Tesla Doors | The Complete Troubleshooting Guide

Tesla doors don’t function in conventional ways and thus can perplex many owners, especially when the automation and touchscreen options are unresponsive. Also, they’ve undergone several changes in design, craftsmanship, and features, some subtle yet significant.

Tesla doors on every model released to date sport smart features, from the touchscreen-based controls to integrated proximity sensors and electro-mechanical functions. Also, Tesla doors have a few automated configurations with override features. 

As an owner and user, you may wonder how you can open a Tesla door without power, what you may do in emergencies, and whether or not you can reset the handles, sensors, and automated features when they fail. This guide discusses all such issues about Tesla doors of every model. 

How To Lock Tesla Doors

The specific steps to lock Tesla doors depend on the model you own and the types of access you have set up. For instance, the earliest S models have door handles that pop out for you to pull open, and you can use the key fob to lock the doors as you walk away from the car. 

The more recent Tesla Models X, 3, and Y have automated lock and unlock features based on proximity. However, you can lock all Tesla doors when inside through the Media Control Unit or the infotainment screen in your model. The doors should auto-lock when you start to drive.

Photo @gadget via Twenty20

Pro Tip:

If you always have to tell your friends how to open the doors (from the inside) of your Tesla, you might notice that they can sometimes find a lever to pull from under the button to open the door. You should always ask your friends to not pull that manual lever. It is there as an emergency release in case the button fails. If anyone repeatedly uses the lever, it can damage the door to not drop the window down slightly and emergency exit not to work.

Steps To Lock Tesla Doors From Inside

Here are the steps to lock Tesla doors from inside the car:

Tesla ModelMCU ScreenKey FobAuto-LockChild-Lock 
SPress the‘ lock’ iconSingle-clickOn driveVehicle settings
XPress the‘ lock’ iconSingle-clickOn driveVehicle settings
3Press the‘ lock’ iconSingle-clickOn driveVehicle settings
YPress the‘ lock’ iconSingle-clickOn driveVehicle settings

Watch this 35s video to lock Tesla Models 3 and Y:

Here’s how you can enable child-lock on Tesla Model S:

Steps To Lock Tesla Doors From Outside

Here are the steps to lock Tesla doors from outside the car:

Tesla ModelKey FobPhone KeyWalk-AwayPark
SSingle-clickNATurn it onDisable unlock
XSingle-clickNATurn it onDisable unlock
3Single-clickWalk-awayTurn it onDisable unlock
YSingle-clickWalk-awayTurn it onDisable unlock

Here’s a Tesla Model S key fob video guide:

Tesla key fobs work identically for more recent models, be it X, 3, or Y.

How To Open Tesla Door Without Power

Tesla has numerous features with convenient one-touch enabling and disabling options. However, none of these options works when your car doesn’t have power, including the Tesla doors. The older Tesla models have mechanical handles inside to unlock the doors, but the new ones don’t. 

The latest Tesla models have a button to unlock and open the door from inside. Unfortunately, these are not electro-mechanical but entirely electrical buttons. Thus, these buttons don’t work without power. Also, contemporary models don’t have exterior handles for traditional unlocking. 

How To Open Tesla Door From Inside Without Power

Here are the steps to open a Tesla door from inside without power:

  1. Look for the mechanical release on your Tesla door.
  2. Pull the clasp or string, depending on the Tesla model.
  3. The specific door should unlock and open slightly. 
  4. Push the door outward or upward, subject to the wing type.

Tesla models don’t have identical releases for all the doors. Also, most models have a mechanical release in the rear. You can fold the rear seats, access the cover for the liftgate, remove it, and pull the tag to open the latch. Then, push the liftgate out and upward to get out. 

Here’s a model-specific guide to locating the mechanical releases for Tesla doors:

Tesla ModelFront DoorsRear DoorsRear Trunk
SThe door handleUnder rear seatsTag/latch for liftgate
XThe door handle1Inside door panel2Tag/latch for liftgate
3The clasp on the door handleUnder the mat3Tag/latch for liftgate
YThe clasp on the door handleUnder the mat3NA

1: Newer Model X models have the manual release clasp like those on 3 and Y.

2: The pull-string is behind the rear door speaker grill.

3: Under the rubber mat in the map pocket of the rear door. Not all models may have this string. 

The earlier Model S models have a mechanical door handle. Thus, you can operate them from the inside to open the Tesla doors without power. Tesla Models 3, Y, and newer X variants don’t have the mechanical door handle, so you must use the manual release clasp.

Here’s a video showing the new manual release clap on Tesla doors:

Watch this comprehensive video about emergency release features on Tesla doors:

How To Open Tesla Door From Outside Without Power

Teslas have a 12V auxiliary battery housed under the front trunk that powers the doors, among other non-driving components. The only situation when you need external power is when the 12V battery is fully discharged or not operating the Tesla doors and its handles for a reason. 

Recharge the 12V battery if you have access to a charging station, or you may connect a jumper to the access panel wires under the front trunk. You can use another car as the jumper source, too. In rare cases, you may have to call Tesla for roadside assistance.

How To Reset Tesla Door Handle

Tesla doors may malfunction for many reasons. All Tesla doors are connected to the circuit via a fuse. A failing, loose, or blown fuse may prevent the door from opening or your access to the handle. Also, the problem could be in the electro-mechanical parts of the door in older models. 

Here are the steps to reset a Tesla door handle:

  1. Check and replace the door and handle fuses.
  2. Consider and perform a soft reset for the Tesla MCU.
  3. Choose a deep soft reset (if necessary).
  4. Explore temporary fixes for the door handle.
  5. Contact Tesla customer and product support.

Check and Replace the Door and Handle Fuses

Teslas have three or four fuse boxes, depending on the model and edition. All Tesla doors, including the handles, are connected to dedicated fuses inside one of these boxes that are typically under the front trunk. You need to access the box and inspect the relevant fuses.

Generally, the Tesla door and handle fuses are in the second box, positioned at nos. 32, 40, and 41. Check if these 5A fuses are blown. Replace them if the metal inside has melted. Otherwise, pull and reinsert the fuses properly to ensure they are not interrupting the electric circuit. 

Turn off your Tesla engine and all electrical and electronic components before you access the panel under the front trunk. Keep the owner’s manual handy and refer to the fuse box diagram for easy identification. Always use an identical fuse of the same amperage for replacement. 

Here’s a pictorial guide to help you access and identify Tesla fuses:

The fuse boxes under the front trunk are not the only circuit breakers for Tesla doors and handles. A cabin fuse box or layout has individual fuses assigned to various electronic and electrical components in your car. For instance, each door handle has a dedicated connection.

The cabin fuse layout is behind the kick panel below the glove box compartment. You may find F233 (front door handles) and F234 (rear door handles), depending on the Tesla model. Each of the two fuses has different ports for right and left doors, including handles and other functions.

You may have to check the wiring of the defective door handle, too. Accessing the wiring is a complicated exercise, whether inside the door panel or elsewhere. You need to remove several components and then hope to be able to detect the actual problem. Consult an expert if unsure.

Consider and Perform a Soft Reset for the Tesla MCU

Tesla door handles may get jammed. They may remain popped out, recessed, or stuck somewhere in the middle. Such issues are due to hardware or software glitches. The fuse is a hardware problem, so are electrical wiring and mechanical failures inside the door panel.

At times, your Tesla may have a firmware glitch that can cause door handles to freeze or malfunction. Check if you’ve upgraded your firmware recently or initiated any significant changes that could cause a problem. Undo the changes if possible and see if the handle works. 

Tesla’s Media Control Unit, which is essentially the centralized system regulating all onboard installations, can develop glitches or malfunction. Consider a soft reset from the touchscreen to test if that fixes the door handle problem and other issues you may encounter at times. 

A soft reset is basically a system reboot. Access the touchscreen, tap on Controls, go to Safety and Security, and tap on Power Off. The software will shut down, but your Tesla’s electrical and other electronic components will still have access to the battery power. Don’t reset while driving. 

The soft reset is the first step of any troubleshooting for a Tesla, irrespective of the model. Wait for ~2-3 minutes before applying the brake once to restart the system. The Media Control Unit touchscreen should turn on, and you can test if the prevalent glitches are resolved or not. 

Choose a Deep Soft Reset (if Necessary)

A Tesla door handle problem is usually beyond a soft reset to resolve because the process doesn’t turn off the power to various electrical and electronic components. Thus, you need a deep soft reset to check if the Media Control Unit or any transient glitch is the causal problem. 

Park the Tesla as you shouldn’t power off all components while driving or even when you need some of the systems to function. Press and hold the brake, the scroll wheels on the steering, and the buttons (in some models). Wait for the touchscreen to restart before letting go. 

This deep soft reset may take several minutes. Don’t open any door or operate an onboard system as you initiate and complete this process. Your Tesla door handle may be reset if a software, sensor, or power-related glitch was the causal problem. Else, try other solutions.

Explore Temporary Fixes for the Door Handle

Your Tesla door handle may malfunction due to a broken spring, wiring or circuit issues, and other internal problems. For instance, a broken wire inside the door panel may prevent the handle from popping out despite the proximity sensor working when you walk up to the car.

Likewise, a Tesla door handle may pop out but not return to its recessed position if the spring doesn’t allow the fixture to revert. Some models have a mechanized pullback instead of a reverse pop action. Thus, any mechanical failure can also keep the door handle from popping out. 

In most cases, you’ll have to contact Tesla and probably get your car over to one of their shops. Some problems have temporary remedies. If you can lock and unlock your Tesla door, but only the handle won’t pop out, you may consider wrapping it for easy access and operation. 

You can temporarily remedy a jammed or fixed Tesla door handle with two plastic cards and some regular tape. Use the cards for popping the door handle out. Wrap the tape around the handle, and you have a tag to pull the door when unlocked. Opt for a permanent solution later. 

Watch this quick fix video using plastic cards and tape for a faulty Tesla door handle:

Contact Tesla Customer and Product Support

A simple wiring issue may leave your door handle popped out like in this video: 

You can contact Tesla or try to remedy the problem yourself. Seek official support if your warranty is still valid and you have the time to visit a Tesla service center.

Access the internal components only if you’re familiar with the nitty-gritty and won’t risk damaging anything.


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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

Thanks for visiting evspeedy.com. The goal of this site is to be a helpful resource for Tesla and EV owners as this is where my passion lies. I was a TSLA shareholder before the hype and still am. I also believe in Tesla’s speedy mission to accelerate the world to a sustainable future.