The Jeep Cherokee hood release is operated by a cable that connects the release mechanism on the hood to the handle on the kick panel. As the cable ages, it can become hard to pull and can eventually fray. If the cable breaks or becomes disconnected from the hood release, it is almost impossible to open the hood without damage.
To remove the old cable, begin by opening the hood. Place a cloth or block over the hood latches to prevent them from catching should the hood be accidentally lowered during the procedure.
Use a flat blade screwdriver or other pry tool to pop the end of the cable sheath out of the release mechanism. You may need to pry the mechanism away from the hood to get clearance. Rotate the end of the cable so that it aligns with the slot and slip the end pin out. Again, you may have to pry the mechanism away from the hood to get clearance.
Remove the cable from the clips on the hood. Use a screwdriver to pop the rubber grommet through the firewall.
Move inside the Jeep and remove the kick panel trim. It slips under the door sill trim, but you may be able to slip it out by removing only the front two screws rather than removing the entire sill panel.
The release handle is held in place by three number three Phillips head screws. If you try to use a standard number two Phillips you may strip the screw heads. I used a number three bit in a socket with a quarter inch drive ratchet to remove the screws as they were very tight.
If you have made the doors removable, it is helpful to get them out of the way when doing this repair. If the screws are corroded, you can gain access through the hole for the door wires and spray penetrating oil on the back side of the bolts.
There is not a straight path to pull the cable out, so it may be helpful to have an assistant pull the cable through the firewall while the other guides the end of the cable through the hole. When replacing the cable, it is helpful to have an assistant push the cable up while the other catches the end with needle nose pliers or a screwdriver.
Work the grommet into place and seat it in the groove. Have an assistant press from the inside while the other is pulling from the outside to press the grommet into place.
Pull the new cable through and attach it to the release mechanism by slipping the pin in the slot. Clip the end of the cable into its slot. I used a pair of vise grips to pop it into place. Attach the cable to the clips on the hood.
Align the handle with the screw holes and install the three screws. Reinstall the kick panel cover and tighten the screws.
Test the release action several times before closing the hood. Make sure that the end of the cable is properly seated and does not pop loose. Once you are sure of the release action, close the hood. Enjoy your new hood release.
The hood cable is part number 55235483AD for 96 to 01 and 55026030 for 1987 to 1995. It cost about $20.
Update: Wayne Klotz adds these tips: I have seen some Cherokees with torx bolts holding the cable mount… Also when pulling the old cable through, attach a light rope and pull it thru the firewall. It is helpfull when pulling the new cable thru.