How to Defrost a Frozen Car Window

For those who have to deal with snow and ice in the winter, you know how annoying the weather can be on your car. That’s especially true when you wake up to a cold vehicle that needs warming up and frozen car doors and windows that won’t open. How do you handle them? Here are car safety tips for defrosting your frozen car windows.

Dealing with frozen car windows

A woman scraping a frozen car windshield window in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Ballmertshofen, Dischingen, Germany
A woman scraping a frozen car windshield window | Stefan Puchner/picture alliance via Getty Images

There’s nothing more frustrating than going to get into your car right before you have to go to work or get to an appointment, and you find that the car windows are frozen shut. If you find yourself in that situation, there are a few tricks you can try so you can get going quickly. 

According to Carville’s Auto Mart, the first thing you can do is scrape the ice away from the rubber that hugs the window as it goes up and down. Frequently, ice buildup gets in between the rubber and the glass, making it not move. You can also run the car’s defroster to thaw it out on the inside of the vehicle.

Additionally, you can try chemical de-icers or a homemade recipe of ¾ cup of white vinegar and ¼ cup of lukewarm water. Both will work to break up the ice quickly. If you don’t have vinegar on hand, use rubbing alcohol instead.

These tricks work well for both crank and power windows. The only difference is that you shouldn’t try to roll down the power windows until they’re completely thawed. This, according to Taylor Auto Glass, is because ice can cause the window regulators to crack if you try to operate the window too soon. 

How to handle a frozen car door or locks

Icy weather can wreak havoc on more than just frozen car windows. Often, you’ll find car doors and locks frozen as well. If you come across this situation, there are a few things to try that won’t break the bank. 

Sometimes a broom or brush can loosen up ice particles easily to get the door open. If that doesn’t work, the next thing to try is some warm (not hot or boiling) water. You can also use silicon and cooking sprays or even some WD-40. Just spray in the gaps around the door frame and the vehicle’s body. 

For locks, the best solution is to wipe some alcohol-based hand sanitizer in the keyhole. The alcohol will break up the ice and allow the key to slide into the door and unlock it easily. You can also try a hair dryer or heat gun if you’re able to operate one outside safely. 

Tips to prevent your vehicle from freezing up in a storm

While there are excellent tips for handling situations like frozen car doors, locks, and windows, sometimes the best trick is to avoid the problem if you can. For instance, you can park your vehicle at night facing the east. In the morning, the sun will rise and warm up the ice that collects on the windshield, making it easier to scrape. 

Another trick is to use cooking spray or silicon on your door frame seals before the ice storm comes. In the morning, the door will open easily because the cooking spray prevents the ice from sticking to the seals, keeping it closed. 

Other tips include standing up your wipers to keep them from freezing to the windshield and covering your side mirrors with plastic bags secured with a rubber band. In the morning, take off the bags and lower the wipers, and you’re good to go. 

Winter can be a frustrating time with frozen windows and doors. However, there are plenty of tips to try to deal with them as they come or to prevent them from happening when you can. 

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