Frozen Car Door Lock

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frozen car door lock

Puxatawney Phil saw his shadow this month meaning 6 more weeks of winter. As temperatures drop, you might find that the locks on your car don’t perform as well as they should. If temperatures drop way down, the molecules inside your metal locks actually contract and can stop moving.
There is nothing more frustrating than finding your car door locks frozen just are you are getting ready to leave for work. It does happen, though. Winter weather is tough on locks causing them to stick or even freeze. Snow or any kind of moisture can cause the lock tumblers to stick or freeze up. When that happens, your key will not turn the lock. You may not even be able to get your key to go in the lock.
Whatever you do, don‘t try to force the key into the lock of force the lock to turn. You could end up damaging the lock of breaking the key off in the door lock causing even worse problems.

There are a few things you can try:

  • Use an oven mitt to hold an all-metal key while you light a lighter and hold the flame underneath the key to heat it. Then retry putting then key into the lock. If your car key has plastic at the top or a computerized fob, DO NOT use this method.
  • Lubricate the key with WD-40 or Vaseline. Then try putting the key in the lock and turning it gently back and forth.
  • Spray a de-icer into the lock to melt away the ice. Then retry your key in the lock.
  • You can also try using a hair dryer and blow the hot air into the lock. Then retry your key in the lock.


Whenever you retry the key, insert it while wiggle it gently so it will slide and not damage the lock. You don’t want to damage the key or the door lock.
Another word of caution, DO NOT pour hot water over the key or the lock! That will merely compound the problem when the water refreezes over the tumbler.
If you are still not able to get the key in the lock or the lock refuses to turn, you should call an automotive locksmith. They have professional grade compounds that can melt through the ice and get your locks back in working order.
If the locks will not work because some damage has occurred, an automotive locksmith will be able to diagnose the problem and either fix or replace the key or the door lock cylinder to get you back on the road.
As a preventative measure, when the temperatures drop, pretreat your locks and car keys with antifreeze or rubbing alcohol that contains at least 60% alcohol. If you do this weekly, it should prevent the locks from freezing in super cold weather.  If you have to park your car outdoors, a car tarp can help prevent snow or rain from getting into your door locks and freezing. 

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