Tips for keeping doors from freezing shut.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

Both I and one of my fellow poor friends have very old economy subcompact cars. I
have an '87 Honda hatchback, she has an old VW Golf. We both live in Connecticut,
where it sometimes gets very cold in the winter. Both of us are having a terrible
time with our doors freezing shut. When this happens, we both have to heave
ourselves into the car through the hatchback, and then heave ourselves once again
into the front seat, over the manual shift, twist 90 degrees and kick out the
driver's door. I don't know how young and spry she is feeling, but I'm quite
tired of the acrobatics (plus, it's embarrassing in public places!). How can I
get the doors unstuck with a little more dignity, or, even better, prevent them
from sticking? -- Pamela

TOM: Well, you'll be glad to know that your method is recommended by the American
Association of Chiropractors. And they asked us to be sure to endorse that final
90 degree twist with the kick, since it's always been great for business!

RAY: This has everything to do with water, Pamela. During the day, as the
temperature rises above freezing, the ice on your roof melts and then seeps into
the space between the door and the rubber weatherstripping that lines the door
opening. What space, you may ask? The space that's gotten bigger and bigger over
the past dozen years.

TOM: Then, when the sun goes down (that's around two in afternoon in Connecticut,
right?), the temperature drops and water "freezes" the door shut.

RAY: And once that happens, there is not a whole lot you can do. My brother uses
an oxyacetylene torch on the door of his '63 Dodge Dart when this happens to him.
But then again, he's always got one in his trunk to weld on other parts that fall
off while he's driving.

TOM: There are three things that might help, Pamela. The easiest is to try
spraying some silicone on the weatherstripping and also right onto the inside
metal of the door. That should help prevent ice from attaching itself to those
two surfaces, which is what makes the door so hard to pull open.

RAY: You can also replace that weatherstripping. When rubber gets old, it dries
out and loses its resilience. And that makes it more prone to letting ice stick
to it.

TOM: And finally, you can try asking a body shop to adjust your doors. They
probably don't fit quite right after all these years of opening and closing --
and kicking!

RAY: And if a body shop can bend them back so that they close tighter, you may be
able to keep the water from getting around the weatherstripping. Good luck, Pam!

Want to save some money and make your car last longer? Order Tom and Ray's
pamphlet "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!" Send $3
and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin, PO Box 6420,
Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.

?(C) 1999 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman

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