How can I keep from getting frozen out of my car in cold weather?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am writing on behalf of the many car owners who reside in cold, wet areas of the country and have suffered the problem of car doors freezing shut because of freezing rain or simply rain and dropping temperatures. This has happened to all three of the vehicles that we own (a Pontiac, a Buick, and a Chevrolet), and last week I drove a stranded Ford Escort owner home simply because I lucked out in getting my doors open, and she could not. Can you suggest anything that might prevent this from occurring so we're not left stranded in a commuter parking lot unable to get INTO our own vehicles?

RAY: Well, Helen, this is exactly why I never go anywhere in the winter without my blow-torch and crowbar strapped to my back.

TOM: Actually, Helen, it IS a tough problem. But there are a couple of things you can do. First, you should try spraying a little silicone or WD-40 around the door seals (those are the rubber gaskets around the insides of the doors). That makes it a little harder for the ice to adhere in there.

RAY: Second, when your door does freeze shut, try giving it a good whack. Sometimes a healthy karate kick is enough to break the ice seal and get you into the car. And even if it doesn't work, it'll probably make you feel better.

TOM: Beyond that there are "de-icing" sprays you can buy at auto parts stores. When you get "frozen out," you spray this stuff around the edges of the door, and with any luck, it melts enough of the ice so that you can get in.

RAY: Just don't do what my brother did and leave yours in the glove compartment! You have to take this stuff with you when the forecast calls for rain and cold temperatures.

TOM: A more reliable approach, albeit more expensive, and more of a pain in the you-know-what, is a "car cover." Car covers are basically tarps that fit over your car. When you park at the train station in the morning, you take the car cover out of your trunk and drape it over the car. And when you get home at night...

RAY: You get out the de-icer and spray it all over the car cover so you can peel it off and open the doors!

TOM: Actually, you may have some trouble in freezing rain, and personally, I think the car cover is more trouble than it's worth.

RAY: So my advice would be to apply silicone or WD-40 to the door seals on a regular basis during the winter, and take the de-icer spray with you to work. If that doesn't do the trick, send us $100 bucks and we'll send you the Click and Clack autographed flame thrower.

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