How To Unlock Frozen Car Door Locks
Car owners are all too familiar that winter can lead to many annoyances. If you live in the province of Ontario where there are long, harsh winters, and you park your car outside, odds are you come across the trouble of frozen car doors.
Not everybody has a warm garage to park their auto, truck, or SUV in, and a car outside is exposed to the freezing cold weather. Freezing a car door lock will only take a few drops of water.
While a frozen lock might take your precious time, there are several ways to safely and quickly open a car door lock that is frozen shut.
Ways to Open Frozen Car Door Locks
First, Check All Locks
Walk around the vehicle and try all your car doors. You only need to open one door to be able to wedge yourself into the driver’s seat. You might get lucky and discover one door’s lock is not blocked by ice.
The best option is to buy a lubricant spray that can be found at most auto shops and hardware stores, like a de-icer spray or lock de-icer. Most of these de-icers contain calcium chloride, which lowers the melting point of water and generates heat as it dissolves to form ice-melting brine.
Hold the de-icer at the suggested distance from the car door. Spray the de-icer into the lock cylinder. Wait a few minutes, then carefully try to turn your key.
DIY Options for Your Frozen Car Door Lock
Many of us don’t have de-icer in our bags or pockets. So, here are some proven DIY tips to solve the problem.
Lean on the frozen car door near the seam and apply pressure. Use enough pressure to break the ice, allowing you to break the ice in the doorframe and open frozen car doors. Ensure you’re not pushing the windows to avoid breaking the glass.
You can execute this if you can unlock the car remotely. However, this approach will not work if you have to open the car with a key and the door is already shut.
You can also try breaking the ice from the lock cylinder with a scraper. Just be mindful not to damage the paint job or lock with continuous blows. After clearing some ice, try the push-then-pull technique.
Use Rubbing Alcohol
Alcohol can be used as a homemade alternative to open a frozen car door. The ethanol and isopropanol alcohol that kills germs also lower the freezing point of water and can thaw the ice inside the lock in mere seconds.
Mix 2/3 of rubbing alcohol with 1/3 of water in a spray bottle and spray along your car doors. Don’t overdo it to avoid damaging the car’s rubber gaskets.
Use Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizers have high alcohol content. Pour the gel on your key, ensure it covers both sides nicely, and wiggle it into the lock.
Remember to use hand sanitizer only if you do not intend to use a heat source. The alcohol could ignite around a direct flame.
- Warm water – Pour some lukewarm – not boiling – water on your car door locks and around the doorjamb to melt ice quickly. Once the car door is open, dry down any wet surfaces to avoid re-freezing.
- Heating Device – Something like a heat gun or hair dryer can produce a gust of warm air at the trouble spot and melt ice the same way as warm water. It’ll help if you have an outdoor-safe extension cord for this. Aim the device over the keyhole of your frozen car door. Block the wind with your body to ensure the frozen door lock catches the appropriate heat for a quick-melting action.
- Lighter – If you do not have access to a hair dryer, you can heat the key via a lighter. Only try this if there are no electrical components in your key and if it’s 100% metal. Warm your key gently with a flame. Once the key has warmed, place it against the lock and wait for the ice to melt.
What Not To Do
- Don’t force your door open. Cold plastic and metal become brittle, and cold metal bursts with little force.
- Never pour hot water to unfreeze the car lock. Not only could this wear any plastic components, but it can lead to thermal shock that shorts out modern electronics such as sensors and lock cylinders.
- Avoid exploiting other chemicals to de-ice the lock. For example, white vinegar will thaw ice quickly but can leave spots on the paint and handle.
Always consider safety and practice extreme caution when trying to unlock a frozen door lock yourself.
If you are in a situation where you can’t open frozen car door locks, and none of these techniques solve your problem, contact a professional locksmith or your insurance company. You can call D&L Mobile Locksmith at 519-686-2870 for an emergency locksmith service.