How to Thaw Frozen Car Doors and Locks

Winter mornings often lead to icy and . Plan ahead to avoid being late by keeping a few tools available to thaw out the icy driver’s side. The may be inside the lock, preventing the key from unlocking, or along the door seal. If the seal is , even an unlocked door can be impossible to open without thawing or causing damage to the car.


Determine the Best Door to Open
1.Gently try to open each car door to see which is the least frozen. Try the doors that have had the most recent sunlight, or are facing east. If the handle lifts, pull gently but firmly on the door to see if the ice around the seam cracks.
2.Wearing thick gloves, firmly press your palms along the door’s cracks and push. If the door gives a little, the ice around the seam should crack. Try lightly hitting along the door crack with both palms. If the ice cracks, try to remove chunks while wearing the gloves.
3.Test the back hatch if none of the passenger doors will budge. If the back hatch or tailgate is thawed, crawl into the driver’s seat to crank the car.
4.Allow the car to warm up at least five minutes before trying to force open the frozen doors from the inside. Forcing the frozen doors may damage the door seals.
5.Run an extension cord from the closest electrical outlet and use a blow dryer to thaw the doors. Hold the nozzle of the blow dryer close to the door seam and slowly run it up and down the door. As the ice cracks, use your hands to breaks it away.
Using a Heated Key
1.Keep the gloves on and hold the car key by the end. Pass the flame of a cigarette lighter back and forth beneath the key until it heats up. Commercial de-icers may be squirted into the lock instead of a heated key, if available.
2.Test the heated key in the frozen lock. Jiggle the heated key to help thaw the lock if it does not immediately unlock.
3.Repeat the process with the lighter to reheat the key if it cools off. Continue inserting the hot key into the frozen lock until it thaws enough to turn the key and unlock the door.
4.Once the door is unlocked, test to see if the door is still frozen by pulling gently but firmly on the handle.

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