Melting Ice from a Frozen Car Lock

Frozen car door
What You'll Need
Matches or lighter
Hand sanitizer
What You'll Need
Matches or lighter
Hand sanitizer

Melting ice from a frozen car lock can be achieved in several ways, but despite what your first instinct may be, using hot water is not one of the recommended methods.

Don’t Use Hot Water

Car locks have tight seals and water can hardly reach inside to melt the ice, so the hot water rarely works. Moreover, depending on how fast you move or how cold it is outside, the hot water could freeze as well and further complicate the problem of how to melt ice from a car lock.

Don’t Force the Key

Forcing the key into the lock is another bad option. It can result in a broken key or a broken lock.

The best solution to open a frozen lock is to use a commercial lock de-icer. If you don’t have any de-icers or are having an exceptionally bad day and your de-icer is trapped in the locked car, don’t worry. There are other options.

Method 1 – Check All Locks

Check all the door locks of your car, and identify the one that is least frozen. Most likely it is the one that has been in the sunlight, or the one facing east or south. In wintertime it is best if you avoid parking your car in the shade.

Morning sunlight can help with opening door locks, even if they are frozen.

Method 2 – Use Your Thumb

Press your thumb against the door lock. Keep it there for a few minutes. The skin’s warmth might heat the lock just enough so that you can open it. Try to open the lock, but do not force the key if things are still frozen.

Method 3 – Use a Lighter

Hold the key by the end. Use a lighter or a match to heat it. Move the flame back and forth to heat as much of the key as possible.

Warning: Be careful with the flame and the heat. While heating the key don’t burn your fingers, melt any plastic attachment the key may have, or allow the key to become so hot that it’s painful to even hold.

Insert the heated key into the car lock that’s been frozen shut. Try to open it without forcing. The ice might not melt with just one attempt. It may be worth it to reheat the key a few times and give this technique another try.

Method 4 – Use Hand Sanitizer

If none of the above mentioned tips work, pour some hand sanitizer on the key, and using the key as the delivery device, try to insert as much hand sanitizer into the lock as possible.

Hand sanitizers contain alcohol, which could melt the ice. Alcohol does burn, but only in high concentrations and the concentration of the alcohol in the hand sanitizer is not high enough to burn. However, it is recommended that you proceed with care, if you want to heat the car key after applying hand sanitizer.

Method 5 – Use a De-Icer

A commercial de-icer may be used to melt the ice, and help you start your vehicle. During the cold season, you should keep de-icers in your car and home, and in winter jackets, so that you have these on hand at all times.

Method 6 – Check the Doors

Pull the door handle firmly, to see if it opens. If the car door is frozen as well, don’t force it open and avoid using tools, at the risk of scratching your car.

Firmly push against the door’s margins with the palms of your hands, until the ice around the door cracks. Remove the ice around the door and open it.

Hopefully one of these six methods solved your frozen car lock problem. Remember to always exercise caution in freezing temperatures.