Here’s how to open a frozen Tesla Model 3 / Y door handle

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Snow and rain in very cold weather can freeze the door handles of your Tesla Model 3 or Model Y. A Tesla Model 3 owner faced a similar situation when it rained at -10°C (14°F) and his car door handles froze.

A Twitter account called Tesla Canuck posted an interesting short video of how he opens the door of his Model 3 when it’s freezing. He threw his fist lightly on the doorknob saying “It’s not a Barbie doll,” and opened the door.

The video has gone viral on Twitter and has been viewed more than 47,000 times as of this writing.

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Opening frozen door handles

In fact, this is not the “caveman approach” as Tesla Canuck mentioned in the video tweet above. Tesla has officially mentioned this method in both the Model 3 and Model Y owner’s manuals. However, Tesla recommends that the hand grip should be applied with force equivalent to knocking on the neighbor’s door – to avoid denting (a very expensive repair in the case of a Tesla car).

Opening

Tesla even posted the following animated demonstration of how to use your fist to open a Model 3/Y door handle that’s jammed with ice.

Animation: How to open a frozen Tesla Model 3 or Model Y door handle using your fist. More details in the owner’s manual.
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Tesla recommends applying moderate grip bumps around your Model 3 or Model Y door handle to break freezing ice inside the handles.

There are two versions of the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y door handles for older silver (before 2021) and the 2021 update for the new 2021 Model 3 and Model Y door handles. For new black door handles, Tesla recommends pressing the front side of the door handle to clean light and moderate ice (see figure below).

Space the Model 3 and Model Y black handle to squeeze to break the ice inside. Source: Tesla Model 3 owner’s manual.

Step by step instructions

  1. If your vehicle has black door handles, depress the front of the door handle to try to release light or moderate ice build-up at first.
  2. Press firmly on the back of the door handle to try to open the door handle.
  3. Work in a circular pattern around the circumference of the door handle, and use the bottom of your fist to push the door handle firmly to break up and release the build-up of ice.
  4. Aiming at the far back end of the wide part of the doorknob, use the bottom of your fist to push back the doorknob firmly. Increase the intensity of the bumps as necessary, and repeat steps 1 through 3 until the ice is defrosted and the knob can open.
  5. Once the knob is able to move, open and close it a few more times to release any remaining ice buildup. Make sure the door handle is fully pressed (retracted) before entering the vehicle, and make sure the door is fully closed before driving away.

WD-40 Application to Model 3 / Y . Door Handles

Tesla also recommends applying WD-40 inside door handles (on pivot bolts, see animation below) to prevent them from freezing.

In harsh winter conditions, applying WD-40 to the door handle pivot bolts can help prevent the buildup of ice that could freeze the handle. Consider applying WD-40 to the door handle pivot bolts if you’re expecting freezing rain, heavy snow, or icy conditions. Reposition as needed.

Source: See your Tesla Model 3 / Y owner’s manual for more information.

Step by step instructions

Animated demonstration of applying WD-40 to Tesla Model 3 and Model Y door handles. Source: Tesla Model 3 Owner’s Manual
  1. Open the door handle and open it with a folded towel or other soft material.
  2. Attach the attached straw to the spout of the WD-40 bottle.
  3. Put on an eye shield.
  4. Place the tip of the sucker next to the pivot pin and spray for about 1 second, being careful not to accidentally spray the other ingredients.
  5. Remove the towel or other soft material used to support the door handle opening.
  6. Turn the door knob in and out about 10 times.
  7. For the second time, place the end of the sucker next to the pivot pin and spray for about 1 second, being careful not to accidentally spray the other ingredients (note: place the end of the sucker on the top of the spring around the pivot pin to better guide the spray).
  8. Remove the towel or other soft material used to support the door handle opening.
  9. Turn the door knob in and out about ten times.
  10. Perform this procedure on the other three door handles.

Related: Tesla Model Y/3 heat pump problem in cold weather may not be fixable once software update

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by Iqtidar Ali

Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for over 3 years on XAutoWorld.com, has republished many of his articles on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, and maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the social media realm. You can reach him on Twitter Tweet embed

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