Help! Gum in car door lock!

Yeah, it appears some little #!% decided to start trick-or-treating a little early this year, and without the customary warning. There's a donation service due to pick this car up in the morning, and the &@*#% crammed what appears to be chewing gum into the driver’s side door lock.

My questions:

  1. Is there any way you guys know of that I can remove this crap with household materials or automotive liquids? I can already tell you that nail polish remover makes it worse.

  2. It appears to be really deep in there, a condition which I exacerbated by shoving the key in and turning it. Was that as dumb as I think it was?

I’m pretty sure that gasoline will dissolve chewing gum. There’s a fair chance that spray carburetor cleaner or brake cleaner will work.

Dumb only if you knew at the time that you would be making it worse. Let’s call it ill-advised.

If you have any canned air, you can turn it upside down and blow some refrigerent/propellent into the lock. This would freeze the gum, making it brittle.

Of course, it depends on whether canned air still uses refrigerent as a propellent.

Last time I bought some air (CompUSA, $0.00 with rebates), I had much fun spraying the very very cold liquids inside onto various household objects. There was much merriment until I got some on my hands and other vulnerable areas.

So… yeah… I’m pretty sure this might work (there’s a definitive answer for ya)

The problem with dissolving the gum with any kind of solvent is that the residue will still remain within the lock cylinder. So once the solvent evaporates you’ll still have the gum in the lock, just redistributed evenly over the surface of the lock mechinism.

I would guess that you’d need to take the lock out of the door and clean it out completely. This may need to be done at a dealership, or by a locksmith.

I hope this tip is not too late.

Don’t use any fluid or spray that will spoil your paint work or upholstery, like gasoline, brake fluid, and any combustible and volatile liquids.

Use kerosene, one of my favorites all purpose cleaners, and it’s also medicinal – one day I will tell you about its medicinal efficacy.

Kerosene won’t spoil any paint work or upholstery; you can wash it off with ordinary soap and water.

My suggestion: get kerosene into and inside the keyhole. How to do that? Look around in the house for any used injection syringe, every convenient discard, get the idea?

Insert the key into the lock hole now profusely wet with kerosene, push and pull copiously, twist clockwise and counterclockwise copiously.

Put in more kerosene and continue with the same procedure, until all that chewing gum has dissolved and drained away.

Now, if you blow air really hard into the key hole, you can try that; but I don’t think that’s necessary.

Let me know how it turns out.

Susma Rio Sep

The only caveat which I’ll offer to the suggestions offered thusfar is that sometimes the bellcrank and other snap latches for actuator rods in a door lock mechanism are made of plastic. Choose carefully the solvent which you spray into a door/lock cavity as you may create a larger problem than that which you wish to solve.

Without more information as to model, make, and year, I’m at a loss, other than to say I’d favor freezing the disassembled lock body to clear it of debris, as suggested previously. Solvents seem to cause problems, unless they are flushed, and air dry without residue, IMHO.

Its a donor car, why worry about it?

Hey…just a thought.

Peanut butter is a home remedy used to get gum out of hair. I think it will soften degrade the gum in the lock,

Some creamy Jiff, maybe a needle / toothpick / hooked safety pin…and an hour or two…

Just a thought…


Stick to kerosene, it’s the most harmless and yet effective fluid to dissolve gum. It does not dissolve or soften any plastic structural components, and it does not spoil any paint work or upholstery.

Maybe diesel can be used also, but I think it might be more corrosive; but I am more inclined to believe it’s similar to kerosene.

Kerosene is the fluid I always have a small bottle of for any purpose of cleaning up greasy, gluey smudges or loosening up stuck parts.

Susma Rio Sep

They actually make refrigerent just for removing gum. Just spray, smash with a hammer, and sweep up the pieces. -We used to use it to get gum off the carpets when I worked at a movie theatre. Try asking the caretakers at your office, or even at a local school.

TRy WD40. It doesn’t harm paint and will disolve gum.

Well, it was all a bit late, but thanks for trying. In reply to some comments:

  1. If the car is not in saleable condition, they won’t take it. The car was a 1984 Honda Civic with nearly 378,000 miles on it, and I can’t imagine it would take much to push them over the edge.

  2. Recommendations for freezing or softening the gum wouldn’t have worked, because both require disassembling the lock to pick out the gum. If I wanted to do that, I’d’ve done it it without solvent.

  3. Susma’s idea might have worked, although I have my doubts about any nonpolar solvent doing much about this stuff; if I’d had any methanol on hand, I might have tried that. I’m just glad I’ll never read about the medicinal properties of kerosene. :shudder:

In any event, they took the car, so I’m guessing they just checked for paperwork and towed it. All’s well as ends well.

A stream of the liquid refrigerent would have been easy to do without disassembling the lock.

For anyone else’s future reference: Just hold back the spring loaded cap with a toothpick, put the nozzle of the upside down air can/refrigerent right up to the openig and let loose. Then, put the key in right away, thus breaking off the frozen pieces of gum, chocolate, or whatever they prank you with.

Might have worked… but, the important thing is, they took the car anyways. Cool deal. :slight_smile:

Ummm…do the words ozone depletion mean anything to you, NoClueBoy? Venting of a chlorinated fluorocarbon or sister chemical into the atmosphere has been an EPA violation for only a decade. Beyond that, at $10 per pound for R-22, I won’t waste it, even if was legal.