How to Open a Frozen Car Door

Not a lot of moisture is needed to get your car locks to freeze, but when it happens, it could be a real pain. If you live somewhere colder, or the wintertime is near, it would be a good thing to know how to open a frozen car door.

If you don’t have a garage and you are forced to park outside, your car is experiencing all sorts of weather conditions. And while sun and rain don’t cause any mishaps, it’s completely different with winter and freezing temperatures. Once the snow, freezing rain, and sleet start becoming a daily occurrence, it doesn’t take a lot for your vehicle to freeze over and your car doors to get stuck. You can use several different hacks – from a de-icer spray, lukewarm water, or a blow dryer to prevent it from becoming frozen in the first place.

How to Open Frozen Car Door With Ease

If you are forced to park outside, you probably already feel anxiety at the beginning of winter months as you await the drop in temperatures with unease. Who thinks that being unable to open your vehicle door early in the morning is fun? Literally no one, but it’s something you should be prepared for, nonetheless. However, methods of unsealing the car doors will depend on what part you’ll need to unfreeze – the handle, lock, or seals. Just don’t fret – if you know what you’re doing, it will be as easy as cleaning the seat belts (I prefer the combo of Chemical Guys Foaming Cleaner and a Car Seat Belt Cleaning Brush.

Method One – If the Seals Are Stuck

Imagine waking up to white-covered streets and snowflakes slowly dancing to the ground. It’s a sight to behold, and we associate it with cheer, holidays, Christmas, and family time. But those of us that have to leave our vehicle in the driveway also associate it with stuck doors. And what if you reach the car on your way to run some errands or to work, and the handle works normally, but you still can’t open the door?

In order to unstuck your car door, you don’t need to put in the same effort as when replacing a valve stem. In fact, if you really need to replace it, order 100 Pieces Tire Valve Stems.

But let’s get back to opening frozen doors. All it takes is for you to place your gloved hands on them and slowly push. Applying pressure can break the ice that’s gathered on the door seal, just make sure you slowly add pressure. However, if your handle or lock is frozen stuck, don’t try this method until you work on them first.

Method Two – If the Handle Is Covered With Ice

Here is where the spatula or a specialized scraper comes in handy (you can also use an old credit card if you don’t have either). Use one of these tools to chip away the ice if there is a thick crust formed around the handle. The scraper can be used to remove the frozen crust from the door seal and off the handle if it’s required. Just avoid using a metal object because it will damage the surface underneath the ice.

Keep some useful tools like a scraper in your tool kit to remove the ice with ease

Method Three – Use a De-icer Spray

All hardware stores sell de-icer sprays, just like they all sell license plate bulbs when you need to change them. But you can also find them online if it’s more convenient for you. I personally always order SEALIGHT 194 LED Bulbs. This is sort of a must-buy, especially if the temperatures tend to drop during the winter months and you’ll be leaving your vehicle outside. Good de-icer sprays will melt the ice with ease and will also contain a lubricant, so no further moisture will be able to collect. 

However, if you didn’t buy a de-icer spray on time and you’re in a pinch, you can use a substitute. If you have some rubbing alcohol in your med cabinet, you can use it to dissolve ice. Just keep in mind that frequent use can damage the rubber seal on the door. If you have some windshield wiper fluid, it can also serve the same purpose. Also, you can dilute some white vinegar and use it to dissolve ice, as the last resort.

Method Four – Use Lukewarm Water

If you don’t have a scraper or a de-icer spray at hand, you can always go for the traditional method of unfreezing with some lukewarm water. While a bucket of lukewarm water won’t do anything for removing spray paint, it could work wonders for stuck doors covered with ice. Here’s what you should do:

  • You should fill a bucket, a cup, or any other convenient container with some lukewarm water. 
  • Pour the water slowly over the handle, the lock, and the door seal.
  • It’s also important to have a towel or some microfiber cloths to dry the inside of the seal, as well as the handle, to prevent refreezing.
  • If you haven’t managed to get rid of all the ice, repeat the process until everything is melted.

There is one thing you should always avoid, and it’s pouring boiling water over any part of your car. The temperature difference can do severe damage to the surface, especially if you try unfreezing the window glass with boiling water. Also, the seals often get frozen due to the fact that the rubber is damaged or worn out, so keep in mind to check it regularly, just like you would check if a car thermostat is bad.

Method Five – Remotely Start Your Vehicle

If your vehicle has a remote starter, you might be in luck. If you notice the doors are frozen and stuck, try starting your car remotely, and wait until it heats up a bit. The heat from the inside might do the trick and unstuck your door while melting away the ice.

If your vehicle can be started remotely, you could heat it up a bit

Best De-icer Sprays on the Market

As the freezing temperatures are approaching, you should refill the trunk of your vehicle with the must-haves, including a good de-icer. The table below lists some of the best sprays currently on the market, with their pros and cons.

CRC Ice-Off 125-05346-3It works fast and effectively, it’s great for de-freezing locks, and it has no expiration dateIt doesn’t entirely remove thick ice and can last only up to 4 applications
Prestone AS244The spray comes with a built-in scraper, it’s great for preventing refreezing, and it has a high percentage of methanol for faster de-freezingIt doesn’t entirely remove thick ice, and the spray nozzle is positioned on the scraper
Prestone AS242The spray comes with a built-in scraper, it works brilliantly on wiper blades and includes a scraper bladeThe spray stream is narrow and the button is difficult to press
CRC Ice-OffIt comes in a pack of 12, it has a very high melting power and it doesn’t damage the rubber of the vehicle’s finishIt takes a lot of the product in order to melt ice, and the ice can sometimes refreeze
Prestone AS2769It leaves an invisible layer that prevents ice from setting, and it doesn’t take much product to achieve thisCan leave some residue behind, and it doesn’t work on existing ice

The Most Important Things to Consider Before You Go Shopping

No car shopping should be taken lightly – whether you need to change a tail light, buy a new repair kit, or add brake fluid, you should research the best products available – such as Tail Light Assembly (since I’m driving Ford) and Motul DOT 5.1 High Temp. Brake Fluid. However, no matter what product you’re shopping for, there are some key features to consider. When it comes to de-icer sprays, the key features are their effectiveness, speed, and safety.

The Effectiveness of the De-icer Spray

One of the key features of any de-icer spray you should pay attention to when buying is its effectiveness and how well it does what it’s supposed to do. While you may believe that each de-icer will get the job done, it will only be the case in some situations. Some sprays on the market will work well only on the top layers of the ice and won’t remove thicker ice before everything re-freezes again. Some of the sprays will require you to do some scraping, while others will only require you to spray them over the frozen surface to melt everything away.

The Speed of the De-icer Spray

Another factor you should pay attention to is usually closely related to the de-freezing effectiveness, and it’s the speed or how fast a de-icer spray melts and gets rid of layers of ice. Keep in mind that if a spray requires 30 minutes to work its thing, it’s not doing its job properly. Our list consists of different brand sprays that took from a few seconds to a few minutes to work their magic.

The Safety of the De-icer Spray

One of the critical things you should always keep in mind is that each de-icer spray consists of different chemicals. These chemicals are potentially harmful to you, as well as your children and pets. While you should always keep the spray bottles out of reach, you should also be careful when using a de-icer. Keep it away from your skin and your eyes because it can cause extreme irritation. If you happen to come into contact with the chemicals, wash it off with soap and water.

How to Prevent Freezing From Happening

One of these techniques can prove to be successful in getting you back inside your vehicle, and by using them, you can also avoid any unnecessary damage to the door or the handle. However, to prevent it from happening ever again, you should try a great hack that involves an all-around useful WD-40 spray

While the vehicle is dry, you should apply some WD-40 to a cloth and then massage the door sealing thoroughly until it is fully coated. While you’re rubbing WD-40, it’s a perfect opportunity to ensure that the rubber seal is in good condition. If not, take the time to schedule a repair appointment. Poorly maintained door seals are more prone to freeze and get stuck, preventing you from getting inside, so it’s among the first things to be checked when you buy a car with a salvage title.

The Other Methods of Prevention

You should always cover the car with a tarp after parking it outside to prevent ice from forming on the locks, doors, and windshield. If you are expecting extreme weather conditions, you should also cover the hood to prevent more severe damage. A great hack is when you place a garbage bag between the doors and the frame before closing them to prevent them from freezing together.

You should also regularly use a specific rubber conditioner from a nearby hardware store. Silicone spray is generally safe, but it may harm silicone rubber, so check with the manual from the manufacturer before using it. Petroleum products and cooking spray are classic do-it-yourself solutions, but they can eventually deteriorate rubber.

You can use a specialized tarp and cover the whole vehicle to secure it from the weather

Do What You Can to Prevent It, or Keep Your De-icing Kit Near

The best way to win a battle against freezing and stuck doors on your vehicle is to think ahead and protect the car in any way possible. However, if the temperature suddenly drops during the night, and you haven’t covered your beloved four-wheeler with a protective cover, it’s not the end of the world.

Unfreezing and opening a frozen vehicle door is easily doable and is, for instance, a much simpler task than changing a flat tire. A de-icer spray is a handy thing to have in your kit, and it may even help when you need to fix the windshield wipers that stopped working because they might be stuck because of the cold.