Tesla Falcon Doors – What’s the Deal?


Tesla Falcon Doors - What’s the Deal?

A unique feature within the Tesla range of vehicles is the presence of the falcon wing doors on the Tesla Model X. It is not there just to be a visually appealing feature. These doors provide the benefit of being able to open fully even in the tightest spaces. 

Falcon doors work on an automatic double hinge system that allows its doors to open in close proximity to another car or object. These doors will open when the car’s side mirrors are within just a few inches of another car’s side mirrors. Falcon doors also provide more accessibility to passengers.

The Model X’s passenger doors provide several benefits. Continue reading for everything you need to know about the falcon wing doors 

Double Hinges Play a Big Role in Falcon Wing Doors

Instead of creating a door with just a single hinge, Tesla added another hinge to their Model X door. 

The second hinge may not sound like that big of a difference, but it completely changes the way the door opens.

Instead of swinging open on a single pivot point at the top of the car, the second hinge allows the door to open vertically before the bottom of the door swings up. 

The placement of the hinges is also unique. The upper hinge is almost in the middle of the roof. The lower hinge is at the top where a traditional door opens. 

From the first hinge, the door pushes out away from the car and then lifts vertically. Once the door has enough verticality, the second hinge takes over and swings up, similar to a gullwing door. 

Falcon Doors Are Self-Opening

Self-opening doors create a few benefits. 

Unlike doors that open similarly, it isn’t left to the consumer to control the door’s weight. You aren’t forced to grab the door above you while seated and pull it down until it’s closed. These doors are heavy, and having you pull them down by yourself wouldn’t make much sense, especially with their two-hinge design. 

Another massive technological feature of these doors is all of the sensors that guide the self-opening falcon wings. 

Aside from the double hinge design, the sensors are the real treasure of these doors. 

The Sensors of Tesla’s Falcon Wing Doors

The automatic doors wouldn’t be advantageous if they couldn’t detect the car’s surroundings. 

Not only do these sensors detect what’s next to the vehicle, but also what’s above and if anything is blocking the pathway of the door while closing. 

In the event that you notice something that is impeding the path of the doors, you can stop the doors yourself with a few methods. You can single press the falcon wing door button of your keys. You can also press the button on the door pillar or the touch screen. All of these options will immediately halt the progress of the door. 

Falcon Wing Doors Get Kudos for Accessibility

Another benefit of the Tesla Model X’s falcon wing doors is its accessibility. These doors provide enormous dividends for those who have limited mobility. 

Typically, if someone has a disability that forces them into a wheelchair, the choice for transportation would be a minivan of some kind for the clearance space needed for entrance into the vehicle, as well as the additional storage space for mobility equipment.

Not only does the Model X provide sufficient room for getting in and out of the vehicle, but also extra storage for the wheelchair. Some even have liftgates installed to make entrance to the vehicle simple.

The other main benefit of a minivan is the way the doors open. Traditional doors’ hinge system doesn’t allow them to open fully, so the space you have to enter the vehicle is limited. A minivan’s rear passenger doors usually work on a slide system, which allows the entry area of the door to be fully exposed. 

Tesla’s falcon wing doors act similarly. Though they don’t feature a sliding door, they do feature a double hinge at the top of the car. Changing the hinge to the top of the vehicle provides two advantages for someone with a disability that affects their ability to use their legs. 

  • First, unlike a traditional car door, which usually doesn’t open a full 90°, the door opening is fully exposed using this system. This additional space means that you’ll be provided with the entire width of the door frame to get into your vehicle. 
  • The second advantage is that the upper hinge is close to the roof’s center, so part of the car’s roof is exposed when the doors are up. Because of this, even more room is afforded occupants entering the vehicle. 

The exposed roof section may not seem like that big of a deal, but it can make a huge difference for disabled passengers. For those who need assistance getting in the car, this extra headroom can be crucial for both the person needing assistance and the person offering it. Less strain to maneuver headspace and fewer heads hitting the frame of the car are both big wins.

Potential Issues with the Falcon Wing Doors

Though there have been tons of benefits from these innovative doors, they haven’t been without technical issues. The sensors often seem to be the root cause of these issues. 

False Object Detection

Several owners have found an issue with their falcon wing doors not closing completely, due to the false detection of an impediment. 


Tesla’s falcon doors open and close automatically since the doors use sensors to detect any cars or objects around your vehicle. The benefits you achieve are being able to open the doors fully, even in the tightest space. 

However, some owners have reported that these sensors have caused them issues with false feedback. 

An issue that has faced several drivers is that while their doors may open normally, every once in a while, they won’t close completely.  The incomplete closing isn’t a mechanical issue of the car, but rather an issue with the sensors.

Tesla’s falcon doors won’t close if they detect an impediment blocking the path of the doorway. It is a nice safety feature that can keep you or a passenger from getting injured from the door closing on a body part. 

Unfortunately, this feature is known to malfunction and provide false feedback. Even when an impediment isn’t present, some cars aren’t allowing the doors to close.

You can imagine how frustrating and inconvenient this could be, especially if you are away from your home, and your door won’t close. 

Please note, this false detection isn’t an issue that affects a large portion of Tesla model X’s, and from what we’ve found, it occurs irregularly on the vehicles involved, and Tesla has made fixes to right the issue, with varying reports of success.

Clearance Height

Another issue that we’ve found involving the car’s sensors has to do with the clearance height required for the falcon doors to open completely. 

In areas with low height clearance, such as some parking garages, Tesla’s sensors are supposed to stop the doors at a lower height, so they don’t make contact with the roof and potentially damage the paint. You can override this feature if, for some reason, it isn’t opening enough. 

Unfortunately, some users have reported that their sensors aren’t recognizing low clearance zones and continue until they hit the ceiling

Luckily, Tesla is usually excellent about warrantying some of these technical issues, so you don’t have to worry about paying for them. Nonetheless, it is a considerable inconvenience and not a problem you want to have to think about when exiting your vehicle. 

Safety features like these are supposed to make your life easier and safer, so when they fail, it’s disconcerting. Again, these issues are few and far between, so more likely than not, you won’t have to deal with them. 

On a more positive note, a unique feature about the clearance sensors is that if you repeatedly find yourself in an area that features low ceilings, you can set the opening of your doors to a specific height. Your Model X will remember that location and automatically open the doors to that height. 

Sensor Fixes

As with any technical aspects of your vehicles, there are bound to be issues at some point. If any problems arise, there are steps that you can take to remedy the issue.  

When it comes to sensors falsely detecting an object in the doorway’s path, it is frequently a calibration issue. 

Luckily, recalibrating the doors is something that you can do yourself without having a technician come to you or visiting the closest service center. 

Typically, when the doors lose calibration, a message pops up on the screen. In terms of false object detection, this may not take place. Here is how you fix the issue:

  • Find a wide-open space. When calibrating, ensure that you have plenty of space on either side of your doors and above because, during this process, the doors will need to open fully. 
  • Press and hold the car’s center panel’s calibrate button. You will need to hold down the calibrate button until 5 seconds after the calibration finishes. During this calibration, the lower door opens, then the upper door moves into the down position, followed by the lower door closing. 

If the calibration doesn’t solve the issue, you will need to have a service tech come to your house or visit the nearest service center. 

Tesla is well-known for being efficient at diagnosing and taking care of technical issues that occur. If these sensor issues led to any paint or body damage, technicians would also fix these. 

Though having to deal with a service tech is an inconvenience, at least you know that they will take care of you, especially given the relatively large sum of money you spent on your model X. 

Can Tesla Falcon Wing Doors Be Opened Manually?

We know the doors may intermittently have closing issues for some Tesla Model X owners. But what if the problem is the other way around? Can a Tesla Model X door refuse to open – and if it does, how does a passenger get out?

If there is a sensor issue that is keeping the doors from opening or an issue that shuts down power, there is a way to get the falcon doors of the Model X open. 

Tesla’s Model X Emergency Response Guide gives the play-by-play of manually releasing the falcon wing door from its latches using a pull cable inside the door. The doors may be a little heavy and require some muscle to remove, but it is possible. 

A Precursor to Falcon Wing Doors 

When Tesla first announced the release of the Model X and showed off their falcon wing doors, it immediately harkened back to the gullwing doors of 1950’s Mercedes. Though the doors’ appearance when fully opened looks exactly the same, the functionality is worlds apart. 

The famous gullwing doors on the Mercedes-Benz 300SL may have given the car a cutting edge look for the time, but the functionality was lacking. These doors worked on a single hinge design, which meant that the doors’ opening radius was massive. 

  • Accessibility issues – Since the opening radius was so wide, when a car was parked too close on either side of you, you had no way of getting into your vehicle. Not having access to your car is a considerable trade-off for looking cool. 
  • Heavy, manual doors – The gullwing doors forced the driver to pull down these heavy doors while seated, which was difficult and created other accessibility issues.

Mercedes actually created an updated version of their gullwing and kept the door design the same as the original, a weighty, one-piece door, with a wide opening radius. 

As was mentioned, Tesla’s design looks the same as both Mercedes versions mentioned above when opened, but the door’s technology is much different. The issues with the gullwing doors are exactly the problems the falcon wings solved –  even if the falcon wing did turn out to have a few problems of its own. 

Other Advanced Features of the Model X

Now that we’ve covered the technical aspects of the falcon wing doors, let’s check out some of the other features present in the Tesla Model X, the groundbreaking all-electric SUV. 

Specs

Like all Tesla’s, the Model X is a fully electric vehicle. Depending on the battery pack you choose, you can achieve a little over 350 miles on a single charge (Long Range Plus). This range leaves the Model X very comparable to the range you can achieve with similar-sized gas-powered vehicles. 

All this range, while still having the capacity to haul up to 7 passengers. 

If quickness is a quality you’re looking for when selecting an SUV, the Model X has you covered. The two packages you can choose from are the Long Range Plus and the Performance. 

  • Long Range Plus – 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds
  • Performance – 0-60 mph in 2.6 seconds

Even with all this speed, this car is still extremely safe, receiving a 5-star overall NHTSA rating. 

Technology

When people think about Tesla vehicles, some of the first things that come to mind are technical features. 

One of the most prominent features of Tesla vehicles is the presence of autopilot. Autopilot allows for a few exciting qualities for drivers. 

  • Autopilot – Allows your car to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically
  • Summon – Your car can drive itself to you using your key fob or phone app
  • Auto Park – Car can park itself with the push of a button
  • Lane Change – Automatically change lanes if a car in front is moving slowly on the highway

The Model X also features an expansive 17” touch screen display. Within this control panel, you can control every aspect of your car to personalize your preferences. 

Finally, Tesla’s also allows for automatic updates to their software. As new features continue to roll out to improve either performance or functionality, these are automatically updated through their over-the-air software.

The Future of Tesla’s Falcon Wing Doors

As we’ve discussed, the Tesla Model X is the only car in the Tesla range that features the falcon wing doors. So, with only one car in the Tesla range that features these falcon wing doors, what is the future of this feature on Tesla vehicles? 

When Tesla first discussed the Model Y, the community believed it would also feature falcon wing doors. Elon Musk himself even initially said this would be the case. The thought was that this would especially be true, seeing as Tesla touted it as the smaller SUV to the Model X. 

Unfortunately, for those who saw the value in the falcon doors, this never came to fruition. 

  • The Model Y instead leaned heavily on the Model 3 for inspiration. The Model Y basically became a hatchback version of the Model 3 designed to get to market quickly. You can imagine that it is much less expensive to fit traditional car doors to a vehicle instead of falcon wings. 
  • The Cybertruck also doesn’t feature the double-hinged door made famous by the Model X. When you see the design, the reasoning behind this omission is simple. The shape of the truck makes the double-hinged design of the falcon wings entirely impractical. 

There aren’t any new Tesla models arriving in the near future. The inception of the falcon wing doors was met with mixed reactions on the Model X. 

Some saw it as a gimmick, implemented just to make the car stand out and look unique. 

Others looked beyond the flashy design and saw all the benefits that can be provided by these doors. However, Tesla is a company that tends to surprise, so we will have to wait and see if it was a one-off design feature from the Tesla team. 

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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