Car Door Freeze-Outs: Prevention & De-Icing Tips

16 Feb Car Door Freeze-Outs: Prevention & De-Icing Tips

If you’ve ever come out to a car door that’s frozen shut, you know how frustrating it can be. You bump it and thump it hoping to break it free, but no luck. Before you give it swift kick or get a pail of hot water or a blowtorch and crack your window or blister your paint, here are some hints on how to avoid frozen doors and what to do when you don’t.

Prevention

Doors freeze shut when water seeps into the channels and gets into porous, damaged, or dirty weatherstripping. Keep it from happening by making sure your door locks are lubricated and in good working order and that your weatherstripping is in good condition and well lubricated, too.

Here’s how:

  • Open the doors to expose the weatherstripping and wipe the seals, frame, hinges and doors with a soft cloth to remove dust and dirt.
  • Spray the seals, frame, hinges, and lock assembly with a weatherstrip lubricant or silicone spray that’s safe for automotive finishes (available wherever car parts are sold).
  • Wipe any excess lubricant or spray off interior and exterior finishes.
  • Periodically clean and reseal your doors with lubricant or silicone.
  • Keep locks from freezing by coating your key with rubbing alcohol, petroleum jelly or hand sanitizer (!) and using it to apply a moisture barrier to the lock’s insides. Repeat frequently throughout the winter.
  • Wash your car frequently in the winter to remove road salts and dirt. They not only harm your car’s finish, but can build up inside doors and make them more likely to freeze.
  • If you have a tarp, use it to keep moisture away from your doors.

De-icing

If you’re frozen out, the first thing to remember is that there are more wrong ways than right ones to deice. The sudden shock of hot water can cause window glass to shatter. Bumping, thumping, and other forms of violence can harm both the vehicle and its assailant. Besides, when you set off the car alarm you’ll look silly, especially if you can’t shut it off. Here are some better ideas:

  • Find a door that’s not frozen shut and get in that way to start and warm up the car’s interior and melt the ice from the inside. If that’s not possible,
  • Figure out if your entire door is frozen shut or it’s just the lock that’s causing the trouble.
  • If it’s the lock, spray it with a safe deicer like one made for car windows.
  • If it’s the whole door, spray deicer around the door opening. Don’t forget the top.
  • If you don’t have deicer available, a hair dryer may work. Just be sure you’re using an extension cord that’s rated for outdoor use and for the amperage your dryer draws. And keep everything dry (yourself included). Cords can get warm and melt ice and snow, too.
  • Make your own deicer with alcohol, water and dishwashing detergent!

DON’T

  • Use an open flame like a torch or a paint stripping gun. You’ll ruin your car’s finish.
  • Use a lighter to heat your key if it has embedded chips or other electronics. Plus, you can burn your fingers.
  • Force a door open from the inside. It can damage the seals, pretty much guaranteeing it will freeze shut again.
  • Store your deicer in the trunk. It may be frozen shut, too.

If you don’t want to risk damage to your car or yourself, the best solution to a freeze-out is to call a reliable locksmith. We can get you into a frozen car, or a locked house, apartment or vehicle easily and without damage in nearly any situation. And it usually costs less than repairing a broken window, shattered door frame or ruined paint job. Call us at 303-617-3717.

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