Anyone forced to park their car out in the cold has probably had to deal with frozen doors at some point. While the sun usually does a great job melting this ice away, that’s not helpful early in the morning or late at night. So how can you unfreeze your car doors? Thankfully, we’ve compiled a few great de-icing hacks that will help you unlock your doors no matter how cold it gets.
The best ways to unfreeze car doors include the following:
- Use a commercial-grade de-icer spray.
- Chip away at the ice with a sturdy plastic ice scraper.
- Pour rubbing alcohol mixed with water to dissolve the ice.
- Spray a 3:1 mixture of vinegar and water on the frozen door.
- Heat the car door with a hairdryer.
Let's go over a few dos and don’ts for de-icing your car doors, windshield, and locks. On top of these hot tips, we'll explain a few preventative strategies, so you’re never stuck in the cold.
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How To Unfreeze Car Doors, Locks, And Windows
First off, let’s explore a few beneficial tips for unfreezing your car doors and locks. In this section, we’ll also take a look at properly handling another common winter woe: icy windows.
How Do You Unlock A Frozen Car Door?
Have you just discovered your car’s locking system is frozen solid? Don’t fear! There are many simple solutions you could try to get inside your soon-to-be toasty car interior.
The most convenient solution is to carry some high-quality de-icer with you during the winter season. All you have to do is apply a bit of this product to the lock, let it sit for about a minute, and then gently try to turn your key.
If you don’t happen to have de-icer handy, you could try out one of these meteorologist-recommended methods:
- Carefully use a lighter or match to heat your metal key and gently insert it into the lock.
- Apply a bit of hand sanitizer to your key, wiggle it into the lock, and let the alcohol melt the ice for about 30 seconds.
- Put a dab of Vaseline on your key, place the key in the lock, and try to turn it after a minute or two.
- Spray a bit of WD-40 into your lock, wait about a minute, and try to turn your key.
- Blow hot air at the keyhole using your breath or a hairdryer for a few minutes.
With all of these tips, please don't force your key in too quickly. Gently jiggle the key around until it gets into place and wait a few seconds before trying to turn it. Trust us, the last thing you want in this situation is a broken key inside your car door.
Will Rubbing Alcohol Unfreeze Car Doors?
Rubbing alcohol is one of the best solvents to use for unfreezing your car doors. Usually, 90 percent or higher isopropyl alcohol will do the trick.
For the best results, mix 50 percent rubbing alcohol with 50 percent water in a spray bottle and spray along your car doors. Just bear in mind that frequent use of rubbing alcohol could cause slight damage to your car’s rubber gaskets. As long as you don’t overdo it, however, you shouldn’t run into significant problems.
Does Vinegar Unfreeze Car Doors?
Yes, vinegar will unfreeze car doors, but some mechanics only recommend using this liquid with caution. Spraying vinegar on your car will leave behind an astringent scent that’s very hard to get rid of. Vinegar also tends to cause slight discolorations on windows, so be extra careful when spraying your car doors.
Instead of pouring vinegar directly onto your car door, it’s best to combine it in a spray bottle with water. There’s no official ratio recommendation, but a 3:1 mixture of vinegar to water is common. Squirt a bit of this mixture on the iced parts of your door, wait a few seconds, and then chip away with a car-approved plastic ice scraper.
Can You Pour Hot Water On A Frozen Windshield?
You should never pour hot water on a frozen windshield. Although this method seems to be a harmless way to melt unwanted ice, it’s one of the easiest ways to crack the glass.
Once you pour hot water on the windshield’s surface, the glass will immediately expand and then rapidly contract as the cold air returns. This quick expansion and contraction can cause some severe scratches or worse.
Can You Pour Cold Water On A Frozen Windshield?
So, we know pouring hot water is a big no-no, but what about cold water? While pouring cold water is less risky than hot water, it’s still not an optimal choice.
If you live in extremely frigid parts of the north, then you might compound your windshield woes as you notice the cool water instantly freezing onto your glass. This cold water might also freeze on your windshield wipers or in the wipers’ motor.
To save yourself from all these risks, mechanics recommend getting in your car, letting the engine run for a few minutes, then turning on the heater and defroster. Once the ice is loose, you could easily wipe it away with a high-quality ice scraper.
For even more windshield safety tips, be sure to read through VEHQ’s previous post entitled, “How To Keep The Windshield From Freezing While Driving.”
A Few Prevention Strategies For Frozen Doors & Locks
Unfortunately, we often don’t have the best tools on hand when we need to de-ice our doors, windows, and locks. We can, however, use a few crafty strategies to prevent ever having to deal with frozen doors in the first place. Here are a few proactive steps you could take to avoid frozen doors and locks this winter.
How Do You Keep Car Door Handles From Freezing?
Depending on your car’s style of handle, you might be able to place socks over the handles overnight to prevent freezing. Many people also use this trick with knee-high socks on windshield wipers.
If the sock method isn’t an option for you, then you could regularly spray a 3:1 mixture of vinegar and water on your handles as a preventative strategy. You could also use a little WD-40 to keep your handles loose as a goose even in freezing temps.
Please check out our previous post dedicated to “RV Winterizing” for even more useful preventative strategies.
What’s The Best Way To Coat A Car’s Rubber Seals?
To protect the rubber seals on your car’s doors from freezing, it’s a good idea to apply a layer of rubber conditioner about once per week. Using a rubber conditioner specifically designed for cars can help naturally repel moisture, which significantly reduces the risk of ice formation.
While cooking spray can provide protection, it can also cause excessive drying when used too frequently. Even worse alternatives to rubber conditioner include WD-40 and silicone spray lubricants, both of which can cause serious damage to rubber linings.
How To Prevent Car Locks From Freezing?
One way to keep your locks well lubricated during winter is to put in a few puffs of powdered graphite regularly. Just insert the graphite container into the lock, give it a few pumps, and put your key into the socket evenly distribute the lubricant.
While liquid lubricants are OK, most locksmiths recommend going for the powdered form. There’s far less risk of creating a gummy residue with powdered graphite over time.
Wishing You Luck Getting Un-Stuck!
Using the products, strategies, and tricks listed above should help you unlock those frozen doors in a jiffy. Just remember, never force any of the methods listed above. You shouldn’t feel the need to use excessive pressure to get your car door, handle, or lock to work properly. If you’re having repeated issues with your car’s doors, then you might want to talk with a professional mechanic.