What to Do If Your Car Door Freezes Shut

Winter weather brings with it a whole host of driving challenges, but few more annoying and frustrating than a frozen car door. The next time you find your car door stuck, follow these instructions from Ralph Thayer Automotive for opening a frozen-shut car door.

Check all doors

It might be obvious, but it is also the best and often most forgotten method. One of your doors is passable, which will allow you to enter and allow you to start and heat up the car. Once the car is warmed up, you should be able to open the other doors.

Push, don't pull

Rather than pulling on your car door, which could break the handle off, push on the door to see if you can break the icy seal around the door and make it loose enough to open. If you can get in through another door, you can also try pushing on the frozen door from the inside to open.

Chip away ice

The best way to clear ice is to wear some durable gloves and hit the ice with your hand to crack it, but be careful not to hit hard enough to injur yourself. Otherwise, use a small tool to chip away at the ice surrounding the door. Make sure to use an object that isn't too sharp, as this could scrape your car's paint. Once you've chipped away a sufficient amount of ice, try opening the door again. Resume chipping if it doesn't open.

Heat it up

Melt the ice surrounding the door by pouring warm water around the door handle and along the seal of the door. Use caution with this method. Whatever you do, don't pour warm water on the window, as this can cause the glass to shatter. If you have a hair dryer and extension cord handy, a a hair dryer will melt anything preventing the door from opening.

Try de-icer spray

Plan ahead and get a de-icer spray from the automotive store. This product contains chemicals that melt ice on contact. The amount of spray you use will be determined by the amount of ice blocking your door. It generally takes about 10 minutes after spraying for the ice to melt enough to allow access inside the car.

Prevent future frozen doors

After standing out in the cold struggling to unfreeze your car door, you'll most likely want to prevent the occurrence in the future. Some good ways to do this include applying around the door seal and frame a silicone lubricant, petroleum jelly or cooking oil spray. Also consider having your car door's rubber seals checked at Ralph Thayer Automotive. Damaged or ripped rubber will cause moisture to get in, which results in frozen-shut doors.

Frozen locks

Hand sanitizer contains alcohol, which can help to melt the ice inside frozen locks. To prevent the locks from freezing in the first place, try using a little big of graphite lock lubricant from a hardware or auto supply store. Instructions will vary depending on the type you get, but use sparingly – too much can gum up the lock.

We hope these instructions from Ralph Thayer for opening a frozen-shut car door will help you should you have the unfortunate task of unsticking an icy door.