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I have a 1997 C230 and for some unknown reason, possibly the cable stretched or whatever, the hood would not open. I searched the forums and other than "take it to the dealer" suggestions, there really wasn't much information. However, after about 2 hours work, I managed to open it with only minor damage. Here's how I did it. You'll need a powerful flashlight (I used a Stanley "FatMax" spotlight) and two flat screwdrivers. Sharpen the blade of one of the screwdrivers.

1. Sit in front of the grill area and look up and through the grill just to the left of the cross member that runs vertically. You should see a small rubber boot-type device that covers the bottom of the primary locking device (latch). It should be on the left side of the vertical cross-member. You will need to remove the boot-like device. It will most likely destroy it, but it's better than cutting into the grill or damaging something else.

2. Using the sharpened flat screwdriver, start prying downwards on the boot. Be extremely cautious not to go inward too far when doing so as you'll damage the radiator or do not force the boot by using the grill as a fulcrum (too much) as the grill is plastic. Lowering the boot enough to gain access to the latch is not easy. It takes patience but keep trying.

3. Once you have lowered the boot enough to see its top lip, place the tip of the screwdriver on top of the boot and using both screwdrivers in an alternating fashion (placing a screwdriver into one small grill opening and hold the boot, place the other screwdriver into the next lower grill opening, etc.) moving downward until you have the boot far enough down where you can see either the hook-like device where the cable is or should be. It's on the left side of the latch when facing the car. Leave one screwdriver on top of the lip and through the grill to keep it out of the way. It's going to slip a lot but again, hang in there.

4. Choose one of the small grill openings to shine the light through that offers illumination on the end piece of the cable.

5. Take the second screwdriver and being very cautious, use the edge of one of the grill pieces as a fulcrum point while the tip of the screwdriver is on the lever where the end of the cable is or should be. The grill is plastic so the work "fulcrum" should be taken lightly.

6. Slide the piece where the cable end is or should be to the right (towards drivers side) until the hood pops up.

7. Pull the latch handle that operates the secondary (safety latch) lock and poof, your hood is open.

This took me approximately two hours to perform as I did not want to damage anything other than the rubber boot and I was successful. Or, if you have the money, take it to a body shop and if that doesn't work for ya, take it to the dealer.

Good luck.
 

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'86 W123 200, OM617 non-turbo, bastard 5-speed; '95 W202 C250 Diesel, OM605 non-turbo, 5-spd man
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4,112 Posts
Just posting here to get quick access to this, as my car did this to me today, on the threshold of the upcoming routine service.
 

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1998 C280; 1987 560SL
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Just posting here to get quick access to this, as my car did this to me today, on the threshold of the upcoming routine service.
If the cable is still connected to the latch, one might be able to detach the interior end of the cable from the red lever under the dash and pull or pry it with pliers to open it. If it is completely disconnected or broken in two then the above or some symblance of the above would be the only way.
 
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