Ford's New Patent Eliminates the Remaining Reason for Opening Your Hood

Bozi Tatarevic
by Bozi Tatarevic
fords new patent eliminates the remaining reason for opening your hood

It’s no secret that vehicle owners are becoming more hands-off when it comes to vehicle maintenance and repair. Some of that blame can be attributed to the increasing complexity of modern cars, and automakers are using that to their advantage as they attempt to make cars even more hands-off. The tool roll and spare tire you’d find in older cars have been replaced with a can of fix-a-flat and a roadside assistance card.

Changes like the disappearance of the spare tire are the result of chasing fuel economy standards, though others — like increased use of plastic engine covers — seem like the automaker’s way of telling owners they’ll need to subscribe to a service plan instead of trying to turn a wrench on their own. A recently published patent shows someone at Ford had the idea to take this to next level — so owners will never have to open the hood at all.

The only items that requires the opening of a modern car’s hood on a regular basis is the windshield washer fluid fill, and this patent describes a way to get around that. Patent US9,725,074 describes a grille emblem which can be used as a hood release and a windshield washer fluid fill.

The diagrams show an emblem that can be pulled from the top to reveal a reservoir in which to pour washer fluid. When pulled from the bottom, it releases the hood latch.

According to the patent’s background, the inventors believe that refilling washer fluid involves a procedure that is comprised of “several inconvenient and frustrating steps.” They go on to state that:

On many vehicles one must reach under the hood and run a hand along the top of the motor vehicle grille seeking to locate the level which is hidden from view. This not only results in dirty hands but also potential frustration if the latch lever is not found quickly.

It is also significant to note that the engine compartment is often hot during the windshield washer fluid refilling task, as the low fluid level is typically discovered while driving. This creates an additional hazard while working under the hood to perform this task.

While Ford has a reasonable point about the latch area getting dirty, I find it hard to believe that people are getting frustrated and burned while trying to access the washer fluid fill. The background summary ends by stating this new system would not require opening the hood at all, representing “a significant advance in the art.”

An external washer fluid fill could be a useful feature but, based on the diagram, it would require many more parts than current designs and could be susceptible to collecting dirt and debris.

Another issue with the system, which was mentioned by resident Michigander Adam Tonge, is that snow and slush could cause the mechanism to freeze and prevent you from adding washer fluid in the freezing conditions when it is most needed. It’s an interesting idea, but I do not see the inconvenience in refilling the fluid now, as the washer reservoir is usually close to the front of the engine bay and painted in a visible color.

I believe this sort of invention does more to propagate the idea that owners should not maintain their cars than anything to do with convenience.

[Images: Ford, via U.S. Patent and Trademark Office]

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  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Aug 09, 2017

    No need to bother - with autonomous pods people won't even be looking out the windows anymore so it doesn't matter if they get dirty. Heck, why even have windows - just give me a set of VR glasses and the right software and I can "see" anything I want during my pod journey.

  • Lot9 Lot9 on Jul 08, 2022

    How about checking the Oil?

  • Arthur Dailey This car is also in my all time favourite colour combination for 1970s' Town Cars. The black exterior with the deep red (burgundy) interior. Even took my driving test in one. The minute that the driving examiner saw the car I knew that I had passed. He got in and let out a long sigh and started asking about the car. My Old Man always had a Town Car in that black/burgundy colour combination for 'business meetings' that required the use of a back seat for passengers. No way that his full sized associates could fit in the back of a Mark IV or V. So I also have quite a bit of driving time behind the wheel of Town Cars. Just add in the 450 cid engine and the 'optional' continetal hump and I would love to have one of these in my driveway.
  • Art Vandelay 15k for some old rusty 80s junk that is slower to 60 than the Exxon Valdez? Pass. Plus no TikTok on the old Mercedes
  • JMII I know people behind me get POed when I refuse to turn (right or left) depending on traffic. Even my wife will scream "just go already" but I tend err on the side of waiting for a gap that gives me some cushion. It's the better safe then sorry approach which can be annoying for those behind. Oh well.
  • Bobbysirhan Next thing you know, EV drivers will be missing the freedom to travel on their own schedules instead of their cars'.
  • Cprescott I'm not surprised by this behavior - it is consistent with how owners of Honduhs, Toyoduhs, or Mazduhs drive. Without fail, these are the consistently obtuse drivers on the road.