Aaron Widmar
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What to Do If Your Car Door Freezes Shut

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car door frozen shut ice winter handle hand grab

Photo: The News Wheel

After spending the morning scraping the snow off your car, you discover that underneath the powder is a durable sheet of solid ice. Fruitlessly yanking on the car door handle and trying to jam the key into the lock, you realize that you can’t get the door to open. If your car door freezes shut this winter, try these solutions.

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How to open a car door or lock frozen in ice

Immobile joints, holes, and seams result from water seeping in and freezing. So if it rained yesterday before temperatures dropped overnight, those soaking wet components will be covered in a coat of solid ice. You need to remove or weaken that ice to open the door; doing so is simple but could take some effort.

Although your inclination will be to yank on the door and aggressively wiggle it loose, contain your frustration. The door handle could break off before the sturdy ice budges at all. And don’t keep shoving the key in the hole; it could break the internal mechanism.

Instead, here are a couple solutions recommended by Girls Auto Clinic:

  • Check all the doors. Just because the driver’s door is stuck doesn’t mean the other doors are, too. Find a way to climb in and start the engine.
  • If all doors are stuck, push on the door instead of pulling. Giving it a good shove could crack it better than yanking on the handle would.
  • Chip away at the ice around the door’s edges with an ice scraper. Try to loosen the areas that are the most resistant.
  • Pour warm (not boiling) water over the door, making sure it gets into the seams to melt any internal ice seizing the joints. You can also use a store-bought de-icing spray or make your own homemade version.

If everything else fails, you can run a hairdryer or a heater out to your car and hope that weakens the ice enough to break it off. Eventually, one of the doors should wiggle enough for you to open it.

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