Door handle not functioning

Door handle not functioning

I took delivery of my Model S in March 2015. Since then I have had to replace 3 door handles when they stopped "presenting" either from the fob or the touch screen. This sounds somewhat excessive. Has anyone had a similar issue over a similar period of time?

Silver2K | 15/11/2017

Try rebooting?

Some have had these issues, yes.

dsnows | 15/11/2017

I had a problem with my driver door handle getting stuck in the out position occasionally. They adjusted it and no problem since.

Greenee | 15/11/2017

March 2015 vehicle, door handle replaced September 2017

Bighorn | 15/11/2017

Could you hear the motor running trying to open it. Had the paddle gear on mine replaced today.

Speedy P | 15/11/2017


That's exactly what mine is doing. Driver's side, August 2014 vehicle. Ranger coming out tomorrow to fix it. Just started doing that yesterday. It's stuck in and won't present. The puddle light is on in there and it's just whirring away.

Bighorn | 15/11/2017

Broken paddle gear—very common. It’s probably a 2 dollar part which can be replaced in under an hour. I’ve had two rebuilt out of warranty and received goodwill both times. Under warranty no problem obviously, but they’ll charge $200 for an extended warranty deductible possibly. New ones used to go for $1000 but I think that’s come down.

akikiki | 15/11/2017

BH, I found the switch that's in the assembly that usually breaks the wire. Ordered some for my bag o'goodies. About $2 each on Digikey.

Rucksack | 15/11/2017

Part number?

Bighorn | 15/11/2017

He replaced those as well since the wires were showing signs of cracking at the joint.
He said he’d rebuilt hundreds of the paddle gears at the service center but this was his first in the field.

akikiki | 15/11/2017

Digi-key Part Number 255-3525-ND, Desc Switch Snap Act SPDT 100ma 20v

Rowlie | 16/11/2017

Yes. Mine is a March 2015 car. No problems under warranty, but within a week of the warranty expiration, the first of three door handles I've replaced failed. The good news is that they're cheaper to replace now than they were 6 months ago. ;-)

brett4600 | 18/11/2017

June 2013 Model S - had to replace all handles last year.

Roko | 18/11/2017

March 2015 Model S.

Changed driver side handle 2 weeks ago.

Tanyayarbrough | 22/12/2017

Yep - right at the warranty expiration my door handles started failing. I’m scheduled to replace the third one on Tuesday with 60,000 miles / 2 years old. I’ve been told that weather / water shorts them out. The first one was close to $900. Tuesday’s appt sounds more like $700. Nice that the price came down, but I feel like this is a design flaw/fail. The prospect of spending two or three grand every couple of years for door handles has jaded my love for the vehicle. People ask me all the time how I like my car and tell me they are considering a Tesla. Until a month or two ago I always said I love it and can’t imagine driving something else. After climbing into the driver’s seat from the passenger side in the pouring rain for a couple of days, I’ve been less enthusiastic about recommending a model S. :(

Sorry for the vent. I really didn’t want a new door handle for Christmas.

Bighorn | 22/12/2017

DIYers can fix the door handles for between $1.18 and $35. They are well understood and failures have nothing to do with water infiltration. I've had two rebuilt out of warranty for zero dollars. Maybe if you'd bought the extended warranty they'd be more prone to offer goodwill or just charge you the deductible.

aviationfw | 24/12/2017

Add me to the door handle paddle list. Front passenger door lights on motors running 24 hours a day but the handle does not present. Jan 2015 98,000 miles P85D. Does anyone have an idea on a self fix diy for this ?

Bighorn | 24/12/2017

In the meantime, the handle works, but you'll need to loop a string around it so you can pull it out. Doesn't take much effort to get it out, but use something that won't mar the paint when you pry it out in order to tie the string on.

aviationfw | 24/12/2017

Great idea on the string to pulll out the handle. I spent about an 1 1/2 hour following the video and was able to remove the front passenger panel and door handle on my 2015 P85D. The only difficult part was the top right nut of the door handle unit. The only way I could reach it was by removing the inside and exterior door trim sill at the top of the door to allow me to push the window away from the handle unit which allow me to remove the nut. Even at that it was difficult to remove the door handle unit over the stud that the nut was on as the unit hit the glass just as the handle unit reached the end of the stud. I think if the door had been shut the window would have moved up an extra1/2 inch. I was not able to shut the door with the interior panel off so that was not an option for me. It’s going to be interesting to try and reinstall the door handle unit and place the nut back on the stud.

Bighorn | 25/12/2017

I've heard that that nut is a tougher step. Maybe watch some door videos, especially the audio installers, for tips. Not sure if a special tool makes it easier or what. It's what's kept me from taking the door apart just to see what's involved since it looked frustrating. The last handle I had fixed was done at a supercharger, and the mechanic had never done one in the field. It seemed his biggest issue was not having all his tools at his disposal. It was a rear door, so I don't know how that compares, but he decided to take the glass off to make it easier, and even then he struggled a bit to get the handle in/out. I don't know if pulling the fuse so the window doesn't drop would help, but it would mean opening the door without the glass down and rubbing the frame. I've had that happen when the window froze up and it's a little cringeworthy. Good luck with buttoning her up--all the best and I wish you the satisfaction of a job well done and a functioning door!

chaesq | 25/12/2017

My driver's side front door also malfunctioning. Handle presents, but once I shut the door, I can hear the gear working very loudly (sort of a grinding sound). The handle then fails to retract and the light under the handle starts blinking. If I manually push the handle in, it sometimes retracts then presents again. After a while, the handle slams in (retracts) very violently and suddenly. Makes a very loud noise.

I took delivery in September 2017. In 3 months, this will be the 4th time I am returning the car. Very dissatisfied with the car so far.

RandallKeith | 25/12/2017

@ Aviation
I watched a Ranger replace my drivers door handle. He removed the trim piece on top of the door and inserted a small inflatable bag between the door and the window and inflated it. This gave him room to work. Hope this helps.

rxlawdude | 25/12/2017

@chaesq, you didn't mention if yours is a new (as in 2017 model) or CPO. Handle failures in 2015 and newer seem rare.

Haggy | 26/12/2017

This door handle issue is one that I'd expect any other manufacturer to issue a TSB for. Tesla dropped the ball on this one. Any that fail because of a design flaw that was later rectified should be handled as goodwill, but Tesla gave no indication of doing so.

Bill_75D | 26/12/2017

+1 Haggy

keydiver | 26/12/2017

Mine is a September 2015 delivery, and my driver's door handle broke last month.

Pungoteague_Dave | 26/12/2017

There are three types of handle issues - the first ones appeared in early cars - a problem with the microswitches. I had this is my early (#2,600) S85, all four handles.

The second issue is a wire breakage issue, wherein the flexing of wires connecting the microswitches can cause them to fail.

The third issue, apparently on more recent cars, is the gear breakage problem. It happens on the pot-metal pivot gear, which breaks apart at the pivot point, dropping the gear down into the door and immobilizing the handle extension/retraction process. You can tell if this is your problem by listening carefully to the door near the latch - the handle extension motor runs continuously if this is the gear is broken. If not, the cause will be one of the other two issues above.

We had this last week on our 12/14 P85D, and our local Tidewater-area ranger fixed it for $168. Although a bargain given his four-plus-hour round trip to the farm, given the repeated and continual nature of this safety-related function, I think Tesla should do an official recall. I submitted a report to the NHSTA, something we should all do with safety issues on any vehicle.

Elon Musk has copped to two significant engineering/design mistakes on the MS/MX series - if he could do it over again, he'd never use the extendable door handles, and they would not include the falcon wing doors on the X. I like both features as party tricks, but neither adds much of anything to daily use, and in some respects, are answers looking for problems, with the falcon wing doors actually creating usability problems.

Bighorn | 26/12/2017

Great synopsis Dave. I’ve had two paddle gears fixed by rangers for goodwill—one drove 400 miles and the other met me at a supercharger. The part is now available for DIYers for $1.18. Agree that Tesla needs a policy of goodwill consistent across the board.

chaesq | 27/12/2017

@rxlawdude - It's a brand new 2017 Model S delivered in Sept 2017. Update - Dropped car off at dealer yesterday and they replaced the entire door handle mechanism. Took about 2.5 hours.

barrykmd | 27/12/2017

I filed a report with NHTSA. It's easy and takes about 5 minutes. Hopefully it will get Tesla to redesign/replace this poorly designed component that repepeatedly fails.

Report form here:

p.c.mcavoy | 28/12/2017

@barrykmd - I respect your right to file a safety defect report with NHTSA but personally do not feel that a door handle failure raises to the level of a safety defect. This topic was vigorously debated here on the forum a couple months ago. Here’s the thread if you’re interested in reading it.

jvds | 02/03/2018

i had the same problem as @Pungoteague_Dave described left front door handle would not present anymore, cardelivery just 0ne week ago ;(. one could indeed hear the mechanism working without result.
Took it to SC and they fixed it, had to spend 2 hrs in the shop..

renwo S alset | 03/03/2018

What a heart-warming story.

ebender888 | 03/03/2018

had 3 replacements on my 2014 Model S.

6pence | 26/09/2018

In six years of driving MS's, first problem. Paddle gear in passenger door broken, won't pop out, & motor whirring away. That one is a 2015 S85, so hopefully still under warranty, as I'm not up to doing door surgery.

Bighorn | 26/09/2018

4yr/50k miles should cover it unless you've mileaged out. Or maybe you have an extended warranty, though that could be a $200 deductible. I've never had to pay for handles out of warranty, they've been goodwilled, but I know that is not universally done. A loop of string around the handle to pull it out will allow the door to function. Just pry the handle out with something that won't mar the paint.

Crew Chief | 26/09/2018

I took delivery of my 100D last week, 300 miles on the car and the passengers door handle went out today.

Brucelli | 02/10/2018

Different issue with door handles. Replaced all four door handles on our 2013 85S about a year after purchase under warrantee, believed to be a design improvement. in 2018, passenger side front handle would present, but would not open the door. Service center replaced the entire handle mechanism, no longer under warranty.

Seemed to be an excessive fix for what I suspect was an alignment adjustment. Any insights as to how this might be fixed in the future?

The door handles are overly complex - our daughter's Model 3 has a flush aerodynamic handles that are a much simpler solution.

txakoli | 02/10/2018


My 2014 S85 (44K miles) was in a few months ago for a similar symptom (driver door handle presented, but opening the door was a bit of a challenge). They replaced the door switch mechanism, not the entire door handle mechanism. It was still under warranty.

Donz_S | 02/10/2018

This happened to my 2013 S85 about a month ago. Somewhere in earlier forum posts, I found the answer to my rear-right door handle presented but not opening the door (It also would not retract). In Frunk, center near windshield, under easily removable plastic cover, you'll find two fuse boxes. Find fuse 40 and pull. Push the offending handle back in. Reinsert the fuse. This fixed my issue.

yvyqslng | 09/01/2019

I just paid to have 2 door handles fixed on my 2014 Tesla Model S . Seems like this should have been handled by a recall given all the complaints on this issue

jordanrichard | 09/01/2019

A "recall" is for safety related items like air bags, seatbelts, failed components that outs the vehicle in a such a condition that will potentially lead to harm or loss of life.

BTW, just as the Mobile Service tech told me when he was fixing my passenger door handle, while the handle issue is not unheard of, it's not as wide spread as it is made out to be here on the forums.

The problem with these forums is that 20 people could be talking about the problem but that doesn't mean there are 20 failed door handles.

hughesdc | 14/01/2019

Jordan Richard in the first generation door handles, it is definitely a problem. I have owned two MS 2013 and 2015. On the 2013 I have all 4 doors handles break on me. All was because of the wire breaking on the microswitches. So the handle would either be stuck in the out position or in. On the 2015 I have had 3 doors handles go bad. One with the mircroswitch wire breaking and two doors with the paddle gears breaking. If this isn’t a common problem, then maybe I’m just really unlucky.

dickera_99 | 02/02/2019

I just came across this thread. I dropped my 2015 Model S off this morning, as the third of four doors now experienced this paddle gear issue. The first two were replaced at no charge (within the last year). This time they tell me it is $512 to fix it. I was under the impression this was always repaired at no charge, because it really is a poor design. I expect the door handle to last longer than 3.5 years.

Bighorn | 02/02/2019

It is not always goodwilled and some have paid closer to $1000.

MJP.75D | 02/02/2019

A mobile service tech will be at the house on Monday to fix the first (and hopefully only) door handle with which we’ve had difficulty. Our nearly 3 year young MS has had no handle challenges until now (perhaps exacerbated by the polar vortex here in Chicago??) — still, one phone call to Tesla Service and a subsequent call back with a time/date confirmation and the problem will be addressed in less than a week from inception. Kudos Tesla. | 05/02/2019

June 2015 MS 85D. I've had 3 door handle failures, in order of frequency of use... Front driver's door after 1 yr, front passenger door after 2 yrs, rear right passenger door after 3 yrs. All with symptoms of failure to present, with constant whirring noise (presumably paddle gear). Fixed each time by Ranger service under warranty. On 3rd visit I had the tech go ahead and also preemptively replace the last original rear left handle mechanism.

rxlawdude | 02/07/2019

Well, we just had our first handle failure in our July 2015 S70D. I'm reasonably mechanical, but draw the line at taking apart the door.

Wonder how much that mobile tech service will be. Are the techs now replacing the paddle gear, or providing an entire new mechanism?

rxlawdude | 02/07/2019

Got a fast response from mobile service. Will be $330 to rebuild or $680 to replace the mechanism.

DanFoster1 | 03/07/2019

Paddle gears—especially the old ones—break when idiots slam doors too hard!

The old paddle gears appear to be die-cast; the new ones appear to be machined and are visibly and demonstrably far more robust. On my 2015, a ranger replaced the first one that failed, I replaced the second. It’s not a difficult repair for one who is handy. A word of caution: you’ll need the window up and down a few times during the repair—*disconnect the window motor* when it’s up! You do NOT want it lowering while your hands are inside the door cutouts.