Often with wear and time, the big spring in the front of the hood will get too compressed to force the hood open when the latch is pulled inside the car. Expand the hood spring by pulling on it or take it off and expand it.
It depends on what is wrong with the cable. When you pull the hood release within the car, is the latch not popping? If you can get the hood up at all, then you should look at the actual latch system where the cable runs, there is a metal clip that holds the cable to the latch. Have another person pull the interior latch release and watch the cable.
The easy way to open the hood manually on a 1998 Chevy Cavalier, when the cable is not working is to put the car on a hoist and use a long pole to trip the hood latch. Then lower the vehicle and open the hood the rest of the way. Replace or repair the cable for the hood latch before closing the hood.
1. Adjust hood latch using 3 screws. Hood striker must be aligned with centre of latch striker. 2. Make sure latch isnt stuck due to tight cable. 3. Adjust hood alignment if necessary (after performing adjustment of hood latch). 4. Ensure hood rubber dampers arent too high (hence not allowing engagement of hood striker to latch mechanism). 5. Lubricate latch mechanism. Eyeball it so you know what's cooking. If all else fails, replace the latch (use a screwdriver to mimic the hood engaging with the latch. If it catches, the latch is OK.)
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