Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Lock lubricant — what to use, what to avoid

Lock lubricant — How to lubricate a lock cylinder

Lubricating the lock cylinders on your car is the best way to avoid freezing and lock cylinder sticking. There’s lots of bad advice out there regarding lock lubricants so let’s start out with which lubricants you shouldn’t use.

Lock lubricants you should never use

WD-40 is not a good lock lubricant

People use it because they have it around the house. But it’s just a general purpose lubricant and if you shoot it into your lock, it will work for a while. However, over time, the solvent will evaporate and the light oil will attract dust and dirt, eventually making your lock stick. You’ll get short term satisfaction at the cost of lost term stickyness.

3-in-1 oil is not a good lock lubricant

3-in-1 oil is not a good choice because it attracts dust and dirt and gums up the lock cylinder pins and will make the lock sticky over time

Motor oil is not a good lock lubricant

There’s no compression going on inside your lock so you don’t need the surfactants, dispersants, anti-wear, and anti-foaming additives. It attracts dust and dirt and will gum up your lock.

The best lock lubricants

Dry Teflon lube

Dry Teflon lube comes in an aersol can and sprays in

Aerosol can of dry Teflon lubricant for lubricating car door locks to prevent freezing

Prevent car door lock freezing with an application of dry teflon lube

as a liquid. The solvent helps dissolve any oil that you’ve already sprayed into the lock. so Dry Teflon lube is a really good choice if the lock is already sticky. Once the solvent has done its job and evporates, it leaves behind a light powedery dry film of Teflon to lubricate the lock cylinder without attracting dust and dirt or getting gummed up. Find dry Teflon lubricant spray at any home center or hardware store.

Dry graphite

Graphite is the #1 recommended lubricant for locks. However, it doesn’t degrease or free up a sticky lock like the dry Teflon lube spray can. So it’s a good idea to use both. Spray the lock first with dry Teflon spray to dissolve any old oil and gum. Let it dry. Then add a few puffs of graphite. Do NOT load the lock with graphite. That’ll just pack the fine powder into the mechanism and make it stick. A few puffs is all you need.

©, 2021 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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