The most common problem that causes a Volkswagen MK7 to get stuck and not open is due to cable issues. In most cases, the cable comes off the hood release handle (located under the dashboard, driver's side) but in some cases, we have seen problems with the union box breaking (located in the engine bay).
It can cause you a major headache if you have never had a VW hood that won't open. Below we will discuss how to identify the problem and fix it.
The most reliable part is the hood latch itself. The physical latch for the hood is pretty reliable because it is mechanical and only has one plug. The issue most people run into is with the cable and handle that activates the latch.
Hood Release Handle
Starting inside the cabin on the left-hand side of the driver’s footwell is the hood release handle. This chunky L-shaped handle is made of plastic, and the hood release cable sits in a small pocket inside the handle. This pulls the cable allowing you to access the engine compartment. The cable is stout and hard to actuate. In contrast, the plastic is brittle, which often leads to the pocket where the cable sits breaking.
How To Replace a Broken Hood Release Handle
Thankfully, this is the simpler of the two issues and only takes about ten minutes to repair. Here is a quick guide to opening the hood if the handle breaks.
- Using a wedge or pry tool, lift on the kick panel at the bottom of the driver’s door.
- Using the same tool or your hands release the panel surrounding the handle. It uses small metal clips that pop outward to hold it in place.
- Rotate the panel until you can get the handle out of the hole. This may be frustrating, but it does come off.
- Remove the clip on the back of the handle and pull the handle off of the spline.
- Install the new handle and panel in reverse order. They will pop back on the same way they came off.
If you need to access the engine immediately, use a pair of pliers to pull the metal ball on the cable's end. This should release the latch so you can open the hood. I caution you, again, about the strength of the cable spring. It is hard to operate, but if you pull too hard, the union in the middle of the cable can break.
Release Cable Union
The hood release cable has a connection point above the driver’s headlamp; this is true for right or left-hand drive.
Inside this slim black and white box is a metal ball and a plastic cup. The cup takes a remarkable amount of force to move. The union is made of innovative German plastic that has the dexterity of thin glass and often cracks and breaks.
If this breaks, you will no longer be able to access the engine. So you will no longer be able to check the fluids or perform other maintenance. When this happens, you have a real problem.
How To Open a Stuck Hood on an MK7 Golf
Your only option here is to bypass the broken coupler on the union to open the hood. This is more time-consuming than the first issue as you need multiple tools that you may not just have lying around, like Torx bit or “star” bits and a ratchet wrench. It can be a tight fit to get your hand in there, but it can be done. However, if you have the tools and an hour or so, here is how to open the hood on a VW Golf MK7 because it is stuck due to a broken cable.
- Jack up the car and place a jack stand in secure locations and remove the driver’s side front wheel.
- Remove the inner fender liner that is held on with T25 Torx screws.
- Remove the back of the headlamp housing. On vehicles with halogen bulbs, this twists off. On cars with the lighting package, several T20 screws hold the cover on.
- Remove the headlamp bulb to give you more room to work.
- Use a small pick to open the slim box the coupler is in. Then stick your hand into the hole using the same pick and pull the spring attached to the cup to open the hood.
- Re-install everything you took off in reverse order and torque the wheel to 88ft-lbs or 120nm.
Problems like these are a good reminder to keep at least a small amount of tools in your vehicle at all times. For German cars, it is great to have Torx bits, an assortment of metric sockets, ratchet, screwdrivers, etc.
Also, consider a torque wrench in case you have to change a wheel and a cheap OBD code scanner so if you end up stuck on the side of the road, you can check the codes and see if you can get back on the road on your own or if calling a tow truck is the better option.