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What to do when your car key doesn’t work

car key doesn’t work in NY

If you live in a state where there are incredibly cold nights, chances are high that you’ve come out to your car in the morning and found that your door lock is unresponsive because it is frozen. When there has been a cold freeze at night, your car lock might be frozen. In these situations you can sometimes feel helpless because it always seems to happen when you’re running short on time. The first tip for getting into a frozen car is to not panic. Know that there are solutions to the problem.

Try a Different Door

This is the simplest solution. Many times the driver’s side door will freeze, while the passenger’s side will not. If you can get into your car on the other side, you can save quite a bit of time.

Once inside, do not force the frozen door. It can damage the internal locking mechanism as well as other hardware parts. This can be an expensive damage to fix, so just wait five minutes and try again.

Heat Your Key

If your key will go into the keyhole, but won’t turn, you can heat your key. This is most advisable with older keys, which are all metal. Do not put your key in the microwave. Use a lighter or cigarette lighter to heat the key shaped part of the key. Do not apply heat to the plastic part if your key has a plastic section. These parts sometimes have electronic mechanisms inside that can be damaged by the heat.

A heated key can do wonders on a frozen lock. Insert the heated key into the keyhole and wait a few seconds and try turning the key.

Use a Blow Drier

If you can get electricity near your vehicle, a blow drier is a great way of getting heat to thaw out a car lock that has gone through a nightly freeze. Point the blow drier towards the lock and hold it there for two or three minutes (or as long as it takes to unthaw the lock). Two or three minutes is usually all that is needed.

Use Body Heat

If you don’t have access to a blow drier or lighter to heat your key, you can use your thumb to provide heat for the car lock. Place your thumb over the keyhole for two minutes and wait until the lock is thawed.

Use De-icer

If you have access to commercial de-icer, you can use it to thaw your door lock. This doesn’t work all the time, and if you have electronics near your lock (like a keyless entry pad) some of the chemicals in the de-icer could have a harmful impact on their operation, especially if used repeatedly. Heated keys, blow driers, and body heat all have higher success rates than de-icer, since the chemicals are harder to get into the keyhole.

Call a Locksmith

If all else fails, you should contact a Professional Locksmith for help. There may be something else wrong besides just a frozen lock. Most locksmiths have access to tools that can help open any stubborn car lock.

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