How To Open Frozen Car Doors


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What Causes a Car Door to Freeze Shut?

Many states in the USA have to deal with bouts of bad weather, especially in winter, which can present car owners with some unique and challenging problems. If you live in one of these locations or plan on visiting one, then it's important that you know how to protect your vehicle from the elements and overcome these obstacles, which includes knowing how to open a frozen car door. If you forget to follow the steps to prevent your vehicle from freezing shut, don't fret. There are some really easy tricks for opening a frozen car door. So, if your car gets snowed in while visiting the family for Christmas this year, or if you forget to dry your car off properly in the winter, don't pay those holiday call-out fees for a locksmith or break a window in frustration. Just follow these easy steps and you'll be on your way in no time at all.

Just Follow these Easy Steps and You’ll Be on Your Way in no Time at All
Don't Break a Window in Frustration

Various Ways of Opening a Frozen Car Doorus

If your vehicle doesn't have remote start and climate control functions like many modern luxury cars such as the Volvo XC90, don't worry, there are various tricks you can use to open a frozen car door. So if your car has frozen over and the door won't open, don't panic - just try some of these solutions:

  • Simply push: If you are able to unlock the car but can't open it because the door is frozen shut, then the first thing you can try is pushing your car door inward at the frames with as much strength as possible. The pressure should break the ice within the frame of the door and around the seal, allowing you to open the door.
  • Ice scraper: This handy tool is all you'll need to get any hard ice off from around the door handle and frame. Simply place the scraper on the iced-over area and scrape the ice off by pushing it over repeatedly or by smacking the back end gently so that it chips and lifts the ice. If you don't have access to an ice scraper, you can use any other flat object such as a credit card. You will want to avoid using a metal object as it may scratch the glass or paint.
  • Warm water: Ensuring that you use lukewarm water, pour it over the door lock, handle, and frame to thaw any ice. You can also do this to get any ice off of the windscreen and windows. Be careful not to use boiling or hot water as this can shatter the windscreen or window because of the extreme temperature differences. Be sure to dry off the inside of the door seal once you've got the door open to avoid it re-freezing with you inside.
  • Hair Dryer: A good method to unfreeze the keyhole on your car, as well as melt the ice in the door seals and on the windows, is with a regular hairdryer. If you're lucky enough to have a wireless/battery-operated hairdryer on hand this will be a quick fix, otherwise, you'll need to run an extension cable to wherever the car is parked. Move the dryer back and forth over the affected area, making sure not to let the area get too hot as it could lead to the windows cracking.
  • Car lock de-icer: Available at most auto shops and hardware stores, a commercial de-icer is the best way to unfreeze a car door lock. There are several types of de-icers available, most of which both dissolve the ice and leave behind a lubricant that prevents the accumulation of moisture. You can even create your own homemade brew using water and rubbing alcohol or diluted white vinegar. Unfortunately, with repeated use, the alcohol can damage rubber parts and the vinegar isn't highly recommended, as it can leave pockmarks on glass and a lingering smell.
Simply Push
Ice Scraper

How to Prevent Car Doors from Freezing

Now that you know how to open a frozen car door lock, here are some tips to prevent it from happening again:

  • You can lubricate your car's keyholes and door seals with WD40, a multipurpose spray that will prevent freezing by displacing the moisture in those spaces.
  • Pulling a tarp over your car will cover it from the hood to the trunk and protect it during extreme weather conditions such as snow, ice, and windchill.
  • Insert a large plastic bag between the door and the frame to prevent them from freezing together.
  • Make sure to dry the door sills and frames after getting them open and after every wash during the winter season.
  • Look for any damaged rubber gaskets in the door frames and replace them, as water seeping through these spaces can freeze the affected door shut.
How to Prevent Car Doors from Freezing


Should I use straight antifreeze in my car?

No, antifreeze should be mixed with water at a 50/50 ratio. This solution is effective through temperatures as low as -34°F and up to 265°F.

Where can I purchase WD40 for my car?

Any US auto shop, service center, or hardware store should stock the product.

Can I use a crowbar to pry open frozen car doors?

This is something you should never do. There is no way to safely use a crowbar to open a frozen door as you will always run the risk of bending and/or damaging the door.

What’s the best way to open a frozen car door?

As the article above suggests, there are various ways to get the door open, but using a suitable lubricant is arguably the best method as it assists in both solving the issue and preventing it.

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