By: Otaiba Ahsan
What do you find most appealing about the Tesla design? For me, it’s the sleek and minimalistic look, which also helps keep the car aerodynamic. That’s why the door handles are flush with the vehicle’s body for the Tesla Model 3 and Y. However, when exposed to winter climates, the handles can often freeze and become difficult to open. So, what should you do if the door handles on your Tesla Model 3 or Model Y are frozen? Continue for easy-to-follow steps.
Using the Tesla App
As mentioned, in severe winter conditions, ice buildup can make it difficult to open door handles. Lucky for you, the Tesla mobile app can be used to pop open the driver’s door. This feature was absent for a long time, but when added, the Tesla owner’s community rejoiced. Here are the simple steps to open the door via the app:
- Open the app then press and hold any of the four quick control buttons. You’ll see a pop-up with several options, click the one that says Unlatch Door.
- When outside and next to your car, tap Unlatch Door and the driver door will pop open.
Physically Removing Ice from the Door Handles
There may be situations where the Tesla mobile app is unavailable, like when the phone is out of battery or the person driving the vehicle is using a key card. The procedure to remove ice and get to the handles differs based on whether they are black or silver. If your Tesla’s door handles are black, perform the following:
- Forcefully press the frontmost part of the door handle and it will rock slightly inward to help break the ice. Tesla has a useful visual to see exactly where you should press.
- Next, press the rearmost part of the door handle to try and open as you normally would.
- Lastly, once the door handle can move, open and close it a few more times to release any remaining ice buildup. Ensure the door handle is fully pressed in (retracted) prior to entering the vehicle, and check that the door is fully closed before driving away. See the visual from Tesla highlighting all three steps.
TIP: Pre-emptively applying WD-40 to the door handle pivot pins can help prevent ice buildup.
If your Tesla door handles are silver, you can usually remove the ice with a few forceful bumps to the door handle using the bottom of your fist. Perform the following to remove ice from the silver door handles:
- Forcefully press the rearmost part of the door handle to try to open the door handle as usual.
- Working in a circular pattern around the permitter of the door handle, use the bottom of your fist to forcefully bump the door handle to break and release the ice buildup. See the visual guide from Tesla to get an exact idea of what to do.
- Next, aim for the rearmost part of the door handle and continue to bump it with the bottom of your fist. Slowly increase the intensity of the bumps as necessary and repeat steps 1 to 3 until the ice is removed and the door handle can be moved.
- Lastly, once the door handle can move, open and close it a few more times to release any remaining ice buildup. Ensure the door handle is fully pressed in (retracted) prior to entering the vehicle, and check that the door is fully closed before driving away.
NOTE: Remove any jewelry or objects that can damage the paint prior to performing this procedure. Never use force to the point where it can cause a dent, and don’t try to use tools or other objects as well.
The Bottom Line
What should you do if the door handles on your Tesla Model 3 or Model Y are frozen? If you have the mobile app, press and hold any of the quick control buttons then tap Unlatch Door. That’ll open the door for you from the inside. However, if you must physically get the door open, then follow the detailed steps above. Remember, directions vary based on what color the handle is.