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What is the best way to treat door seals to prevent the doors from freezing in winter?

I noticed that the doors on both of my vehicles are a bit "sticky" this time of year, where the temperature is above freezing during the day, but drops below freezing overnight.

The seals on both vehicles are in good condition, so I don't want to use a product that's going to harm the rubber.

  • This question would benefit from a little more back story. What type of vehicle and where are you seeing the worst freezing? Both of those will help others just like you find this question (and our stunning insights ;-). – Bob Cross Dec 13 '11 at 2:40
  • I have learned from personal experience with the whole tape situation that you should really only set one end of the tape on first. when your putting the rest of the tape on run your thumb down the middle of the tape rather then just the outsides. this shows because the sides just fall down to the surface with the middle of the line of tape. – buckshot1069 Nov 30 '17 at 17:57
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If you're getting enough moisture into the seal/door interface, the seals are already failing. It's time to replace them. However, if you want to hold it off for a little while, vaseline is fine. It'll slowly degrade the seals further, but well, they're already done for at this point...

Best thing to do is to use silicone lube on the seals occasionally before moisture starts getting past and freezing. That'll help extend the life of the seals.

  • 2
    Almost all the spray cans of "Silicone Lube" contain ingredients that are bad for rubber seals too (solvents like mentioned in Bob Cross' answer). If it's MSDS lists any solvents like hexane, heptane, (petroleum?), they'll probably damage the seals too. If you try some on clean seals, with a clean paper towel and it keeps turning the towel black, it's probably the rubber being damaged & blackening the towel. Plain Dielectric Silicone should contain just PDMS/silicone & Silica and should be OK. Or expensive plumbing/scuba diving silicone. – Xen2050 Nov 30 '17 at 2:28
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Okay I have lived through this and replacing the seals does need to happen when this becomes a problem. However, seals going bad are not always the problem. Sometimes it is simply a matter of the seals or the metal they contact got wet while the doors are open then you close them and they freeze.

The down side here is this can also ruin the seals.

The hands down fix is one I tried on my wife's car a few years ago when we were having a colder than normal winter. After all the above trick only lasted a few weeks at a time lead me to experiment.

My best success by far was Painters Tape. You know the Green or Blue tape that peels off with ease.

  1. Prep was cleaning the painted metal in the door jam, I used paper towel with 409 or such cleaner and followed that with window clearer. I used the window clearer to remove any film left behind by the first cleaner.
  2. After I was sure the area was free off dirt and was nice and dry I applied the tape to the seal matting surface. Because of shape and curves of the door jam I found it best to apply the tape in three to eight in strips and yes ripping the tape is okay, I did as I didn't have scissors close by when I started. After applying the tape I ran my thumb over it to be sure it was stuck down completely.

When I decided to try the tape my concept was that the tape would be a better surface when moisture was an issue, and if it did freeze my hope was it would pull the tape loose allowing the door to open.

Well it never froze shut. One application of tape has been in place for going on three years. During that time or winters have been as low as -2 F and the door opens without effort. Hope this helps.

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    Excellent idea, though it's worth mentioning that painter's tape was never meant to stay on a surface that long. When you do pull it off, it's going to be messy. Either the tape will need to be scraped off or at minimum you'll have tape glue to clean up. Though if you're in it for the long haul and it saves you that much headache, it could be worth it. – atraudes Dec 14 '16 at 1:24
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Essentially, you want to displace the potential condensation that will form after the air inside a warm car cools down. The best suggestion that I have heard is silicone based grease or sprays. Those will discourage the water from sticking around and, later, becoming ice.

Anything that might react with rubber is definitely not recommended. This includes solvent-type sprays like WD-40 or common household Vaseline. Either might seem like it's helping until you notice that your door seals are disintegrating rapidly.

  • I thought of WD-40 - does it really affect the rubber? – chris Dec 13 '11 at 13:49
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    Yes, it will eat the rubber over time. Best to use something neutral like silicone. – Bob Cross Dec 21 '11 at 14:08
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Get a can of bees wax, it is a harder type wax, wipe it on the painted area where the rubber seals against the metal. A paper towel or cloth works well, apply a thin layer, in other words don't leave globs, a thin layer barely visible will work fine and should not harm the rubber seal.

1

Wax on the paint which contacts the seal is the best. Silicone spray on that paint is second best. If it's cold out, I would clean the paint, and apply silicone spray. Next summer, wax the paint on the door where it mates with the seal.

1

Normally, the way to go with rubber seals is talcum powder.

Don´t use other chemical on them, as lot of the other posts suggest. Most will destroy your seals for good. Wiping them down with talcum every 6 month will keep them going for decades.

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i'm told nonstick cooking spray works well also, but don't know if it will affect the seals...

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Brake fluid revises rubber to its elasticity. Use sparingly on door seals so as not to get on you clothes.

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    You don't want to get it on the paint, either ... which is why I wouldn't use it on the door seals. It will strip the paint off the other side where it is sealing against the door. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Aug 6 '15 at 10:06
  • Brake fluid eats paint, not a good choice – TII Jan 15 '17 at 18:40

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