So you've been pulling on your hood release handle, and the hood doesn't pop; leading you to believe that the release cable is broken. You are probably right, considering there are few moving parts to this mechanism. Unfortunately, without a properly working hood release cable, your hood latch won't pop the hood as easily as you would want it to. Of course, there is a way to open the hood using hand tools from underneath, and you will eventually have to do that to replace the cable. But imagine how tiring and frustrating that is going to be if you have to jump start your car, change a headlight bulb, top off your oil, change your air filter, check your belts, etc. Clearly, a functioning hood release cable is more than just a simple convenience... it is a virtual necessity.
In the late 19th century, an Irish inventor named Ernest Monnington Bowden invented a type of cable that could transmit pulling, pushing, or twisting motions from a user in order to actuate a mechanical device. It consists of a braided or woven steel wire inside a rubber tube; at one end attached to some sort of handle, trigger, or toggle, and at the other attached to an actuator for the device to be controlled. In the case of a hood release cable, one end is attached to the release handle underneath the dashboard or steering column. Before the cable housing passes through the firewall, it is attached to a fixed point so that it will not move. This means that when the handle is pulled, only the steel cable inside the sheath moves. At the other end the cable is attached to the hood latch via a ball, loop, or fork. Again, the housing tube is clipped to several body pieces so it does not move as the hood release cable is pulled.
Replacing your hood release cable isn't difficult, but requires the removal of some body pieces in order to accomplish the task. Every car and truck is different, so the procedure cannot be applied to all vehicles. But here are the simple steps: