Those door handles

Those door handles

So you have been at work all day and the weather has turned nasty. A combination of freezing rain, snow and sleet has been falling since lunch time. You walk out to your Model S and see it is thoroughly encased in ice and snow.

Will the door handles still come out? Are you screwed if you left your snow brush, scraper and de-icer in the car? Do the door handles remain extended when the car is off?

Usually I would expect the wind to keep at least one handle free of ice, but that is by no means a certainty. There might be a separate question of sturdiness for the handles if a bit of water gets into the seals around the door and ice glues them shut (about 20 years ago I damaged a handle on my mother's car trying to overcome this kind of ice seal).

It is probably too early to test this, but hopefully Tesla gets a chance to consider it.

Douglas3 | 23. März 2011

I had that happen to a Toyota I used to drive years ago. It had real handles, but all the doors were completely glued shut by the ice, as was the trunk. And my scraper was in the trunk.

Eventually a coworker and I managed to open the trunk through sheer force. If we pulled any harder I swear we would have picked up the wheels. Anyway we got my scraper out and chipped our way into both cars.

The point is, if it's that bad the handle is only going to be a small part of the problem.

msiano17 | 23. März 2011

I spoke with a Tesla rep at the Chicago location and this is especially a concern for our area. The door handles will have a small heating element to them so that they will not become frozen over. How exactly it will work I do not have those answers, but it just needs to be a simple solution so that you can get into the car.

Brian H | 23. März 2011

Pour vodka over the handles.

VolkerP | 24. März 2011

no luck here - my bottle of vodka is in the glove compartment :-)

Timo | 24. März 2011

It wouldn't help anyway, it just freezes to the door. You would need raw distilled alcohol to prevent it from freezing (and even then remaining water freezes, I think you can actually use cold metal to distill alcohol, water freezes to it, remaining liquid is alcohol. Haven't tested that though). Warm water in plastic bag or hair dryer works fine.

OTOH I think you could command your car to start warming up using your phone. That would be nice feature if it isn't already in Tesla list. Call to your car and tell it to be ready at the time you want it to be.

Vexar | 25. März 2011

Timo, I do not advise pouring hot water on your car, that is a great way to crack a window glass. Since I haven't had a discussion with the dealer about all these minutia, I will offer this solution: cover the handle when you park the car.

cablechewer | 25. März 2011

That's it! I'll carry a roll of duck tape with me. When I park outside on a winter's day I will simply peel about 20cm of duct tape off the roll and paste it on over the handle. Uncle Red would be so proud! If the women don't find you handsome they should at least find you handy :D

Of course I am kidding. If someone taped over my handles of my new Model S I might pop a vein or two. Now putting that ugly piece of tape on someone else's beautiful Model S...

If you are confused by this post look up the Red Green Show.

Timo | 26. März 2011

@Vexar, plastic bag of warm water. You press it against the door handle/lock. Heat transfers thru plastic and water has very good heat capacity, so it takes quite a while before it gets cold enough that it no longer works.

jfeister | 27. März 2011

I can think of another way to melt the ice off the door handles, but it would only work for the guys and you probably wouldn't want to touch the handle afterwards anyways.

Roblab | 28. März 2011

Yeah, we all thought of that.

Brian H | 28. März 2011

Well, at 40 below, with a wind ... {Shudder}

Roblab | 30. März 2011

Awww, somebody deleted the post about warming the iced over door handle on the Tesla with body temp water.

Brian H | 30. März 2011

Someone has a prissy sense of primness and properness, 'pparently! P on 'em!

Vexar | 12. April 2011

Thank you for that tip. Most of the time, when I see a car that has
"iced over" it is the entire door frame that has been covered, not the mere handle. Usually, the ice sticking to the rubber seal on the door is what gets stuck. With the design of the Tesla S, the best option is probably through the trunk (the rear one, not the bonnet) because the water doesn't stick where the rubber seal is, that's too far inward.

t7n7 | 14. April 2011

Are you serious? Who carries a plastic bag with warm water? Not to mention, if it was cold enough to freeze the door handles, you wouldn't be walking with it in the first place.

N your thanking him for that? Lol...

I guess ill carry a plastic bag anywhere I go, JUST incase I need to fill it with warm water... Cause you know.. Your gonna know exactly when your handles will freeze.

You might as well carry a few other things.

Timo | 14. April 2011

Serious freezing takes time. You usually find car frozen like that parked in open, like in courtyard of a friend after spending day there. Then both bags and water is just matter of getting in, grabbing a bag and filling it with water. Warm car doesn't freeze over in matter of few hours at the office. Not even in temperatures over -30C cold (actually at that cold air tends to be very dry, all the air moisture just freezes immediately).

Volker.Berlin | 15. April 2011

Well, *if* the door handles (and not the entire rubber seal) are frozen, then a plastic bag with warm water is by far the most sensible suggestion that has been made here. Fortunately, the discussion is pointless b/c the Model S will heat the door handles from the inside, which is more effective and more convenient. Isn't technology great? ;-)

Lush1 | 15. April 2011

If Tesla doesn't heat the door handles, how about those little chemical hand warmers that people put in their shoes, gloves, etc to keep their fingers and toes toasty at football games and other outdoor activities? Keep them in your coat, briefcase, satchel, waltzing Matilda, or whatever else you drag around with you. Or, take it up a notch. Carry a burns-o-matic propane torch. Maybe a little butane version like restaurants use to melt the brown sugar on creme brulee. Careful, don't want to blister that nice powder coat finish, or set the car ablaze. I take no responsibility for my irresponsible ideas. Proceed at your own risk.

jfeister | 15. April 2011

Apparently the Tesla moderator didn't appreciate my suggestion about the alternative ice melting method ;). No fun!

t7n7 | 16. April 2011

How ironic.... You probably suggested the most effective (gets the job done instantly), most practical (don't need to carry anything with you), and gets 2 things taken care of :P

AFullerton86 | 21. April 2011

Here's an alternative idea to the plastic bag of water. What if the shell of the handle was of a different density than that of the car. Rubber that matches the color of the car. That way you can hit it with the bottom of your fist or elbow to break the ice. Sort of like when bending an ice cube tray, you change the shape of the mold to pop out the ice.

This hidden handle idea is pretty fancy, but I see problems. Ice being one. Another being that if you're in and out of your car often (Lets just imagine a courier business) waiting for your handles to come out every time is going to drive you mental. Maybe not, time will tell.

As for the 17" touch screen console. Great if you're parked or on a smooth road.

Robert.Boston | 22. April 2011

While it's true that it's usually the door edges that ice over, the ice can usually be shattered by pulling hard enough on the door handles. If the door handles aren't available, though...
Climbing through the rear hatch presumes that the hatch is less icy than the side doors. The opposite is usually true, given that the rear hatch faces upwards. :-) Still, it is one more way into the vehicle, and one I've had to use on my Audi A3.

msiano17 | 24. April 2011

They will be having a way of heating the handles FYI. That way there is no worry about ice.

vouteb | 12. November 2012

How do you open the doors with gloves on if it freezes?

Brian H | 12. November 2012

Touch tongue, pull.

vouteb | 12. November 2012

Brian H: ok, how do I get the tongue off, once the door is open?


WetSpotGarage | 12. November 2012

I live in the Northwest, and I've had doors and door handles get iced over. I thought of a solution while reading these posts. Keep one of those chemical hand warmers in the pocket of your jacket. I'm thinking of the type that is a liquid-filled pouch with a small metal disc in it. When you 'click' the disc, the pouch heats up, and can warm hands or door handles. These are re-usable, as they 'reset' when you boil them in water for a few minutes. Not the most 'organic' solution, but handy.

vouteb | 12. November 2012


you are kidding, right?
$100k car and use handwarmers to be able to drive it???

Crow | 12. November 2012

Two ideas. First, don't park it outside in a snow storm. Second, if you have to park it outside in a snowstorm, use a car cover.

Theresa | 12. November 2012

Do any of you come from cold country? Those of us who live here understand that if you are out in it there are issues that happen. Freezing door handles is not a common occurrence but it is far from uncommon as well. Putting a car cover on in freezing/stormy weather? Are you kidding? Most frozen door handles come from a freezing rain. Great now I have a car cover frozen on my car. As for not driving my car because it is freezing out, I bought it to drive it.

I personally think William's idea is a simple solution to an occasional problem. Not hard to carry around, can be used as hand warmers in a accident, and many other uses could be found.

Crow | 12. November 2012

The answer to your question is yes. I do understand and I imagine the cold country I come from is colder than the country that you come from. Here in cold country, we park indoors at work. My non-sarcastic solution is that I bet the door handles extend unless there is an ice storm encasing it in enough ice such that the handle cannot sense touch. If that is the case, you shouldn't be driving anyway. That is the real solution. In fact, it happened to me on Sunday night. The handles of my car were a little crunchy but I got in and drove anyway. I ended up doing a 180 on a turn even though I was only doing about 5 MPH. I should have listened to my own advice.

dborn | 12. November 2012

Problems like these are why I live in Australia.......

Brian H | 12. November 2012

Breathe heavy. Try not to waste energy by screaming.

Volker.Berlin | 12. November 2012

It has been said (many times (also in this thread)) that the Model S' door handles are supposed to have small heating elements integrated that will defrost the mechanism when needed. Simple and elegant -- but it remains to be seen if it is actually true, and works as supposed in the first cars delivered. We will learn soon enough, I guess...

vouteb | 12. November 2012

And Volker comes to the rescue


markapeterman | 12. November 2012

Of course, you need the app to turn on the defrosters before getting in the car that you can't get into...

Hope the apps is out in the next few weeks and glad I live in Texas.

jerry3 | 12. November 2012


Living in Texas doesn't help. I've had to chip ice away from door handles at least once every year since I've been here. It seems to happen here more frequently than when I lived in Canada.

BYT | 24. November 2012

Maybe TM can add a way to open the car without the door handles popping out, just glide your hand over the top of the driver door window and it pops open if it detects the keyfob in your pocket.

Brian H | 24. November 2012

Suggestion: coat the handles with RainX. Seems to work to make ice release easier on glass, why not chrome? Give a fresh coat the night before if the forecast looks wet then cold.

Mardy930 | 02. Mai 2015

Obviously tesla has thought of this and made sure they won't freeze. There are people above the arctic circle driving these cars every day without any problem.