Skip to main content

Tesla is supposed to be a state-of-the-art vehicle manufacturer. Still, horror stories continue to circulate about cars driving off on their own and not allowing drivers to take control, cars catching fire, and cars trapping people inside (including when the car is on fire). The latest incident involves a man who said his new Tesla Model Y suddenly trapped him in his car despite being fully charged. 

This is not the first Tesla to trap someone

A Tesla Model Y parked indoors.
Tesla Model Y | Sjoerd van der Wal via Getty Images

Teslas have been behind some horrifying incidents. In one case, a man named Jamil Jutha was driving a Tesla Model Y and ended up trapped in his car when the battery burst into flames after he used his left turn signal. The electrical system in the car, which powers the locks, shut down as the battery began to smoke. That meant he couldn’t work the doors and had to kick out a window. While Teslas have a manual emergency door release, Jutha said he was too stressed to find it.

In a more terrifying case, a man was actually burned to death because emergency responders couldn’t get his car door open after it crashed and started to burn. According to the Washington Post, Dr. Omar Awan had leased a Tesla to be more environmentally friendly and considered it his dream car. In February 2019, Awan’s car crashed into a tree and caught on fire. Awan survived the crash but ended up engulfed in flames; when first responders tried to get him out, they couldn’t access the door handles because the model Awan drove had retractable handles that wouldn’t appear unless a key fob for the car was nearby.

Tesla’s autopilot function keeps crashing

Fires and stuck doors haven’t been the only problems drivers have experienced with Teslas. The company’s notorious autonomous driving feature has led to quite a few crashes, mainly due to the car’s inability to view features on the road correctly. 

One particular problem spot is a forked intersection in Yosemite National Park, where drivers on a two-lane road can choose between continuing straight or curving to the left. So far, five different Teslas have crashed at that same intersection. 

What happened this time?

The latest incident involves a U.K. man trapped in his Tesla Y, which he had bought only five days before. Tom Exton told Insider that the car was fully charged, yet the car’s computer told him to pull over and then wouldn’t let him out. He had to resort to using an emergency door-opening mechanism, which he claimed led to one of the windows breaking. To make matters worse, he had to wait for help for two hours in below-freezing conditions. 

While Tesla’s customer service was apparently sympathetic and offered to pay for a hotel, that wasn’t enough to soothe Exton’s frustration. He took to Twitter to advise others never to lease or buy a Tesla, claiming, “There’s a reason they punted so many out the door on cheap lease deals.”

How much of the hate is deserved?

One could easily place the blame of Tesla’s issues on the drivers. However, there’s no doubt the cars have had serious incidents that need to be addressed, but the sheer amount of loathing for the vehicles may be unwarranted.

Teslas have greater acceleration and power than similar cars, and while the reports of cars crashing and catching fire are not jokes, the actual number of negative incidents, compared to how many Teslas are actually in use, is not that big. And it’s not that different from how gasoline-powered cars fare over the years. 

The distaste for the brand may be an extension of the hatred for Elon Musk, even though he isn’t personally designing or building the cars. Reports like this one from Boing Boing about how he is actually clueless about the software he deals with only fuel the hatred fire. The brands he’s associated with may be subject to that hate through guilt by association. 

The horror stories about Teslas crashing, burning, and refusing to stop pedestrians are alarming, and the company had better work on fixing the operational bugs that led to each incident. Until then, Tesla drivers should keep an eye on their cars, and Tesla haters should re-evaluate whether they really hate the cars, or the personality behind them.


The 2022 Tesla Model 3 Has 3 Problems, Says U.S. News