by Eric Ammerman
Quadratec Channel Staff Writer
For all you JK Wrangler owners out there with factory hood latches, there is a good chance they are starting to look faded these days, while the rubber is probably no longer tight. Which could mean hood flutter. Or worse.
But rather than replacing with the same old boring JK latches, why not fix those issues by upgrading to new, stylish, Mopar JL hood catches.
That’s right. If you’ve admired those neat and modern latches on your buddy's JL Wrangler, you should know this same product can also fit right on your JK hood. And all without too much effort.
There are a couple ways to do this install, as the lower body side latch doesn't line up exactly right coming straight off the shelf. You can either drill into the hood and bolt on, or forgo the drilling and modify the latch. I chose the no drill installation, as I would rather not drill into the body of my Jeep. So, for this method, all you need to do is cut off a couple plastic tabs on the lower side of the latch.
The only tools you need for this install are:
- A pair of side cutters.
- A 10mm socket.
- A 13mm socket.
- An extension.
- A universal swivel adapter for the socket.
- A ratchet.
- Either a file, or dremel tool with a sanding wheel.
To start, you need to remove the two locating tabs on the back of both hood hold downs that bolt to the body side. I found it easiest to snip them off with the side cutters, then grind them flat with the dremel and sanding wheel. If you have a file, that will work just as well.
Next, use the 10mm socket to remove your current factory hood hold downs by taking out the hood side’s two bolts, and the 13mm socket with extension and swivel for the body side. Be careful not to drop the nuts down inside the engine bay when removing, as you will be reusing them, as well as the gasket, on the new hood catches.
Once those bolts are out of the way, it is time to begin installing the new JL hood hold latches. One quick note, you may want to trim the gaskets a little so they don't stick out from behind the new catches.
First, starting with the hood side and hook facing up, insert the studs through the gasket, then the holes on your hood. Next, reinstall the 10mm nuts you took off your old hold downs.
Now, getting that nut on the lower side is somewhat difficult, but as long as you take your time then you shouldn't drop it down into the engine abyss. Once that is set, install the trimmed gasket on the stud, and the stud through the body.
Then, without being able to see the process, start that 13mm nut from the old hold down onto the stud. Once you get it started, you can snake the extension with the swivel and 13mm socket to the fender’s back side to tighten.
If you decide to install these hold downs with the no drill method, then you will notice the latches do not perfectly line up. However, once you close the latch, you won't see anything different at all.
Overall, this is one of the easiest installs you can do to your JK to freshen up its front look a bit. In all, the entire process should take 15-20 minutes.