Door frozen shut? Ice in the lock? Creative tips to beat winter car conundrums

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – If your vehicle needs service, Ben Tarnish from Mills Chevrolet in Iowa says to get it done now.

“Make sure your battery is up to snuff, check your cooling system,” he said. “Simple things like making sure your windshield wipers are like new and they work correctly. Know how your car works. Know how to turn on different features. Know how to engage four-wheel drive.”

Even if you’ve prepared, you might run into issues with your car when it’s cold like having all four doors frozen shut. Tarnish says the best thing to do is to wait and let the weather warm up. If you’re in a hurry, however, he says to give the doors a good push.

“If I apply pressure to the door, we can see that it moves slightly,” Tarnish said. “That ice build-up is going to be around your door jams. If I push on that, hopefully it will break that ice away so you’re able to enter into the vehicle.”

If that doesn’t work, he says you can get creative instead.

“What you can do is just simply pour hot water into your door-jam, which will build up and melt away that ice,” he said. “Once you get the door open, if you have a towel handy, wipe that down so it doesn’t re-freeze.”

There’s also a solution for when ice gets lodged in the lock.

“What you can do is take your key, put a little bit of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer on there, insert the key in multiple times, that should defrost the ice water that’s in the lock mechanism,” Tarnish said.

Now that you’re in, you’re good to take off. Tarnish says you don’t have to let the car run for a while beforehand.

“That is a common misnomer,” he said. “Modern cars do not use carburetors. They actually use fuel injection. About 30 seconds letting it run, that should be enough to get everything going, and then drive the vehicle to warm it up as normal.”

Auto experts also stress the importance of having an emergency kit inside your car. It should include a blanket, snacks and beverages like granola bars and bottled water, or anything to help in case you get stranded in cold temperatures while out on the road.

Read more from our Winter Weather Central coverage section.

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