I used WD40 with a long spray tube through the grill to liberally cover all of the parts and the cable then let it sink in for a while. I then got an assistant to hold the bonnet down to relieve some of the pressure on the catch and tried again. Bingo!
Disassemble the mechanism and release the cable clamp outer. Tie up the catch with string to the bonnet so it's lifted up as high as possible. Make a funnel out of blue tac or similar and fill with oil so it will flow into the cable inner. Work the catch a few times and leave it. Keep topping up the oil and working the catch for a while to get the oil well into the cable.
Oil the mechanism and replace.
I guess I got lucky but you might be the same!
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Re: the hood will not pop open
There is no easy way to get the hood open to repair the problem, here are the common ways we technicians use to get the hood open when the release or latch is broken or stuck, 1st try pulling the outside sheath of the cable that pulls the hood open, it that fails try to reach it from underneath, without a lift rack that is very hard, the 3rd is through the grille opening, after 30 years and dozens of problems like yours this is the way I approach the job of getting the hood open.
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Greg, the spring in latch release is weak or broken probably or it is still seized and lubricant still has to be worked into it. You can probably get a replacement fairly cheap at auto recyclers.
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Might just be stuck. Have someone pull the release as you FIRMLY pound on the front of the hood in the middle with your fist (NOT A HAMMER ! ! ! !).
If that works and it opens, get some WD40 and spray the latch and cable, lever, etc... and then work the release lever before closing it again. If the cable has broken....... it is very difficult to release without some automotive knowledge. I'm betting it is just stuck...
oddly enough had this same problem with my car a few years ago. there are a few ways to try it. first pull the hood release and then smack the hood close to the cab (somewhere close to the center) that can release the hood clamp and it may pop up. or you can pull and hold the hood release lever and have a friend smack the top of your hood (while standing in front of the jeep) if these dont work you have to either go under the jeep or through the grille and maually pull the cord that is in the hood latch to open it. then replace the cord. however if the smack technique works just leave the hood open and find the rubber hood stems (theyre the little rubber tipped screw looking things in the front corners of your engine compartment that connects with the hood) and screw them a little to where they raise a couple mm. when screwed up a little they should give the hood enough pressure to pop open when you pull the release lever. long enough for you to tighten the wire connected to the hood release or replace it all together
If it feels like the cable is attached when you pull the hood release try having someone push down on the front of the hood near the latch. Once the release is pulled out have the person relieve pressure from the hood once you let go of the release. This works for most stuck hood situations. If that doesn't work try having some one pull up on the hood while the release is pulled. This works when the spring has weakened. Once the hood is opened clean and lubricate the latch assembly to prevent further trouble.
If you pull on the release handle inside the car and it does not "pop"
the hood open, make sure the hood is not already "popped". If it is,
then try to push the hood down firmly until it does not pop up
anymore. Then, try the interior pull handle again. If the hood is
completely closed and the pull handle does not pop it open, try to
remove the handle slightly from the dash. This involves removing 2
phillips head screws (one from either side of the handle). When these
are out, you should be able to pull the handle and its small
trim/holder piece. See if this is broken and try to pull back on the
actual release cable ("silver" braided wire) with a pair of wires.
If nothing above pertains to the issue, then let me go to a different
one. If the pull handle works fine and "pops" the hood like normal,
but you are unable to unlatch the hood, then I need more information as to the conditions of the problem. Has it released properly in the past?
Also, make sure that you are pulling the correct lever when trying to unlatch the hood. Standing in front of the car facing it, the lever will be just to the left of the very center of the hood. It should have a yellow end. Pull up on that and everything should release.
If these ideas do not help you out, then I will need more information. Let me know and I'll be glad to help you through.