Keeping You Safe: Safest way to de-ice your car locks

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email|Facebook

NORWOOD, OH (FOX19) - Many people had trouble getting to work Friday, not just because of the icy roadways, but because of the ice that had gotten stuck in their car locks. They were unable to get in their cars.

How many times this winter have you barely cleaned-off your snowy car? Then stuck your key into a snow-covered lock and found it wouldn't open? Or worse, you hit the key fob and it unlocks the door, but you still can't get that frozen door open?

Do you yank and yank until you pry it open? No!

This cold weather's been brutal on our cars and the door locks. For starters, mechanics say don't panic.

"The first step would be try another door," said Jason Sneddon with Center City Collision in Norwood. "I know it sounds simple, but when you're panicked and flustered, not everybody crosses that thought in their mind."

"If the key wants to go in, then just try and put gentle pressure on it to open it up, if it doesn't want to move, if you feel any slight tension, I'd stop where you're at," he said.

Sneddon said you could damage the paint and the lock which would be an expensive fix.

"You should not grab the door and start yanking on things or try to chip away the ice from the handle or lock cylinder," he said.

If you don't have the luxury of having a garage to protect your car, where it can slowly thaw out, Sneddon said there is only one truly safe way to properly de-ice your locks.

"This is a product, it's called lock de-icer," Sneddon said. It's a simple, cheap alcohol-based product you can find almost anywhere.

"It's best to just put a little bit in," he said. "And then if needed, add a little bit more."

Sneddon said you never want to pour too much in, because you could short-circuit the rest of the electronics in today's key fobs.

Then, take the time to clear off the rest of your car while it works.

"You should allow the de-icer to sit in the lock about 5 to 10 seconds."

Sneddon said, never try to jam your key into a frozen lock, you could bend or break it.

We noticed, some of the solution ran out, is that ok for the body of the car?," we asked.

"It is safe for all automotive paint finishes," Sneddon said.

And never, ever use hot water he said.

"Isn't there a real danger of your windshield or windows cracking and breaking?," we asked.

"Yes," he said. "If there's any hairline cracks now, if you add hot water to it, it's going to change the temperature quickly enough it could make that crack grow instantly."

Most de-icing products are good til about 10-degrees below zero.

"So you open your door, and you hear this crunch sound," we said. "Good or bad?" "bad!," Sneddon said.

That crunchy sound Sneddon was referring to, is the rubber gasket, both around the door and around the door frame. If they get frozen together, you could tear them and that will also add-up to an expensive fix.

Also, you should never use a lighter to heat your key or key fob, again, you could damage the electronics inside, or worse, you could burn yourself.

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