Hood pins are a great-looking style element that can be added easily to any vehicle. But did you know they actually serve an important purpose? These pins keep the hood buttoned down in the event the main latch should fail – preventing the hood panel from flying open at speed. This often happens after accidents, that’s why many racetracks require hood pins to be fitted on competition cars.
More importantly for our customers, the makers of lightweight custom hoods often recommend the use of hood pins because lighter hoods have a greater tendency to lift up – especially if wind-catching air scoops are integrated into the design.
In the scope of this article, we'll help you understand terminology used to describe hood pin components so you can recognize different styles that exist. All of them work well, so choosing is a matter of personal preference. We also discuss products we offer (grouped together by style), and we'll cover the steps involved for installing a typical set of hood pins.
Terminology You'll Come Across
As you look through the products in our hood pins section, the primary difference you'll notice is variations in clips and scuff plates. To make things easier, we've included definitions for the terminology used in product descriptions.
Captive Scuff Pads
A style of scuff pad that's designed so that the clip is secured not only to the hood pin, but to the scuff pad itself. These provide slightly more holding strength, and are a good choice for vehicles with larger, heavier hoods. Captive scuff pads typically use Q-clips.
Hairpin Safety Clips
This is a type of 2-shaft clip that’s similar to a cotter pin in design and function. One shaft on the clip slides into the eyehole at the top of the hood pin, and the other shaft fits around the edge of the pin. Once attached, tension keeps the hairpin clip secured in place.
A set of short cables (usually made of braided metal) that provide an additional level of protection against the hood flying open. Lanyards feature an eyehole at each end. One eyehole fits onto the end of a clip or the pin itself, and the other end attaches to the vehicle.
This is a similar setup to Twist Lock Pins (see below), but these have a removable key. In the "unlocked" position, the hood can be opened. In the "locked" position, the hood is secured by the pin. These do not have separate clips like most hood pin assemblies.
Pins are actually the bolts that are anchored to the vehicle under the hood. These protrude above hood level through holes cut out of the hood panel itself. Pins may vary in styling, but they all feature an eyehole at the very top that clips are inserted into. These are commonly described as "hood pins".
These are clips with a single center shaft that is inserted through the center of the pin eyehole. Detents inside the eyehole are designed to keep the shaft snugly in place. A round ring that folds over is attached to the end of each clip, and is used as a grab handle for removing the entire clip. These are sometimes described as "torsion clips", "flip-over clips", or "slide pins".
Scuff plates are designed to prevent clips from scuffing the paint on your hood. They're typically made of steel or aluminum, and come with soft padded inserts that sit between them and the hood panel to prevent damage to the hood as well.
Twist Lock Pins
A less common setup where the pin is not permanently anchored to the vehicle. Instead, the pin is attached to a knob that sits above the hood level. Twist the knob one way, and the pin locks in place to an anchor piece that is attached to the vehicle frame. Twist the knob the other way, and the entire pin can be removed in order to open the hood.
Products We Offer
No matter which style you prefer, we’ve got a great selection of kits in a variety of finishes. On each product page, you’ll see the words “Vehicle Specific” or “Universal Fit” displayed. Vehicle specific items are tailored to a specific year, make, and model of vehicle – which you’ll be prompted to select in a Product Options popup box. Most of the kits we stock are universal fit, so they can be installed on any car or truck.
Hairpin Clip Style Kits
For hairpin style clips, AMI offers aluminum Classic Style kits with black powdercoat or polished aluminum finish. There's also the Mr. Gasket Competition Hood & Deck Pinning Kit with lanyard cables, and OMP Aluminum Hood Pins With Small Sliding Pins feature aluminum and stainless steel hardware with blue anodized finish on the hood pins. The Auto Metal Direct Hood Pin Set is available without lanyard cables or with 18" cables, 23" cables, or 25" cables.
If you appreciate chrome finish, we've got the Spectre Performance the Chrome-Plated Hood Pin Kit with stainless steel construction, the Proform Hood Pin Kit, and the Trans-Dapt Hairpin Style Hood Pin Set. The Restoparts Hood Pin Kit offers stainless steel components for 1970-72 Chevy Chevelles, El Caminos, and Monte Carlos.
Q-Clip Style Kits
When it comes to hood pin kits with Q-clips, we've got AMI aluminum Striker Style kits that feature round scuff plates with stylish notches in black powder coat or polished aluminum finish. The Hotchkis Hood Pin Kit for classic GM and Mopar muscle cars features aluminum construction with stainless steel hardware. We've got Mr. Gasket Q-clip kits with and without lanyard cables, the OMP Stainless Steel Hood Pins With Large Slide Pins, and Trans-Dapt Flip-Over Style Hood Pin Set with chrome finish.
Captive Scuff Plate Style Kits
If you prefer kits with captive style scuff plates (and Q-clips), we've got Extreme Dimensions Hood Pins and Sparco steel Hood Pins available in anodized finishes of red, blue, or silver. OMP aluminum Quick Release Bonnet Pins with stainless steel hardware also feature pins and scuff plates in anodized blue finish. Racetech stainless steel Hood Pin Sets are also available in a choice of colors: blue, red, and even gold! And if you've got a 1985-87 Toyota Corolla GT-S, Cusco aluminum Hood Pin sets are available in polished silver, black, or blue.
For a non-traditional look, check out OMP's Stainless Steel Hood Pins with Large Cast Aluminum Washers that comes with black powdercoat on the scuff plates and gold anodized finish on the Q-clips.
And if you prefer a locking key style hood pin setup, we've got the Spec-D Carbon Fiber Hood Pin Kit with laminated decals that replicate carbon fiber pattern on top of traditional metal scuff plates.
We've also got hood pin kits that are seated inside a housing with a cover lid that sits flush with the hood for a more aerodynamic look. The cover piece opens when you need access to pins and clips, then closes when you don't. There's kits from Spec-D with and without faux carbon fiber print, and a kit from Extreme Dimensions with a plain black housing. All three of these feature red anodized hood pins.
How To Install Hood Pins
All of the hood pin kits we offer are designed to be installed relatively easily with hand tools and a minor amount of drilling. Below are some general instructions, which may vary slightly based on your specific vehicle’s layout and the kit you choose. Not to worry – your hood pin kit will come with specific, individual instructions that will show you how each piece of hardware will fit together.
Figure Out The Best Spot Under The Hood To Mount Your Pins
Because hood pins will be tasked with keeping your hood in place during an emergency, you'll need to anchor them to solid metal under the hood. The radiator core support beam near the front of the engine bay typically makes an ideal spot to drill into. Use your best judgement if picking other areas. Naturally, how things will look once you're done is a big factor as well. You'll want to pick an area that you can access from underneath by hand when installing your pins. Also keep in mind that the location must be close enough to the hood to allow the pins to extend through the hood's surface. If you mount the pins too low, they cannot do their job.
If you’re not using any pre-set holes or indentations as your spots, measure carefully to ensure the spots you choose are equidistant from the sides and front of the vehicle. As the saying goes, measure twice – drill once.
Note that some older vintage muscle cars came from the factory with holes or divots created especially for hood pins already on their inner fenders. If your vehicle has these, you’re in luck because you won’t need to drill.
Drill Holes To Mount The Hood Pins
Your hood pin kit should recommend a size of drill bit in order to create correctly-sized holes for the pins themselves. After marking off your locations, drill the holes in the metal of the vehicle. We recommend applying primer or other paint to the edges of the new holes in order to prevent any corrosion from forming. Safety goggles are also important to wear when drilling into metal at any point.
Install The Hood Pins
Once you've got holes made, installing the pins themselves will be easy. Place a nut and washer near the top of each pin, then slide the pins through the holes you drilled. Place another washer and nut onto the bottom of the bolt. As you screw in the pin, these nuts will provide tightness. Don't tighten them fully yet, because you'll probably need to make adjustments so they sit at the right height later.
Mark The Spots On The Hood Where You'll Be Drilling
Once your pins are securely mounted in place, apply some white grease or petroleum jelly on the top of them. Slowly lower the hood until it comes in contact with the pins. The grease will leave marks on the underside of the hood where you'll be drilling. If you're unable to see where the grease marks are clearly, apply masking tape onto areas of the hood where contact will be made.
Drill From Underneath The Hood First
Depending on your hood design, you may need to drill through a separate layer of underhood reinforcement sheetmetal before you even get to the actual hood panel above it. If this is the case, use a round hole cutter bit to drill a hole that's large enough to provide you with some finger room to drill through the next layer easily. (NOTE! Be careful to drill ONLY through the first layer of sheetmetal, and not all the way through the hood!)
If you've had to cut an access hole as described just now, use white grease or jelly again to mark the exact spot where the hole in the hood needs to be.
Once you know where to drill through the hood panel itself, use a small drill bit to create a small hole from underneath. This hole will effectively serve as the centering point when you drill a larger hole in the hood from above.
Drill A Larger Hole From The Top Of Your Hood
Use the small hole you drilled from underneath as a centering point for cutting a larger hole in the top of the hood with a hole saw. The instructions that come with your hood pin kit will guide you as to what size hole you'll need to make.
Mark And Drill Smaller Holes To Mount Your Scuff Plate
Next, use the hole you just made to position your scuff plates where they'll be permanently mounted. With a marker, mark the location of the small holes (usually there will be 4 of them) on the corners of the scuff plate that will be used to bolt it in place. Go ahead and drill small holes through the hood in these locations.
Secure Your Scuff Plates To The Hood
Using the fasteners that came with your kit, secure the scuff plate onto the hood.
Shut the hood slowly to ensure proper clearance and smooth operation.
Adjust The Height Of Your Pins As Needed
Adjust the height of your pins by rotating them. Ideally, you want the pins to stick out above the hood level just enough to ensure your hood is held down snugly once your clips are inserted. When you're satisfied you've got the pins at the right heights, tighten up the nuts above and below the anchor point on the vehicle.
Install Your Hood Pin Clips
Insert your hood pin clips through the openings at the top of the pins. Regardless of what style clips your hood pin kit came with, they should fit snugly and stay securely in place.
Install Lanyard Cable (Optional)
If you’ll be installing a lanyard (cable) for extra protection, hook the eyehole of one end of the lanyard onto the end of your clip on top of the hood. Drill small holes on the radiator core support beam in spots where your cable will reach – this is where the cable will attach to the vehicle itself. Lanyards will come with dedicated washers, bolts, and nuts that thread into that hole. The other eyehole of your lanyard cable will hook onto the end of these bolts.
Should you find yourself in need of any replacement clips, pins, lanyard cables, or other components, we also sell them individually in our Hood Pins & Latches section.
Once you've got everything installed, you can relax, knowing that you've provided an extra level of security for your hood. As we mentioned at the top, and what certainly bears repeating, is that lightweight custom hoods just about require hood pins to prevent hood fly-away. Even if you're staying with the factory hood, these hood pins provide extra peace of mind plus a true sporting look.