Hood latch maintenance/repair FAQ

Updated 2/25/2002

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Courtesy of Adam Wilson

This FAQ will explain how to adjust your hood latch as well as repair or replace the latch mechanism and/or replace the release cable.

Tools Required

On my '81 528i, the hood latch cable broke one day while attempting to pop the hood. The effort required to pop the latch had been getting worse and worse and finally the cable broke. It broke right by the handle in the car, luckily. I was fortunate that this was easy to repair. If it had broken under the hood while the hood was closed it would have been much harder! The factory repair manual says you can pop the hood if this emergency were to happen if you remove the driver side grill (as we will show) and remove the latch. However, the top 3 screws that hold the grill in are blocked by the edge of the hood when its closed! So I don't know what they're talking about. So, don't let this happen to you. If your latch is getting hard to pull, don't ignore the problem like I did.
(Note: I determined it is possible to open the latch by inserting a large slot screwdriver through the slots of the grill and into the the latch opening just to the right of the lower latch mounting bolt. Rotate the screwdriver clockwise to move the latch arm to the right to release the hood. I found my cable to get harder to pull and ordered a new cable. When I started to install the cable I noticed my cable was quite free but the latch was pretty hard to pull. I cleaned out the latch with brake cleaner and examined it. Where the trigger and latch arms meet and slide across each other as the latch is pulled, the trigger arm, which is connected to the cable, had worn flat, making it difficult to slide. Both pieces are gently curve and normally only contact at their 'tangent' points. I relubed the latch with Redline CV-2 grease and it's better but nowhere near as free as it used to be. I'm getting a replacement latch. Stay tuned.- Peter Florance)

This is where my cable broke, right near the little ball end that is attached to fit into the handle. I waited for several weeks for a new cable from Maximillion, meanwhile I opened the hood by gripping the cable end with vise grips. It was not fun.

Here is the hood latch, up near the front of the car. The cable on my car passes through the opening to the back of the headlights. To remove the latch, the plastic headlight assembly rear cover must be removed. This picture doesn't show the cover, but it is right by the battery.

First remove the 6 phillips head screws that hold the black plastic grill on surrounding the headlights, on the drivers side. This picture shows the grill after removal.

This shows the two 10mm bolts that hold the hood latch in. This is to the left of the drivers side highbeam, left as you are looking at it from the front of the car.

After removing the two 10mm bolts, you can see the tracks that the bolts can slide up and down in to adjust the pickup point of the hood latch. In my car, it only works if the latch is in the topmost position in the tracks.

This is from the perspective of under the hood. After the 10mm bolts are removed you can reach in behind the headlight assembly and pull the latch out still attached to the cable. This picture shows the latch in the open position.

This shows the latch in the closed position. The top center shows a small hole where the hood bracket would fit in when the latch is closed like it is now. In the picture, the bolt holding the cable into the bracket is an 8mm bolt. This must be unbolted to remove the cable. Also, at this point, it may be good to try to scrub some of the gunk off your latch and lube it a bit for smooth action. This is actually AFTER I cleaned mine up if you can believe it.

From this angle, we can see the little brass link on the end of the cable. It fits inside a little crook in the handle. Also, a nice view of the new turn signal relay I just put in.

Behind where the handle mounts to the wall, the cable itself feeds into a plastic sheath that runs through the firewall and all the way to the latch. To install my new cable, I first detached the old, broken cable from the 8mm bolt holding it to the latch. I pulled it out of the cable sheath by gripping it with a pair of pliers and pulling from the latch side. Then, since the new cable comes with the brass endlink on there already, I started by feeding the new cable through the plastic sheath inside the car, behind the handle. Again, with pliers gripping the cable, being careful not to bend it, I fed it through slowly until it popped out of the sheath up by the latch. I secured the brass endlink into the handle inside the car (it just pops into its slot with a little patience), and then tighted down the 8mm bolt over the cable end by the latch. Reassembly is the reverse, of the above steps. Some adjustment may be necessary of the amount of cable left slack to go through the 8mm bolt and also where to position the latch's 10mm bolts in the tracks they slide in.

Click here to view a small movie of the finished result, a nice, precise pop when the new hood latch cable is installed and working.

Hood open movie

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