We are all guilty of spending hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds every year on maintenance and peace of mind protection programs to look after what’s under the car bonnet – from MOTs and insurance to extended warranty programs, car servicing, repairs and breakdown cover.
But not many people pay attention to the car door.
Now it may seem obvious to highlight car door maintenance tips, but as the only entry and exit point to your vehicle, it’s pretty important to look after these panels (and the technology within them) in addition to your well maintained engine and car mechanics.
This post 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.
In the case of cold weather, if your lock has frozen (with or without your car 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 car 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 car locksmith.
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 wrapped 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).