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Memphis Locksmith Services
901-246-2246 | 901-417-8733

What to do if Your Door or Lock is Frozen on Your Vehicle

The Lockman loves our clients and we want to give you a few tips in order to open a car door should it get frozen in the cold Memphis weather. Below is some information about frozen doors and locks, and the 5 best ways to open them without causing damage to your vehicle.

There are many ways a door may be frozen. A door may get frozen to the frame, the internal lock assembly may become frozen, or the lock cylinder may freeze. 

How to Know if Your Car Door is Frozen

  • Is there frost, snow or ice all over your car? If there is, chances are that your car door is frozen. 
  • Did your lock work properly before the weather event? If your door lock opened with ease prior to snow, ice or severe frost, then your lock is most likely frozen.

 Preventing a Car Door Lock from Freezing

As stated in previous social media and blog posts from The Lockman, we encourage our clients to make sure to lubricate the lock with a lubricant such as WD-40 prior to the weather getting extremely cold. It is important to apply the lubricant in the lock itself as well as the key. It is also important to check any weather stripping and replace any or or ripped stripping to minimize the moisture that may enter the vehicle via this route to ensure this moisture doesn’t freeze in cold weather. 

Cause of Frozen Locks

Any amount of moisture around worn or torn weather stripping,a crevice around the door, old gaskets, keys that have gotten wet or broken keyhole covers may allow for the door or locks to get frozen. 

Frozen Locks and Doors can Damage the Vehicle

Rust is the major cause of damage due to consistent frozen door locks. If melted ice is not cleaned off the metal, it can oxidize and jam the lock. If a door is not thawed properly and thoroughly, damage such as a broken lock, keys broken off in the lock, dents, scratches to paint, and even broken windows on the vehicle may occur.

5 Best Way to Open a Frozen Door or Lock

  1. Alcohol
  2. Vinegar
  3. De-Icer
  4. Ice Scraper
  5. Heat

1. Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol has a freezing point much lower than water and is similar to salt. Salt will clog the keyhole and can cause permanent damage to a door lock cylinder. It is most likely that you may have Isopropyl alcohol lying around the house for first aid purposes. Isopropyl alcohol is the most accessible and inexpensive method for defrosting a frozen lock or door. When poured over the lock or door, the door should defrost quickly. Also, the alcohol will rid the lock of any excess moisture.

2. Vinegar

Vinegar is a readily accessible option as well. However, it has some drawbacks.

  1. Window glass can become discolored. It can turn the glass yellow.
  2. Vehicle paint can also be damaged by overuse.
  3. Smell. It may take a while for the smell of the vinegar to dissipate.

 It is vital that if using this option that it be mixed as three-parts vinegar to one-part water for maximum effectiveness. Spray on the door or lock to lower the freezing point of water molecules and ultimately thaw out the lock or door. 

3. De-icer

Most de-icers on the market use calcium chloride, which lowers the melting point of water and  absorbs the water to prevent re-freezing. Only chemical de-icing agents offer this feature.One drawback is that you may not have de-icer on hand . Stock up on de-icer if you prefer this method before the weather starts getting cold. Check the warning on the label to make sure that the de-icer doesn’t have ingredients that may cause corrosion of metal, leading to damage.

4. Ice Scraper

An ice scraper is inexpensive and accessible but can be ineffective and damaging to open frozen locks and doors. Ice can only be scraped where the scraper can reach.An ice-scraper may also chip paint and mark up metal.

5. Heat

Hot water is readily available but can is not recommended. Hot water may seem like an ideal solution but it is adding moisture to the issue and causing refreezing and possible damage to electrical wiring. Hot water may also shatter glass. 

The heat of  a heat gun or hair dryer can melt ice in a way similar to the sun and allows the lock or door to become unfrozen. If using this method, be sure to distribute heat evenly and not stay in one place too long.  If you have a frozen car door lock, you may be able to heat your key to cause the lock to thaw. Do NOT overheat the key as this may cause the key to break off in the lock.

Should you break off a key in the lock, call The Lockman as soon as possible to help. We can get your broken key out safely and reduce damage that can occur with the situation. 

For all of your auto, residential or commercial locksmith needs, call The Lockman at (901)246-2246 for your appointment.