Some car defects are minor and won’t make your car unusable, while others will render your car somewhat useless. If you’ve been wondering where a broken hood latch falls into the spectrum, you’re not alone. Can you drive a car with a broken hood latch?
It’s technically possible to drive with a broken hood latch, and it’s not even illegal in most cases. However, if you value your safety, you should avoid driving with a defective hood latch, especially if it’s stuck open, and not closed.
In this article, you’ll learn what you should do if your hood latch fails suddenly. Also, you’ll learn the cost of replacing a hood latch, so you can get a replacement before it becomes a problem.
What’s a Hood Latch?
A hood latch is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the component of your car with the responsibility of latching the hood down into place. There are two latches in a decent hood latch and both work together to hold down the hood, and you’ll learn why soon enough.
The first hood latch is the main one, and is what you think of when you hear someone say “hood latch.” When you close the hood of your car, the latch slides over a component called the catch and a tension spring holds them together.
You can open this latch by pulling the knob inside the car, and it’s the major hood latch in the vehicle. However, most people aren’t aware of the presence of another minor latch, despite them having to work with it every day.
When you pull the knob to open your hood, it doesn’t just fly open. To get the hood to open fully, you must walk up to it, unlatch the second latch with your hands, and lift the hood cover.
The second latch is to secure against accidental opening or breakage of the first latch, as the consequences of a hood flying open due to a broken hood latch are pretty unimaginable.
How Do I Know If My Hood Latch Is Bad?
If you aren’t sure you have a broken hood latch, you should be. The signs of a broken latch are so obvious that it’s ridiculously easy to spot. However, there are varying severity degrees too, which is something you may want to keep in mind while you check.
If you want to confirm the failure of your car’s hood latch, you’re in the right place. Here are some of the ways to tell if you have a broken hood latch.
1. Your hood isn’t opening
If you continue pulling the hood release inside your car with no effects, your hood latch most probably has a defect. Most times, a broken latch will be stuck in the closed position, making it difficult to open the hood.
A hood that refuses to open is one of the more favorable outcomes regarding a broken hood latch. In most places, you can still legally drive a car with a hood that doesn’t open, but you can’t do the same for a car whose hood isn’t opening, for reasons you’ll come to understand.
Summarily, if your hood is stuck in a closed position, you may want to start looking out for the price of a hood replacement with your local auto mechanics.
2. Your hood isn’t closing
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a hood that’s stuck in the open position is also broken. Practically, it’s even more broken than having the hood stuck in the closed position permanently for reasons you’ll eventually come to understand.
If this happens to you, never try to hold the hood down with something else. It’s only designed to work effectively with the hood latch, and you don’t want a situation where the hood flies off when you’re driving.
Can You Drive with a Broken Hood Latch?
Now that you can tell if your hood latch is broken, should you be driving a car with a faulty hood latch? Here’s why driving with a broken hood latch may either be a dangerous or less dangerous problem, but it’s always something on that spectrum.
There are two kinds of hood latch problems. If your hood doesn’t open, you don’t have much of a problem. The government wants you to keep your hood latch closed at all times, and having one that’s broken and won’t open only helps the course until it’s time to do something under the hood.
If your hood doesn’t close, you have a much bigger problem. You should even avoid driving it to the repairer, as you’re taking a very huge risk by doing so. As much as we’d love to not say this, there’s always the risk of your hood flying off and blocking your windshield while you’re actively driving.
Summarily, you can drive with a broken hood latch, as long as it’s stuck in the closed position. However, that is only until you’ll need to open the hood, which should be soon enough if you have a good maintenance schedule.
However, a car with an eternally open wood latch can be a very dangerous machine. At any time while driving, the hood can simply fly off, blocking your view of the road, essentially meaning suicide.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Hood Latch?
If your hood latch is bad either way, the best fix is to simply replace it. There aren’t many repair tactics that work on hood latches and trying to drive without regard for the latch is just another kind of suicide.
And there’s the cost question. The amount you’ll be paying to replace your hood latch depends on the make of your car, the model and manufacturer, and what kind of repair shop you patronize.
A hood latch is a relatively low-cost component of a vehicle, and you should be able to get a replacement for about $50 to $500. If you have an inexpensive vehicle and you get your repairs done at cheaper repairers, you may never need to pay anything around $500.