Have you noticed on very windy days or when your Jeep is cruising down the highway, it looks like your hood is trembling?
Are you nervous that the hood might one day spontaneously pop open and come smashing back into the windshield? Yes, that is an unsettling visual, but the good news is that it is not likely to happen any time soon.
There is actually a term for that trembling of the hood, and it is “hood flutter.” Rest assured, hood flutter is a fairly common occurrence in Jeeps, particularly the Wrangler JK.
So, you can relax and trust that the hood won’t just pop open as if you hit the eject button on an unruly passenger, and the chances of the center metal hood latch and both side rubber hood latches ripping off simultaneously are pretty slim.
Even so, hood flutter can become a nuisance for the mind and a distraction for the eyes. But why is there flutter in the first place?
The reason for the hood flutter can be traced back to the very soft rubber used to fabricate stock hood latches. The stock latches become weak and stretch-prone over time as they are exposed to the elements, and that allows the hood to rise and flutter at higher speeds (typically, speeds >55 MPH). To fix this, you have to ensure the hood closes more tightly, sealing the gaps so it’ll no longer lift with gusting winds. When it comes to facilitating a more snug closure of your hood, you basically have three options, so let’s take a look at them.
*One way to reduce or rid the hood flutter is to purchase a hood lock, such as the Bolt hood lock like this one for all models of 2007 and newer Jeep Wranglers (JK/JKU):
What’s great about this Bolt hood lock, over other hood locks, is that it programs and opens with your Jeep’s ignition key, eliminating the need for extra keys on your keyring. The Bolt hood lock rivets into pre-existing holes (and bonus!) secures your under-hood items from theft (have you heard about the recent bout of battery thefts from Wranglers across the country?).
The lock has a stainless-steel shutter to keep out dirt and moisture and a plate tumbler sidebar to prevent picking and bumping. It also has a limited lifetime warranty and supposedly “eliminates hood flutter.” The price isn’t too bad either. Warning: you’ll need a 1/4 inch riveter to install this one. But the good thing about the four rivets is that they are considerably more secure/permanent than bolts and nuts and allow for easier access during install.
*Because the stock hood latches often degrade, stretch, and fail, the second option to reducing hood flutter (which can be used in addition to the hood lock) is new hood latches. There are quite a variety of new hood latches available on the market today, and it can become overwhelming to try to choose one. A favorite brand amongst Jeepers is the Rugged Ridge Black or Silver Aluminum Hood Catch Set:
These hood catches are adjustable, durable, aesthetically pleasing, and are available for 07-18 Jeep Wrangler JK/JKU and now for the 97-06 Jeep Wrangler TJ/LJ.
Also available are locking hood latches that provide added security to the under-hood. Here’s an example:
*The third way to eliminate hood flutter, while keeping it on the cheap, is to remove the center hood latch spring. This is the easiest and least expensive fix (because it’s free). When you open your Jeep’s hood, just under the hood next to the hood release latch is the hood spring (look up with the hood open).
The function of this spring is to push the hood open when you unlock the hood latches in order to reach in to release the center hood latch. The spring is a non-essential component and not costly ($5) to just toss into your spare parts box. It’s held on by one simple 8mm bolt, making it super easy and quick to remove.
Heck, if you end up not liking the springless hood, it’s reversible so you can pretend like the removal never happened and easily screw it back on – once you dig it out from the bottom of your stock parts box, that is.
For all you Wrangler JL/JLU Owners (lucky dogs)!!
Fortunately, for those with the new 2018 JL/JLU, these Wranglers already come with new and improved hood latches; therefore, no more violent hood jumping for them.