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Hood releases are typically a braided steel cable that runs from the handle inside the car to the latch under the hood. A couple things could be wrong. Commonly, the cable is stretched; you feel the cable pulling when pulling the handle, but nothing happens. You can pull the handle as far as it will go, then use a pair of pliers to grab the cable and pull it even more. If the handle doesn't move, the cable housing could have been compromised or water has found its way in causing the cable to rust and seize inside the housing. Either way, an auto repair shop could help you out if you are unsure of working on it yourself.
Saturn Vue hood release can be opened (if the cable is not broken) by disconnecting the cable from the back of the release lever, grabbing the ball on the end of the cable with some large pliers ("channel locks") and pulling hard. A metal "wire keeper" bracket clamped to the cable end under the hood to serve as a spacer and the release lever works. The purpose of this bulletin is to provide a procedure for opening the hood on the Saturn VUE and ION vehicles should the hood latch release cable mechanism become inoperative. VUE Hood Opening ProcedureModify the Saturn radio antenna by bending the antenna mast 1 in. (2.54 cm) above the antenna base to a 25 degree angle Open hood of similar vehicle to locate hood latch release cable to hood latch attachment point. Using modified antenna, note approximate location that antenna will have to enter in between fascia and hood to access the hood latch cable attachment point. This should be toward the left edge of the Saturn emblem. Also note position of the modified antenna base. It should be angled downward. Note: Use protective tape on the hood and fascia where the antenna will be inserted to protect the surfaces from scratches On vehicle with inoperative latch, insert antenna between hood and fascia and depress the hood latch cable until the hood is opened.
As far as I know (based on my 1996 model) you don't remove the cover. The lamp comes out with its socket from behind, under the hood. Twist the socket to release it from the housing, pull it out, replace the lamp and put it back. It's just a bit of a pain to get at. You might try calling your local Saturn dealer's service department to check for sure if your model has changed a lot from my '96.
(I liked my car. But the timing chain slipped and trashed the engine. Make sure to keep checking your oil!)