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How To Deal with Frozen Car Door Locks

When you leave your house in the morning, it’s worrisome to see your windshield covered in ice and even more worrying to find that your car doors are frozen shut.

Sometimes the problem is a frozen handle or the rubber door seal frozen to the bodywork, and at other times it is ice freezing the door metal to another component of the car.

The remedies depend on the issue at hand. However, one piece of advice is universally applicable: don’t just keep pulling and tugging at the handle in the vain notion that it will make things easier. In fact, doing so will merely make the problem worse.

You want as many options as possible when unlocking frozen car door locks. Here are some handy techniques to unfreeze your car door locks.

How To Unfreeze a Car Door Lock

Here are some tips and insights in dealing with a frozen car door lock, so you can get back in your car and be on your way:

1. Start the engine.

It is common for only one side’s door locks to freeze, especially if the car faces the sun. Attempt entering by opening a door on the unfrozen side or hatchback and starting the engine. This may be enough to warm the frozen lock in just a few minutes.

2. Utilize a hand sanitizer.

To easily unfreeze car door locks, dab some hand sanitizer on the key stem and gently insert it into the frozen lock. These alcohol-based sanitizers frequently burn through the ice in car door locks rapidly, allowing you to open the door and get back on the road.

3. Apply de-icing formula.

If you’re used to winter car problems, you probably stocked up on de-icer for circumstances like these. Directly spraying de-icer into the lock can immediately unfreeze car door ice that has formed around it.

4. Heat the key.

The best way to unfreeze car doors and locks is by heating the key, which melts the ice when inserted inside the lock. You can use matches or a lighter to achieve this, or you can boil a kettle of water with the key to get it nice and hot. To be safe, wear oven mitts or winter gloves when handling the hot key.

5. Heat the lock.

A hairdryer can be used as a final resort if all else fails. Turn on the hair dryer, and block the wind with your body to ensure that a frozen car door lock receives the maximum heat to melt the ice quickly.

6. Call a locksmith.

If you have tried some of the techniques and they haven’t worked, it’s time to engage the services of a professional locksmith. Hiring a professional will help you enter your car and save you from potentially damaging your car door locks as you attempt to unfreeze them.

Ways To Prevent a Frozen Car Door Lock

As the saying goes, “prevention is always better than cure.” The same goes for frozen car door locks–it’s best to stop it from happening than to deal with it later. Below are some effective ways to prevent car door locks from freezing during winter.

1. Place a magnet on top of the lock.

Placing a magnet over the keyhole is a simple solution to keep your lock from freezing. Most magnets will work as long as they are large enough to cover the keyhole completely. When you leave your car, simply place the magnet over the lock.

2. Spray some WD-40.

WD-40 is highly effective for keeping your car door lock oiled and frost-free. Simply spray a small amount into the lock each night to prevent ice and frost buildup during winter.

3. Apply some oil.

Before the winter sets in, put some oil in the locking mechanism, hinges, and door edges to prevent water from accumulating within.

4. Use glycerin and Vaseline.

Due to their antifreeze characteristics, glycerin and Vaseline are an effective frozen car door hack that you can try. Apply some to your key and then insert it many times into the lock. Do this regularly over the winter.

5. Try using compressed air.

You can also drive moisture out of the lock by spraying compressed air into it. The same spray that you use to clean your computer will suffice.

Things You Shouldn’t Do To Unfreeze Your Frozen Door Lock

When faced with a frozen door lock, it’s understandable that many would take drastic actions just to get out of the freezing cold and be on their way. However, taking these steps may put you in a more knotty situation. Here are some of the things you should avoid when faced with a frozen door lock:

  1. Pouring hot water – Your first impulse may be to pour hot water on the lock. This is a bad idea because it can cause significant damage to your car. Pouring water into the lock can cause water to enter the door frame and freeze again, or it can create thermal shock, which burns and damages electronics like sensors and lock cylinders.
  2. Chipping the ice with a sharp object – Chipping the ice on door locks can be tricky and dangerous. This process may result in your car being damaged in some parts and scraping paint away.
  3. Forcing the key – Avoid pushing a key into a frozen car door lock, as this may cause the key to break inside the lock.

Frequently Asked Questions

To further help you understand this common problem, we’ve compiled a list of FAQs for you.

What causes frozen car door locks?

Moisture can get into a car’s door cracks, old gaskets, ripped weatherstripping, or broken keyhole covers. Once the moisture has accumulated, all that is required is for it to freeze in the chilly cold weather. Repairing any defective weatherproof protection is essential for preventing a frozen car door lock.

Is it possible that lock freezing may cause damage to my vehicle?

Frozen car door locks can result in rust and long-term damage.

If the melted ice is not removed from the metal, it can oxidize and cause the car door lock to jam. When removing the ice and opening a frozen car door, it is essential that you do this correctly so as not to damage the door.

How can I tell if my car’s door is frozen?

To determine if ice is the cause of a car door lock being stuck in the locked position, search for indications of frost elsewhere. If the lock was operating flawlessly before the weather changed but is now jammed with the onset of cold weather, this is a sign that it has frozen.

Conclusion

Car owners are well aware that winter may cause a slew of issues. There are dozens of things that can go wrong with a vehicle during the winter, from frozen door locks to damaged engines and structures. Although not as severe as other issues, having a car door lock freeze on you is undoubtedly one of the most inconvenient occurrences. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent frozen car door locks from occurring, and some of these techniques are mentioned here. Keep this information handy because you never know when you might need it.

If you need help with a frozen car door lock, call Alpine Lock and Safe.

You want as many options as possible when it comes to ways to unfreeze frozen car door locks. However, if you’ve tried all of the DIY techniques mentioned here and the locks are still frozen, then it’s time to seek the help of the experts from Alpine Lock and Safe, the most trusted automotive locksmith in Vail and nearby towns. With their years of expertise regarding car lock problems, you’ll have peace of mind that your car is in good hands. Enjoy the winter season, but if you have problems with car door locks freezing, call the automotive lock experts at Alpine Lock and Safe.

Picture of Chris Dangler
Chris Dangler

Chris Dangler, the owner of Alpine Lock and Safe, has nearly five decades of locksmith expertise, proudly serving the Vail Valley, Roaring Fork, and Summit County areas since 1972. As a certified locksmith company, Alpine Lock & Safe offers comprehensive residential, commercial, and automotive locksmith services. Their CRL-certified and registered locksmith team ensures top-notch security solutions, from installations and repairs to emergency lockouts, using premium brands like Schlage and Rocky Mountain Hardware.​

Picture of Chris Dangler
Chris Dangler

Chris Dangler, the owner of Alpine Lock and Safe, has nearly five decades of locksmith expertise, proudly serving the Vail Valley, Roaring Fork, and Summit County areas since 1972. As a certified locksmith company, Alpine Lock & Safe offers comprehensive residential, commercial, and automotive locksmith services. Their CRL-certified and registered locksmith team ensures top-notch security solutions, from installations and repairs to emergency lockouts, using premium brands like Schlage and Rocky Mountain Hardware.​

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