Car hood flew off while driving, safe to keep engine uncovered?

My girlfriend’s hood flew off while driving last night, hit the windshield (didn’t damage it), then flew off into a wooded area off the road. She was unable to locate the hood. Our schedules are fairly busy, so trying to go to a junk yard to find a replacement (that would be the cheapest route, I suppose?) might take a week, and it’s supposed to rain all week- is there a danger in having the engine and such uncovered all week, or is it imperative to get a tarp or something on it asap?

It already rained this morning for a bit, but I figure more rain coming, I’d better check to see what the dangers are.

Thanks for any input.

Without knowing the make, model, and–most importantly–the model year of her mystery vehicle I know that I run the risk of being wrong on this point, but…the probability that there are water-sensitive electronic components in the engine compartment of that vehicle causes me to say that you definitely need to protect things with a tarp.

Also, you should check the overall condition of her car’s body/chassis, as it is not typical for a hood to completely dislodge itself from its hinges. There could be a considerable amount of rust damage on this vehicle.

It definitely needs to be covered.

+1 to VDC’s post.
Leave the engine uncovered in the rain and the cost of the lost hood will rise rapidly and dramatically.
Does she know WHY the hood flew off? This incident is extremely dangerous to her and to the other drivers on the road. Someone could easily get killed… along with their family members. This needs to be investigated.

Sorry, I forgot to even mention…it’s a 1998 toyota camry.

Honestly, I think she didn’t latch it properly…she checked the engine oil a couple of hours earlier, and I suspect she didn’t close it all the way. No way that happened on the same day and it’s merely a coincidence.

Thanks for the input. She’s driving back over in the area today to see if she can find the hood in the daylight. Hopefully she finds it.

Hopefully the hood wasn’t run over too many times, or too beat up to at least give some cover to the engine. While being uncovered is not good idea, it’s probably not such a bad thing in the short term. Anytime you drive on rain wet roads, there is a LOT of water kicked up under the hood. Most components are at least somewhat water resistant.

I once drove a BMW M3, without a hood, about 200 miles. It rained part of the way. When I got to the salvage yard I was headed for, I bought a matching hood for the car, and installed it before driving back. They wouldn’t ship it for fear of damage.

By the way, while it is one of those things that is supposedly illegal, there is no law against driving a hoodless car. At least not here. Neither is driving shoeless, not that it’s a good idea.

I agree with MG, the underhood is designed to be cleaned with a spray washer so manufacturers put water resistant connections (notice I didn’t say waterPROOF) underhood so the car isn’t stuck in the wash bay after pressure washing. So don’t worry about driving it around a bit without the hood.

Worry about how the hood TORE the itself off the car! That is your greatest concern. I’ve raced a number of times against guys that forgot to latch or pin their hoods down before starting a race and NONE of them with stock hinges lost the hood. You’ve got a serious fix ahead of you.

I think I would put a tarp over it to be on the safe side. But the question of why and how it blew off are the more serious issues. Even if it was not latched completely, it still has a secondary safety latch-so the whole latch must have failed. Then there is the issue of why it came off the hinges or if the entire hinges/supports were torn off, which shouldn’t have happened. I think it may need some professional help to get it back into shape again with new hinges, latch, and maybe welding new sockets for the hinges.

" I’ve raced a number of times against guys that forgot to latch or pin their hoods down before starting a race and NONE of them with stock hinges lost the hood."

Even if the girlfriend forgot to latch the hood, the safety catch should have held it in place–albeit in a slightly raised position so that it is supposed to be obvious to the driver that the hood is not fully closed.

If the hood managed to open all the way, despite the presence of the safety latch, and if it then tore clean off the car, then I have to suspect very strongly that this 17 year old car has a LOT of rust damage to the body–and possibly to the chassis.

Sometimes things happen for a reason, and perhaps this hood incident was an omen for you and her to check the car’s structural integrity, which I suspect has been badly compromised. Just imagine how badly this car would fold-up upon impact if it has severe rust damage.

Twice I’ve been on the highway and discovered the hood of our 2012 Acura TL open and held by the safety catch. It held and no problems and since I’m the only one that opens and closes the hood, I’m quite certain I have always made sure it was completely locked. That’s what the safety catch is for but I suspect there is more going on here.

I hate to rain on everyone’s parade, but it is possible to not entirely close the hood on most cars without engaging the safety catch. However, since the danger of a hood opening on the road is so high and the risks so great, the hood latch operating mechanism and the safety catch system should be checked out thoroughly.

If it turns out that the young lady just didn’t close it, I strongly recommend that this be used as an educational opportunity. No opportunity to prevent this from happening again should be overlooked.

Tarp it to keep water off the electronics. Even though its just plastic it could prevent a battery theft, ie, out of sight out of mind.

You will also need to replace the hinges since they are now bent.

I dunno, usually just the weight of the hood is enough to engage the safety catch. I mean you’d really have to work at it to bring the hood down soft enough to not engage the first latch. I’m voting for a complete failure of the latch (like the spring broke) or the whatchamacallit on the hood itself came loose or came off. Only thing that makes sense to me.

It seems like it would be difficult to completely loose the hood. I mean it is so big. But I guess it must be possible, simply b/c that’s what happened here. I’d be inclined to maybe go back and look around in the area where it happened, before trying to find another hood. If you can find it, that seems much easier solution.

It should be possible to find a replacement without much trouble via the junkyard network, but there’s the expense of the hood itself, getting it to your location, that it might not fit perfectly so it might need some re-working, and of course it will be the wrong color so a paint job will be required, which of course won’t match the paint of the car since the car paint is faded by now.

No @GeorgeSanJose. He should use to find a used hood at a salvage yard (at least fairly) close to him. He can drive the hoodless car there and put it on. Don’t buy one unless it’s a color match. The same aged car is fairly likely to have faded at approximately the same rate. Problem solved.

If you decide to tarp the engine, note that you must remove it before driving it. That may not need to be said, but I thought I’d say it anyway. Otherwise the tarp will catch fire, and then the car will too.

If it is possible to find the same color hood in good condition in the same model year, yes, that would work.

Thanks so much everyone. It turns out, some of the guys who work on the farm she works at went on a rescue mission, and apparently they found it in some field close to where it flew off. Pretty dinged up, but I actually think it may have already been a slightly different color than the rest of the car, which I didn’t even think of before- maybe the hood had already been replaced at one point?..she was pretty shaken up, as it apparently swooped back and hit the windshield really hard, then just flew off into the air. Took her half a min or so to figure out what happened. Crazy that both latches would fail…I actually suspect it’s probably a rust issue as many have noted. I feel like her brother, whom she got the car from, probably didn’t take the best care of it…either that or the person who owned it before him (some other family member). I’m not 100%…but even from looking at it, it seems like it’s probably not in great condition.

The same guys who found it apparently work on vehicles a lot…I will definitely mention the idea of rust to them, as this seems the most likely culprit.

Thanks again- lots of helpful info here.

The tarp idea only applies when parked. It would be a fire hazard and could interfere with the fan when driving. And it could come off and block the windshield. I wouldn’t use it, anyway. And there’s going to be a lot to repair I’d think, not just a bolt it on situation.

It’s probably better for her it did tear loose. One of my friends had a hood open up on the expressway years ago and it folded up over the windshield, blocking his view entirely. Not fun when you’re going 65 in traffic. Of course, if it had not flown off to the side, it might have ruined someone else’s day…pretty lucky all the way around.

I’ve had to replace the hood latch on my '03 Camry three times now. It keeps rusting up so bad that it doesn’t close properly and when it does close, it cannot be easily opened. After the first one, I was greasing it up pretty often and still failed. Hopefully this last one (all OEM parts) will last the remaining life of the car. Maybe your GF car has similar issue…

In 1963, I was driving a Ford Straight truck, a big one with a metal box, heavily loaded with shell corn, on a gravel road. The hood, probably due to body twisting on the rough road, flew back against the windshield.

However, it did not “block my view entirely”. You see, I could see out my side window and once my first response was over, in a second, I was in complete control of the vehicle and brought it to a halt.

IF it had happened in a curve, it might have been totally different in outcome. But, on a straight road, all I had to do was keep it between the ditches and closer to my side.

But, Ole’ Vern, who was passenger, did say something about going home for new Fruit of the Looms…