Have you ever had a problem where your hood won’t close? It just won’t stay latched? I did. Follow this picture guide to see the steps I used to remedy this situation!

What’s the Problem?

The hood on my 2004 Toyota Corolla would close, but not latch. You could slam it shut, and it would just bounce back about an inch or two above where it was supposed to be held firmly in place! Sometimes, if you slammed it especially hard, it would stay. Other times it would appear latched, then pop open several inches after going over a bump, only being held down by the secondary safety latch. What a pain that was.

The problem of a hood not staying latched for a 2003-2008 Corolla generally falls into 1 of 3 categories, that I will outline here:

  1. The cable going from the hood release lever inside the car to the actual latch is not going back into the correct position after popping the hood. Make sure to press the hood release lever inside the car back in before you try to close the hood. But even if you have done that, the cable may not be releasing on the latch end. This can result if the cable is worn out or grimy and no longer slides cleanly within its sheath. Use a needle-nose pliers or screwdriver to push it back into place before trying to close the hood again. If this ends up being the problem, try lubricating the cable. If it still sticks, consider replacing the hood release cable with a new one.
  2. Another common problem is that over the years of slamming the hood, the latch mechanism has been pushed down enough that the latch has trouble engaging. There is a certain amount of ‘slop’ in the holes that hold the latch in place, so one solution is to loosen the latch, slide it up as far as it will go, and then re-tighten it.
  3. The hinges and hood mechanism may need lubrication. This was the approach I took that solved the immediate problem I was having, though one or both of the other problems may crop up eventually.

I finally decided to take the time to investigate the problem and do something about it. The following are the steps I took.

Tools and supplies needed:

Optional parts:

Lubricating and Replacing a Corolla Hood Latch

The first step is to go ahead and lubricate the hinges and the latch itself. Why? Well, if the hinges are gummed up and catching, they will resist the hood closing. Rather than a smooth closing motion, the hood will lag a bit and flex the hood, not slamming tightly. Also, the latch should be lubricated because when the hood is slammed, if it doesn’t latch immediately, the hood will pop up before the latch has time to close.

I don’t recommend using motor oil or something like WD-40, as these can have the effect of gumming up the moving parts and actually making the problem worse. You want a light lubricant that won’t thicken up or get gummy. A silicone spray lube such as this liquid wrench silicone spray stuff is what I used.

Open the hood and prop it up. Then, spray the silicone lube onto the hinge joints.


Get the tube right down to the hinge and give it a good dousing.


Get it from several angles, if possible.


Once both hinges are lubricated, move on to the latch.


Spray generous amounts on the spring latch…


And the two hinge mechanisms in the latch.



Once the hinges and the latch are well-lubricated, set the spray can aside and un-prop the hood. Then push the hood up and down to work the lubricant into the hinges. Also press down on the hood into the latch. Repeat several dozen times to exercise the latch mechanism and work the lubricant down into the joints. Then try slamming the hood several times to work the latch. Does the hood close properly now? If not, try lubricating the hinges and latch again.

If that doesn’t fix it, it may be time for a new hood latch or cable release. The latch and cable are surprisingly inexpensive. Here are links to these part numbers on Amazon.

I hope this was helpful! Check out more Toyota Corolla maintenance articles here.