If you pull the hood release lever on the left side of the driver’s under-dash and the hood does not spring open…
Do NOT pull harder on the release lever. The release lever can break and it is a real pain to replace.
Here’s what the hood latch mechanism looks like:
I’m going to call the part above the pintle, and the part below the latch:
You can see the release cable coming in from the right of the photograph above.
Most likely scenario: The hood latch is slightly misaligned. Simply put one hand on each of the top corners of the hood and gently push/rotate the hood to the left (port-side of the car, to your right). You’ll probably feel a little bit of a pop, but the hood will still not be open. Now go back and gently pull the release lever again. This time the hood should spring open.
Less likely scenario: If you feel very little resistance when pulling the hood release lever, it may be that an inept technician had to disconnect the hood release cable and forgot to re-connect it before closing the hood. I’ve heard that has happened to some people… (never me…)
So now that you’ve got your hood open, you would probably like it to open as it should every time. There are two adjustments that you can make to get the pintle to line up with the latch: First, loosen the two bolts where the hinges at the bottom corners of the hood bolt to the frame using a 10mm socket or wrench. The holes in the hinges are slotted so you can adjust the left and right bottom corners of the hood forward and aft. Whenever I remove and re-install a hood I start with both corners pushed aft as far as possible. I let the hood rest in the lowered position (without latching it closed), and look to see it is well-centered with respect to the fenders. I usually have to loosen a bolt and adjust the left corner forward to get it lined up. Tighten both bolts when you feel like you’ve got the hood where you want it.
Second, use a pair of slip-jaw pliers (Channel-Locks) to loosen the big nut that holds the pintle in place on the back/under side of the hood. Rest the hood down so the pintle contacts the latch. Position the pintle so it is centered on the latch and offset, if any, to the left side; the goal is to make sure the pintle latches only to the left part of the latch, the part that moves when you pull the release cable. If the pintle is positioned too far up, down or to the right it will get latched on an immovable part, and you’ll be forced to walk around to the front of the car, wiggle the hood, walk back and pull the release lever a second time like a chump. Tighten the large hex nut while keeping the pintle in place. Close and open the hood a few times to make sure the alignment is correct.
In the event that someone forgot to re-install the hood release cable to the latch under the hood, or if for some odd reason the car is locked but you need to open the hood, here’s what you do: You get a flashlight and a long screwdriver or preferably a largish 90-degree pick, smash your face against the windshield just above the wiper shaft, and use that long tool to push/pull the latch to the left. Or bring it back to your local service center so the inept technician responsible for it can fix his own mess.