- The Washington Times - Friday, February 28, 2003

Ice on your windshield also could mean ice inside your vehicle's door locks. In fact, the locks can freeze enough to prevent you from getting into your car or truck even if your windshield is clear.
It doesn't take much moisture when temperatures are below 32 degrees F to freeze the mechanism of your door locks. If your vehicle is equipped with remote, keyless entry, you don't have to worry about turning a key to get in, of course. But if you do have to twist a key in a lock, you could find yourself on the outside looking in.
Should you be faced with the dilemma of a frozen door lock, do not multiply your troubles by forcing the key. Trying too hard to turn a key in a lock that's solidly frozen can break the key, leaving you with the need to call a locksmith to remove the key from the lock cylinder.
Rather than force the lock to open, coerce it by thawing it out. All you need do is melt the thin layer of ice that's coating the lock's tumblers. You can do this in a number of ways.
Try applying heat to the key, by holding it in the flame of a cigarette lighter, and inserting the hot key into the lock. Keep reheating the key and reinserting it until the lock is free. Be sure to wear thick gloves while heating the key because it will have to be very hot to the touch to melt the ice.
If you live and drive where frozen locks are a relatively common problem, you may want to consider keeping some lock de-icer handy, perhaps in your briefcase, pocketbook or somewhere close by. Do not keep it in the glove compartment.
Simply insert the tip of the de-icer canister into the lock and squirt some into the lock according to the de-icer's directions. Lock de-icer is readily available at auto parts and discount department stores.
If you're parked at home and the car or truck is near a convenient electrical outlet and it's not raining or snowing on you use a heat gun to thaw the lock. Chances are you do not own a heat gun, as such, but an electric hair dryer will do the job.
Do not apply intense heat on the painted area around the lock, but patiently run the hair dryer with the nozzle a fraction of an inch away from the lock cylinder. Be patient and try the key. Repeat until the lock thaws. After you've gotten the immediate problem solved, consider taking simple steps to keep it from happening again. All you need do is periodically lubricate the inside of the lock mechanism. It's critical, however, that you use the correct lubricant, one that won't also freeze, giving you even more problems than you had.
You can find lock-specific lubricants at the same places that sell de-icer, as well as at a locksmith's shop. These water-displacing lubricants may be either dry, such as powdered graphite, or aerosol silicone. In either case, the lubricant will have a thin wand-type nozzle that fits into the lock cylinder for application.
Besides lubricating the inside of your locks regularly, you should also take the time to lubricate the door latches and hinges as well. And lube the hinges and latches for the trunk or hatch lid while you're at it.
Begin by removing old dirt- and grit-laden lubricant from those areas. You may need to use a grease-cutting solvent to get it off. Then apply new lube. For hinges, a few drops of clean engine or multipurpose oil will work fine. You may want to use an old-fashion squirt-type oil can to get the oil inside the hinge where you need it. Use a clean rag to catch and wipe up any excess oil. Use nonstaining grease on the mating parts of the latch mechanisms. This type of grease is available at auto parts stores and won't ruin clothing if you brush against it getting into and out of the vehicle.
After you've applied the lubricant to the hinges and latches, work the hatch or door back and forth several times to ensure that the lube is properly spread where it's needed. If necessary, reapply.
Finally, apply a thin coat of aerosol silicone lubricant to the weather-stripping around all the doors and trunk or hatch lid. This will help prevent the rubber from freezing and sticking on those truly nasty days.


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