De-icing a frozen door lock on your car: tips and home remedies

For many car owners, it is a frustrating experience to first have to get the frozen door lock on the car free before the journey can start. Fortunately, there are several effective methods to open a frozen door lock.

The most important facts in brief

  • The easiest way to get an icy car door lock free is to use a door lock deicer.
  • In emergencies, the car key can be heated carefully and not too strongly.
  • A hairdryer can also be used to de-ice a door lock.
  • A few drops of WD-40 lubricating oil prevent the door lock from freezing at all.

First check all door locks

Before de-icing a door lock, you should first check all other locks; it may be possible to open at least one of the other doors. You can then use them to get into the vehicle to start the engine and turn on the vehicle heater.

Avoid the use of force in general

A lock is a fine mechanical system; any force or jerky movement can damage the mechanics inside the door lock. Therefore, you should use as little force as possible when trying to open the door. Consequently, it is also not advisable to use an extension or lever to turn the key. Most of the time, this brute force approach ends up breaking both the lock and the key.

Door lock deicer: The easiest and fastest method

The easiest way to free a frozen door lock on a car is to use a door lock de-icer. These products are available in different versions. With a spray, you spray the antifreeze directly into the lock via a long, thin tube. You can also get deicer as a heating element that thaws the ice from the outside. It is advisable to always have a de-icer with you on cold days.

Electric door lock deicers do not always work

With an electric de-icer you can also get an icy door lock on the car free again. The device resembles a pen; it is inserted into the keyhole. Since electric deicers run on batteries, very low temperatures can cause the unit to stop working.

Heat car keys only in an emergency

A door lock can also be de-iced without using a de-icer. If a de-icer is not available, many drivers heat the car key with a lighter. However, this should be the absolute emergency solution. The key bit can be deformed by the heating. Therefore you should be careful not to heat the key too much.

If it has not frozen too much, it is sometimes even possible to get a frozen lock free by breathing on it. To do this, it is advisable to form a funnel around the lock with your hands to prevent the heat from escaping.

De-icing a door lock with household tools and agents

If your car is in close proximity to that of your apartment or house, you can also use a hair dryer connected to an extension cord to de-ice the door lock. This can also be used to warm up frozen door seals.

Another procedure is to run warm water over the lock. Afterwards, however, the lock must be allowed to dry completely. Otherwise it will freeze all the more. Also, keep in mind that you should never use hot water. It can not only cause damage to the plastic parts, but also damage the electronics in the lock cylinder (in modern locks).

Prevent a frozen door lock

Of course, it is best if a door lock does not ice up in the first place. The easiest way to do this is to put a squirt of WD-40 or antifreeze in the door lock. You can prevent an icy door lock with these tips, among others:

  • Stick a piece of scotch tape on the lock, then no moisture can penetrate.
  • Postpone the car wash to a day when the temperature is above freezing point.
  • Put down your car if possible protected, thus for example in the proximity of a house wall.
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