In parts of Australia, particularly Melbourne and Victoria, temperatures at night can drop below freezing, catching out unsuspecting car owners. On a typical car, the door frame can sometimes contract at lower temperatures, and, when combined with moisture from snow, ice or rain, car doors can sometimes freeze shut. If you're looking for simple ways to avoid frozen car door locks, try the four following simple tips.
Cover the car
Park the car in a garage or covered carport, if possible. This type of cover will stop moisture accumulating on the car, which in turn cuts the risk of freezing parts. If you don't have a suitable storage area, invest in a car cover or tarp that you can place over the car overnight. This will stop freezing water or snow reaching the car doors and locks.
Cover the lock
If moisture can't get in the lock, you're less likely to suffer with a freezing problem, so it's often easier simply to cover the keyhole overnight. For example, a ball of putty or Blu-Tack is a cheap, simple way to plug the hole each night. Don't push the putty too far in the lock, or you may cause other problems with the mechanism. You just need to create a temporary seal over the keyhole. Another option is to use small pieces of duct tape, which you can then peel off the following morning.
Replace rubber gaskets
The rubber seal (or gasket) along the edge of the car door is one of the most vulnerable parts of the vehicle in cold weather. Tears, cracks or gaps will allow moisture to seep in, which, in turn, can freeze. Regularly inspect the seals, and arrange for a mechanic to replace worn or defective parts. A mechanic can also coat the seal in a special lubricant that will act as a barrier against moisture.
Lubricate the lock
Some lubricant in the locking mechanism can also help avoid frozen locks. Dip your key in petroleum jelly, and put it in the lock. Turn the lock back and forth several times to allow the petroleum jelly to coat the moving parts. The jelly will stop moisture collecting and freezing in the lock. Repeat each evening during a cold snap. Rubbing alcohol applied to the key will have a similar effect.
Frozen car door locks are inconvenient during the colder months. In fact, a frozen lock could become dangerous if you quickly need to move your car or get somewhere in an emergency. As such, it's important to find ways to prevent the problem occurring. For more advice about frozen locks, talk to an experienced car locksmith.