Tesla Frozen Door Handle

Last updated 14-Nov-2022

All Tesla cars have flush fitting door handles, and while looking cool, coldness can be a curse, especially if they get wet and freeze. The cars that suffer the most are the Model 3 and Model Y. We cover how to prevent and what to do if you have the problem.

Prevention is better than cure

If you live in an area where you are likely to suffer from frozen door handles, then some preventative measures may help. Tesla recommends using WD-40 on the door handle pivot, and this is also said to help reduce the chances of the door handle freezing shut. This will help prevent the hinhge from freezing, but will not stop the handle freezing into the bodywork if rain falls and then freezes.

A good coat of wax on the car and handle will help water to run off the car and reduce the chances of standing water on the handle. A ceramic coating wil have a similar effect. If you can avoid moisture in the mechanism then if temperatures do drop, there is no water to physically freeze trapping the handle in place.

Avoid wrapping the door handles (or at least be very careful where you wrap them). Some owners like to change the appearance of the car, a common activity is to dechrome the 2022 and before cars by wrapping any silver components with a black wrap. This can reduce the tolerannces on the door handle and make them more prone to sticking.

Black door handles

If the car has black door handles, to free up any frozen ice, push the end of the door handle furthest from the hinge inwards. You can then try opening as usual. You may need to do this several times to effectively "wiggle" the door handle loose.

Tesla describe the steps in the user manual as follows:

Silver door handles

Silver door handles are more difficult and some good old fashioned brute force is needed. The official solution is to form a fist with your hand and to then use the side of your hand to thump around the pivot to try and free the ice.

Tesla describe the steps in the user manual as follows:

Preheat the cabin

Heating the cabin up will cause some heating of the car door and more importantly the glass. This obviously takes time but can help thaw out a frozen lock and the window drop on door opening is more likely. In particularily bad situations and where time allows, it might be adviseable to remove some surface ice and snow from the car and then leaving the cabin preconditioning to do the rest.

Remote door opening

Tesla have now enables a remote door opening feature. You can trigger the door opening on Model 3 and Model Y from app when next to the car. We still think some preconditioning is worth doing if the windows are particularily frozen, but helping the window drop will reduce the risk of issues.

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