Skip to main content
A black Tesla door handle on a silver Tesla.

How Do You Open a Tesla Door When It’s Covered in Ice?

Tesla is known for the modern features that come standard on its cars. However, some of these features can seem almost too modern because they don't always work as Tesla owners might have hoped. An example of this is Tesla's handle system. It can't always stand up to winter weather.

Tesla is known for the modern features that come standard on its cars. However, some of these features can seem almost too modern because they don’t always work as Tesla owners might have hoped. One example of a Tesla feature that’s been known to go awry is the door handle system, which can’t always stand up to winter weather and ends up causing headaches for frustrated drivers. 

How does Tesla’s door handle system work?

A black Tesla door handle on a silver Tesla.
Tesla door handle | Getty Images

Unlike the door handles on most vehicles, Tesla door handles are flush with the car. This design is intended to increase the car’s aerodynamics, and energy efficiency since door handles that don’t protrude will create less drag when traveling at high speed. As Jalopnik explains, such considerations are essential for the makers of EVs. 

The styling of the Tesla door handle proves particularly challenging on the Model 3 and Model Y, which rely on the driver and passengers to open the doors manually. This is unlike the power doors on the Model S and Model X. To open the door from the outside, a person must use their thumb to press on the larger end of the handle, causing the narrower end to protrude enough to be grasped and pulled to open the car door.  

Winter and ice can prove challenging for Tesla doors

While this technology sounds great in theory, a problem often emerges when winter hits and drivers find themselves struggling to get their Tesla car door open. When ice and cold cement the handle to the car, it can be challenging to pry it open. 

This winter challenge has inspired Tesla drivers to share strategies for dislodging their car handles on Twitter and other platforms. One Twitter user wryly referred to the situation as the “frozen door handle of doom.”

The most popular solution to the dilemma has been to bang on the handle in the hopes of dislodging enough ice to allow it to open. Of course, this requires a good deal of care. If you hit it too hard, you risk denting your Tesla. If you don’t bang hard enough, you risk not getting into your car when you need to. That delicate balance is what leads Tesla to suggest using a force similar to “knocking on your neighbor’s front door” in its Model 3 manual.  

Doors aren’t the only thing done differently

Door handles are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Tesla’s design uniqueness. Take the Model X, for example. It’s full of hidden features, making it an authentic one-of-a-kind driving experience. 

Just starting up the Tesla Model X can be a challenge for the uninitiated, and the process often stumps drivers who find themselves at the wheel of a Tesla for the first time. The problem is there’s no obvious ignition switch or button to push. So what’s the deal? With the key in the car, press and hold the brake pedal, and the car will come to life.

Another striking feature on the Tesla X is the stunningly large windshield, which continues up to the vehicle’s ceiling to create an airy view above. This seems great until the sun starts baking the car interior, and there’s no obvious way to cut down on the heat and glare. 

Thankfully, Tesla foresaw this scenario and planned accordingly. The company installed a small visor that stretches from the side A-pillars, attaching to the rearview mirror and folding down. With this simple fix, you avoid the problem of obstructed views or overheating and can continue to drive your Tesla in comfort. 

Tesla certainly isn’t known for doing things the old-fashioned way. Nevertheless, with a few simple tricks up their sleeve, drivers can navigate the challenges associated with many of the company’s modern features relatively easily.


What Are Tesla Over-the-Air Updates?