Why Your Tesla Door Won’t Open and What to Do

Why Your Tesla Door Won’t Open and What to Do

There’s not a lot that a Tesla won’t do for you. This includes door handles that will open on their own, once you get close enough. All of those moving parts that enable a Tesla door to open automatically leave a lot of room for malfunction, and lots of little tiny pieces to break. Each of these little moving parts has to be working just right, in order for these actions to occur.

Why won’t your Tesla door won’t open? And what should you do? The simplest answer is that the door won’t open because one of those teeny tiny parts inside of the complicated mechanism that is the self-opening doors is broken. And it needs to be fixed. You may be able to troubleshoot this issue yourself, but most likely, you’ll need Tesla Service.

But, in the meantime, you’re still stuck standing outside of your car with a door that won’t open. If you’d like to find out why this happens, as well as what you can do to get into your car while you’re waiting on an opening at the repair shop, keep reading. 

Why a Tesla Door Handle Won’t Open

Walking up to your Tesla, key fob in hand, you expect the door handles to raise, or “present” as it’s called in Tesla lingo. When the handles present, they slowly move away from the car, where they were once flush against the car door. 

However, many Tesla drivers report that sometimes, the door handles don’t present, leaving them standing outside of their car, with no handle to pull to enter the car. 

How the Door Handle on a Tesla Works

Before we get into the specifics on how the door handle works on a Tesla, it’s helpful to have an idea of how the door handle works. Again, its many different parts all working together within such a small space. 

Try watching How a Tesla Door Handle Works for a better visual on what goes on when those magical door handles rise up.

The Easy Fixes for Your Tesla Door Handle

There are all kinds of different reasons why the door won’t open, but more often than not, it’s something easy that can be fixed right away. Hopefully, one of these reasons is the one responsible for your door not opening. These are not only easy to fix, but they’re also free. Here are just a few of those easy solutions: 

  • Physically press on the door handle when you approach the car.
  • Make sure that the key fob is being used with the correct driver profile.
  • Turn off the proximity locator completely, then try the pushing on the handle method. 
  • Switch off the passive entry, then try again. 

If one of those simple solutions doesn’t work out, then you’ll have to move on to the more serious options, that will most likely cost you a little more time and money, especially if your car is out of warranty. 

But luckily, this isn’t new and other Tesla owners have experienced this same challenge, so you’ve got a few paths to take. 

Software Issue

With all of the technology within a Tesla, it’s not uncommon for something to malfunction. And, with Teslas becoming more and more popular, their service departments are busier than ever. Some drivers report that appointments to have repairs done can take up to three weeks.

However, if it’s the software that’s responsible for your door handle not opening, don’t be too discouraged. If the handle that’s broken isn’t the drivers’ side door, then you may be able to wait for an appointment.

If the malfunctioning handle is the drivers’ door, unless you’re really flexible and don’t mind climbing in the back door and crawling to the front, you may be looking for a more immediate fix.

When you call the Tesla service department, they’ll have you answer a few questions. If they determine that it is, in fact, a software problem, they may have to perform a reset on your car. This isn’t too complicated, as long as you have a basic knowledge of where parts are located, and you can follow directions really well.

Broken Motor Within the Door Handle

Tesla door handles are very, very complex. Again, so many moving parts, in a cramped space. If the software isn’t to blame, the culprit behind your non-presenting door handle is a broken part. 

Within the Tesla door handle, there’s a little motor with gears that moves the handle out of its pocket, allowing it to be pulled open. If the gears are grinding or the motor is moving, but the handle just isn’t doing its thing, one of those parts will need to be replaced. Here are a few of the parts that are most commonly in need of replacement, if your door isn’t opening:

  • Torn or deteriorated wires.
  • Gears that are dilapidated and worn.
  • One of the motor components has failed.  

What Can You Do if Your Tesla Door Won’t Open?

You do have options when it comes to how to fix the door handle. Whichever route you choose, the end result will be a fixed door handle and you’ll be back in action, eventually. However, as with anything, you’ll have to make your own choice based on what you’re noticing is going on with your Tesla.

1. Visit the Tesla Service Department

As we previously discussed, Tesla repair appointments aren’t readily available most of the time. And unfortunately, there’s no urgent care for your Tesla. Yet. But, if you’ve tried those easy solutions and the door handle still isn’t opening, you’ll need to make an appointment to see someone that can remedy the situation correctly.

2. Tesla Mobile Service

But don’t get disheartened yet! There’s another option. Although this option depends on the availability and your location, it’s possible that Tesla will send someone out to fix your handle. Many drivers that have reported the issue of a door handle not opening have been able to have someone come to their location, take apart the door, and replace the part. 

Again, this is a service that isn’t available for all Tesla owners. And availability is contingent upon the parts that are needed and whether or not they’re on hand. If Tesla doesn’t offer this mobile service, or the parts are needing to be ordered, then you’ll be back at square one, waiting for your appointment.

3. A Quick Fix to Get You in the Door of Your Tesla

If you’ve made one of those appointments, and the faulty handle is on the drivers’ side, then you might be looking for a quick fix that will at least get you in and out of the car. And you’re in luck, I’ve got one for you! You’ll need:

  • Two credit cards, library cards, or something similar, these must be plastic with no metal.
  • Athletic tape that won’t leave a mark on your car if it accidentally touches the paint.
  • Patience.


  1. Gently put one card under the handle from the bottom.
  2. Put the second card under the handle from the top.
  3. At the same time, apply pressure to the edges of the cards that aren’t under the handle.
  4. Use the leverage of the cards to pry the handle open. 
  5. The credit cards should work to very carefully extend the handle out of its pocket without much pressure needing to be applied. 
  6. The handle should pull out and you can use it now.
  7. Keep the top card inserted behind the handle, so it can’t go back into its pocket. 
  8. Attach one end of the tape to the back of the card, pulling out six to eight inches of tape. 
  9. Bend the tape so that you’ll have half of it against itself and about a half-inch left to push against the credit card.
  10. Press the tape against itself, just as you would with a baggage tag from an airline you put on your suitcase. You’ll want to do this carefully so that you match the tape along with itself perfectly so there’s no stickiness exposed.
  11. With the excess at the end, push it against the front of the card. You should have the card still wedged behind the handle, but now it has a strap that’s stuck to both the front and back.
  12. While you hold the end of the strap made from tape, slowly and carefully pull the card through the bottom of the handle. At the same time, pull the tape strap toward you.
  13. When the card has been pulled enough that it’s no longer in the handle, while you’re still holding the strap to keep the handle out, remove the card and push the two ends of the tape together. 
  14. You should be left with a loop of tape that you can tug to pull the door handle open. This should do the trick until your appointment at the Tesla repair shop. 

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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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