CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Should I lubricate the doors, locks, and hinges on my car? If so, how? With what type of lubricant?

My car is 6 years old and I’ve meticulously attended to the under-the-hood maintenance items (even stuff the maintenance schedule manual does not mention such as doing a drain and refill of the ATF at 30,000 miles, courtesy of the sage advice on this forum.)

Should I pro-actively add lube to the following:

-Door locks
-Door hinges (use a spray lubricant? What type?)
-Ignition lock
-Trunk lock
-Gas lock

If so, how? With what?

For locks, should I lube my key and just insert it into the lock and go back and forth? What type of lubricant do you recommend for that? It seems the factory comes with a white lubricant.

Door locks, gas locks (if you have one), and trunk locks are best lubricated with a spray silicone lube.

Door hinges are lubed with a Wite Litheum grease, however since the only real way to do so is by unhinging them, it’s not recommended. They should be fine for the life of the vehicle.

Hood hinges and the catch are best lubricated with either white litheun or regular axle grease. It’ll work its way into the mechanisms as well as necessary.

I do not recommend doing anything with the ignition switch (keyhole) unless it develops a problem. Some here claim that the key used should be kept to a minimal weight, and although I’ve never had a problem the theory makes sense. I keep the car key on a ring by itself with only my door key to accompany it. All my other keys including a spare car key are on a seperate ring that stays in my pocket.

If you live in an area that gets ice storms, snow, and freezing rain, it’s also a good ide to keep a tube of “lock deicer” in your coat pocket. Evene a well lubricated lock can ice up.

Locks can be lubricated with dry graphite if they show any indication of hanging up but most survive without any attention. I prefer to lubricate door hinges and door latches with spray on grease and hope that doing so does more good than harm. The grease will eliminate squeaks and often the door opens more smoothly after application. But replacing door hinge pins and bushings is a job I really dislike.

Dry graphite works, but man, is that stuff messy!

On my vehicles, I leave lock cylinders alone. I have had to replace two of them in my life on 20 year old GM vehicles made in the '80s and chalk both of them up to normal wear. As for latches and hinges, I spray them every few months or so with white lithium grease. It seems to make them work more smoothly and quietly.

The door hinges can be lubed without any issues. A can of white lithium with the red tube on the nozzle will do the trick. Simply spray the rollers in the center where they roll .Also in prep for winter spray the door weatherstrips with silicon and apply wax onto the door frames where the rubber meets.

Thank you all for chiming in. I think what I’ll do is go to Advance Auto and get a can of CRC White Lithium Grease in a spray can and have it handy. As it is, it seems that the general opinion here is that I don’t need to do anything: leave it alone! How nice.

If you live in a very cold climate some of the lock lubricants can freeze and cause more issues than they solve. If the locks are working fine, I’d leave them alone until you encounter some kind of problem.

White lithium grease is good for door hinges, don’t overdo it. Just a touch is fine. My cars are all older than yours and I’ve not greased any of these areas and have no need to so far.

Dry Door Hinges Will Wear Out Before The Rest Of The Car, Particularly On 2-Door Models.

I regularly carefully squirt motor oil (old-fashioned thumb trigger oil can) into the gaps in the moving parts of the actual hinges and also apply white lithium grease. It’s a little messy, but I clean up any dripping.

I also use the grease on the rollers and the spring loaded straps/arms of the door-check mechanisms, as others have suggested.

I oil other car hinges, too, hood, trunk, lift gate, etcetera. I squirt silicone into door and trunk key holes as our cars run through our County’s highway salt bath for half the year.

I don’t recommend anything in the ignition lock. Some cars have sensors there. I’ve never had a problem with one.

When I worked at a Volkswagen dealer (back when we had free-range dinosaurs), hinge service was standard on cars that came into the shop, although the hinges were almost all external.

I still can’t believe that people can take fairly expensive cars to a dealer and have them regularly serviced and the hinges and latches are not touched.

Don’t forget latches. Door latches have been mentioned, but oil/grease hood and trunk latches, too. Lubing hood latches and particulary the “safety catch” mechanism can prevent a broken hood release cable and keep the safety catch doing its job.

CSA