Modern cars are filled with switches and sensors to monitor the vehicle as you drive to ensure that everything is working smoothly. One such switch is located inside the hood latch to make sure the hood has been fully closed.
Hood latches have two stages to lock them down — one lever inside the car and another at the latch itself to prevent the hood from opening unnecessarily. Due to this two step system, the hood will not fly open and block your vision if you accidently move the lever on the inside of the car.
What the hood open warning light means
This indicator light only has one purpose and that is to verify the hood is closed completely. If the light is illuminated, pull over safely and check the hood to make sure it is closed all the way. Once the hood has been closed properly, the light should turn off.
If the light remains lit after verifying that the hood is secure, it is likely caused by a connection issue with the switch or the switch wearing out. Locate the hood switch and ensure that the connector is plugged in all the way before trying to replace the switch. Closing the hood can sometimes knock the switch and connector out of place and there may not be any actual damage. If the connector still looks good, the switch itself likely needs to be replaced.
Is it safe to drive with the hood open warning light on?
Since hoods have the two separate latches, they are not likely to open while you are driving. You may have to stop and check if the hood is closed if this light comes on but you can still continue driving normally if it doesn’t turn off even after the hood is closed. However, some vehicles will disable other functions such as the windshield wipers if the computer thinks that the hood is open. As a result, a faulty hood switch could prevent you from driving safely in the rain.
If your hood light won’t turn off, enlist the help of one of our certified technicians to get the problem diagnosed.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What Does the Hood Open Warning Light Mean? and was authored by Spencer Cates.