Freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw – this is what Quebec’s winters feel like. Result? Icy sidewalks, dead batteries, frozen locks and jammed doors.
How can you prevent your car locks from freezing? How can you de-ice your locks safely and effectively? Here are a few tricks of the trade.
Prevent locks and doors from freezing
Take good care of the rubber liners in the doors:
- Replace them if they’re worn, because they could let water in.
- Apply a special rubber-protecting product available in most car product shops.
- Avoid silicone spray and oil-based products because, even though they’re effective, they’ll damage the rubber over time.
Avoid washing your car outside in the cold. If you go to the carwash, make sure to thoroughly dry your car after.
Lubricate your car locks with a liquid lubricant rather than one made of grease or silicone. Don’t mix different types of lubricants together.
- Worried about the environment? Use glycerin.
- Fan of WD40? Beware! It’ll gunk up your lock.
In winter, deep a bottle of de-icer in a safe, accessible place outside of your vehicle: coat pocket, purse, briefcase, backpack.
On the coldest days, place a plastic garbage bag between the doorframe and the chassy to prevent from freezing together.
Extreme Precautionary Measure
If you don’t keep your car in a garage, cover it with a tarp to prevent the doors and locks from freezing. Be sure to cover the hood to avoid other problems.
Despite your best attempts, your locks are still frozen? Whatever you do, don’t force the key! It could break the lock. Does your key have a chip in it? If so, be extra careful, because replacing one is very expensive.
If your key is made of metal, use a lighter or match to heat it up.
- Wear thick gloves or hold it with pliers to not burn yourself.
- Insert the key into the lock and let it melt the ice.
- Does your key have a chip in it? Don’t heat it!
Spray liquid lubricant in the lock:
- For the best results, use a straw to more accurately spray the lubricant.
- You can also spray the key.
- Do use: commercial de-icers or isopropyl alcohol.
- Don’t use: hot water.
Use a hairdryer to thaw the lock:
- Place a bathroom tissue roll to over the lock to direct the air.
- You don’t have a hairdryer? Then blow! It will work, but it will take some time.
Don’t pull too hard on the handle: you could rip it off.
Apply pressure by leaning as strongly as you can against the frozen doorframe. The pressure should break the ice around the handle and allow you to open the door.
Is the ice very thick? Use a scraper or a something with a plastic edge, like a spatula or credit card. Don’t use something with a metal edge because this will damage the paint or glass.
Pour tepid water around the doorframe to melt the ice on the rubber liners:
- If you notice any wear in the rubber liner, pour the water there.
- Don’t use hot water: the difference in temperature could break the window.
- Once the door is open, wipe the interior with a towel to prevent it from refreezing.
Apply de-icer to the handle and around the doorframe. Do use:
- Commercial de-icer
- Isopropyl alcohol (small quantity as repeated use could damage the rubber liners).
- Alcohol-based washer fluid
- Diluted white vinegar (last resort)
Use a hairdryer to heat the rubber liner. Use a side-to-side motion because staying in the same spot for too long could break the window.
Does your car have a remote starter? Use it. The car will warm up the doors and locks.
Now you’re ready to tackle winter. Be brave!