Lexus RX 350 hood latch

My wife popped her hood to jump start her daughter’s car. Nothing unusual happened except the hood will not lock. She drove home slowly. I went out and took a look at it and it looks like the mechanism which should lock the hood when it is closed is working. I tried all the obvious things - closed it gently and hard, looked for objects blocking the hood or something out of place, but I see nothing unusual at all. I took a screwdriver and pushed the lock down and it moves but it does not appear to lock into position. She pulled the release lever inside the car and I hear the cable moving but I don’t see any movement. This sounds like one of those, "oh yeah, you forgot to … " or “did you check the whatchamacallit” things where it is something obvious. Will take it to my mechanic in the AM but in the meantime, if any of you bright lights have any ideas please post. Thanks. Nincarpoop.

Probably the latch spring has come loose or broke. An aerosol gunk cleaner is sometimes needed to free a stubborn lock mechanism. Aim it at the lock mechanism and clean the excess gunk with a rag.


Kudos to word play—Nincarpoop!
Other than that, agree with Corollaguy1.

How old is th SUV? I had to luck bricate the trunklock mechanism on one of my cars. Maybe a little grease would cut the problem.

2008 Lexus RX 350 with 149,000 miles.

I tried WD40 and to manipulate the mechanism with a screwdriver in the hope it was just jammed. Nothing worked. This morning I took it to my mechanic. He said the latch itself had broken. He wasn’t sure if it was a spring, but it could not be repaired. He replaced the mechanism for $169.00 parts and labor. Works fine now.

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Thanks for the follow-up. Repair fee sounds pretty reasonable. Good for you. I had a problem on my Corolla one time when the latch wouldn’t release and open the hood. It was a real bear b/c I couldn’t open the hood to see the workings & figure out what was wrong. I had to do a Houdini magic trick to finally get the hood open. Turned out it was caused by lack of lube on the latch’s moving parts. It’s possible that same sort of thing happened to your latch, but it got stuck in a position when open that broke something when the hood was slammed closed.

Suggest going forward to lube that mechanism every time you have the engine oil and filter changed; that’s what I do and never had a problem since. I started doing that for my truck too, and noticed the first time that the latch parts were in a noticeably parlous state, and it was good thing I started the latch lube routine on the truck. On the truck it was pretty remarkable how a simple lube made the latch work so smoothly again, like new. Since the corrosion and gunk-up occurred gradually over 40+ years, I hadn’t notice how stiff that latch’s workings had become. There’s probably a special lube for that application, but I just use a dab of wd40 and 30W engine oil.

One other thing I’ll add: On the Corolla after opening the hood with a magic trick, at first it appeared nothing was wrong, other than it didn’t work properly. I took all the springs off, looked here, looked there, nothing wrong. But it didn’t work. It took several applications of a rust penetrant product, a few hours of waiting, then some wd 40 & oil, then somehow it started to work perfectly again. But I couldn’t see any part of the mechanism that obviously was doing anything differently than when it didn’t work. It must be a subtle visible change between working and not working.

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Thanks for your input and advice. So I gotta ask … what was the magic trick you used to get the Corolla hood open?

I could not see the actual mechanism on the Lexus, but the car is 11 years old and I doubt it had ever been lubricated. I started to take the panel off that covers the lock mechanism so I could see inside but it was late when my wife told me about it and never having done that before I was worried the clips that hold the panel together might snap and then I’d have had a real mess and we needed the car back yesterday.

I thought the charge was a little high, but on the invoice the lock mechanism itself was priced at $59.00 so an hour of labor was not too bad.

I forget exactly how I did it. I believe I recall after spending a good deal of time laying on my back under the latch area with a flashlight pondering the problem I was finally able to spot the horizontal cable that pulls on the latch mechanism when operated on the other end by the lever by the driver’s knee. Then I figured out a way (I think I eventually used long nosed, thin, locking surgeon’s pliers) to grab hold of that cable. That didn’t work by itself, but then I figured out a way to hold the lever at the other end in the open position at the same time, and that freed up enough slack in the cable somehow that I could pull on the cable enough w/the surgeon’s pliers to pop the latch open.

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