How to open a frozen Tesla door handle

How to open frozen tesla door handles

We are in the depths of winter with many areas in the northern hemisphere experiencing ice and snow. Tesla’s door handle design, although very aerodynamically efficient can suffer from occasional freezing that hinders access to the vehicle. If you experience frozen door handles on your Tesla, here are four ways to regain access to the car.

Defrost the car through the app in advance

On extremely cold and icy days, you can preemptively begin a car defrost process several minutes before going outside to meet your car. Not only will this make the cabin a more comfortable place to be, but it will also melt the ice and snow from the surfaces of the car and help melt away some ice near the door handle areas.

Be warned though, that this process is very energy-intensive and will consume several miles of range during defrosting. If possible, keep the car plugged into an outlet during extremely cold weather so it can manage energy and heat in the battery.

Climate settings in the app

Black Door Handles pivot two ways

The latest variants of the Tesla Models 3 and Y feature updated black-painted door handles. This is an updated design, specifically intended to help with de-icing. Unlike the previous silver door handle design, black handles can pivot at both ends.

When the door handle is frozen shut, apply pressure with your index finger at the thin corner of the door handle. This will create a lever and break the ice at the thick corner of the door handles.

Alternate applying pressure at each end until the door handle is free of ice.

How to open frozen tesla door handles

Silver Door handles

Silver door handles are a legacy design that only pivots in one direction. The advice from Tesla on de-icing silver door handles is to gently bump the door handle area with the bottom of your fist.

You want to apply enough force to break through some ice, but not so much force to create a dent or damage the paint. Try giving it a few bumps evenly across the length of the door handle. The bumping method can also be applied to black door handles if the pivot trick is not working.

Unlatch the door through the app

A new software update from Tesla in the fall of 2022 added another convenient way to rescue frozen door handles. If nothing else is working, try unlatching the door through the app on your phone. There is now a shortcut button for unlatching the driver-side door directly from the app. This works the same way as if someone pressed the door open button from within the cabin. The door is unlatched, and the window glass is lowered to clear the door frame.

A word of caution for using this method; if the door handles are frozen. It is also possible that the window glass is frozen and stuck as well. Pay attention to whether the glass was able to slide down half an inch from the closed position. If the glass is still in the closed position, do not slam the door shut with high force as it may break the glass on contact with the door frames.

Why Are Tesla Door Handles “Hidden”?

These cars have unconventional door handle designs in order to achieve the most aerodynamic profile possible. Even something as small as door handles will disrupt airflow around the body panels when traveling at highway speeds. Teslas are very efficient cars compared to other EVs thanks to many such optimizations, but it means that on occasion the door handles may suffer from freezing.

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