Have you been hit with a winter ice storm? We have been getting them a lot this year but even if you don’t have ice you might still be locked out of your car due to snow melting and freezing again.
It can be a difficult situation for people that don’t have a garage to park in or if your garage is unheated. You wake up in the morning after night time temperatures have got as cold as they can and press the button on your keyfob or try to turn the key in your lock and find you can’t get into your car. The problem is bad enough but the added problem will be that you are now late for work or have to drive a little faster than you should to get to work on time.
My first word of advice is to stay calm in this situation. Everyone goes through it and your boss will understand if you call right away and leave a message. The last thing you want to do is to try to drive too fast for the conditions once you do get in and try to make it on time. Just take the hit for being late and get there safely.
Why am I Froze out of my car?
The thing about cars and ice locking you out is that it only takes a little bit of moisture to freeze the door shut.
There are two problem areas.
The first is the actual door lock. Normally what will happen is moisture from melting snow or ice will get into the lock mechanism and then refreeze overnight. It only takes a very small amount to freeze the pins in your lock cylinder and it can be very difficult to cure the problem when its still cold
Some people suggest buying a blank key and inserting it into the lock and then heating the end of the key with a cigarette lighter. You should be very careful when considering this solution because what you will end up doing is melting the lubricant in the lock cylinder and moisture will have an easier time of refreezing the lock.
What I suggest is that you first try to open your passenger side door. Normally the lock in the passenger door gets much less use and for that reason it should be full of lubricant that keeps moisture out.
Simply trying your Passenger or Rear door or even your Hatch if you have a hatchback will get you in the car.
Hey if you got to climb through the hatch to get into the car to start it and warm it up then you got to do it. At least you will be in.
Most people never even try their passenger door or hatch. Hey you can even climb through your trunk if your seat folds down.. Remember that.
The Second problem you might find is that the door is frozen shut because ice has got into the door jam. This does happen in strong storms and it can also happen if you happen to kick some snow off your shoes getting into the car then it melts because the car is still warm and refreezes overnight.
The prevention of this problem is to keep your door jam rubber moldings well protected with a silicon lubricant. There are a number of products to treat rubber parts but if you are stuck in the morning and finally do get the door open you might want to rub a little baby oil on the rubber molding just so it won’t refreeze when you’re at work. Tire and Interior Protectant. Vegetable oil might even work in a pinch use very little of it but don’t use anything like hand lotion that will have water in it.
How to get into a completely frozen door
If the door is completely frozen the first thing you want to do is remove all of the ice around the jam and the windows.
Remember a rear door or side door or even a hatch might be your better bet for getting in and also if you end up causing problems it won’t be your primary door.
After removing all surface ice you can often break the ice in the door jam by pressing in on the door firmly but not so hard you cause damage or a dent. Ice breaks really easy and your door is surrounded by a rubber molding so it will move inwards just a slight bit which might give you enough to break that ice free and get the door open.
Next you can try to heat the jam of the door. This will be very difficult in the cold weather so you can try using a Hair Dryer to get in but it might not have enough power to heat the door. A heat gun might work but you have to be extremely careful because its higher temperature will break a window if there is a dramatic temperature change. It can also melt the paint off your car. If you use a heat gun be very careful.
Another thing you can try is a heating pad you use in your bed. This might work but you will need to place it in a plastic bag to protect it from moisture and then cover it so the heat won’t escape.
DON’T POUR HOT WATER ON THE DOOR this will only make it worse. I don’t know why people think this is a good idea. Most likely you won’t heat the door enough to open it and then you will have poured water into the jam that will refreeze.
Your best bet when locked out of your car due to ice is to try your passenger door. I would say no matter how bad the conditions you have a 50% better chance of it opening before your drivers door will because you drivers door has so much more wear on it.
Once you do get the door open make sure you clean off the moldings and the jam where the rubber meets the door. Applying some silicon lubricant is your best bet but a tiny bit of baby oil on a paper towel will work too.
Door Lock Lubricant will also be your friend. Using it regularly will keep your locks working in all conditions but it will also reduce the possibility of moisture getting into the lock and freezing.
And Don’t Panic … these things happen.. but if they continue to happen over and over you might want to find a way to park your vehicle indoors in a garage for at least a night or two to let it thaw out.