On most vehicles, access to the engine compartment is as simple as pulling a lever inside the passenger compartment to release the latch that holds the hood closed. When you pull that lever, you are actually pulling on a cable connected to the latch release near the front of and below the hood.
The hood release cable snakes its way from the lever location underneath the driver’s side of the dashboard (or in the kick panel to the left of the dash), through the firewall that separates the cabin from the engine compartment, along the left upper frame rail (part of the front body structure) and to the hood latch.
The cable is actually a heavy wire that runs through a fixed sheath or liner, the way a bicycle brake cable runs through its liner. Pulling on the hood release lever at one end of the cable moves the wire inside its sheath and actuates the latch at the other end.
A number of symptoms are associated with a bad hood release cable, some of which can be attributed to other related problems. For instance, if you pull on the release lever and it does not want to move, or it moves with difficulty, the release cable could be kinked or corroded. The hood latch could also be faulty and create the same sensations. Alternately, if the lever provides no resistance, and the hood does not release, the cable could be broken. But so could the handle or the latch.
If the hood release handle does not retract after you pull it, the problem could again be a kinked or corroded cable, or it could be a seized latch that refuses to retract. In either case, it is unlikely that the hood would latch shut after opening.