How To Open A Frozen Car Door

Frost settles on car doors and inside the locks when the winter temperatures get cold enough. And unfortunately, enough ice can keep your doors frozen shut even after you’ve unlocked them.

Luckily, you can heat your car doors and melt the issue away with several simple methods. This article will walk you through how to open a frozen car door with the tools most people have in their homes.

Start Your Car Remotely

remote start

Running your car’s engine and warming it from the inside with the heater on full blast is enough to melt through exterior frost in just a few minutes. So if you have a modern vehicle with a remote starter, try turning it on before busting out any other tools.

Use An Ice Scraper Or De-Icing Spray

The best way to open a frozen car door is to use de-icing spray, it is easy to apply and it works very fast.

Most people use ice scrapers to improve their driving visibility, scratching the ice off their windows and windshields to see the road better. But you can also use an ice scraper to remove frost from car doors and get in easier.

If a standard ice scraper isn’t strong enough to break through the ice, you can turn to a more robust commercial de-icing spray. You can spray de-icer into cracks and tiny keyholes, so it’s an ideal solution when your car door handle is frozen.

De-icer melts ice on contact and prevents moisture from settling wherever you spray it, so it’s an ice-prevention solid tool as well. You’ll find commercial de-icer at most auto parts shops.

Heat Your Car Key

Now that you know how to open a frozen car door with commercial tools, it’s time to learn what you can do with the simple resources you have at home.

One of the easiest methods for breaking through a frozen door is to heat your car key before manually unlocking it. While this method won’t help you if your door frame is frozen shut, it’s a great way to clear out a keyhole blocked with ice.

Simply warm your key with a lighter for a few seconds, insert it into the keyhole like normal, and the ice will melt. You might need to reheat your key a few times if the lock is severely frozen, but eventually, the heat will break through.

Use Warm Water

Filling a bucket with lukewarm water and slowly pouring it over your frozen-shut car doors will instantly break them free of the frost. And if there’s any ice left over, it should be weak enough for a slight push on the door frame to snap it off.

When opening your doors, do not use extra-hot or boiling water, as too much heat can destroy your paint and even crack your windows. Slightly heated water is still far warmer than the ice and is more than enough to melt it all away.

Use A Hairdryer

If you’re too worried about gauging the correct water temperature and damaging your vehicle, you can opt for the safer and nearly as effective warm air method. Specifically, using a hairdryer to thaw the ice around your door hole and keyframe.


You’ll either need a cordless hairdryer or an extension cord long enough to reach your car for this method to work. If you don’t have a cordless hair dryer, you mustn’t get the extension cord wet from the snow, as this could lead to severe electrocution.

But if you can safely bring your hairdryer outdoors, aiming it at the doorframe and keyhole for a few minutes should melt all the ice away.

How To Keep Car Doors From Freezing

Now you know how to open a frozen car door, but remember that preventing ice from forming in the first place is one of the easiest solutions.

Covering your vehicle at night with a tarp, towel, or any cloth that blocks moisture from your metal car will keep frost from settling on the doors. You can also fill the crack between the door and frame with either a plastic bag or a thin cloth to prevent the opening from freezing.

Similarly, you can use your de-icer spray to coat your car doors at night before they’re frozen, and it will keep them from freezing shut. Either method will help you open the door after a harsh winter night, but all three will ensure that your car doors or locks remain frost-free.


Garry is the happy owner of a funky 2018 Nissan Juke Ti-S AWD. After growing up around his family’s mechanics shop, he is passionate about bringing budget-friendly car care to every driver. Garry has a business degree and is a car enthusiast.