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How To Open A Frozen Car Door: A Winter Guide

Open A Frozen Car Door In No Time With These 3 Easy Methods!

How To Open A Frozen Car Door

We’ve all been there — you head to your car, ready to start your day, only to realize all your car doors are entirely frozen shut by ice and snow. Luckily, there are numerous methods for how to open a frozen car door. If you’re an early bird, by choice or by necessity, you can’t just wait until the sun decides to shine through the snow clouds.

The methods that we describe all involve dissolving the ice — one way or another. Especially if you live in a cold area and can’t park in a garage, frozen car doors are inevitable. Typically, layers of ice form in the space between the car door and the body of the vehicle. Along with that, the actual handle or the lock can freeze. Fortunately, there are methods and tricks to unfreeze all the commonly frozen areas of your car door.

Open A Frozen Car Door With These Methods

This article will teach you how to open a frozen car door. In it, you’ll learn the best, most reliable methods. The FAQ at the bottom will answer common questions as well as outline some prevention tips. After extensive research, we’ve concluded that multiple approaches are equally effective. So, without further ado, find out which method works best for you!

3 Methods For How To Open a Frozen Car Door

Before attempting any of these methods, without being too rough, try and break the ice up by applying pressure to the door. Doing so may cause the ice to fall off or crack enough for the door to open. If you have a car that you can start remotely, try starting the car and waiting around 20 minutes if you have the time. After that, if it still won’t budge, use one of these methods below to open up that frozen car door in no time!

Method 1: Use Warm Water

What you’ll need:

  • A pitcher, bucket, or cup
  • Warm water
  • Towel

First and foremost, when we say warm water, we MEAN warm water. Do not use boiling water. Using boiling water could cause significant damage to your vehicle, including shattering your window.

Fill a pitcher with warm water and pour it over the frozen door. Pour on your door lock or door frame — or both if it is mostly frozen. Then, pour warm water around the seal of the door and the handle. Use the water slowly and sparingly, as you may need to repeat the process depending on how much ice is on your door. Finally, once the ice melts fully and you open the car door, dry the area with a towel to prevent it from freezing again.

Method 2: Use An Ice Scraper

how to open a frozen car door


What you’ll need:

Chip away the ice away using the ice scraper. Do not use anything metal to scrape the ice, as this causes damage. Instead, stick with a plastic ice scraper. Most ice scrapers come with a double-sided brush. The double-sided feature is a beautiful thing to have when clearing a windshield covered in snow. If you don’t own a plastic ice scraper, you can use another plastic item — like a spatula or old library card/credit card/etc… Once you’ve chipped away enough ice, you should be able to open the car door.

Method 3: Use De-Icing Spray Or Other Lubricant

unfreeze car door

What you’ll need:

For this method, simply spray or apply the lubricant on the frozen area. The main areas that typically freeze include the door handle, the lock, or the door frame. Doing so will help melt the snow or ice on the vehicle. After spraying and taking a moment for the ice to melt, you should be able to open the car door.

Now You Know How To Unfreeze And Open A Frozen Car Door!

how to open a frozen car door

Now that you know how to open a frozen car door, you could say that you’re pretty much unstoppable. In the winter months, allow extra time to complete these methods. Keep a pitcher, a snow scraper, or de-icing spray handy for the times that you need it. Your future self will be thanking your past self. Along with knowing how to open a frozen car door, it’s essential to prepare for all car situations that the winter months can throw at you. If you often drive in the snow, having snow tires that will keep you safe during all winter driving conditions is a great idea.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prevent frozen car doors?

The most foolproof way to prevent frozen car doors is keeping it out of the cold in a garage. If you are unable to put your car in a garage, the next best thing is to cover your vehicle with a tarp. Protecting your car will keep ice off of all the areas of the car that tend to freeze. In most cases, this will prevent you from even needing to use the above methods to open a frozen car door.

Some other preventative measures include:

  • Place a trash bag between the frame and door, so they are unable to freeze together.
  • Apply a rubber conditioner over the rubber seals as a protectant.
  • Put Vaseline on the door frame and door seal before it’s frozen.
  • If applicable, replace any damaged gaskets.

Does rubbing alcohol unfreeze car doors?

Yes, it is an effective de-icing method. Simply spray or wipe the rubbing alcohol onto the frozen areas. The alcohol will assist in melting the ice. Be aware that the overuse of rubbing alcohol can erode the rubber lining of the car door. 

Can I unfreeze my car with vinegar?

If you’re in a bind, and it’s for some reason your only option — yes. It can be used as a lubricant, as described in method 3. With that, vinegar leaves a nasty lingering smell. And, it can potentially leave unwanted marks on the car window.

How do you open a frozen car door lock?

One method to open a frozen car door lock is by heating the key itself. You can heat the key using boiling water or a cigarette lighter. This method only works if you have an older car because if there are any electrical elements to your key, you don’t want to risk damage. Hopefully, this goes without saying, but be extra careful when dealing with boiling water or an open flame. To prevent your car door lock from freezing in the first place, you can put vaseline on your key and then insert it into the lock.

Joybeth Sullivan
About Joybeth Sullivan

Joybeth Sullivan is an accomplished content creator. She does it all as a writer, photographer, and videographer. Her work has been published in local and international outlets. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2020 with a dual-degree in English & Film. Today, she is based out of Denver, CO. When she isn't writing, you can find her on long drives in the mountains with her husky, Newman, riding shotgun.