How To Lubricate Car Locks, Hinges and LatchesUpdated: Dec. 14, 2022
It only takes about 10 minutes!
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By the time you start hearing squeaks and groans whenever you open your door, hood, gas tank lid, car door latch or trunk, the new-car thrill has probably faded. We’ll help you recapture some of that new-car feel with a few simple lubricating techniques. With just 10 minutes twice a year, you can quiet those pesky noises and avoid costly repairs. All you need are a variety of inexpensive lubricants, which will come in handy for household problems as well. White lithium grease is good for metal-to- metal joints like hinge and latch mechanisms, which need a clinging grease to repel water and hold up under harsh conditions. WD-40 is for light-duty lubrication and freeing up sticking or partially rusted hinges and a car door latch. Silicone spray is great for lubricating nylon, plastic and metal when only a thin layer of lubricant is necessary. And because silicone dries, it won’t get clothing greasy. Graphite lubricant is the right choice for locks—it won’t attract dirt to fine lock mechanisms like an oil would.
We don’t think much about our door locks until the key breaks off in the cylinder. Keep these delicate mechanisms moving freely with a blast of dry graphite powder. You may need to push the dust protector flap back slightly with a small metal nail file to get at the lock. A quick pump of the tube will dispense enough graphite. Move the lock cylinder with your key several times to work the graphite into the mechanism. Do this to your trunk lock as well.
Gas tank lid
The gas tank lid really takes abuse, especially in salty environments. Give it a squirt of WD-40 a few times a year to keep it from rusting. Wipe away any excess to keep it from dripping onto your car’s finish.
Wipe the hinge area with a clean rag and spray it with white lithium grease or a few drops of ordinary motor oil. Move the hinge several times to work the grease into the hinge. Be sure to get it into both sides of each car hinge. Wipe away the excess to keep it from collecting debris.
Lubricate the trunk hinges using the same method you used for the hood hinge. Don’t lubricate the gas struts that slow the trunk movement because you could ruin them.
Spray lubricant and grease on clean latch
Spray with WD-40 first, then wipe and coat with white grease.
Wipe the grime and dirt away with a clean cloth. Try to get any bits of sand that may be embedded in the existing grease. If you see rusted or stuck parts, give the latch a spray of WD-40, then move the mechanism several times. Wipe it again and give it a liberal coating of white lithium grease.
Car door hinges and latches
Lubricate car door latch
Lubricate nonmetallic latches, like a car door latch mechanism with silicone spray.
If the door squeaks every time you open it, the car door hinge could be bound by corrosion. If so, squirt the hinges with WD-40 to free them, and move the door several times to work in the lubricant. Once the hinges are in working condition, just squirt them with white lithium grease or motor oil, operate the door several times and then wipe any excess away. Check the car door latch mechanism for corrosion. Many door latches now have a nonmetallic composite mechanism, which should be lubricated with a shot of silicone spray.
Required Tools for this Project
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Required Materials for this Project
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.
- Graphite lubricant
- Silicone spray
- White lithium grease