Replacing Bonnet Cable
A worn or damaged release cable will prevent you from opening your Bonnet properly. Here's how to fix that.
To start with, you'll need to remove the bonnet latch mechanism. Learn how to remove the bonnet latch, then come back here.
Once you've got that out of the way, follow these steps:
1. You'll see the fat wiring harness and the release cable running along the inner front wing. It's held in by those nice BMW hooked retainers. To release these fasteners, pull the outer tab while pushing the loop tighter. With care you won't break any. You'll have to do this three times. You could also pull the cable through them, but it makes re-threading it much more difficult.
2. Next, take your handy 10mm closed-end ratchet wrench and remove the two bolts that fasten the driver's bonnet track. It's the little thingy that the bonnet rollers pop into. I know this isn't necessary. Trust me, it'll make this next bit so much easier. It'll help to remove the 8mm fuse box hold-down too, and lift the box slightly out of the way. Check this area carefully for rust...a weak bonnet seal tends to let water sit under the rubber firewall insulation & destroy the plenum.
3. You'll be able to see the rubber boot for the release cable. It points almost vertically downward, and only has a lip inside the cabin to prevent it from pulling out. It was impossible for me to remove while the cable runs through it. So I pulled the cable into the passenger compartment, then used a blunt screwdriver to push the boot through as well (I then promptly lost it behind the driver's kick panel).
4. Go inside the car and remove the passenger side kick panel. It's held on by one philips head screw & the two 8mm bolts on the hood release lever. What little was left of my release didn't get in the way. Don't punch a hole in the speaker while you're doing this...unless you have a nice set of Polk two-ways to swap in.
5. Inspect and replace damaged parts. The cable can be separated from the bracket by sliding the steel retaining clip off. My release bracket also needed a tweak to the little lever stop. Seems like that's what snapped the cable off. Bad design all around...plastic handle, bent release cable, broken cable end.
6. Thread the replacement cable into the engine compartment. I had a heck of a time getting the boot back into place. I ended up using a little silicon grease as lube. It'll seal the cable boot nicely as well. Don't get it all over the place...
7. Replace the kick panel (be sure to get the lip under the door weather stripping). Put the screw back in first, then the release plate. Fasten with those two little 8mm bolts.
8. Now go back and reconnect your bonnet latch, starting from Step 6.