The Key Fob Experts

The Key Fob Experts

How to Unfreeze a Frozen Car Door Lock





Winter can be hard on a vehicle, and hard on you as the owner. Not everyone has the luxury to park in a warm garage, meaning vehicles get hit with frigid temperatures, snow, ice and rain. This winter mix can lead to problems for car drivers, such as frozen windshields, or worse- frozen locks.


If your car lock is frozen internally or externally, you will not be able to turn the key to unlock the vehicle. Leaving you stranded outside in the frigid cold. 


Don’t panic, there is an easy solution. We’ve outlined some do’s and don’ts of unfreezing your car’s lock to help you get back into your car, and out of the cold. 


Don’t Use Hot Water

Most people’s first reaction to a frozen situation is to use heat, like hot water, but don’t. 



Hot water might get you into your vehicle, but it can have negative long-term effects. Hot water can damage the lock or freeze inside the lock, sending you back to square one and causing more issues later.


Using heat, like a lighter, might work in some situations but can cause damage to your key. Especially if you have a key with any type of black casing on it that might melt with the heat. Avoid this method if possible.



Don’t Force It

Do not force your key or another object into the lock. This will only cause damage to the key or object, or to the lock itself. This leaves you with a bigger, more expensive problem in the future. 



Do Check All Locks

Check all of the car’s locks. You might find that one lock was facing the sun and still works fine. 


If all locks are frozen, try finding the least frozen one to work on. This is likely the side of your car that has been in the sun. The less frozen, the easier it’ll be to defrost. 



Do Use De-Icer

Spray de-icer on your lock to melt the ice. This is the easier solution. 


You can find De-Icer at AutoZone or Target and you should try to keep a few bottles handy during the winter months.



Do Use Light Heat


Hold your thumb against the lock to apply body heat or use your breathe on the lock. The warmth may heat the lock enough for you to get the key to turn.


If you have a blow dryer handy, you can use it to warm up the lock. This can be a hassle because you will need an extension cord for it to work.



Do Use Hand Sanitizer


While many of us do not always carry around de-icer, hand sanitizer is another handy (no pun intended) option. According to Firestone, the ethanol and isopropanol alcohol that destroys germs can also lower the freezing point of water. 


To use hand sanitizer to defrost your lock, coat the key with it, insert it into the lock gently, wait about a minute with the key in the lock, and then try and turn it. The alcohol should defrost the lock, allowing for an easy open!


You can watch a video of this process here.



Opening Your Frozen Door

After you get your lock to work, your door might also be frozen shut. Tips for getting your car door open:

  1. Chip away all the ice around the door. 
  2. Push in on the door to break the ice around the door’s seal. 
  3. Use de-icer  
  4. Use a blow dryer (but be careful, too much heat can break cold windows)

For more tips on opening a frozen car door, check out this article by Your Mechanic, How to Open a Frozen Shut Car Door




Tips to Prevent Your Locks From Freezing

  • Park in a garage if possible 
  • Avoid parking in the shade during the winter months
  • Put a cover over your car to keep moisture out
  • Do not wash your vehicle when the temperature is cold enough to freeze the water before it dries 
  • Put Vaseline on the key and insert it into the lock to avoid locks from freezing





If your car has the capability, purchase a remote start and use it to warm up your car. Make sure your heat and defrost are on.



With any type of DIY projects, unfreezing your car’s locks can be dangerous if done incorrectly. You might also be in a position where you don’t feel comfortable standing outside in the freezing cold to get your door open. If this is the case, contact your local locksmith or roadside assistance to get help.

Do you have any hot tips or tricks for unfreezing or preventing frozen doors/locks? Let us know in the comments below!

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