Unfreezing Car Lock with Hand Warmers
Today we had about 8 inches of snow. When I went out for my FIRST snow-removal adventure, I unlocked the side door lock-handle to my camper cap, on my pickup, and retrieved my snow shovel.
After my adventure, I placed the snow shovel back in my pickup and attempted to re-lock the cap door but I could not turn the key to lock it. Thinking back, the key got wet from the snow around the lock when I unlocked it and probably pushed water inside the lock and the lock froze while I was on my adventure. After many attempts to turn it and using a cigarette lighter to heat my key and spraying WD-40 inside the lock, I gave up and went inside.
After warming up, I decided to Google other unfreeze solutions and watched a few videos on YouTube. Nothing new really presented itself but the notion of "dry heat" kept swirling around in my head when one of the YouTubes (below) mentioned a hair dryer. Then it struck me to try hand warmers. After all, they get up to 135+ degrees and they are dry and I have a ton of them. I just needed a method to wrap, and hold, them around the frozen lock-handle until the heat did its job. The idea of a can cozy/koozie popped into my head.
I found an old foam one in my pantry, taped over the hole at the bottom to keep the heat in, and stuffed it full of (4) hand warmers just before I walked out the door for my SECOND snow-removal adventure.
When I got to my truck, I immediately shoved the cozy around the lock-handle, making sure the 4 warmers were completely surrounding the handle inside the cozy, then I proceeded to my adventure. In retrospect, I feel that 2, or even 1, hand warmer would have done the trick but my level of frustration to unfreeze this lock demanded an immediate resolution.
After about half an hour of shoveling snow, I removed the can cozy and was able to lock the handle again. The hand warmers were still putting out heat so I stuffed them in my gloves to continue shoveling that beautiful white stuff.
I haven't googled this solution yet; I'm sure this is not a new idea. But, given the timeliness, I thought I would record this for posterity just in case someone out there needs to find another option. Also, while this particular design worked well with my type of (protruding) lock, I'm sure this solution can be easily adapted to other frozen lock types/situations. Just holding the warmer on the lock for a few minutes could do the trick.
Here are some other suggestions for unlocking frozen car locks (hint - don't use hot water):
. . . assuming these are not in the frozen-lock section of your vehicle:
- heating the key with a match, cigarette lighter or body heat
- heating a towel in the microwave
- hair dryer
YouTube Videos on the topic:
Preparing Your Vehicle for an Emergency
Emergency, Battery-Less Flashlights
Winter Storm Preparedness Tips
Being Prepared to Live in Your Car Successfully
SurvivorMan Stranded in his car in the snow in Norway