If you’ve ever lived in a cold climate – I’m sure that you’re familiar with the brutality of the winter season. It makes everything slightly more difficult. While in the summer, you can get into and out of your car with relative ease, the harsh cold presents a few different challenges.
It’s fairly common for ice, snow, and water, to get in the cracks and crevices of your vehicle, and cause issues.
Luckily, many of these problems are easily avoidable. But, the main one that I’ll be discussing in this article is: how to stop van doors from freezing shut.
Having a frozen van door can be very frustrating, especially if you’re in a hurry. Such as: if you need to take your kids to school or go to work. It’s even worst when you’re living in a van, as minor issues like these can seriously divert the course of your day.
For example, if you were planning on going to a national park, you’ll have to stop everything that you’re doing to unfreeze your van doors.
Luckily, there are a few things that you can do if you find that your van doors have frozen:
- Exert Pressure on the Door
- Remove the Ice Using an Ice Scraper
- Use Warm Water
- Use De-icer
- Use a Hairdryer
This article will explain everything you need to know.
Why do van doors freeze shut?
Constant opening and shutting of car doors affect the door seals causing them to be worn-out or torn. These seals end up having cracks. So when rainwater gets into the cracks, the doors are closed and the temperatures are low, the doors freeze shut.
Other times, dirt and grime can get into the cracks of your doors and locks. With just a little bit of water, at the right temperature, your doors get stuck.
It takes a lot of time to open a car once it’s frozen, so prevention is better than cure. No need to wait till the doors of your car are frozen shut when you can prevent that from happening. How? Store your car in a garage or a place that has a shade to prevent snow or rain from getting into contact with your van doors.
How to unfreeze a van door
First, you have to confirm if the doors are really frozen. You can do this by turning the engine on so that the van can warm up. You can use any door that can open to enter the car and start up the engine.
If you can’t get access to any door, meaning all doors are frozen, don’t exert so much force on the door handle; you may end up breaking it, consequently compounding your problems. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Exert pressure on the door
Lean on the door and exert pressure on it as much as you can without trying to open it forcefully. It may seem as if the door is moving little by little, this is because when the ice is thin, it doesn’t need a lot of pressure to break.
2. Remove the ice using an ice scraper
If you have exerted pressure on the door but it still doesn’t open, the next option would be to use an ice scraper, In case you do not have one, use a plastic object such as a spatula or credit card.
Using the plastic object of your choice, try scrapping the ice out of the gasket while leaning on the door and applying pressure on it. This might do the trick. Avoid using any metal object to scrape out the ice because it may damage the car’s glass or paint job.
3. Use warm water
If all the methods mentioned above don’t work, it’s possible that the doors are truly frozen and you’ll need to melt the ice. Pour warm water into a bucket and use it on the door seals. Ensure that you do not use hot water, as it might break the window glass.
Pour the water around the seal of the door. Also, pour water as many times as possible because it might take a longer time for the ice to break depending on how thick it is.
You can use cold water because it is warmer than the ice but it will take a longer time for the ice to melt. After finishing the process and unlocking the door, be sure to wipe with a clean towel the door seals and leave it dry to prevent it from freezing again.
4. Use de-icer
De-icers are chemical formulas, typically liquid, that are designed to melt ice fairly quickly. You can buy it from auto shops and supermarkets. After managing to enter into your car, you can use the de-icer on the frozen windscreens, windows, and side mirrors.
Using a de-icer is ideal because it leaves a lubricant behind which prevents moisture from coming to the seals.
5. Use a hairdryer
You can also unfreeze your doors using a hairdryer.
The only downside with this method is that water and electricity do not go hand-in-hand, so you have to be extra careful with the amount of heat you use and also keep it a distance further from the door. You can move the hairdryer back and forth to prevent the heat from focusing in one area for a long time
How to unfreeze a door lock
If you have found your door lock is frozen, you can use a lighter to warm the key and then insert it as far as it can go into the keyhole. If you don’t have a lighter, you can use WD-40 or de-icer by spraying it into the keyhole. This usually melts the ice in seconds.
If you don’t have a de-icer, you can use a hairdryer, but with this, you have to be careful not to use extreme heat. Extreme heat may damage the glass. You can also use a toilet paper roll by placing it on top of the keyhole to direct the airflow inside the hole. This method also works fairly fast.
How to prevent your car doors from freezing in the future
It’s always better if you prevent your doors from freezing, rather than having to deal with the inconvenience of a frozen door. Here’s what you can do:
1. Look for worn-out gaskets
A worn-out or torn gasket between the car door and frame can lead to frozen doors. This is because water penetrates through the seals, and when the temperatures drop, it freezes between the cracks.
Owning a car or van calls for responsibility, therefore ensure that you inspect your gasket regularly and if it’s torn or worn out, replace it with another one. You can replace a gasket yourself or get help from professionals.
2. Look for dirty door frames
Another reason that can lead to your door freezing is a dirty door frame. Dirt in the doorframe can prevent the gasket from making a good seal and therefore allow water to penetrate through. You need to clean your door frame regularly and to do this, use warm water, a microfiber towel, and a bowl.
Instructions: Pour warm water in a bowl and using the microfiber towel, clean your door frames carefully to get rid of any dirt. After that, leave your door frames dry because leaving them wet may still cause freezing if the temperatures get too low
3. Apply a good lubricant
Apart from changing the gasket, you can apply WD-40, silicon, or rubber spray on the gasket to keep it in place. It is normal for a gasket to become worn out because the longer a gasket stays the more it gets worn out.
Take the lubricant of your choice and apply it on a towel and apply between the gasket and the door frame to close the cracks and prevent water from penetrating.
4. Cover your car
To top up all the other methods, you can cover your car with a car cover, duvet cover, table cloth, or a tarp to prevent rain or snow from reaching the windscreens, doors, and locks. If the weather conditions are worse, be sure to cover the bonnet too.
5. Place a plastic bag between the seal and the door
This method is temporary and should be the last resort if there is no other way for you at a particular moment. Placing a plastic bag between the seal and the door creates a barrier and prevents them from sticking together.
How to prevent door locks from freezing
Door locks can freeze when they come into contact with water, given that the temperature is right. To prevent door locks from freezing, you will need petroleum jelly, rubbing alcohol, a microfiber towel, and silicone spray.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Wipe your car with rubbing alcohol or petroleum jelly
Apply the rubbing alcohol to a towel, wipe your car key with it, (if your car is manual), and insert the key. You can also rub your key with petroleum jelly, though keep in mind that this can get a bit messy.
2. Apply lock lubricant to the keyhole
Greaseless lubricants are the best because they won’t attract dust, which will later prevent the lock from working. Also, do not mix products because they may stick together and stop the lock from completely working.