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When temperatures drop, you may be looking forward to hot cocoa and bundling up to watch the snowfall, but one thing you may not be too excited about is frozen car doors. Here are different ways you can safely unfreeze your car doors.

What Causes Car Doors to Freeze?

The cause of your vehicle doors freezing shut is ice. Freezing doors can remain a problem when the temperature stays below freezing. When car doors freeze, it can seem almost impossible to open your car doors without a little help.

Things You Shouldn’t Do When Your Car Doors Are Frozen

Did you know, according to AAA, over 70% of cars, SUVs, and trucks are parked outside, leaving them exposed to the harsh outside weather, such as ice, snow, and freezing temperatures. When your car doors freeze, you may not be able to open them with the keys because your car doors have become frozen internally.

Turning Up the Heat

When something is frozen, your mind automatically thinks adding hot water or another source of heat will resolve the problem. Using hot water to thaw an item works well on food, but not car doors. You should never pour hot water over frozen car doors or use a flame to try to melt the ice.

Although it is possible this method can melt the ice, you risk damaging the seals that surround the lock and the lock itself. If the temperature is below freezing, the hot water you pour can freeze inside the lock.

Forcing the Lock Open

Contrary to the popular belief of many people, forcing a frozen car door open is not a good idea. Trying to force the lock open with a foreign object can break the door handle or other components of your car’s doors, leaving you with a bigger, possibly expensive repair.

How to Unfreeze Your Car Doors

There are different ways you can unfreeze your car doors without purchasing expensive equipment or damaging your vehicle.

Using Vinegar to Unfreeze Car Doors

Vinegar is an effective method for unfreezing your car doors because of its acidity. Because of the acidity, the melting point of the ice is lowered, which prevents water from turning into ice. You need to allow 30 to 40 minutes for the vinegar solution to melt the ice.

Vinegar Solution

  1. Mix one part water with one part white vinegar and mix thoroughly
  2. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle
  3. Spray the vinegar mixture on the frozen car door(s)

If the snow or ice is taking too long to melt, you can add more vinegar to the mixture.

Using Wood Ash and Vinegar to Unfreeze Car Doors

Using wood ash, vinegar, and water solution help melt snow and ice, and it can also be used on plants.

Wood Ash, Vinegar, and Water Solution

  1. Take two scoops of wood ash from your fireplace and mix it into one gallon of water. Allow the solution to sit overnight.
  2. Check the solution the next morning and remove the pieces that are floating on the surface. Once you remove the floating debris, pour the mixture into a separate container. Make sure you keep the sediment collected at the bottom of the gallon container.
  3. Pour two cups of white vinegar into the wood ash mixture, then transfer the mixture into a spray bottle.
  4. Spray the wood ash solution on your frozen car doors.

You can also use this wood ash solution to de-ice your sidewalks and walkways.

Using Rubbing Alcohol to Unfreeze Car Doors

Rubbing alcohol is great to use to unfreeze your car doors because of its freezing point. This type of alcohol has a freezing point of -20 degrees, which is lower than the freezing point of water, which is 0 degrees. Rubbing alcohol has the same effect on snow and ice as vinegar.

When rubbing alcohol is poured on ice or snow, it lowers its melting point, causing the snow and ice to melt. Water can also be added to create a mixture. Store this solution in a spray bottle for future use.

Using Epsom Salt to Unfreeze Car Doors

Epsom salt is a common household product, and you can use it to quickly unfreeze your car doors. If you don’t have Epsom salt, you can use regular table salt as an alternative, but be careful because salt pieces are sharp and can damage your vehicle. Epsom salt is made from magnesium, and like vinegar and rubbing alcohol, this salt lowers the freezing point of snow and ice.

Using Baking Soda to Unfreeze Car Doors

Did you know baking soda is a type of salt? Like other types of salt, it lowers the freezing point of snow and ice, and quickens the melting process. Baking soda is safer to use than salt because salt is grainy and sharp, which can scratch your car’s finish.

Using Fertilizer to Unfreeze Car Doors

Fertilizer is great to use to melt ice and snow because it contains ammonium sulfate, which speeds up the melting process. Unlike other methods of unfreezing your car doors, you don’t have to add any ingredients to make a liquid solution. Make sure you avoid spreading fertilizer on your car doors while parked in your driveway. Fertilizer can run into the sewers when it mixes with the melting ice.

Using Beet Juice to Unfreeze Car Doors

It may sound crazy, but it works! When you mix beet juice with water-based salt brine, the freezing point of water is lowered and accelerates the melting process of snow and ice. The salt brine and beet juice mixture need to be 80% salt brine and 20% beet juice. Thoroughly mix this solution, then pour it over your car doors. Once your door is no longer frozen, make sure you wash your car with soap and water to prevent staining.

How to Prevent Your Car Doors From Freezing

There are different steps you can take to prevent your car doors from freezing. Keep in mind, some of these methods may not prevent your car doors from freezing completely, but the doors will be much easier to open.

Protect Your Vehicle

If you have a tarp, garage, or similar way to cover your vehicle, do so. When unfavorable weather, such as ice and snow, is predicted, put your car in the garage or cover it.

Avoid Locking Your Doors

When harsh weather is coming your way, avoid locking your car doors. Even if you don’t have a garage, not locking your car doors prevents your car’s lock mechanism from sticking in place.

Wipe Down the Door Frames of Your Vehicle

Clean your entire car door frame to remove dirt and debris that builds up over time from traveling on the road. Water can collect around the dirt in the car door’s frame, and freeze, causing your car door to become frozen shut.

Coat the Rubber In the Car’s Door Frame With Protective Liquid

Rub oil or petroleum jelly on a cloth or paper towel and rub the lubricant over the seals. This lubricant reduces the amount of water that is able to penetrate the seal and freeze.

Winter weather may be enjoyable to look at, but when it starts changing your daily routine, that can quickly become a problem. Use these tips to help you prevent your car doors from freezing and potentially damaging your vehicle.