How to Keep Car Doors From Freezing Shut in Winter

Keep your car doors from freezing shut by sheltering the car, putting duct tape over the door lock, and cleaning the inside of the door frame.
Written by Pat Roache
Edited by Jessica Barrett
Using a vehicle tarp and keeping your car door frame clean are easy ways to keep your car doors from freezing shut in winter weather—especially if you don’t have a garage to store your car.
  • A vehicle tarp is the best alternative to protect your car from winter weather if you can’t store it in a garage or covered parking area.
  • Use duct tape or rubbing alcohol to prevent your locks from freezing.
  • You can thaw frozen car doors with a commercial de-icer, but there are a few DIY methods you may want to try first.

How to keep car doors from freezing shut

Keeping your car in a garage is the easiest way to lower the chances of its doors freezing shut. Try the following if storing your car in a covered parking area is not an option.

Invest in a high-quality vehicle tarp

Also known as a
car cover
, a vehicle tarp offers an extra layer of protection during adverse weather conditions and can make it a lot easier to get on the road after snow or freezing rain.
What to do: Place the vehicle cover over your car whenever you are expecting bad winter weather or freezing temperatures. Once the weather has passed, simply remove the tarp and you should be ready to hit the road.

Put duct tape over your door lock

Duct tape will keep moisture from getting inside the lock of your car door, so the component stays dry and can’t freeze.
Be careful: Try to avoid sticking duct tape to your vehicle’s paint, as this could cause paint damage. 

Clean the inside of your car door frame

Cleaning the rubber seal that runs along the inside of your door frame will maximize its ability to keep moisture out of your car and prevent internal freezing.
What to do: Rub a clean, damp towel or microfiber cloth around the interior of the door frame to remove any debris. Check for any holes or tears while you clean and replace the seal with a new one if needed.

Apply rubbing alcohol to your car key and door lock

Use a paper towel to apply rubbing alcohol to your car key and door lock weekly to discourage freezing. 
Pro tip: You can even use hand sanitizer!

How to open frozen car doors

Try the following to open your car doors after they’ve been frozen shut.
  • Use an ice scraper: Use the thin part of your scraper to target the gap between your door and the door frame where ice can prevent opening.
  • Push or lean on the frozen door: This requires very little pressure and should help crack any ice barriers around the door, making it easier to finish removing ice with a brush or scraper.
  • Spritz the ice with two parts vinegar to one part water: This is a common DIY solution that you can spray on areas of your car to melt ice. Just avoid spraying your windows as the vinegar can cause discoloration.
  • Use a commercial de-icer: You can purchase de-icing fluid at your local auto parts store to thaw your car doors open. Make sure to follow the specific instructions from the brand that you buy and avoid getting the product on your skin and clothes.
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