AutosWinter woes: Tips to combat frozen car locks and doors during icy months

Winter woes: Tips to combat frozen car locks and doors during icy months

Frozen car doors are one of the winter problems.
Frozen car doors are one of the winter problems.
Images source: © Adobe Stock | George Calin

1:33 PM EST, January 8, 2024

Winter poses several issues for drivers, especially the need to spend extra few minutes thawing out the icy car. High levels of humidity and frost can compound this issue by making car access more difficult.

Dealing with a frozen car lock

The first issue that drivers may confront is a frozen car lock. Of course, this problem isn't applicable to newer and many older cars which come equipped with a remote-controlled central locking system.

The easiest way to deal with a frozen lock is by using a chemical defrost. This can be purchased at a gas station. However, it's crucial to remember not to store it in the car as it will become ineffective. It's worth noting that many people often overlook this detail.

If you frequently use the defroster, you should also regularly use a lubricant. While many chemical defrosting products do include lubricants, cheaper ones could potentially wash out the existing grease in the lock. As a result, the lock might start to resist and commence rusting.

Another viable solution is using a so-called hot key. This is a gadget that consists of a thin, electrically heated probe designed to melt the ice in the lock. Alternatively, you could try heating up the key with a lighter to gradually melt the ice.

However, bear in mind that these techniques might require repetition. To avoid repeating this process every day, it's a good idea to invest in a special anti-freeze lock agent which can be found online or at an automotive store.

Dealing with frozen car doors

Another predicament drivers may face is frozen car doors. A common reaction might be to try and forcibly open them. Yet, such an approach could potentially worsen the situation. Using excessive force can tear the seals and in extreme cases, could even result in the handle being torn off.

So, what's the best approach? First, instead of pulling, consider lightly leaning on the doors. This action might cause the thin icy layer between the seals to start crumbling and eventually detach. If this doesn't work, you could try to get into the car through other doors.

However, simply accessing the car from the back door or the passenger side isn't enough. Once inside, turn on the heating to direct warm air flow around the seal. Driving without making certain that the driver's door can be easily opened is ill-advised, it might make it difficult for outsiders to assist in an emergency.

If no doors want to open, consider spraying the seals with a windshield defroster, which could help melt the ice. While some recommend using a hair dryer, it's not the best solution; in frigid weather, the warm air would cool down before it reaches the seals.

Pouring hot or boiling water over the doors is a bad idea. It could crack the glass if accidentally poured on it, and any ingress into crevices can result in a recurrence of the problem the next day, if not sooner.

To prevent such situations, make sure to lubricate the door seals with a specialized preparation. You can find this product in an automotive store or online. Some people recommend household remedies like butter or dairy fat, but it is advisable to use specialized products that also protect the seal from drying and disintegrating.

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