Best Ways for How to Open Frozen Car Door

Your car can show dozens of problems during winter and a frozen shut door is one of them. It’s more annoying than dangerous and happens a lot in the morning after a freezing night. In most cases, the morning sun thaws the ice between the vehicle’s body and door. Otherwise, you need to find ways about how to open frozen car door because even thin layers of ice can leave the latching mechanism and door handle useless.

The key challenge is opening the door without damaging any parts or scrapping the paintwork. Careful handling is also necessary to keep the weather stripping intact as ruining it will leak water inside.

Top Tips for How to Open Frozen Car Door

Want to learn some effective ways for how to open frozen car door? Here are some top tips for opening a shut door and getting you back to the road as soon as possible. You will never again have to stand helplessly beside your car on a chilly day.

Start the Car Remotely

It takes at least 10 to 20 minutes and only applicable when you are not in a hurry. Demanding no effort on your part but pressing the ‘ignition’ button on your key fob or car remote, it’s the easiest process for opening a frozen shut door. The interior heat is supposed to melt the ice around the door, but it will not work for thick ice layers.

remote car start
Try to start the car remotely. Source: Pikist

Use the Key Fob

If you can’t wait that long, try to open the door by using the key fob. You may need to press the ‘unlock’ button a few times as frosty weather may make the fob less responsive. If that does not work, put the key (hidden inside the key fob) inside the lock and turn counterclockwise. It will work if the locks are not frozen.

Push the Door

When remote engine starting or key fob tricks don’t work, it happens because ice has frozen the handle or shut the door around the seal. Apply pressure on the door by leaning against it. Be careful not to cause a dent. A thin ice seal can’t handle that pressure.

Try to open the door but don’t apply any force. If this trick does not work, move on to the next ones.


Use an Ice Scraper

An ice scraper comes handy when a thick layer of ice is visible on the door and its edges. Be aware that it cannot remove ice from the lock, inside the handle, and between the car body and the door. Also, careless use may damage the paintwork and trim. A plastic spatula or a smooth plastic object will also work. Avoid using a metal utensil as it increases the chance of scraping.

After chipping the ice, push and pull the door gently to open it. If it still does not work, move to the next tips.

Melt the Ice with Heat

If chipping and scraping don’t work, ice must have gotten between the car and door seal. It needs to be melted, and lukewarm water can help. Take lukewarm (not hot) in a bucket and pour around the handle and door seal. Repeat this a couple of times for a particularly thicker ice formation.

Keep a microfiber towel handy to blot the melted water on the handle and seal to prevent it from re-freezing. Also, insert the key to the keyhole (if required) as soon as possible after melting the ice because the tiny lock opening will refreeze quickly.

You can get a similar result by using a hairdryer or a heat gun. But you have to be extra careful because these electrical devices can blow air hot enough to melt the door handles and plastic trim. Keep the hairdryer at least 3 to 4 inches and heat gun 6 inches away from the door surface to such an accident.

how to open frozen car door
A hairdryer could be useful too. Source: Wikihow

Tip 1: Never use boiling or hot water as it can crack the window glass.

Tip 2: Using electronic devices around water can be risky, so you have to be very careful.

Apply a De-Icer

If pouring hot water or blowing hot air from a hairdryer seems risky, apply de-icer. This is a safer way for how to open frozen car door. Most hardware stores and gas stations are likely to have these anti-icing products. Make sure to purchase one that is not damaging to a rubber surface.

Spray the de-icer on the frosted areas and wait for a few minutes (follow the user instructions on the bottle). This substance not only melts the ice but also prevents ice formation for a certain period.

Whichever method works for you, don’t forget to start the engine immediately and run the car heater so it does not get frozen again.