Frozen Van Doors

Updated on January 01, 2013
B.D. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
11 answers

Winter has finally hit Pennsylvania. We've been fortunate so far but we finally received more than a dusting of snow. That being said, an old problem has automatic sliding van doors are freezing shut. Sometimes I get lucky and it is only one side but today it was both. I assume it is all in which direction the snow falls and the wind blows. I've asked the dealer in the past how to prevent it and that would involve parking it in the garage. To unfreeze it they suggested I buy windshield de-icer in a can but it either didn't work or I did it wrong. Putting my weight into it just doesn't seem very viable it was Dukes of Hazzardish when the kids had to climb through the hatch today :-) I'm sure I am not the only one with the issue so what have you done that works?

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So What Happened?

Would rubbing alcohol harm the paint, clear coat?

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answers from Boston on

I have the same problem and that is the only thing I don't like about my minivan. I will usually start the car 15-20 minutes before I have to leave with the heat on full blast front and back and it helps. But if I don't get the car started I will have the kids jump through the back and I just have to buckle my youngest from my seat. The older boys can buckle themselves.

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answers from Medford on

Years ago we lived in a mobile home with a sliding glass door for a front door and it would freeze shut. I used my hair dryer to thaw it enough to let my husband get out to go to work. Not sure how far you would be from an outlet and Id be careful using it while standing in a puddle or you might get electrocuted. If you can get IN the van and then use it, it would be safer. Also be careful pouring even cold water on the car as it will break the windows due to the difference in temp. Can you get in the drivers door ok and then start it and warm it up with the heat on high thus thawing it from the inside? Can you cover it with a blanket to keep the moisture out of the door frame? If it didnt have moisture, maybe it wont freeze shut. And the de-icer might not work if you dont get it on the part that is actually freezing together. Is it the door frame? or the hinges or some other part that touches when the door is shut? And I bet the kids kinda liked climbing in the back hatch anyway,,lol

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answers from Las Vegas on

In reading this, yes I believe rubbing alcohol will harm your paint finish and I would also be careful with what you put on the gaskets as it could dry or crack the gaskets and then you will have to pay to replace them.

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answers from San Antonio on

We don't get snow here in Central Texas but we can get some bad ice storms. I ususally park in the garage but on the rare occasion I have to park outside and we have ice I use cool water and pour it over the door much like you would do to your windshield. Once it starts to melt I can usually gently pry the ice off and get the door open. I don't have a van so I don't know if sliding doors need to be handled differently.

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answers from Dayton on

Ours does the same thing.
We just get out the spaghetti pot and fill it w/ hot water till we get them unstuck (usually 2 tries).
Obviously not a good solution if you are in a hurry...but it works.

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answers from Appleton on

I live in Wisconsin--yep the Frozen Tundra. Frozen car doors are a recurring problem. I tried the hot water trick once and it did thaw the doors BUT... it also screwed with the electronics on the doors. My automatic locks didn't work and the little post (in the door jam) that switches off the inside lights froze so the lights didn't go off and my battery died. I ended up having to get the car towed to my mechanic so he could thaw it out over night and then check to make sure everything was still working.

Instead rub the rubber gaskets with cooking oil. It works. A friend told me not to use Vaseling because it is a petrolem product and can make the freezing worse.

Because I worked in retail for years and had to leave my car parked in a parking lot in all kinds of weather I often don't lock my car doors in winter.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I am so sorry but I had to laugh when reading this post. I am so happy to learn that some one else suffers from this issue too. LOL My van has done this for years and I thought it was just my old weird van. :) That being said, I have not found much to work on frozen doors. Letting it warm up for a few minutes before entering it works as well, as does parking in the garage. Also try parking where the sun will hit the doors first works too. I have had many days of maneuvering kids through the passenger seat to get to the back, it was really tough when they were babies and this happened. We love our van and now we have a garage. Hope you find a good solution for frozen doors. P. S. I don't think I would try the pouring warm water trick, it may be a quick fix but probably not the best. Just park in the sun :)

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answers from Oklahoma City on

We usually took hot water out in a pitcher and poured it on the doors but the issue was when it froze again. It was worse....but in a pinch it worked. Also, the deicer should have worked. We have used that before.



answers from Chattanooga on

they have stuff that deices locks also if you use silicone grease on the gaskets it won't freeze



answers from Las Vegas on

I have same problem when I hear temps are going way down I go out and spray all around doors with Pam seems to work great only drawback is when weather warms up you need to wash car as dirt all sticks to spray.



answers from Louisville on

EEPS!! Do NOT use hot water! Hot water freezes faster to begin iwth ... if you use water to break thru a frozen door, use cold right out of the tap and just pour it in a small stream around the door frame (not down the windows and such) - might take a pitcher or two, but it will work and w/o the big possibility of shattered glass due to hot water!

Then - you can try spraying around the door frame with WD40! And spray any time it's warm enough not to freeze the stuff! It'll help some once it's worked in.