Winter is just around the corner, and the last thing you want around this time, is being locked out of your car when you are trying to get to work.
In extreme cold weather, thin layers of ice can form between the door and body of your car, causing the latch and handle mechanisms to freeze.
When this happens, it can render your car door virtually useless. This article will show you how to keep car door handles from freezing.
How to Keep Car Door Handles from Freezing You Out Of Your Car
Ice is usually the culprit behind frozen car door handles, and frigid weather can cause car door locks to freeze even when there is little moisture.
Fortunately, there are a few measures you can take to prevent your car door handle from freezing shut during extreme conditions. These include:
1. Keep your vehicle under shelter
If you are anticipating icing conditions in your area (i.e. snow, rain, freezing fog, or freezing rain), keep your vehicle away from the elements.
If you do not have access to a heated garage, covered parking space, or something like that, keep your doors unlocked if possible so that the locking mechanism does not lock into place.
If you are parking your car outside, do not leave any valuables inside as they may be easily accessible to a thief.
You may also want to use a tarp or car cover to minimize the amount of moisture from rain and snow that can reach the car door, especially during a significant icing event such as an ice storm.
2. Replace missing or torn rubber gaskets
The gasket or seal is the part of the handle that actually freezes in the presence of ice or water. Perform a visual inspection of the seal and do the necessary replacements if there are gaps or tears through which water can penetrate.
3. Clean your locks
Road debris and other waste can accumulate on your car door handles over time. If water blends with this dirt, the resultant mixture can freeze the door shut when it gets cold. As such, be sure to clean your door locks on a regular basis to avoid getting locked out of your car.
Rub oil over the handles to repel water. This will help reduce the amount of moisture that gets onto the locks and freezes. You may use lubricating oil such as WD-40, silicon spray lubricant, rubber conditioner, or even nonstick cooking spray for this task.
5. Insulate it
Consider insulating your door locks to keep them warm during the cold weather.
If you don’t have access to actual building insulation, you can simply wrap the handles with a thick towel or a couple of socks.
This will help create a barrier against the freezing cold, which may be enough to keep your handles from freezing.
How to Prevent Your Car Locks From Freezing
Sometimes moisture can penetrate into your car key lock and freeze inside during extremely cold weather, so that you can’t unlock the door even if the actual handle is not frozen. Use these methods to prevent this from happening.
a) Rub with rubbing alcohol
Rub your lock and key with rubbing alcohol that has an alcohol concentration of at least 60 percent. The alcohol will stick to the lock and keep moisture from freezing over it. Do this regularly (preferably once a week).
b) Spray with a lock lubricant
Like with the door handles, a lock lubricant can be really effective at keeping ice from freezing inside your car locks. Some great options include:
- Greaseless lubricants (which are designed to attract less debris)
- Teflon-based lubricants
- Graphite lubricants
What to Do If Your Car Door Handle Freezes
In case you are locked out of your vehicle, there are a few things you can do to unfreeze your car door handles.
a) Push on the Door
This option works if you are able to unlock the car but the handle is frozen. Lean on the frozen door to apply some pressure and then push against the door as hard as you can.
This will help break the ice formed around the seal so that you can open the door.
b) Use an Ice Scraper
An ice scraper can come in handy if you are trying to unlock a frozen handle. If the ice has accumulated around the handle, chip the crust away using an ice scrapper.
Note: Any piece of stiff plastic can do the job if you do not have an ice scraper, for example a credit card or spatula. Do not use metal objects as they may scratch the paint or glass.
c) Use a Lock De-Icer
If you are dealing with a frozen lock, a lock de-icer is the quickest and simplest way to unfreeze it.
This can be in the form of an aerosol with a nozzle that sprays the de-icer directly into the lock, or a heating element that melts any ice that is formed in the lock and around the handle.
You can also use WD-40 to produce a similar effect.
d) Pour Warm Water Over The Handle
Fill a container (e.g. bucket or cup) with lukewarm water and pour it over the handle to thaw the ice. This process can take some time depending on how thick the ice is.
Once you open the door, be sure to dry off the handle with a towel to avoid re-freezing. Caution: Do not use hot water as it can cause the window glass to shutter due to the temperature difference.
Cold water could work because it is warmer than ice.
e) Blow with a hair dryer
Apart from styling your hair, your hair dryer can also work well at de-icing your door handle.
If you have an outdoor extension cord, or if your model does not need an electrical outlet, you can use the dryer to melt the ice on your car door handle.
Note: If you are using a hair dryer to apply heat on your frozen car door, always use an extension cord that is specifically designed for outdoor use (has thicker insulation and the plug comes with a third prong for ground).
Also, be sure to plug the extension cord into a GFCU (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet, not the ordinary electrical outlet. This is because if you lay the cord on ice or snow while standing on wet ground, you could be electrocuted.
FAQs Frozen Car Door Handles
Can rubbing alcohol unfreeze my car lock?
Rubbing alcohol can help unfreeze a frozen car lock. The active ingredient is the alcohol, which helps melt the ice by lowering its freezing point. Apply a few drops on your key and then push the key gently into the lock.
Will vinegar unfreeze a car lock?
Yes, vinegar can unfreeze car doors. However, it is advisable to be cautious when using this liquid, as it can leave a strong odor that is extremely difficult to get rid of. Vinegar may also leave a slight discoloration on your windows, so be very careful when applying it on your doors.
Dealing with a frozen handle can be frustrating, but it is a problem that is notoriously common for those who live in cold regions. To be on the safe side, follow the measures above to know how to keep car door handles from freezing you out of your car.