That's great. I went to open my car this cold, cold, icy day and managed to get the key to unlock the doors, but not get it out again. That's how I found myself fighting with the car door lock trying to get it to release my key...
being careful not to break the key.
Now my mind is racing: What do I know about frozen locks? I'm thinking lock de-icer, isopropyl alcohol, a lighter... jiggle the key some more to hopefully get the lock to release? With regard to the last, I'm not keen on standing in the parking lot with people walking past me seeing me wrestle with my key. And I don't have any of the other things either. Great.
There is a Shopper's Drug Mart on the other side of the parking lot though. I think to myself, they've got to carry lock de-icer.
Nope. They do have iso-propyl alcohol of course. But that only opened up a different set of questions that I didn't have the answer for either. They also have butane lighters, which I purchased. I'm not going to mention the other item I bought that I thought might do the trick so as not to embarrass myself unnecessarily.
I got back to the car and tried first the butane lighter. But again, questions. How exactly do you make the heating with a butane lighter method work? I didn't know.
Still not keen on fighting my car door lock in public view, I decided the best course of actions was retreat to the warmth of Starbucks where I'd just come from and another coffee, where I am now, and where I can consult with Google.
(Incidentally, I had to fight the urge to run outside with my fresh cup of boiling hot coffee and dump it on the offending car door lock. I'm not rash enough to try this though - not because I can explain exactly why this isn't a bad idea, but simply due to a certain hunch I might regret it later.)
A Google search confirmed my hunch. And it also revealed three of the best methods of freeing a frozen car door lock. Using the search term, 'frozen door lock', here is the most relevant page that I could find which explains these three methods best: http://voices.yahoo.com/the-three-best-ways-defrost-frozen-car-door-lock-11912986.html
I'd already tried looking for lock de-icer unsuccessfully. So that was out. I also did not have a blow dryer handy, and was obviously not going to fork out thirty or forty dollars for one at the drugstore. I did, however, have the lighter that I bought there. And I also know how to use it to free my key.
So here I am, typing this as my car keys hang from my car door steps away. I'd go out and try the lighter, except that I'm busy typing this, and also enjoying the rest of my coffee. Why waste an opportunity to enjoy a coffee, right?
And in case you're wondering about that heating with a butane lighter method, the steps are described well here: http://www.ehow.com/how_5032064_heat-frozen-door-lock.html
And for those who want it now without having to click any more:
1. Hold the part of the key that doesn't go inside the car door lock - that remains visible when you insert it - over the butane lighter flame.
2. Hold the part of the key that does go inside the lock over the flame for a while longer.
3. Inert key and wait for the lock to heat up, hopefully permitting the lock to turn.
Now I'm off to try it myself.
Note: The other reason I'm waiting it out in Starbucks is because the sun finally appeared and seems to be warming up things outside pretty good, including - hopefully - my car door lock. Which means that I might not have to use the lighter. :)
Update: After repairing to my car after my coffee, I found my key dangling from the door, apparently after someone spotted it and assumed I'd forgotten to take my key. Apparently, either the person picked the fallen key off the ground, or removed the loose key without any trouble (naturally, according to some law of Murphy's) and wanted to do me a favour by leaving it where they found it.
My only response to that is that I guess it pays sometimes to take a step back and go for a coffee while the same force of nature that froze a door lock eventually unfreezes it... Unless you're in a real hurry to get somwhere.