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 is either physically broken or your Tesla is not detecting your key, or smartphone, within bluetooth range. To fix it, try the following:
- Press and hold the door handle for 5 seconds (Model S and X)
- Pull and hold the door handle for 5 seconds (Model 3 and Y)
- Make sure that the key fob is in range (if applicable)
- Make sure your smartphone is in range
- Open and close your Tesla smartphone app
- Turn your smartphone bluetooth off-and-on again
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 or smartphone 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.
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.
- Gently put one card under the handle from the bottom.
- Put the second card under the handle from the top.
- At the same time, apply pressure to the edges of the cards that aren’t under the handle.
- Use the leverage of the cards to pry the handle open.
- The credit cards should work to very carefully extend the handle out of its pocket without much pressure needing to be applied.
- The handle should pull out and you can use it now.
- Keep the top card inserted behind the handle, so it can’t go back into its pocket.
- Attach one end of the tape to the back of the card, pulling out six to eight inches of tape.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Hopefully you were able to use one of these tips to fix your Tesla door handles. If none of these worked for your Tesla, it may be time to contact Tesla support and have a technician check it out.