The Tesla Car Door Flaw That Left People Stranded

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Tesla is no stranger to car problems — both software and hardware — and the recalls that follow. The door is one of the car parts that has troubled Tesla in the past, but the company has innovated its design to such an extent that the Cybertruck has no door handles at all. However, Tesla didn't apparently didn't anticipate what sub-zero temperatures will do to the flush door handles on its cars. Earlier this year, multiple users reported being locked out of their Tesla cars because the door handle got stuck in its place due to ice accumulation. And it was not a pleasing experience for Tesla owners.

But the internet has a way to solve every problem, and the Tesla door handle "freeze-gate" is no exception. The easiest and the most impulsive solution is to just give a generous bump to shatter the ice crystals and release the door handle. And yes, there are a handful of videos on Twitter in which affected Tesla owners can be seen doing just that. But not everyone is a fan of brutally banging on their precious EV's doors.

The best solution is to melt the ice. Waiting for the sun to come out and melt the ice accumulation is a luxury not every person on a tight schedule can afford. For such scenarios, some Tesla owners tried a hair dryer to raise the temperature — which actually seemed to work. But not everyone has access to the hair styling gadget, which makes the "frozen door of doom" situation a not-so-funny problem. Of course, product design savants envisioned a world where Tesla car door handles will get stuck, which also explains why you can buy a gadget called "Door Handle for Tesla Model 3" on Amazon.

What's Tesla solution to doors freezing shut?

Unsurprisingly, Tesla has a dedicated "Cold Weather Best Practices" guide for scenarios where unlucky Tesla owners are left cursing the winter season. So, what's Tesla solution for a frozen door handle? As per the support page, Tesla wants car owners to rely on "a few forceful bumps to the door handle using the bottom of your fist." Just make sure that you do not use excessive force or a heavy tool as it can damage the paint and also risks breaking things beneath the metal sheet.

Tesla has even quantified exactly how hard one should bump on the door so as not to leave an ugly dent. In case you're wondering, Tesla notes that the "force used should be similar to knocking on your neighbor's front door." As a preemptive measure, Tesla suggests using WD-40 spray on the door handle pivot pins in order to replace the moisture in tight spaces and prevent the build-up of ice from happening in the first place. For Tesla cars that come with black door handles, the company suggests hard-pressing the front-most part of the door handle to release light to moderate ice accumulation, followed by applying pressure on the rear-most part.

What other options do you have?

A bump on the flush door handle risks doing more damage than just breaking the ice underneath. In such scenarios, an ice scraper comes in handy by gently chipping and lifting the ice. Even a credit card can prove to be of immense in such a situation. Just make sure that it's not a fancy metallic unit like the Apple Card. A few splashes of warm water can also help defrost the stuck door handles. Another option is a home-brewed car lock de-icer. One can easily buy a commercial de-icer at automotive shops and hardware stores.

A dash of lubricant can also prevent moisture from accumulating and freezing. Tesla car owners can also try putting an insulating cover or tarp to guard the door handle and other fragile parts during extreme weather conditions in which ice can wreak havoc. Old and worn rubber gaskets are also an open invitation to water seepage that can freeze in sub-zero weather and lock car parts shut.

Ice can break more than just doors handles

A frozen door handle is bad, but that's not the only part of a Tesla that doesn't play well with frigid outdoors. Tesla notes that sub-zero temperatures can lead to ice accumulation over moving parts such as windows, mirrors, and wipers among others. For such scenarios, the Tesla mobile app offer a defrosting feature (Climate > Defrost Car) to melt ice accumulating on mirrors, windows, and windshields. The charge port latch can also freeze in place during extremely cold weathers, but it can be averted by using the Defrost Car feature.

A cold battery can also take a toll on the range, a fate that can be avoided by using the battery warming feature available as part of the Scheduled Departure system in the Tesla mobile app. To avoid ice buildup, Tesla suggests using the Auto-Fold Mirrors feature. On a similar note, the Wiper Service Mode elevates the wipers against the windshield to make defrosting them easier.