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How to unlock a car door in the frost


The snow, ice, and cold make the life of drivers in the northern states difficult. Apart from traffic problems such as road closures due to heavy snowfalls, drivers face multiple technical issues with their vehicles. The engine refuses to start. The tires lose their pressure far too quickly. The wipers fail. One of the most unpleasant troubles that a driver may encounter in winter is a frozen car door lock. You leave home in the morning anxious to get to work in time, try to unlock one of your car doors, but suddenly realize that the lock has turned to a chunk of ice overnight. What to do? Don’t despair. Here are some helpful tips from professional auto locksmiths.

1. Use petroleum or Vaseline jelly

Petroleum jelly is a mixture of natural waxes and mineral oil that is primarily used for protecting skin from excessive dryness. However, it’s also an excellent ice-melting agent. This is what you need to do.

  • Put some petroleum jelly on the key with a match.
  • Insert the key into the car door lock and turn it to the sides slightly. That will evenly spread the substance over the lock.
  • No result? Repeat the first two steps a few times. Also, leave the key in the lock for some time before turning it again.


From official website http://www.vaseline.us

2. Spray de-icer

You may buy a very handy bottle of aerosolized de-icer for just 3-5 dollars in any auto supply store. The good thing about it is that it freezes at -100 or -120 degrees Fahrenheit and can melt the ice quickly.

  • Uncap the bottle.
  • Put the key into the lock even if it can’t go all the way in.
  • Depending on the type of de-icer either stick the bottle into the lock and give it a squeeze or spray the de-icer into the lock.
  • Slowly work your key to get the lock turning.
  • If there’s no effect, spray and work the key again a few times.

Using de-icer is completely safe. It will not ruin your car paint. You can spray some de-icer on the key, too. A word of caution: this substance is highly inflammable as it contains alcohol. So, be careful and wipe it off the key once your car door is open.


From official website https://www.bellautomotive.com

3. Use hand sanitizer

Another household item capable of melting the ice effectively is hand sanitizer since it contains rubbing alcohol.

  • Apply a small amount of hand sanitizer on the key and on the lock (you can do that with a medicine dropper).
  • Insert the key into the lock and turn it gently from side to side so that the substance could spread over most of the lock.
  • If nothing happens, repeat the first two steps.


From official website https://www.purell.com

4. Heat the key

With no chemicals close at hand, professionals recommend making the key hot.

  • Important! Wipe the key carefully so that no inflammable substances remain on it.
  • Use a pair of tongs or an oven mitt to hold the key.
  • Strike a match and hold it with the flame under the key (you can use a lighter, too).
  • Put the key into the car door lock. Move it from side to side carefully.
  • Keep heating and inserting the key into the lock until the ice melts.

Be careful not to melt the plastic casing, if the key has any. You can also dip the key into hot water, for example, into a cup of hot tea-to-go for a few seconds. Caution: be careful not to scald yourself.

5. Use a hairdryer

This requires a long extension cord to reach to one of the sockets inside your home.

  • With the key in the lock, start the appliance and point it at the lock. It’s also recommended to place a toilet paper tube on the lock. That will direct the hot air more precisely.
  • Move the key from side to side gently.
  • Keep on blowing the hot air until the ice has completely melted.

6. Pour lukewarm water onto the car door lock

  • Pour some lukewarm water both onto the lock and the key.
  • Stick the key into the lock and try to wiggle it.
  • Repeat several times, if there’s no effect.

Note: the water must be lukewarm (not hot).

7. Use your body warmth

Finally, if nothing of the above is available, try using the warmth of your body.

  • Squeeze the key in one hand until it’s warm.
  • Put the palm of the other hand on the car door lock and keep it there for a few seconds.
  • Put the key into the lock and turn it gently from side to side.
  • Repeat the previous steps several times.

We hope one of those methods will get your car door lock to de-freeze quickly.


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