Falcon Wing destroyed from errant key fob signal

Falcon Wing destroyed from errant key fob signal

I inadvertently destroyed a falcon wing door on my new Tesla X and put the car out of commission within 24 hrs of owning it through no fault of my own (my opinion) and 3 weeks later still have no answer to when it can be fixed what it will cost, if I can get a loaner, etc. I'm one of the many people that would claim to be Tesla's biggest fan. And I will continue to be fan but I am growing a little frustrated after 3 weeks with little info. I was using the product and the UI/UX as I have done with great success over the past 2+ years on my model S.

First, I want to say Lee Woolley from the San Diego service center has been great through all of this. However, it's 3 weeks since the damage occurred and he isn't able to get information to me about when the car can be repaired, if it's at my expense or Tesla's, if I can get a loaner in the meantime, etc. what I have been told is that the factory won't delivery a painted door assembly to replace it and instead parts must be ordered, painted and assembled. No dates for delivering the parts yet so it's all in limbo.

I want to make my case, however, for why this was not all my fault. It would be great if the UI/UX folks at Tesla would consider the case I will make below. I have some experience in developing complex user experience / user interfaces myself and have been inspired Tesla's approach. Its a model for others. In fact, Tesla's are so intuitive, that I assumed consciously and sub-consciously that the experience I had built up over the last 2+ years on my Tesla S would transfer to the Tesla X. It didn't work out that way and I ended up destroying my new X within 24 hours of taking delivery. So, here is my UI/UX story for consideration:

How it happened - The Short Version
On the second day of owning my Tesla X, I was attempting to pull it out of my garage for the first time ever. I entered my Tesla X through the driver's door, sat down and closed the door, pulled the car into drive and began to roll forward. As I moved forward about 3-5 feet on to the driveway I heard a crunching of glass. I stopped and backed up a few few feet, got out and saw that the driver's side falcon wing door had attempted to open just as I had tried to roll through the narrow garage door opening. The door had caught the garage door frame and it was broken and bent. Lee Woolley confirmed that your data logs report that the signal that instructed that door to open at the moment came from the key fob. That key fob was in my front left pocket and can only have been activated inadvertently by somehow being pinched in my pocket as I bent to sit in the driver's seat. The whole incident from beginning to end was just several seconds.

How it happened - The Detailed Version
I had had the X for less than 24 hrs. I picked it up and went through the wonderful orientation experience with the Delivery Specialist. I drove it for 100 or so miles and finally brought it home to park it in the garage for the night. The next morning at about 9:30 I was in a hurry as usual and went to the garage, opened the garage door, walked around the X, and the front driver door popped open automatically per my settings. I hopped in, stepped on the break, pulled it into Drive, and started to pull out of the driveway. I think I recall an audible signal warning me of something but it must have sounded very similar to, or just like the seat belt warning that I always get from my Tesla P85 S. It definitely didn't sound different enough or urgent enough to warn me that I was about to destroy my car. I was not looking at the dash or visual warnings (I assume warnings were there) because everything seemed normal in terms of the audio warnings. Besides, I was trying to pull out of the garage so my eyes were focused forward and my ears were hearing what seemed like the normal warnings about the seat belt. As always, I do wear my seat belt but, like many people, I connect it as I am pulling out, not before I drive. I intended to put my seat belt on and was probably also in the act of putting it on but I don't really recall that detail. Anyway, I moved forward in Drive just a couple of feet when I heard the smash of glass and stopped. The driver's side rear falcon wing door had begun to open and had caught the garage door frame and smashed. I was shocked and saddened. Me, an experienced (2+ years Tesla driver) had just destroyed his new X within 24 hours of owning it, and had no idea that he was doing it. According to your data logs I had apparently (and inadvertently) triggered the back door to open via the key fob in my pocket in just the few second that I was attempting to pull out of my garage. My key fob was in my front pant's pocket as always. I did not intend to send that signal and I can only guess that it must have been compressed in my pants pocket against the key ring or something as I bent to sit down in the driver's seat. This is a scenario I could not have imagined. I had just entered the car a few seconds before and all of the doors were closed. I knew I had not attempted to open the back door so why did it open at that moment? The X is a car that is able to sense how to open the falcon wing doors in a variety of ways to avoid hitting anything. This is a car that can avoid objects at high speed on the freeway, change lanes, park itself, etc. This is a car that knows I am at home and in my garage and that space is too tight to even open the open the doors fully. So it would never occur to me that this intelligent car would allow me, through an unintended signal from a key fob in my pocket, to open a falcon wing door, just at the moment I was pulling out of my garage, and ultimately destroy the car. As I said before, there may have been warning signals both audible and visual as I am sure it is designed that way. But whatever audio signal may have been there was not differentiated enough or urgent enough to make a very experienced Tesla user such as myself to even notice that something was more wrong than my seat belt needing to be buckled. If I made this mistake, it will happen to others. Likely many others. Its not clear to me why the algorithms allow the X to move while the falcon wing doors are open or in the process of opening, closing, or unlatched at all? Or why a signal from the key fob is allowed to control the doors while the driver is in the driver's seat in the act of controlling the car via the driver's controls, breaks, steering wheel, and gear shift? Perhaps there is a lot of well considered reasons why this scenario is allowed by the software. But from my vantage point, the down side to allowing the X to move forward while the doors are in the act of opening can be immense. My specific scenario here should be considered by the UI/UX folks and put on the scale as a potential argument not to allow that scenario to occur. At least while the car is at home in a garage and beginning to drive out. With the Tesla S key fob I think its is very difficult to compress it in your pocket inadvertently to invoke any action. Its never happened to me. With the Tesla X fob, its now clear that its not only possible, but the scenario just occurred where it lead to tremendous damage to the car. Its a liability that I think should be reconsidered, not just in my case but for all other users as the scenario can cause tremendous damage.

My scenario above may be a usability corner case but I can predict with some confidence that its a fairly big corner case, its an expensive corner case, and that this scenrio will happen again to others without some revisiting of how the algorithms govern the car in the scenario that I have described above. In fact, the only other Tesla X in the repair shop in San Diego (Amato's) is in for similar damage to the falcon wing door while it was in motion. That owner has posted his experience in this forum as well.

I'm eager to:
- get my X fixed and start driving it ASAP
- get a loaner in the interim
- learn whether the repair is at my expense or Tesla's
- hear a response from your UI/UX folks about why the car is designed to allow the car to move with the falcon wing doors in motion (signaled by the key fob) while the operator is driving


Mark Bowles

NumberOne | 6 aprile 2016

I have not yet seen a car by any manufacturer that is disabled if the doors are open. While this is sad, it is not the fault of Tesla, and it should be covered by insurance. It was an accident, and could be considered no fault. Who's insurance, is the question. Sorry for your bad experience. While I do not think that Tesla needs to change anything related to the operation of the car. There may be a time when you want to move something for a very short distance, on your property, requiring you to not close the doors. I imagine this scenario much more likely than having an accident such as yours because of open doors.

We can learn from both posts. Whenever a person drives a car they are supposed to inspect the car. Check the tire pressure of all four wheels and manually walk around the car looking for possible obstacles/danger/non working lights, etc. How many people actually do that? How many people turn around to check if everyone in the car (if you have passengers) are actually belted in. Tesla fortunately has sensors that will tell the driver. I do not even want to drive with a phone in my pocket, let a lone a key fob that opens/closes and locks doors.

I recently acquired a men's satchel to carry my phone, wallet and key fob, as things in the pocket are subject to bumps and/or damage.

Big T | 6 aprile 2016

Auto-opening doors and lift gates are becoming more common. Hitting a fob button to open one just before putting the car is drive is going to become more common.

vperl | 6 aprile 2016

I look forward to the five pages of explanations from each medium .

carlk | 6 aprile 2016

Are you sure the FWD opened while car was in drive or it's already open before you put the car in drive?

gatorjer | 6 aprile 2016

Vperl- I have a question for you. The large majority of us come to these pages to get and share information. You just seem to (my opinion) come to make fun of posts, put people down, etc. so my question- am I correct? Follow up question- if so, why do you do so? I just could not ever understand living my life as such a negative person. I am really not trying to be mean. Just seems if you are not going to be constructive, respectfully would you consider keeping your comments to yourself?

aesculus | 6 aprile 2016

This is going to get as interesting as the thread about the hacker that discovered the 100 kwh battery in the cars software and then blabbed about it while Tesla took control of his car.

Triggerplz | 6 aprile 2016

@gatorjer + 1

Big T | 6 aprile 2016

carls said "Are you sure the FWD opened while car was in drive or it's already open before you put the car in drive?"

I think what happened is really bad timing. FWD button is accidentally pressed on fob and then car is immediately put into drive as the door is starting to open. Driver doesn't notice and pulls forward.

vperl | 6 aprile 2016


carlk | 6 aprile 2016

Either way I'm not going to worry about it too much. The reason those keyfobs need double clicks is to prevent this kind of things to happen.

Triggerplz | 6 aprile 2016


vperl | 6 aprile 2016


I thought better of you.

elguapo | 6 aprile 2016

Tough story here. Bottom line is I almost never use the buttons on my fob and my fob is in the leather case sold by Tesla for the S. Fits fine and buttons are tough to press purposely, much less accidentally. There's really no need for me to use the fob.

dbh | 6 aprile 2016

Ouch. That's terrible. Now that I think of it, I'm wondering if this explains the three times my left Falcon wing door opened all by itself when I got into the car, sat down, and pressed the brake to close the driver door. I thought it just had a mind of its own. I may have had my fob (in the leather case) in my pocket.

The model X key fob is actually really easy to use while still inside of it's leather case for the falcon wing doors. The ridge on the leather case actually helps make it easy to click.

I'm no longer going to carry my fob in my jeans...

rdalcanto | 6 aprile 2016

Sorry to hear about your accident. Probably a one in a million event, but I will warn the wife anyway. Thanks for the heads up. I hope they can get your parts soon.

ernie | 6 aprile 2016 hit what an ordinary person skilled in the art of using the English language would call: "a sore spot". The problem is that even pointing out an obvious pathology will achieve no curative effects. That is the nature of pathologies, an inability to see how the afflicted individual truly appears to the majority of onlookers.

Reminds me of the delusions of certain politicians and world figures. Such a lack of understanding is usually diagnosed as a personality disorder sometimes coupling multiple components into a diagnosis such as “narcissistic, histrionic personality disorder”. Not saying @v[i]prl fits that to a “T”, as that would be out of my bailiwick of expertise, but you would think after reading most of his / her posts, they are at the least non-productive and somewhat to extremely vitriolic. Only @v can correct the behavior. But I believe the behavior is endless and terminal.

wallstguy | 6 aprile 2016

Something seems a little off here. I know for instance, the buttons on my cars key fobs stop working the instant the car is turned on (whether I'm talking about the old 2005 Toyota Camry, the newer 2013 Toyota Camry, or the 2010 Lexus RX I've driven).

Especially on the Lexus RX which is a "Keyless Push to Start". Unless Tesla really screwed up here, I don't think the Falcon Wing Door could have or should have opened while you were pulling out, but instead must have been opened before the car was turned on (Again, I'm assuming Tesla didn't screw up here, and followed common sense principals from previous cars).

Also, the doors being open should definitely not disable the car, and like others pointed out do not do so on any other car. I did see thedrive video a few days ago and it does show a warning sound and warning flashes on the centre console, with the sound being similar to the "Open Door" beeping my current cars (Lexus RX) makes if either door or the rear lift gate trunk is open.

NumberOne | 6 aprile 2016

Sadly more and more evidence point to operator error, even if unintentional. Not just this post but other too. There is no malfunction on the side of Tesla.

It is very unfortunate that this happened, but disabling the car due to an open door could really have unforeseen consequences, say for example you are at the mall, and a deranged, dangerous individual approaches you. Would you want to be able to get away if your door is not completely closed, or would you want to sit and panic. There are many scenarios, including a faulty sensor that may leave you stranded.

We are learning from this post not to keep the key in a place where the buttons might be pushed. The doors make a very distinct sound when they open, and when you are just starting out, you should really not have music or any other distractions, so that you can also hear what is going on outside your car. Unless you have a hearing impairment, there is no reason why you should not hear the doors opening. It is not like the motors are noisy. In fact the electric motor propelling the car makes less of a sound than the opening falcon wing doors.

Nearly all accidents can be avoided, and that is why they are called accidents. I can say that my one car will drive with an open rear gate, and once the car is in drive, the door will neither open nor close. You can initiate the process and then place it in drive, and the door will continue to close or open.

sp_tesla | 6 aprile 2016

singh.urdeep | April 6, 2016
"the buttons on my cars key fobs stop working the instant the car is turned on"

Tesla should pay for repair do to key fob poor software control functions that seem to unnecessarily caused this accident.!

NumberOne | 7 aprile 2016

Not having been there, I am not going to speculate on how the buttons got pressed. I am also still waiting for my car so I cannot test any theory that I might have, but one simple thing that Tesla can do to avoid this (if it is not the case already) is display the 'doors' screen if there is an open door when the driver engages drive or reverse. A small text warning accompanied with a beep alert is to easy to ignore. Again, operator error does not mean the operator is to blame, because no one would do this on purpose..

c3 | 7 aprile 2016


I feel your pain and am sorry this happened to you. You may want to check the thread started by @dbh titled "After 48 hours - UPDATE after 2 weeks. In that thread he describes unexplained opening of the FWD.

"3 times in the first two days the left falcon door open itself up for no reason, of its own volition. This happened with a solo driver (me) each time, and each time happened when I closed the driver door. Front driver door closes via motors, and rear falcon door just opens on its own as the front door closes. Nobody else in the car, nobody pushing any buttons."

It is possible his fob is also being actuated or it could be a software defect. In either scenario it supports your assertion that this is going to happen to other people.

Remnant | 7 aprile 2016

@ mvbowles (OP, April 6, 2016)

<< ... it's 3 weeks since the damage occurred and he isn't able to get information to me about when the car can be repaired, if it's at my expense or Tesla's, if I can get a loaner in the meantime, etc. what I have been told is that the factory won't delivery a painted door assembly to replace it and instead parts must be ordered, painted and assembled. >>

As a necessary part of the repair, the SC should have given you a loaner and initiated the electronic diagnostics. The MX memory has certainly stored the accident sequence, so the SC could have told you up front a lot more than they have.

ellindalum | 7 aprile 2016

It's hard to believe that the key fob could have accidentally been pressed while in your pocket. In the two days which I had our X before I crashed the falcon wing doors, I found it very difficult to open the doors using the key fob. I usually had to double click multiple times, and had an especially hard time with the falcon wing doors. Someone mentioned a leather case for the key fob. We didn't get any.

dbh | 7 aprile 2016

@ellindalum Interesting that you didn't get a leather pouch. It is actually much easier to click the fob with the pouch -- harder to do accidentally (or on purpose) when it is out of the pouch.

I tested our keyfob just now in the factory leather pouch, on my key ring (my car is in service, so I was just doing this at home, not with the actual car). The design of the leather pouch is such that the upper sewn edge exactly pushes on the flacon wing door actuator if you push straight down (without much force). I'm not nearly certain that this is what happened to me 3 times in 2 days. I think they need to design the leather pouch to make it *harder* to actuate the fob rather than easier (and larger).

dbh | 7 aprile 2016

Sorry, meant "now nearly certain that this is what happened to me". Feeling fortunate that I noticed it, and that I don't have a garage.

Big T | 7 aprile 2016

My wife is the primary driver of the X and she keeps the fob in her purse which is sitting on the seat next to her. No chance of accidental activation. Also, we didn't get a fancy leather pouch with our fobs.

biggestfan | 7 aprile 2016


Sounds to me like it is an insurance claim to your insurance. Accidents happen, but it doesn't sound like a design flaw to me. It sounds like an unfortunate accident that just so happened almost immediately after you took delivery of your X. Sad as it may be, it really doesn't sound like an issue with the car itself.

YUL X | 7 aprile 2016

unfortunate situation, if tesla can differentiate between the originating activate signals, from the car or fob then the fob buttons to activate the door opening should be disabled when the car is in motion or in drive, however, not the lock unlock feature. I don't have my sigx yet, however, does the control pad show door opening? does an interior light turn on? perhaps a louder audible alert sound. or a red door on a pictogram on the front screen alerting you of an opening door, or otherwise green doors, good to go. just my 2 cents, nothing replacing being observant. I feel your pain and anger. lucky we have insurance.

jbowers | 7 aprile 2016

I was told by my DS there was no leather pouch made "for" the X.

rossRallen | 7 aprile 2016

Because another poster (@ellindalum) had an accident with the FWD and a garage impact, I opened my right FWD and put the car in drive (outside the garage, of course). There were warnings on both the instrument panel and the touchscreen that I was attempting to drive with the door open, but nothing prevented me from moving.

That said, I'm sorry for your accident @mvbowles. Like others, I keep my fobs in the Tesla leather sheath. It is very difficult to actuate the FWDs while the fob is inside, I thought. But, @dbh, you may have found something there. I tried to open the FWD with the fob in the pouch by pressing under the seam, while you indicate that the seam leverages into the FWD switch. Interesting. Will try it.

. I put the lanyard on the fob so I can easily remove it, if necessary, or when I want to go in the garage without creating any excitement on the part of the X.

rossRallen | 7 aprile 2016

@ernie +1

rossRallen | 7 aprile 2016

Yup - just tried opening the FWDs per @dbh's method, and it worked. Another thing to be careful about. I had an unexpected FWD opening when I was entering the X on the driver's side. That might have been the cause.

Mark Z | 7 aprile 2016

So sad to read the account. It is difficult to understand why Tesla Motors would allow the falcon wing doors to open if the vehicle is in reverse or drive. Model X can be driven (carefully) if the falcon wing doors are already open.

I have been keeping the key fob in a shirt pocket since Nov 2012 for Model S and now Model X. Most of my shirts come from Bass Pro Shop and have a Velcro closure on both pockets. it's also easy to press the center lock button through the shirt when needed.

aesculus | 7 aprile 2016

Another thing to be careful about. I had an unexpected FWD opening when I was entering the X on the driver's side.

Can you elaborate on what caused this?

rossRallen | 7 aprile 2016

@aesculus: I don't know what caused it. I was very surprised. It happened in a parking lot. As usual, my fob was in my pants pocket inside the leather sheath. Given what i know know, it could have been pinched as I sat down. I was definitely in the seat when it happened.

I also had a FWD open "on its own" inside the garage. The door was closed. I might have been nearby outside with the fob in my pocket and caused it.

@dbh: you've saved me and maybe many others from accidents due to unintended FWD activation. THANK YOU! I'll now be more careful with the fob around the car.

ernie | 7 aprile 2016

I have had some issues with the FOB opening the frunk (due to pressure while in my pocket) and anticipate that if I continue to carry in my will happen to the FWD's. Today's solution: carabiner clipped to a belt loop with the FOB dangling. Tacky??? Maybe, but with cell phone in shirt pocket, wallet in another and keys and sundries in the others it makes sense to me. That way I can quickly take it off and keep from bothering the already sensitive computer on wheels.

Those who do not learn from the mistakes of others are condemned to repeat them. Thanks George Santayana.

aesculus | 7 aprile 2016

Sounds like we are heading for another "you're holding it wrong" episode. :-(

dbh | 7 aprile 2016

Even after I posted the above picture and still got me. I got our car back today. And I still butt-dialed one falcon door when I forgot to remove the fob from my pocket (on the street, so no harm). It is really, really easy to open the falcon door with the fob in your pocket (at least with the leather pouch).

I also did a test. I got in the car with the fob in my hand, doors closed, and started driving slowly. At about 2mph (I think) I intentionally double clicked the fob (I'm pretty sure the doors were "locked" at the time, but not 100% sure). The falcon door started opening, and a warning was displayed. opened. I tried the same thing at 20mph and just got a warning sound. At the lower speed, I was *definitely* moving forward when I clicked the fob and the doors still opened. That seems a little dubious from a design point of view.

So...beware butt-dialing your falcon doors. It's a real thing, and can happen in Drive, not just Park. I will not be carrying my fob in my pants, period.

wallstguy | 7 aprile 2016

^With a free case as compensation? :) lol

dbh | 7 aprile 2016

@rossRallen No problem. I'm fairly convinced that unintentional fob opening of falcon doors is likely to be a pretty common thing unless either the software, the fob, or the fob pouch is changed. In some cases that could be disastrous (we know of two already). I sent this info to my service guy in Fremont and he promised to relay it to the proper people.

NumberOne | 8 aprile 2016

Regardless of whether the pouch helps, it is because the fob is in a pocket. While Tesla is not responsible, they should redesign the case so that it is rigid on the sides requiring the fob to be removed in order to be used. Personally I find the best solution would be not to keep the fob in your pocket. I recently got a new phone for which I did not want a case. The only place the phone is really safe is in a satchel, and this is where I plan to keep my fob too.

sp_tesla | 8 aprile 2016

LeonardD | April 8, 2016

Since no one need to use Fob while driving an easy to implement (especially for the best hi tech car) is a very simple convenient solution deactivating Fob functions while the car is in a drive mode.

dbh | 8 aprile 2016

Even simpler fix is don't allow using the fob while it is inside the car, although that might go too far for some people. That why you can't butt-dial the doors sitting in the seat in Park.

NumberOne | 8 aprile 2016

The best solution is simply the check that all doors are closed.

sp_tesla | 8 aprile 2016

LeonardD | April 8, 2016
"The best solution is simply the check that all doors are closed."

Did you comprehend initial post?

While driving " data logs report that the signal that instructed that door to open at the moment came from the key fob."

NumberOne | 8 aprile 2016

No, sorry, I do not comprehend the post because:

a) There is an audible alarm if the door is open while you are trying to drive, and
b) Both the central touchscreen and instrument cluster (driver display in front of the steering wheel) will indicate which door is open in red, until the door is closed.

Deactivating the fob while it is in the car is not as easy as you think. Deactivation the fob while the car is NOT in park, is pretty easy.

This was a very unfortunate accident, but at the end, we are responsible for our cars our fobs, and or phones and how we use them.

Just because a person does not see or hear any of the warnings, it does not mean it is not there. A thread like this is useful, because it helps increase awareness, so that it does not happen to other people.

vperl | 8 aprile 2016

Put the fob once your sitting in car in a Faraday bag, put bag in your pocket .

vperl | 8 aprile 2016
sp_tesla | 8 aprile 2016

vperl | April 8, 2016
"Problem solved. Put the fob once your sitting in car in a Faraday bag"

+1, great solution.

Bag should be offer 4 sale by TM.

NumberOne | 8 aprile 2016

+1 @vperl Thanks for posting the link.