Tesla Model 3 handles are stylish but can freeze shut in cold temperatures

The Tesla Model 3 is undoubtedly a high-tech vehicle, with futuristic features built in an elaborate and innovative construction process. But owners of the cars who are currently living through the polar vortex-induced cold are having a rather old fashioned problem — the door handles are freezing in place.

On Twitter, complaints abound from Model 3 owners who are having trouble accessing their cars. The Model 3 has an elegant retractable door handle which sits flush with the body of the car until it is activated. Usually, owners don’t need to worry as the handles open automatically when the driver approaches the door. Alternatively, you can push on the edge of the handle to open it. However, due to the freezing conditions across much of the U.S., lots of people are finding that their handles are frozen shut.

Tesla Model 3
The Model 3 handles should open when gently pushed Miles Branman/Digital Trends

Twitter user Andrea Falcone posted a picture of her Model 3 door handle covered in ice, looking like something you wouldn’t want to touch in terribly cold temperatures. And user “sa ra” posted a short video showing the door handles on both sides of her Model 3 failing to open, even when pushed. A different but related problem was reported by Jason Stoll, who reported that he could open his Model 3 doors and get into the car, but then he couldn’t get the doors to close, leaving his car essentially unusable.

In theory, users should be able to warm up the car interior using the app even if they cannot open the car, and the warmth from inside should loosen the handles. But that doesn’t work for all users, and even on Tesla fan forums users are reporting problems, like Tesla Motors Club member Amendale who spent over an hour trying to de-freeze the car.

The advice for fixing this issue ranges from giving the door handle “a couple of good pounds” with the side of a closed fist in order to shake loose any ice inside the mechanism, to pressing the flat of your palm to the handle to warm it up and melt any frozen parts inside. Of course, you need to be careful to use your bare skin and not gloves or the edge of a coat which could have buttons that damage the paint. Another option is to use a disposable hand warmer which can be activated and pressed to the handle to warm it.

The mood of many frustrated Tesla users was generally expressed by Daniel Wilkison, who complained: “I shouldn’t have to plant my feet and shove a broomstick into the door handle to pop it open in 28 degree weather. Not everybody lives in California.”

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