What To Do If Your Tesla's Charging Port Won't Open

Your Tesla vehicle's lifeblood is the electricity provided through its convenient charging port. Just like the gas cap on a regular car, the charging port on a Tesla is usually opened within the cabin, albeit with the touch screen instead of a physical lever — though it can also be opened with your key fob, a switch on the port itself, and even by voice command. Considering the number of different ways you can open the charging port, you rarely have to worry about technical malfunctions. However, "rarely" does not mean "never."

In certain situations, your usual means of opening your Tesla's charging port may be unavailable to you. Maybe your car's battery is exhausted and you can't use the onboard systems, or your fob isn't working properly. In these unfortunate circumstances, there is still a way for you to pop open your Tesla's charging port and get it the juice it sorely needs.

How to manually open the charging port

If you can't open your Tesla's charging port with the onboard controls or your fob, there is a special emergency latch you can use to force the port open. Before you do this, check your Tesla's touch screen to see if it's currently in a charging state (assuming it has enough power for the screen). If it's reading as charging, even if you're not plugged in, press the Stop Charging button to stop it.

  1. Open your Tesla's rear trunk.

  2. Check the left side of the trunk trim to locate a flap.

  3. Open the flap to find the charging port manual release lever.

  4. Press down the lever and hold it toward the front of the car to open the charging port and release the charging cable.

  5. Pull the charging cable out from the port.

  6. Return to the trunk and close the release lever flap.

You can now plug the charging cable in and use it as you normally would. When you're finished charging, put the cable back in the port and close it up.

Notes and warnings

It should be stressed that this method for opening the charging port should only be used in emergencies, when it cannot be opened any other way. Forcing the port open like this isn't good for its structural integrity. Using it repeatedly instead of proper opening methods could result in damage to the charging port or cable.

More importantly, you should exercise caution when manually opening the charging port, as there are several ways you could inadvertently expose yourself to a live current. First, don't touch any orange voltage covers near the release flap. Secondly, do not use the manual release lever while the car is actively charging or if its voltage covers are exposed. Finally, don't try to grab the charging cable at the same time as the manual release lever. Open the port fully first, then pull the cable out.

Depending on the exact model and region of your Tesla, its manual release lever may not be in the exact same place, if it even has a manual release lever. If you're ever unsure about the function or location of your manual release lever, call up your nearest Tesla Service Center. They can walk you through the exact process over the phone.