Why Won’t My Car Windows Open In Winter?

Getting into your car on a dark and frosty winter morning can be a harrowing experience, especially if your vehicle isn’t kitted out with the latest bells and whistles to improve your comfort. So, it sounds bizarre to even consider rolling down the windows when the temperature plummets, but sometimes – whether to rectify the foggy glass or place an order at a drive-through – it can’t be avoided. The problem is, the elements might conspire against you to prevent your window from reclining into your door. Here’s why your windows might not open in winter and how you can fix the problem.

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Why Won’t My Car Window Go Down When My Car Is Frozen?

In similar fashion to when your car doors won’t open in extreme cold, the most likely reason for a stuck window is a build up of ice around the rubber seal that protects the glass as it meets the edge of the window frame. Sometimes, particularly if your seals aren’t very good, moisture will settle around that area and freeze overnight, effectively locking the window in place.

What Could Happen If I Try To Force The Car Window Open?

No matter how you attempt to do this, it’s likely that you’ll cause some kind of damage to your vehicle that will be far more significant of a problem than a frozen shut window. There are a few ways that you can attempt to brute force the window open, and none of them will do your car any good:

Slam the door

Many people would suggest simply slamming your car door as hard as you can, numerous times, until the window quite literally rattles enough in its frame to shake off any debris or ice. Clearly, these people never slammed the door of their parents’ car when they were kids and got a stern telling off for it. Doing so can knock the window off its track, causing even more problems, and if you’ve got a particularly strong arm, you could even end up breaking the glass, especially if it’s already frozen. You could also damage the door frame or latch that lets the door close smoothly and securely, which could cause problems further down the road.

Slamming the door with intense force over and over can help rectify a stuck window, but it’s typically reserved as a last resort tactic and not best employed when your car is frozen over – it’s more suitable when your window won’t roll down for other reasons.

Palming it

This refers to the method that involves slapping the palms of your hands on either side of the glass and physically forcing it down using your own strength. Although it might seem like a relatively simple method, if you put any force on the glass in the wrong direction (even slightly) it could shatter right between your hands, and that’s never going to be pleasant.

Forcing the handle

If your car still has a manual handle to roll down the windows, then you might be tempted to twist that knob with all your might in the hope that you’ll break the ice and set the glass free. In reality, you’re more likely to end up breaking the plastic components – including, potentially, the handle itself – that operate the window. Doing so will turn a very simple job (melting some ice) into a much more difficult and costly one.

Pressing the button, repeatedly

Don’t think you’re safe to use brute force if you’ve got an electric window system and a simple button to press. You can hammer that button as hard as you like, but the motor only has a very limited amount of power. If it won’t go down, it won’t go down. Keep holding that button and you risk burning out the motor or causing other electrical problems that might prevent you from lowering your window even after the freezing weather has passed.

How Do You Unfreeze A Power Window That Won’t Go Down?

The most easily accessible way to do this is to simply spray some de-icer around the edges of the window, getting in and around the seal to ensure any minor buildups of ice will come in contact with the melting solution. In most cases, this should do the trick.

You could also try swiping a bank card or something similar along the lower seal to clear any ice, as demonstrated in the video below from YouTube user steve45ca. Some say Canadians are legally obligated to carry a Tim Hortons gift card with them at all times, but for our UK readers, a bank card or your driving licence should be a suitable alternative.

As suggested in the video, you can try pressing the ‘down’ button first on the window to loosen things up a bit, but remember, don’t hold the button for too long or you’ll put unnecessary strain on the motor.

How Do You Unfreeze A Manual Window That Won’t Go Down?

The same applies to manual windows; de-icer is the best option for freeing it up, but you can also try a rubbing alcohol solution if you don’t have any of the pre-mixed, shop bought stuff to hand.

Similarly, you might want to try the card trick, but remember not to put too much force on the handle otherwise you could snap the internal mechanisms that reside within the door itself.

You could also try gently heating the frozen area, with emphasis on the word gently. Do not, under any circumstances, pour boiling or even hot water onto your car when it is frozen – especially onto glass. Doing so can and almost certainly will result in the glass shattering as it can’t deal with the sudden, extreme change in temperature.

Or, just turn on the heater and wait it out.

How To Prevent Car Windows From Freezing In Cold Weather

There are a few ways that you can defend your vehicle against the intense cold and prevent ice from building up and freezing your windows closed. Here they are:

  • Treat the seals around the window with an antifreeze based product
  • Park the car in a garage if possible, or at least try to shelter it from the wind
  • Clean the seals to prevent any debris from creating openings that moisture could enter
  • Keep the seals in good condition, replacing or repairing any that become worn or damaged

So, follow our advice and you should be free to roll down your windows at your leisure. Got more problems with your car than a few dodgy windows? Sell it with Scrap Car Comparison and we’ll track down the best prices for it offered by professional scrap and salvage specialists who are part of our trusted, UK-wide network. We’ll present you with the best deals for your car and, wherever you live, a local buyer will be ready and eager to take the car or van off your hands. Better still, they’ll even collect it from you for free! Give us a call on 03333 44 99 50 or use our scrap car price calculator to get a quote for your vehicle today!

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