaded, so you will need to use some pressure. After popping the latch, slightly press down on the bonnet and release the secondary latch to open the bonnet.


Be careful not to puncture holes in anything with the screwdriver. If the latch cannot be opened, you can remove the latch handle on the inside and pull the cable with pliers to open.

Things you need

  • Long flat head scewdriver
  • Pliers
  • Torch
  • Long pry bar

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