How To Repair Your Imperial's Hood Release Mechanism


Imperial Homepage -> Repair -> Body -> Hood -> Release

Question from Tony:

is there a way to open the hood without the hood latch under the dash.When I normally pull on the latch the hood pops but when I tried it tonight...NOTHING.Is it possible that the servo not being in the car right now could cause this.


From Chris:

Look straight in through the grill at the hood latch,a well placed ,long screwdriver, pried gently against the arm that the cable attaches to, will pop the hood, chances are the cable has broken....

From Rob:

Don't know what year your car is, but sometimes the cable isn't broken. If the spring is a little weak or the latch is out of adjustment, sometimes it just doesn't pop up. Have somebody push down on the hood while you pull the release. Sometimes it will pop up. I have to do this a lot with mine. The latch is adjusted all the way down, but the spring is still a little weak. If the cable is broken, your stuck trying to pop it with a screw driver through the grille.

From Kerry:

When I got my '73 the hood release cable was broken and the guy had out a piece of wire on the arm and ran it through the grill. Looked tacky but worked. After I replaced the cable, I kept the wire but ran it behind the grill. Now if it ever breaks, I can reach up through the gravel pan and grab the wire.

Question from Wayne (1966):

The hood release cable just broke on my 66 Imperial - naturally with the hood closed!

Any suggestions for getting it open again are much appreciated.


From John:

I had this happen on my '65 a long time ago. As I remember, you can pop the latch by using a long screwdriver to push it sideways, or you can loop a piece of wire around it and pull it. I had to do this for quite awhile!

To fix the cable, you'll need to get hold of some stiff wire (like piano wire). I had a machinist drill out the old cable from the handle and secure the new one with a set screw.

From Paul:

On my '60, I keep a wooden yard stick in the trunk. It fits through the grill bars and can easily be manipulated to work the lever.

Amazingly, when this happened to me, I was on my way to Spokane, Washington. A gas station attendant offered the yard stick as they had used it on another car. I have kept it ever since. It took a while to get that cable fixed, so I relied on that yard stick for several months, back in the '80s when I was driving that car.

From Kenyon:

Peer through the front grille. You should be able to improvise from there. There should be a paddle of some sort that you can actuate manually with a lever or rod of your own improvisation.

From Dave:

The '66 is easy, a long screwdriver or some other piece of metal operated through the grill will do it if in doubt look under the hood of a '64 '65 '66 model first and you will see what you have to push to open the hood I had it happen on my '63 which is a REAL pain and I managed to open that one, although afterwards I put some bail binding plastic around the under hood catch so that if it ever did happen again I could just pull the flat binder plastic that I had left available to do this hanging inside the front fender.

From John:

I had this happen on a '63 many years ago. I used a butter knife inserted at the front of the hood to slide the release. Careful for the paint. Once you get it open, tie a piece of wire to the latch & pull through the driver's side wheel well. You'd be surprised how many Imperials I've seen with that arrangement.

From Chris:

I had it happen to me on the '62. What a mess. I had to make this wicked looking tool from sme aluminum stock I had laying around. Once I popped the latch, (after about 2 hours of trials over a 2 day period - I was going crazy!) I tied on a piece of steel wire that is now hiding at the grille towards the headlight pods. So if it ever happens again, there is now a "Plan B" in place.

From Don:

To prevent breakage in the first place make sure the release works easily and smoothly by lubricating well the latch assembly and spraying WD-40 along the entire length of the cable. If you haven't done this lately you will be surprised on how this little bit of maintenance will make you hood release work much easier while reducing the corresponding stress on the cable.

Question from Dave (1973):

During our recent cold spell, I went to check the fluids in my 1973 Imperial. With a firm yank, the hood pull came off in my hand.  I would like to hear from other Fuselage Imperial owners who have invented ways to open the hood when this happens.  

I was thinking of taking either of two approaches: 1) Cut the cable casing inside the car. Grip the cable with pliers then pull. Repair. 2) Fish a hook up through the lower front air-intake and hope I spring the latch. Repair. 

Any other suggestions?


From Kenyon:

OK - take a light source, kneel, and look straight in through the grille at the hood latch.

If you can't figure this one out, you need to quit, sell every last wrench, and take up knitting or something. No minus points for not looking there in the first place, I sweated bullets over it the first time too.

You'll slap yourself on the forehead when you see what I'm getting at.

All hoods that I have seen have some way around a broken cable, normally through the front of the grille or from under the car looking up.

From Kerry:

My 73 came with a broken hood release cable and a custom fabricated piece of wire that was connected at the release and came through the grill near the left headlight door. A large loop kept it from coming through the grill. Worked great, looked stupid!

When I fixed the cable, I considered moving it so it came out under the car.

I THINK you could reach up under the car and get to the latch.

Follow-up from Dave:

I fixed the hood pull problem.  Here's what you need:  

a) Worklight 

b) A screwdriver with a thin blade and a long shaft 

Here's what to do: 

Sit on the ground directly in front of the car. Shine your worklight in the space between the grille surround and the grille. You can see the hood release mechanism. Notice the piece where the hood release cable is attached. There is a small hole in the lower right half of the piece. 

 Insert the screwdriver blade into the hole. With light effort, turn the screwdriver a quarter turn. Pop goes the hood.  It couldn't be easier.

Addition from Kenyon:

A superior source of cable is your local bike shop.

Most Imp hood release handles have a set-screw that clamps the handle onto the cable, so you just have to get a new cable and tighten your handle onto it, and you're off the floor and popping the hood from the passenger compartment in no time.

The cables used in the bicycle industry for derailleur and brakes are almost stretch-proof and come with knobs on one end that won't ever come off. Take your old one to compare. Get a "Tandem" cable if the standard bike cable is not long enough. Tandems are 2-people bikes that are longer, requiring more cable length.

They have the cable housing on spools if your existing cable housing is ratty.

make certain to have a pair of cable cutters to trim it, dykes will fray it. you want a cutter with a circular closure to cut wire rope and cable. The bike shop guys can show/sell you what you need.

Question from Ted (1975):

When I pull the hood release in my car, the hood does not "pop" up. It just sits there and I have to make several attempts to get it open. It's quite frustrating. How do I get it to take that initial hop?


From Jeff:

When I have had this problem, I first lift the hood to check and see if the latch is properly adjusted. Usually it is and I then lubed the latch mechanism and the cable with lubricant. I like WD 40 on the cable and just motor oil on the latch assembly. Grease would also work I think. That should do it. One other thing to check is to see if the coil spring thingy?? under the hood is there. It is a half dollar shaped spring that the hood rests on and it provides a little lift once the latch is opened.

From Bill:

I think you just need to grease everything up good. Any exposed metal parts and work some into the cable. Some people just use WD 40. I like a lithium grease. Also ditto on the alternator. For that kind of price, you can't afford to rebuild yours. From your description, I don't think it was original anyway. If you are restoring to original, you can find one in the junkyards or form a swap meet, have it rebuilt and put it on later.

From Dick:

There should be a spring to help it pop up to where the safety catch grabs it. If the spring is missing, rob one off a parts car, probably any Mopar from the same era will be the same. If the spring is OK, but it still tends to stick shut, just lube the bejabbers out of the catch and the release, and you may have to re-adjust the release so it pulls the locking plate a little further open.

Also, I've seen them where the hood binds on the rubber baby buggy bumpers along the sides of the fenders. If this is the case, get some silicone grease and rub a small amount on the rubber pieces. If the hood is misaligned, this can hurt the looks of the car too. (Wouldn't hurt to do all around your door weather-strip rubbers too, since winter is coming and it will stop the doors from freezing shut, and make the car much quieter on the road. )

There was a discussion of this a few weeks ago, with suggestions as to where to buy it. Basically a scientific supply house or a diver's equipment house (assuming you do not have Surf Shops in St. Louis).

From George:

A few things my 75s have taught me....

1. Give the hood a slight downward push, just above the latch, if you hear the latch click slightly, the remote release should work next try. See #4.

2. Wrap the tip of a flat blade screw driver w/ electrical tape (to prevent scratches). Have an assistant pull and hold the hood release. Use the screwdriver to coax the hood open, carefully. Check hood alignment, see #4.

3. Detach the air seal between the bumper and the front of the frame. Reach up and feel around for the release cable. Follow it to the latch and find the lever it operates. Operate the lever by hand if possible. See #2. Adjust or replace the cable/release handle.

4. Once you get the hood open, hit the latch w/ carb cleaner to flush out the old hardened grease and the dirt attached to it. Lubricate the latch and the hinges. Operate the latch repeatedly (w/ hood open).

This page last updated June 15, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club