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An ice-locked Mini

How would you liberate a Mini Cooper that’s locked in a glacier?

That was Tom and Ray’s challenge this week on Car Talk, courtesy of Katie in Boulder. Her husband left their car parked in a puddle. A very deep puddle. That froze. Solid.

Now, their Mini is locked up to its rims in one, solid block of ice. How can they dislodge it? Tom and Ray suggested drilling holes in the ice, and the application of hot water. Lots, and lots, and lots of hot water. Then, sand in front – and lots of friends, pushing.

What would you do? Do you have any suggestions for Katie? Share them here!

Why not get a bag or two of ice melter or salt and pour it all around it? That plus the hot water seems much easier than dealing with tow trucks, drills, etc.

I agree. Copious amounts of ice melt would turn the puddle back into the semi frozen slurry he parked the car in to begin with. Some sand under the front tire for traction should aid in the extracation

Tom and Ray you guys are the SALT of the earth!Forget the drill, deep fat cooker and all the hard labor! How About some ICE-MELT? Scoop a cup or three of SALT all around the frozen tire and go check your email for about an hour and drive away!

Try deflating the tire. That should release the grip of the ice enough to slowly roll out of the puddle. If that doesn’t work, try over inflating the tire to shatter the inflexible ice that is gripping it.

Get out those garden hoses out of storage. Connect the female end of one to the spigot on the bottom of your water heater. It’s there so you can drain any calcium buildup from the bottom of the water heater tank. Collect, borrow, steal enough hoses to reach the Brit-cicle. Open the cock like on any hose bib and you’ll have plenty enough water to thaw you British baby As a bonus, you’ll have a cleaner water hearer.

Being from FL, I’ve never seen “ice melt” in action but I imagine it’s messy. Having lived in Ohio for a while, I’d suggest a pony sledgehammer and a log splitting wedge. I also like the deflate/inflate ideas, though I’d put more stock into deflating the tire: excess pressure escaping quickly sounds risky for those nearby!

To loosen the ice around the Mini Cooper, pour winter
windshield washer fluid (-40?C) and rock salt around the
tires; You can then soon chip out with little effort. This
technique worked well on a septic tank cover in the dead of
a Qu?bec winter. Paul S

Ice melt is largely Calcium Chloride, which is far less damaging to plant life than salt. Borrowing a sentence from wikipedia,

“Aqueous calcium chloride (in solution with water) lowers the freezing point as low as ?52 ?C (?62 ?F), making it ideal for filling agricultural implement tires as a liquid ballast, aiding traction in cold climates.”

-62 F is pretty cold, so it’s quite certain to work without all the effort with drills or hammers. But it might take some time to melt the ice; perhaps even all day if the ice never sees any sunlight. Seeing as Katie is in Boulder, I’m sure Ice Melt is available at nearly any hardware, automotive, and even most gas station/convenience stores.

This happened to my son at college in Minneapolis.

He was cautioned about it before hand, so there was little problem.

The basic rule is ‘Do not try to break free using the engine, or you can snap a driveshaft’.

Turned out that calling a tow truck is the best to do, in Minneapolis they carry a simple tool to break free the tires by lifting one at a time with a special crowbar type device. The insurance company pays fully for the break-away service, but not for drive shaft damage.

Hot water and/or salt-like melting should also work as others have suggested.

A possible solution would be to use electrical heat tapes, such as are used along roof edges to prevent ice dams. These could be wrapped around the base of each wheel and then left overnight. Putting an insulator over the top of the heating tapes would likely help as well.

The problem with the People’s republic of Boulder is that they have probably classified rock salt and calcium chloride as toxic chemicals.

So, instead, head over to the Home Depot or Lowe’s and buy a bag of water softener pellets (salt). They won’t know the difference.

After reading replies I was impressed with the tire pressure solution, but favaor the salt or ice melt and SERIOUSLY disfavor carrying pots of boiling water in icy conditions, I mean how much did that lady get for just a cup of McD coffee! In case you missed it more talk on this.

I was surprised that nobody suggested to buy some of the wire/tape that a person uses to keep pipes from freezing. Just lay it around the tire, on the ice and plug it in.

First thing I thought of too when I heard this on the show was ice melt. You guys sure wanted to go through a lot of trouble for a problem with a simple solution. But that’s what keeps the garage open I suppose. Ha!