How to Open a Frozen Car Door

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If your car door is frozen shut, try inserting a heated key into the lock, using your remote starter to heat the car from the inside, or applying a commercial de-icing fluid.
Nothing makes a frigid winter day less fun than being stuck outside trying to scrape snow off your car—or worse, panicking as you try to think of how to open a frozen car door
While you’re reviewing your winter car etiquette, don’t forget to make sure your car is covered with a car insurance policy that includes extra protection, like comprehensive coverage and roadside assistance.  
Car insurance shopping app and licensed broker Jerry is here to help with all your car insurance needs, from reviewing quotes to switching providers to canceling an old policy.
Before our fingers go numb, let’s review seven easy tricks on how to open a car door frozen shut. 

Method 1: Let the car warm up from the inside 

One of the easiest ways to thaw a frozen car door is to let it warm up from the inside out. If you have a remote start function, you’re in luck! Turn on remote start and head back inside for a few minutes while the heat builds up.
Just make sure that you don’t make a habit of letting your car warm up or idling in winter—it’s not necessary nor is it eco-friendly. 

Method 2: Heat up your key

If your car door lock is frozen, you can thaw it with a heated key. Use a lighter or match to heat up the metal, then insert the warm key in the lock. 
You may need to try several times before the ice goes away. 

Method 3: Use force (but not too much)

If you see ice around the perimeter of your door, you can use your bodyweight to dislodge it. Just lean into the door or ram it gently (there’s no need to use full force and add a door ding to your problems today).

Method 4: Use your ice scraper

If you don’t have a remote start or a lighter to heat up your key, chances are you at least have an ice scraper in the car if you drive in the winter. 
You can use the hard end of the scraper to dig at the ice around your door handle. An ice scraper may not be as helpful for getting at the ice between the door and the frame, but it’s better than nothing.

Method 5: Use a de-icer product

If you’re near a store, you can purchase a commercial de-icer to easily remedy a frozen car door. 
De-icer comes in fluid or spray forms and can be purchased at most auto shops, hardware stores, or even gas stations. Simply pour or spray and watch the ice melt away.

Method 6: Pour warm water

The final two tips for opening a frozen car door are only feasible if you’re at home.
You can pour warm (or lukewarm) water onto the frozen part of the car. However, you need to be careful with this method. 
Never use hot water since the temperature difference can cause windshield glass to crack or the paint to wear away. 
And never do this if the temperature is below freezing since any water will automatically freeze, making the problem worse. 

Method 7: Blow warm air

You’ll probably need an extension cord for this one. You can use a hair dryer to blow warm or hot air onto the frozen area of your door. It may help to use a cardboard tube to concentrate the flow.  

How to prevent a frozen car door

As with most tough situations, prevention is the best cure. Avoid parking your car outside in the winter whenever you can. If you can’t park your car in a garage overnight (or even if you can), it’s wise to invest in a winter car cover.   
If your car will be stuck in the cold for a while, you can prevent the door and lock from freezing with two simple hacks. Cover your key with rubbing alcohol or petroleum jelly and insert it into your lock. Move it around to transfer the material to the lock to prevent it from freezing.
Then, shut a plastic garbage bag between the door and frame to prevent ice from freezing the door shut.

Get winter roadside assistance

Hopefully, trying to open a frozen car door is the worst thing you have to contend with during this chilly season. However, you always run the risk of getting stuck in a snowbank or running out of fuel, so it’s best to invest in a roadside assistance package before the season even starts.
Jerry has partnered with Urgently to provide a comprehensive roadside assistance program that includes winching, 10 miles of towing, and expert mechanic advice—not to mention peace of mind—for only $6.99 a month. 
And as always, Jerry can help you find the best car insurance savings by showing you competitive quotes from over 50 top insurance providers.
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