So many of us spend hundreds of pounds every year on maintenance and peace of mind protection programs to look after what’s under the car bonnet every – from car servicing and repairs to breakdown cover. But frequently overlooked is that of the car door.
Now it may seem a little trivial to point out car door maintenance tips in particular, but as the only entry and exit point to your vehicle, what is the point of a well maintained engine and car mechanics if you can’t get inside, or you find them corroding away?
This article offers some tips to keep your car doors, and your wallet, in mint condition.
Frozen or jammed car locks
Car door locks are prone to a range of problems including rust, ice, failure and general deterioration.
The inside of a car door lock consists primarily of metal parts – which are each highly susceptible and vulnerable to moisture… not something you want to have to deal with at 7am before the work and school run on a Monday morning!
In the case of cold weather, if you’re lock has frozen (with or without your key in it), you have a number of options…
- Warm water
- Hair dryer
- Heating up the key with a lighter or matches
- Dipping of key in Vaseline before insertion into the lock (turning it back and forward a few times before removing again)
Grease in the form of WD40 (use a can with a long thin application tube) can work well too. Greasing the lock, and other key parts of your vehicle for that matter, on a weekly basis can preserve the life of your locks (and your sanity!!).
Whatever the reason for lock failure or breakage, never be too forceful – car keys can be more fragile than you think and a broken key stuck in a lock poses more problems than a plain jammed lock.
Lost, broken or stolen car keys
When you find yourself with a lost or stolen car key, and you don’t have dedicated lost car key insurance policy or a backup key in place, you will need to assess your options and gain access to your vehicle as quickly as possible.
Arranging for a replacement key through your dealership – either before or after the loss or theft – is usually an expensive option. Especially if you have an electronic SmartKey, in which case the bill could be £1k+.
The fastest, most affordable and safest option is to enlist the services of an emergency auto locksmith. In most cases, the locksmith can be with you within an hour or two and help you gain access to your car. Most are also able to cut and program spares keys in advance to prevent such an emergency happening.
If you find your window is frozen to the weather strip outside of your car, do not attempt to open it! Repeated pressing of the window controls or lever can break the internal window gears altogether or leave you with a window that’s stuck open (never a good look when its ten below zero outside!!)
Instead, get out the de-icer or some warm water and be patient while it works its magic. No de-icer or kettle? Use a credit card to break the ice seal between the door and the windowpane.
Paint chips & bodywork dents
We all go the extra mile to look after our motors and prevent chips and dents… however the inevitable will always happen at some point since you can’t keep your car in cotton wool.
For paint chips, act on these as soon as possible. Over time, the steel surface will start to oxidise and dreaded rust will appear. To treat and fix the area, clean and degrease – paying particular attention to those rust spots. Apply touch up paint from your local auto hardware store and then sand or buff down. Finish with a clean and wax.
In the case of dents to the bodywork, it is recommended that you take your vehicle into a specialist for larger areas of damage. For small or medium sized dents though, try using a plunger or the hairdryer/compressed air method (easily found by searching on the internet).
About the Author: Nicholas Moores is a professional technology writer for Autokey Squad – Auto locksmith & lost car keys specialist.