What's the deal with door handles?

What's the deal with door handles?

In 2017, shouldn't a door handle be reliable? In 2 years I've just had my third door handle failure.

Should Tesla extend the warranty since it's a defective design?

I'm still under warranty, but this is going to be an extremely expensive problem once the warranty has expired.

My Lexus had more warranty issues than they though it should, so they offered me, free of charge, a full extended warranty. I don't expect a domestic brand to offer Lexus level of service, but when the problem is so prolific, maybe they should try to offer something.

What has your experience been? Will they continue to repair the door handles for free after your warranty expires?


Bighorn | 3 september 2017

They fixed my door handle for free 40k miles out of warranty with a free ranger who drove 400 miles

NKYTA | 3 september 2017

They kept improving the handle installation plan and over the years. I think they are on third gen and I have a couple of those and a couple second gen.

I'm already into my ESA period, but the handles have been problem free for over a year and a half, if not longer.

NKYTA | 3 september 2017

"and parts over the years"

Bighorn | 3 september 2017

and they tend to repair the handles out of warranty because it is much cheaper than a replacement

NKYTA | 3 september 2017

Yep BH, but that bit is new-er. | 3 september 2017

@Jay M - "In 2017, shouldn't a door handle be reliable?"

My 2016 handles have been problem free. I haven't heard of any 2017 handles being a problem. Seems like version 3 handles are reliable, but it will take a few more years to know this for sure. As for your 2015 handles (or older?) that are version 2, they do seem to have some failures. They seem to be addressed by Tesla for free under warranty.

Bighorn | 3 september 2017

The most common failure is a wire that breaks due to flexing. Not rocket science, but service tends to reroute the wire on rebuilds to mitigate the flex.

NKYTA | 3 september 2017


sentabo | 3 september 2017

FWIT, Sept. 2015, nary a problem.

ST70 | 3 september 2017

Driver's handle replaced a few months ago...6/15-P85DL

d-clark | 3 september 2017

2015 70D no problems with door handles. In fact, no problems with the car at all, 2 years, 18,000 miles.

PhillyGal | 4 september 2017

Tesla seems to be a "do the right thing" company so if you do have a door handle break and POLITELY say to service "I've had this issue within my warranty, and it seems to have continued. Is there any way you can treat the repair as an ongoing issue and not charge me the full out of warranty price?" they might cut you a break.

Anthony J. Parisio | 4 september 2017

Bighorn is right about the most common problem with the handles. Tesla is fully aware of these problems and has really made a great effort to change the wiring. They're not going to shirk their duty. Like Apple Tessa is not selling you just a product. They are selling an entire system of keeping you happily on the road.

Silver2K | 4 september 2017

Last week I had a conversation about door handles with a ranger and was told they are using more reliable wiring to the connector on the new handles.

The biggest issue with the handles is corrossion and/or flex where the wire meets the connector leaving nothing to splice and repair.

Personally I don't understand why they don't stock up on the connector with 2 inch wire so they can repair by splicing into the existing wire and just tossing the old connector. The other suggestion would be to have a boot at the connector.

They are focusing on the motor also at this time since that is always being used on all the handles on most cars.

Silver2K | 4 september 2017


Owners have reported they had to pay for handle replacement.

I'm not sure if they were false reports though

RandallKeith | 4 september 2017

I recently had my drivers door handle replaced. October 14 build. Ranger told me there are three generations of handles. I have generation two on my car. He showed me the difference between my handle and generation three. Generation three has a heavier gear, heavier wiring and connectors, and a beefed up pressure pad.

Silver2K | 4 september 2017

What @RandallKeith is correct

The gen 2 handles as per ranger have gone through a revision. The ranger just replaced 2 of my handles. There is one gen 1 handle left and refuses to fail on my car! :-)

Bighorn | 4 september 2017

Generation 1 handles are less likely to fail than Generation 2 in my experience.

RandallKeith | 4 september 2017

The problem with my handle was the pressure pad not the wiring. The handle would present itself by using the fob but not when touching it. I was taken back by the way the wiring and connectors are exposed to the elements. Any salt or debris that enters the door is going to contact the connectors. My wiring and connectors were corroded more than I would think they should be on a less than three-year-old car.

AoneOne | 4 september 2017

I had never noticed any problems with my door handles but, as I approached 50K miles, I took the advice of a poster on this forum and checked them all while the warranty was still in force. I did find one problem, a handle that didn't respond to pressure, which was then replaced. I'm glad I took that advice.

steveg1701 | 4 september 2017

When did the 3rd gen handles come out? Does my 3/16 S70 have 2nd or 3rd?

dcpalmer | 5 september 2017

Within the first six months of ownership, my September 2016 car had one (little used!) door handle replaced.

By contrast, my wife's June 2014 car has been trouble free.

marika.appell | 5 september 2017

I have a 2017 100D that is one month old and the passenger side door handle sticks in the extended position. Is that the problem being referred to in the post?

Anthony J. Parisio | 5 september 2017

marika.appell ,
No, the main one is a wire that breaks. It stops the door from opening when you pull the handel.

jordanrichard | 5 september 2017

This wire goes to the pressure sensor that sensing that you are either tugging or pressing the handle.

Bighorn | 5 september 2017

There are multiple sensors with different wiring harnesses. I think the ranger that fixed my handle replaced three sensor suites and the broken paddle gear that pushes out the handle.

sr.smr | 6 september 2017

My passenger door handle became stuck in the open position, and then without warning, it suddenly closed making a loud banging sound that startled everyone inside the car. The ranger came out and replaced it. I was amazed by the amount of wires that went into this gadget. Reminds me of the complexity of the falcon wing doors:)

Silver2K | 6 september 2017

Here's an idea of the inside of the door hand unit removed.

I marked it when I first took the photo!AihnWpuO55swh7ttKgJLSI46eL6S8w!AihnWpuO55swh7tsk5G3OhYNuZAN9g

BigD0g | 6 september 2017

@Silver those are the old handles, the new handles have a nice rubber gasket on the outside to be pressed against the door handle opening and seal it and has a hard molded plastic enclosure around the outside. The new gen3 handles seem worlds different than the gen1/2 handles, but only time will tell.

Silver2K | 6 september 2017

Yes, that was pulled off my car 3 months ago. I had 2 replaced recently. The front passenger and driver side rear passenger.

Rocky_H | 6 september 2017

I think I am still doing really well to have only needed to replace one handle from my March 2014 car.

podoffice | 6 september 2017

I have a 2013 with 95,000 miles. All door handles have been replaced once under warranty. 2 more have been replaced post warranty at around 840 a pop. I have to say the door handles are the thing I am most disappointed in the car considering I am averaging a door handle replacement every 15,000 miles.

jb.ansell | 21 januar 2018

Yup - 2 of mine broke inside 30K miles. I'm told cost to repair outside the warranty is £800 - 900. Which I will be extremely unwilling to shell out. The first to break was the drivers handle which failed to 'present' much to the delight of amused onlookers seeing me climbing into my 100K car via the passenger door. 20 years ago I had a Nissan sports car with novelty pop up head lights. It always looked slightly odd when flashing headlights due to the delay whilst, in it's own time, they 'popped up' . It graduated from slightly odd to a proper clown car when one of them stuck up. Lack of any real essential purpose (other than very slightly enhanced airodynamics) added to the ridicule. These also were expensive to fix and it wasn't uncommon to see such cars driving around with just one headlight permanently popped up. This seems like history repeating itself. It's almost amusing when only half of the normally 'ice cool' looking Tesla door handles pop out. I kind of new they would break when I first saw them but conned myself into believing that technology must surely have moved on since my Nissan. So ... Tesla ...for the good of the brand - please at very least contribute to fixing what is after all very obviously a design fault. Climbing through the wrong door and shuffling across seats will be humiliating for both owners and manufacturers of this otherwise astonishing car.

barrykmd | 21 januar 2018

May I suggest filing a report with NHTSA and with enough complaints, maybe they'll force a recall and fix.

p.c.mcavoy | 21 januar 2018

barrykmd | January 21, 2018
May I suggest filing a report with NHTSA and with enough complaints, maybe they'll force a recall and fix.

I believe NHTSA only has influence if they deem it a safety issue. If just a customer quality issue I do not believe they have any ability to force action.

SO | 21 januar 2018

@jb.ansell - here is a video that shows how to fix a common issue with the older handles.

barrykmd | 21 januar 2018

p.c.mcavoy - could be a safety issue if a first responder is trying to gain entry.

Bighorn | 21 januar 2018

A first responder chimed in recently and said that was a laughable assertion. lilbean who also has been one concurred.

p.c.mcavoy | 21 januar 2018

The only situation where I would expect NHTSA to view a door handle as a safety issue is if the latching mechanism failed to keep the door secured, prevent the occupants from being ejected from the vehicle. Otherwise as Bighorn commented, the topic of door handle failures being a safety concern has been heavily debated in other threads already with a couple first responders commenting as Bighorn describes.

Aposkibum | 21 januar 2018

I bought a used 2016 70D S and it had about 32,000 miles on it. Within the first six months I had both driver and passenger front handles break. In warranty and they took care of it. Within the next three months I had a back handle go out. They sent mobile service to me and the tech showed me the failure point. It’s not actually the wiring it’s the mechanism itself. There are two rollers that have circles around them and the metal circles are the weak point. They shear off after x number of uses. If you have one break, get down next to the handle, you can actually hear the motor running trying to extend it. I have wondered about them having to be replaced out of warranty too because they are about $900 a pop I believe.

Bighorn | 21 januar 2018

Part is $1.81–paddle gear. Some are 3D printing them in stainless.

Aposkibum | 21 januar 2018

If we only got charged that little lol.

Bighorn | 21 januar 2018

I’m way out of warranty at 171k miles and I’ve not been charged for any handle repair or the 400 mile ranger visit.

lilbean | 22 januar 2018

That's awesome that Tesla handled it for you, @Bighorn! :)

Silver2K | 22 januar 2018

those are very rare occasions. my friend is being charged for his handle replacement. the funny part is he never has taken his car in even though he has minor issues that he never had time to resolve. All of his handles give him issues, but never failed. All of them have failed lights, his driver side would stay out while driving, but would go in after he touched it while driving. he has 120k miles on his car.!AihnWpuO55swh-0E7QiWitZpg-ePXQ

Silver2K | 22 januar 2018

he called in and complained about the price and was told they can wave the labor and the handle would be a little over $500 plus tax.

karen.k.fang | 20 december 2018

I have a Tesla Model S 2015 and had it for 4 years now. 2 of the handles just broke and I brought the car to the Santa Clara Service Center. I was asked to pay $1045 for 2 handles. Clearly, door handle issue is a Tesla design flaw. It's very unfair to pass on the cost to the owner. | 20 december 2018

@karen - Why didn't you buy the extended warranty if you wanted warranty coverage beyond 4 years? If they lasted 4 years, it's not exactly a design flaw. Sure, perhaps they could be designed to last longer, and later versions were improved. Rather rare for any automaker to provide free parts and labor beyond the warranty period. On the other hand, perhaps you've saved $3,000 over buying the extended warranty and paying for problems as they arise out of warranty.

jordanrichard | 20 december 2018

Unless the motors actually failed, the whole door handle does not need to be replaced. The part that failed is the gear. I recently had my front passenger handle fixed for $243, in the parking lot of my office via Tesla Mobile service.

karen.k.fang | 20 december 2018 Would you expect 2 out of 4 door handles to be broken at the same time in 4 years on a $80K car? Given so many owners have the same problem, there's a pattern. Plus, for the driver side, if you tell me that's wear and tear, I would believe it. However, the back right door is also broken, and I rarely take any passengers. The number of times I had to use the back door is less than 30 times. That is definitely not a wear and tear. I strongly believe it's a design flow. There are so many discussions about this design flaw, and it's a known issue.