Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How to Prevent Car Doors From Freezing Shut

frozen car handle

Cold temperatures and winter weather cause many issues with vehicles. One problem that is preventable is when car doors are frozen shut. It can take several minutes or even longer to open your car doors once they have frozen.

Water from precipitation and cold temperatures are the usual culprits. Put your car in a garage or cover it when rain or snow is predicted to prevent water from freezing your doors shut. If the cold temperature is the problem or you don’t have access to a garage or cover, follow these steps to prevent the doors from being frozen.

Part 1 of 6: Inspect worn gaskets

A worn or torn gasket between the car door and the frame is one likely culprit that can cause your vehicle door to become frozen shut. Visually inspecting and replacing a damaged gasket helps prevent this from happening.

inspecting rubber gasket on door

Step 1: Look at the gaskets along the doors. Check for any tears in the gaskets where water could get in. This is usually where it freezes and prevents the door from opening.

Step 2: Inspect for gaps or tears. Have the gasket replaced if you notice gaps or tears. You can either do this yourself or have an experienced mechanic do it for you.

Part 2 of 6: Clean the door frame

Materials Needed

  • Bowl
  • Microfiber towel
  • Warm water

Sometimes dirt and other debris gets into the frame of the door, preventing the gasket from making a good seal. This, in turn, lets in water that can freeze the door shut and make it difficult to open.

wiping down door seals

Step 1: Wash off the door frame. Use a clean cloth and warm water to wipe down the door frame. This helps to remove dust and debris from the road that often allows water to collect.

Step 2: Collect excess water. Follow with a dry cloth to make sure no water residue is left behind. This is to make sure no water is left behind that can freeze.

Part 3 of 6: Apply protective liquid

Materials Needed

  • Clean cloth or paper towels
  • Lubricant (silicon spray such as 3M)

In addition to repairing the gasket, you can also apply lubricant to keep the rubber of the gasket in good shape. As a gasket ages, it dries and becomes cracked. A good lubricant should help prevent this.

Step 1: Buy car lubricant/oil. Purchase an oil or lubricant safe for rubber and car parts. A silicone spray or rubber conditioner makes a great lubricant for vehicle door gaskets.

Step 2: Cover rubber seals with the lubricant. Apply the lubricant with a paper towel or clean cloth. Cover the rubber seals around the door.

  • Warning: While some people use WD-40, it isn’t recommended because it can cause the seals to harden and wear out sooner. A rubber conditioner is considered to be the safest and longest-lasting.

Part 4 of 6: Cover your car

Materials Needed

  • Tarp or car cover

While cleaning, lubricating, and replacing your gaskets represents a good way to keep your car doors from freezing shut, another method includes covering your vehicle to keep away moisture altogether. You can use a tarp or car cover to keep snow and rain off of the vehicle when the weather turns cold.

person covering car

Step 1: Cover the driver side door. Use a tarp or plastic cover and cover at least the driver side door. You can also use a large trash bag to protect this area. Make sure the material you choose is heavy-duty to prevent it from tearing from the wind or heavy weight of ice or snow.

Part 5 of 6: Protect your door locks

Materials Needed

  • Lubricant (silicone spray)
  • Microfiber towel
  • Petroleum jelly (in a pinch)
  • Rubbing alcohol

Your door seals aren’t the only area susceptible to freezing temperatures. Door locks can also get water inside them which freezes and prevents the door from unlocking. The best time to apply a door lock lubricant is before they become frozen.

Step 1: Coat your key with rubbing alcohol. Apply rubbing alcohol with a cloth to the key if you have a manual unlocking door. You may also use petroleum jelly, but this can be messy.

lubricating car keyhole

Step 2: Use lock lubricant on the lock. Apply a lubricant for locks into the keyhole. Greaseless products are the safest choice because they won’t attract dust which can also inhibit your lock from working.

  • Tip: Never combine products because they can stick together and gum up the lock to prevent it from working at all.

Part 6 of 6: Dealing with frozen locks

Materials Needed

Once your locks are frozen, you have a few options to choose from. Two of these are using a de-icer or a hair dryer.

person sprayingde-icer

Step 1: Apply de-icer to the lock. Spray a de-icer in the locks, which will usually begin working within seconds of application.

hair dryer up to car

Step 2: Warm up the keyhole with a hair dryer. Use a hair dryer if you don’t have a de-icer. Hold it a few inches from the keyhole and give it time to work. This method isn’t as effective as other options, but it can work with time if you don’t have an alternative.

Opening a frozen-shut vehicle door is easy when you know how to do it. Sometimes, though, the problem lies with the door-locking mechanism itself. In this case, have one of our expert mechanics perform a door lock cylinder replacement to fix your problem and get you back on the road.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


More related articles

How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...
Auto Safety Tips
Driving is more than a way to get from point A to point B. Owning and driving a car can also be a highly enjoyable experience. Whether a person is driving...

Related questions

Q: Door chime sensor randomly goes on and off especially during rough braking or on bumpy roads

On the door latch assemblies inside the door, there are door ajar switches that indicate whether a door is latched or not. Over time and use, these switches can go bad and the contacts do not stay in place causing...

Q: Key not unlocking car.

If the lock cylinder rotates when the key is inserted but does not unlock, then either the linkage to the latch assembly has become disconnected or the latch is bad. In this case the door panel will need to be...

Q: Door open/ajar sensor will not turn off .

You may have a worn door latch. With someone in the driver's seat watching the light, close the driver's side door, and push in on the door evenly with the latch to see if the light goes out. If it...