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How Do You Open the Doors on a Tesla Model 3 and Y?

By: Otaiba Ahsan

Door Opening on a Tesla
Door Opening on a Tesla

One thing electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers strive for is efficiency, which helps get the most range out of each car. Part of efficiency is creating an aerodynamic design, which reduces drag when driving. Tesla has accomplished an incredibly sleek and aerodynamic design with their Models 3 and Y. Something most people notice when marvelling at these two cars is the unique door handles. As a Tesla owner, I have to help people with it constantly, especially if it’s their first time entering the car. So, how do you open the doors on a Tesla Model 3 and Y? Continue reading for a comprehensive guide.

Different Keys Used to Unlock Your Tesla

Before you attempt to open the doors on your Model 3 or Y, you’ll have to ensure it’s unlocked. There are three primary key options for these cars:

1. Key Card: When you pick up your Tesla, you’ll receive two key cards with it. These cards communicate with your Tesla using short-range radiofrequency (RFID) signals. No technology or Bluetooth connections are required to use your card. You can simply walk up to your Tesla, unlock it by tapping below the camera on your door, and then begin driving.

TIP: The key cards don’t support automatic locking, so make sure to tap on the door when you’re leaving so that your car is secure. Always keep a copy of the card in your wallet in case you ever need it.

2. Phone Key: When you take delivery of your car, you’ll be advised to download the Tesla app. Once you’ve logged in, you can set up your personal phone as a phone key that communicates with your car using Bluetooth and will unlock automatically when you’re close. Few things beat the convenience of being able to walk up to your car and open it without having to press any buttons on a physical key. Tesla’s phone key allows you to lock, unlock and remotely start your car from wherever you are. You can also set up auto-lock so that it automatically locks as you walk away from your car. Setting up your phone key only takes a few simple steps.

Key Fob: The key fob helps mimic a traditional key experience and you can purchase one from Tesla’s site. They allow you to press buttons to open the front and rear trunks and unlock or lock your car. It also supports automatic locking and unlocking if available in your region.

TIP: Setting up walk-away door locking is quite simple. When sitting in your car, tap Controls > Locks > Walk-Away Door Lock and you can enable it for both the phone key and key fob.

Opening the Doors on Your Tesla

The door handles on a Tesla Model 3 and Y remain flush with the car, which is different from what is traditionally seen on most cars. Here are the different ways to open the doors of your car:

1. Using exterior door handles: When approaching your car, simply use your thumb to push the wide part of the door handle. The handle will then pivot towards you, and you can open the door by either pulling the handle or on the edge of the door. It may take some getting used to, but after a few times, it’ll become second nature! When any door or trunk is open, you’ll see a “Door Open” indicator on the touchscreen of your Tesla.

Door Handle Being Pulled on a Tesla Model 3
Door Handle Being Pulled on a Tesla Model 3

NOTE: In severe winter conditions, ice buildup can make it difficult to open door handles as they get frozen and jammed. Tesla has added an “Unlatch Door” feature in their app which has become a perfect solution for this issue. Open the Tesla app, press and hold any of the four quick control buttons, and then tap “Unlatch Door.” This will open the driver-side door for you. If for some reason this doesn’t work, Tesla has comprehensive steps on how to remove ice from the door handle in a safe manner that won’t damage the car.

2. Opening doors from the interior: The Model 3 and Y doors are electrically powered and are extremely simple to open from the inside. Simply press the button located at the top of the interior door handle and push the door open.

NOTE: In the unlikely event that your Tesla loses electrical power, there is a manual door release located in front of the window switches. Only the two front doors have this release. Don’t use this method of opening the door unless absolutely necessary.

The Normal Door Open Button and the Manual Door Release Latch Inside a Model 3
The Normal Door Open Button and the Manual Door Release Latch Inside a Model 3

3. Other factors to consider: Tesla has a child lock feature that is easy to enable. On the touchscreen in your car, tap Controls > Locks > Child Lock and you can choose to engage either both doors or just the left or right door.

Also, when sitting in your Tesla, you can lock and unlock all doors and trunks by touching the lock icon on the touchscreen. The icon changes to indicate whether doors are locked or unlocked.

The Bottom Line

How do you open the doors on a Tesla Model 3 and Y? In summary, when approaching from the outside push the wide part of the handle with your thumb and pull the door open. When exiting the car from the inside, simply press the button located at the top of the interior door handle and push it open. Once you’ve done it a few times it’ll be really simple.

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