What Are Car Hood Pins for?

You may have seen these little metal discs with locks on the hood of a modified street car or a race car at some point. Honestly, they kind of look like nipples on a car’s hood, which is weird. But did you know that those weird little metal discs and locks serve a purpose? They’re called hood pins, and here is why some street and race cars use them.

Hood pins add safety to your car’s safety latch

A set of hood pins on a blue Nascar race car.
A set of hood pins on a blue Nascar race car. | Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Simply put, hood pins are typically installed on a car’s hood in order to keep the hood from flying up and hitting the windshield if the main latch fails. We know, it’s such a simple part; but having hood pins on your car’s hood could mean the difference between a clean run on the track and a shattered windshield.

Are hood pins really necessary?

If you’re running an all-out race car, then yes, it’s a good idea to install hood pins on it. The last you want on the track is a catastrophic failure just because the hood wasn’t tied down properly. You definitely don’t need hood pins on a street car if you’re running the stock hood. The stock metal hood is meant to stay in place with the hood latch, so there should be no issues there.

However, if you’re planning to install a lightweight carbon fiber or fiberglass hood, then installing hood pins is a good idea. Unlike the stock hood, the safety latch on the aftermarket hood is not as sturdy, so there’s a chance that it can fail.

How to install hood pins

A set of hood pins on a white race car.
A set of hood pins on a white race car. | Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

If you decide to install hood pins on your car, the process is relatively easy but a little nerve-wracking. After purchasing the hood pins, you’ll need to secure them to a sturdy part of the car. The radiator support is your best bet. According to Car ID, “your hood pin kit should recommend the size of the drill bit in order to create correctly sized holes for the pins themselves.”

After drilling holes and installing the hood pins into the radiator support, you will need to drill holes into the hood. This is the nerve-wracking part. You will need to mark where the holes need to be drilled first and then drill from the bottom side of the hood.

Depending on the type of hood pin kit you buy, you may need to drill smaller holes for the scuff plates. After that, the process is as easy as assembling the hood pins and checking that everything lines up.

Can having hood pins installed on a hood help prevent theft?

Yes, if only a little bit. Some hood pin kits have a locking mechanism where you need a key to unlock the pin. Also, some flush-mount hood pin kits could make it hard for thieves to unlock the pin and pop the hood.

The next time you see weird little metal discs on a car’s hood, just know they’re there for safety. However, they could also be there for decoration or as an anti-theft measure as well.

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