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How would you deal with cars frozen to the ground?

Saw on the news, in Chicago I think, where a water main broke and flooded a bunch of cars. The ice was up past the tires up to the wheels. I was just trying to think how I would deal with that without waiting for spring. Try to chip away the ice, torch? What a mess.

If it’s up past the wheel wells, the entire under body is frozen. Maybe it’s time for a chain saw and crane…one at a time.

If it just the wheels/tires. A bag of salt at each wheel should work. Then tow it out.

Most people will go right out and fix the problem if you pay them; others could say no. For me, if I were young: Put jack under car, let air out of tire and try er. Put air back in tire and repeat. There could be a better method like jackhammer, hammer drill. Hire the pros because the cons will probably keep the car.

I saw a picture in USA Today of an Olds Alero that had the tires iced to the pavement. But the worst part was that there was what looked like up to an inch of ice on the doors. I think freeing the tires would be a piece of cake compared to freeing the doors.

There was actually a Car Talk radio show segment on this a few years back. Someone called in to say their car had been parked in a depression that filled with water, then froze. Don’t remember everything the guys said, but I think one idea was to boil a large pot of water and pour it around the tires to melt the ice.

PS…here’s the show that segment was on:

And here’s the discsussion thread that resulted:

I’d go with salt first, it’ll take time, but it’ll keep working its way down into the ice. It would take lots of hot water, unless it wasn’t much ice…

From the January 2010 thread, here’s a quote from a guy who actually had experience doing this and knew what worked:

January 2010 edited January 2010
I can certify that this technique of adding a few PSI to the tires DOES WORK!!! My first job out of college was at the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, MI, northwest of Detroit. Given the often wet and very variable temperatures in southeast Michigan, due to the proximity of Lakes Erie and Huron and to a lesser extent Lake Ste. Clair, puddles of water that would freeze overnight when the weather cooled, often resulted in cars parked at the proving grounds becoming frozen in the “puddles”!!! Given that the surface area of a typical tire “below the rim,” being 200 to 350 sq. in., only 5 psi would result in half a ton of force against the ice!!! Ice may be tough to break or chip, but exposed to significant force, it is very brittle. When an air tank was not available, “plan B” was to reduce the tire pressure 10 to 12 psi, pile salt around the edge of the tire, and add a couple cups of water. In a relatively short time, this would release the tire and enlarge the “hole” sufficiently that the vehicle could be “pulled” out. This was an often used technique since the typical circumstance at GMPG was for the front tires to be frozen in a “trough” of ice in the “gutter” at the curb of a parking area where snow and/or ice had not allowed the water to drain. Since nearly all the cars were rear wheel drive (I worked for GM from 1972 to 1975), we could then simply back the cars out of the “ice ruts”!!! Since the caller’s problem was “frozen” rear tires on a front wheel drive car. this technique would have been appropriate. You then simply need to drive carefully and relatively slowly to a service station to “refill” the tires!!!

One of the parking lots in college was below another parking lot…and it would always have areas of standing water. One area in particular it had almost 8" of water. Well went into a deep freeze after a short thaw and that area of 8" froze solid after a couple of days. A couple of cars were parked there. One guy decided to try and drive out. What happened the tire froze…but the axle spun…and he broke the seal of tire on the rim. The schools maintenance department had to get sledge hammers and picks and even a chain saw to get the cars out of there.

If the car will start, I would start it up and let it idle. After the engine is warm enough, would turn the heater on full blast to spread the heat around. If the back seats lay down to give you trunk access, open them up so hot air gets to all parts of the interior of the car. Since metal conducts heat, the ice should melt in a matter of hours at the most.

Use a I kerosene heater with flexible tubing over the end to direct heat around wheels, one at a time if only tires are involved. If entire under side of the car is as well, dome several cars at a time and heat enclosure with kerosene heaters. This would be the least labor intensive as once wheels ae free, each could be easily towed away.

Like this?

photo frozen-car-726720.jpg

If this poor guy posts I’m not going to know what to suggest.

I was thinking carefully use one of those salamander heaters directed at the frozen areas.

A Salamander will do wonders to help start a cold diesel engine,but seriously who parks in water when its going to freeze?(mud would be worse) any extraction technique would have to be gentle and careful not to damage the vehicle,usaully around here when it gets below zero its dry,we do have problems with the Caterpillars freezing to the ground,when its cold you treat these things with Kid Gloves when extricating-Kevin

If the poor guy who owns that car in the picture posts in this forum, I am going to recommend a heavy duty extension cord, a blow dryer, and a lot of patience.

but seriously who parks in water when its going to freeze?

You may not know it’s going to freeze. I remember one time in college…I went to my 8 o’clock class in shorts and a tee shirt (about 70 degrees). We were sent home at 1pm because of the snow storm that was dumping 3" an hour.

The one in the photo clearly got caught in a major coastal winter storm. And many people have limited parking options.

This winter has presented countless examples of situations beyond people’s control. I saw video of Scituate on the news recently after the last storm and it was downright scary.

The one in the photo clearly got caught in a major coastal winter storm. And many people have limited parking options.

I’ve seen cars like that at Niagara Falls in Feb. Don’t park too close when it’s windy and cold.

Excellent advice Mike.
I would add that those on the coast should probably evacuate inland even if their houses are safe just to prevent what’s in the photo from happening to their cars. It’d be worth the price of a night or two in a hotel.