Bonnet release methods

I find myself unable to open my XJ40’s bonnet. The car has just had a new windscreen
and scuttle panel welded in. This required unclipping from the bulkhead one of the twin bonnet release cables namely the longer one that goes to the passenger side catch. I ended up trying air wedges as per Frank Gerber’s 2005 post:-

The wedge popped the driver’s side catch but would not release the passenger side. Next option is to crawl into the driver’s foot well and try to locate and then pull on the end of the twin cable for the passenger side bonnet catch where that cable is fitted to the release lever. Is the cable end accessible in the foot well and will this method work?

Generally is there any emergency release technique known for this sort of situation on the XJ40?

Thanks and keep safe,


Sorry, no idea. Though I must rig up a secondary connection wire/cable for each side so i don’t find myself in the same awkward boat as you. Good luck.

High Gordon,
Thanks and yes, it would be good idea to provide some means of releasing the bonnet catches if say a cable breaks. I Googled the issue and got this link off another Jag forum:-

It confirms what I’d heard that the XJ6 S3 has access holes to the catches in the wheel wells with rubber blanking plugs. And that the 420G has a similar hole behind the glove box. Maybe a ex-Jaguar dealer from the XJ40 era would know the official factory method to release?

I intend to rope in a buddy to press down on the bonnet corner while pulling on the cable as per Frank Gerber’s post, my next move. I need the bonnet open for the MOT next week.

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I used a coat hanger made to size from the unlatched side measuring where the other side is and wedging the stuck side up to get the hanger in.

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Hi David,
Good to hear of a method that worked. As you say, measurement pretty important to hook onto the catch from quite a distance, right across the engine compartment.
Keep those ideas coming, guys.
Keep safe,

after getting it unlatched and the cable repaired I stopped closing it completely

I went in from the windshield side since that is the pull direction to unlatch.

if the cable is not connected that won’t work.

Many thanks David - this sounds very promising.

So take a look at the photos so that we can get our bearings. There is a photo from the Haynes manual of the bonnet catch. In the photo top is the windshield/screen, right is fender/wing. This is a US spec LHD car. And there is a close-up of the collet clamp which sits on the end of the catch lever and needs to be pulled back to release.

I have made a tool from piece of wire coat hanger. It will certainly fit through the gap along the windshield edge. Did you go in a slight angle or maybe bend the hook slightly to curve it upwards or did it go in straight and level?

From the lever’s location, maybe on a lift the lever could be grabbed from below. I don’t see any scope for cutting emergency access holes. As a back-up, maybe a second bowden cable on each side emerging below the front valance?

I’ll let you know how my “fishing trip” goes.

Many thanks for the idea and keep safe,


I think that I will try going in at an angle from the corner aiming to line up with the side of the catch.

no holes for the 89, I raised the unlatched side with a 2x4, made a nice hook on the hanger. put the hanger on the unlatched pull mechanism and mark the hanger at the windshield end of the hood when it is hooked. next I measured where the hanger is from the edge of the hook. push the hanger forward, rotate to release and repeat on latched side.

going in at the corner may work but it is a straight aft pull to unlatch. keep the hanger straight and 90 degrees worked well for me.

corner will probably work fine, make sure to keep the hanger going down

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I have never done this but it worked for a friend,using a plyers pull the wire that is attached to the release in the footwell, your cabel has streached and the release handel can only travel a fixed distance, pulling the internal wire should do the job. good luck

Hi John,

Thanks for that. I have attached a photo taken looking upwards from the driver’s foot well. It is exactly as you describe. You can see the two cable ends and the cable that is out of adjustment due to its outer being detached for welding. Long nosed pliers or even better long nosed mole grips should do it. But it involves contortions and I will leave it for the fitter when it goes into the garage for the MOT.

I did try to hook the release leaver but it looks as if that latch is very tightly locked down - you can adjust this on the pin. That meant a very tight gap to work through. I think that I might of snagged the leaver once or twice but pulling did not work and the wire hook slipped off.

So if you have a cable break or pull out of the cable clamp, you are in a pickle! Putting the car on a lift and reaching upwards to manually release the leaver may be the only option left. Some sort of emergency release could be engineered. A second bowden cable either side is possible. Or buy two cheap 12 volt solenoids and position them on the bonnet catch box to kick the leavers over - call it an upgrade! Then maybe have the cables only as a back-up.

Problem solved.

To understand what we did, you will need to refer to the Jaguar parts illustration

My trusty mechanic Jim ( Jim’s Autobodies Liverpool UK 07890954303) first tried grabbing the cable end from inside the foot well. He got it gripped with self-locking pliers but no amount of pulling would release the passenger side bonnet catch. This was rather strange, he thought. So he used two air wedges and an inspection mirror to be able to see under the bonnet edge and spotted the problem. The clip item 8 on the diagram had broken due to corrosion (after thirty years.) So the cable outer was no longer secured to the latch box and the inner was not moving the lever. Jim then managed to hook the lever with a coat hanger tool and open the bonnet. Securing the cable outer with a new clip will restore normal function. The clip is an widely available “13H489” type - use this as your search on Google, eBay etc. for sellers.

Thanks for reporting out on the fix! I haven’t had this issue, but I’m going out to check the condition of the clips on my car right away! As soon as it quits raining, that is.