This never happened when I rode a tauntaun.
February 3, 2015 11:51 AM   Subscribe

The passenger side doors on my Honda Odyssey keep freezing shut in cold weather, and last night the windshield iced over on the inside. Do I need to have it checked out, or is that normal?

I'm located in one of New York City's boroughs. We've been having a cold snap, complete with snow, ice, hail and other signs of the frozen apocalypse.

When the temperature dips below freezing, the passenger doors on my car often freeze shut overnight and we can't open them in the morning. Unfortunately, unlocking and pulling on the handle releases the door, but not enough to open it. When we begin driving and the car warms up a little, the doors tend to slide open on their own. When it's stuck, pushing on the front of the door to try to engage the lock doesn't seem to work.

Also, the inside windshield of my car was frosted / iced over this morning. Something that's never happened before, to any other car I've owned. Was easily fixed with a brush / scraper, but I'm concerned there may be a leak in a seal somewhere.

Are either or both of these occurrences normal for a late model (2014) Honda Odyssey? Should we bring it to the dealer to have it checked? Is there anything I can do to help prevent the door from sticking shut or the windshield from icing over during cold weather?
posted by zarq to Travel & Transportation (32 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
It does sound as if you have moisture getting past a seal. It is not the way it is supposed to work. As for fog on the inside, I use Armour All anti fog wipes. I have also used the RainX ones. Both work moderately. I would take it to the dealer and explain the situation and mention that the seals should still be working on a 2014 vehicle.

As for a short term solution to opening the doors in the cold and wet, I would unlock them and pull as much as you can, then go to the other side, enter the vehicle and push from the inside. If it was the front door that swings out, I would give it a decent kick from the inside, but that is me. YMMV on kicking your own door. If you are trying to get babies/toddlers into the sliding door, I totally appreciate your frustration. I have some spray stuff I got at Walmart that I use to spray on the outside windows to melt the ice that I assume has some sort of alcohol in it that I would consider spraying on the mechanism/hinge for the sliding door. It is a product that is made for melting ice on your windows on the outside.
posted by 724A at 12:01 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seems like you have a door seal or something that is leaking. The car warms up the snow/ice, which melts inside through the leak and freezes across the door seal overnight. Clearly some moisture is getting into the car that shouldn't be, and the fact that the door is the thing that is freezing up suggests the seal is the leak path (although not necessarily).

In the UK (which has a humid winter) ice on the inside of the windscreen is not at all unusual, but is indicative of too much moisture in the car.
posted by Brockles at 12:01 PM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is there anything I can do to help prevent the door from sticking shut or the windshield from icing over during cold weather?
Make sure you have an old rag in the car and wipe the seal before you close the door - it may work. But the best way is to warm the car up for a few minutes with the heater on full to be honest. Forcing the door is likely damage the seal further and exacerbate the problem.
posted by Brockles at 12:03 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Icing on the inside can also happen if there's a lot of water in the vehicle, typically in the boot trays. Snow and slush comes in on boots and pantlegs. Snow and ice sublimes from the boot tray then recondenses on the cold windows. Check if your foot wells have a lot of water or ice in them.

Cracking your windows on cold nights prevents this, equalizing temperatures to eliminate the temperature gradient. It makes the car cold though.
posted by bonehead at 12:09 PM on February 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Icing on the inside and frozen doors is very common in the snow. Your car gets damp from snow tracked in on your feet or falling in when you open the doors and just human breath and perspiration. Then it condenses in the cold. You might need to run your A/C for a few days to dry it out or park it somewhere warm with the doors open overnight.

In future brush all the snow off your feet before you get in and maybe try rubber floor mats which don't absorb moisture. Dump the water out after each trip. Do a good job of brushing all the snow off so it doesn't melt and run into the doors.
posted by fshgrl at 12:09 PM on February 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Seconding fshgrl. Park it some place warm till it dries out on the inside. Ice inside the windows is a fact of life here in Montreal.

Also, credit cards are better inside than brush/scrapers, since they're easier to maneuver, and also easier to bend.
posted by musofire at 12:11 PM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Some cars have stupidly designed doors when it comes to snow. The hatchback on my car becomes frozen closed or, better yet, open all the damn time. It's like the bumper funnels any moisture right into the latch.
posted by fshgrl at 12:12 PM on February 3, 2015


An old Mazda MX-3 of mine was absolutely horrible for this. Some dumbass designed the side door locks so that they were on a curved part of the door and the tumblers pointed down on an angle. They were always freezing up.
posted by bonehead at 12:14 PM on February 3, 2015


Buzzfeed has a list of car hacks for the winter
posted by discopolo at 12:20 PM on February 3, 2015


make sure you have the vent open to pull air in from outside while the car is running. I had some friends who had a horrible condensation problem then they found out it was because they were driving around with the re-circ set all the time. Once they opened the vent, it resolved itself.
posted by ghostiger at 12:25 PM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I live not far from you, and a couple of times this winter I have come back to my car after a day of work to find major frost on the inside of the windshield. My theory regarding this goes as follows:
1. I enter car and snow comes in with me.
2. During the day the sun heats up the car interior, melting the snow and turning it into water vapor.
3. The sun goes down and the vapor freezes on the windshield.
posted by ejs at 12:33 PM on February 3, 2015


Came in to say what ghostiger said: it sounds backwards, but keep the vent selector knob at OPEN to vent in outside air, not CLOSED so it only recirculates the same interior air.

I too had this icing-over-on-the-inside problem with a previous car, and once I found out about keeping the vent open all the time, whether the heater or the ac was on or not, it never happened again. Then when I got my current car --- the only one I bought new not used, therefore the only one that came with an owner's manual --- while reading through that manual I found keeping that vent permanently open was actually the factory recommendation.

Now I never close that vent, and indeed: I wonder why the thing was ever installed......
posted by easily confused at 12:35 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now I never close that vent, and indeed: I wonder why the thing was ever installed...
When you get stuck behind a car that clearly shouldn't have passed its last emissions test and don't want to breathe it all in.

But yes, otherwise recirculate is something I hardly ever close. It gets too foggy to quick inside. (Or maybe I just breathe too heavy.)
posted by Brian Puccio at 12:55 PM on February 3, 2015


... hardly ever use ... (makes more sense)
posted by Brian Puccio at 1:01 PM on February 3, 2015


Now I never close that vent, and indeed: I wonder why the thing was ever installed......

If you're driving a substantial distance in a hot climate, the AC will have an easier time of it if it isn't constantly pulling in fresh 90°F air.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:07 PM on February 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yep; in cold weather a car that is going to be parked more than an hour should (ideally) have the vent open and the rear windows cracked about 1/8", so all the warm air leaves quickly and the car cools off fast. Otherwise, all the moisture trapped inside condenses on inner surfaces (inside windshield frost and icy grabbing between the door and frame), PLUS any snow that falls will melt on the window before refreezing.

If the windows and door are exposed on both sides to the same temperatures, snow won't melt, breath and boot-snow won't freeze inside, and snow outside the car is far less likely to melt and refreeze in a lock or doorframe gap.

(Pro tip: If you're a smoker, a few seconds of lighter flame applied to the lock will free up a frozen car lock without damaging anything.) (Pro tip: if you're not a smoker, but your locks sometimes freeze, start carrying a lighter in the winter.)
posted by IAmBroom at 1:21 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


If the car's door locks freeze, heat the metal key with a cigarette lighter* or whatever will heat it. Use that instead of the remote opener.
* This applies if you are still smoking. Please quit before you find out the price of AdVair.
posted by Cranberry at 1:27 PM on February 3, 2015


If the car's door locks freeze, heat the metal key with a cigarette lighter*

Fun fact: the Honda Odyssey doesn't have a cigarette lighter. (At least, I don't think it does.) It has at least one or more sockets for powered accessories, but no accompanying lighter. So, as you say, we'd need to find a different heat source.
posted by zarq at 1:37 PM on February 3, 2015


I'm so glad I'm not the only one with a Honda Odyssey who has this issue! My fix for my 2005 Odyssey has been to open the driver door, heat up the car, and then I can get the sliding door open.
posted by Happydaz at 1:40 PM on February 3, 2015


Thanks everyone! Lots of great advice in this thread. I'm quite grateful.

We normally leave the air vent open, but closed and put it on recirculate over the weekend. Never occurred to me that might be an issue. Will see if leaving it open helps, as well as try some of the other tips you've suggested.
posted by zarq at 1:41 PM on February 3, 2015


Fun fact: the Honda Odyssey doesn't have a cigarette lighter. (At least, I don't think it does.) It has at least one or more sockets for powered accessories, but no accompanying lighter. So, as you say, we'd need to find a different heat source.

I think they meant a lighter like a Bic lighter.
posted by futz at 3:54 PM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Re: getting frozen doors to open, if all else fails you can heat up a bunch of water in a microwave and pour it over the seal between door and car frame. Worked for me a few weeks ago when this happened.
posted by phoenix_rising at 5:16 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Try to knock snow off your boots when you get in the car. It creates a lot of extra moisture. The lighter trick with your key? requires a lighter, pick one up at the gas station. Cleaning the inside windows with shaving cream supposedly fog-proofs them. And Pam cooking spray on the rubber edges of your car doors is supposed to keep them from freezing shut. When my car is full of wet and snow, and is icing up, I take the long route home, turn up the heat, and try to get it dried out.
posted by theora55 at 9:48 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


When leaving your windows open 1/8 inch, do you have to make sure it's not going to snow in?
posted by Noumenon at 4:38 AM on February 4, 2015


I think they meant a lighter like a Bic lighter.

AH! :D
posted by zarq at 5:59 AM on February 4, 2015


Lock de-icer is a product that's widely available in Canada and it's basically magic for frozen locks. I leave a bottle in my mailbox, in case the front door or car locks freeze, just squirt it in the lock, and then insert key.
posted by peppermind at 7:25 AM on February 4, 2015


futz: Fun fact: the Honda Odyssey doesn't have a cigarette lighter. (At least, I don't think it does.) It has at least one or more sockets for powered accessories, but no accompanying lighter. So, as you say, we'd need to find a different heat source.

I think they meant a lighter like a Bic lighter.
Yes. If your door lock is stuck, the electric lighter inside the car isn't going to help you.

Not even if you carry it with you, as I suggested.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:41 AM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Noumenon: When leaving your windows open 1/8 inch, do you have to make sure it's not going to snow in?
You make that call. Since nobody but my dog typically rides in the back, I value an ice-free car worth a teensy snow drift (unmelted!) on the back seat.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:43 AM on February 4, 2015


Cracking your windows on cold nights prevents this, equalizing temperatures to eliminate the temperature gradient. It makes the car cold though.
posted by bonehead at 3:09 PM on February 3 [5 favorites +] [!]


This is profoundly bad advice. If moisture inside the car is a problem, then you DO NOT NEED TO ADD MORE MOISTURE by leaving the windows open. If you have access to a climate controlled garage, then yeah, leave the windows and/or doors open.

If your car is this new, you should be at the dealer like yesterday.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:20 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fill a sock with dry rice and place it under your seat. This continually absorbs moisture in the car so it doesn't condense and freeze on the windows. (Careful scraping the inside of the windscreen - a friend of mine found out the hard way that his car had a special plastic coating on the inside - permanently scratched it... )

Put Vaseline on the door seals (except the part you're likely to brush against as you get in/out) they won't stick/ice up so easily.

There are cigarette-lighter-size door lock deicers that have a AA or AAA battery which heats a small retractable metal strip that you can stick in the lock.
posted by guy72277 at 12:58 AM on February 5, 2015


computech_apolloniajames: This is profoundly bad advice. If moisture inside the car is a problem, then you DO NOT NEED TO ADD MORE MOISTURE by leaving the windows open.
On the contrary, you are looking at the problem with a lot of naivety about what is causing it.

Water will not vaporize and condense on the windows if the air inside and the windows are the same temperature. Put a bucket of water next to a single pane of glass; that pane will collect no more frost than anything else in the area.

Now take that ice-cold pane of glass and blow on it with your wet breath: frost will form.

The problem is a temperature differential, not the quantity of water. All your windows can be fogged with a tablespoon of water, spread out. But without condensation (either on the windows, or in the air), there's no frost - and condensation requires a temperature change. (Chemists are about to object, but most people don't vacuum-pack their cars.)
posted by IAmBroom at 10:11 AM on February 5, 2015


Also: I have the proof that my "profoundly bad advice" works, keeping my windshields ice and frost-free when my neighbors' windshields are not.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:11 AM on February 5, 2015


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