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

wallstguy | 2016年4月8日

sp_pearl and leonard...deactivating the fob while the car is on is what I keep referring to.

All other manufacturers of cars I've seen already follow this practice. My Lexus Key fob does not let me press any buttons once the car is on, same with Toyota (albeit they're the same company). If its already been done years ago, I don't see why Tesla can't do it.

NumberOne | 2016年4月8日

The difference is the other cars have an engine. A Tesla is always on. It is easy enough to deactivate the fob wile the car is not in 'park'. This also applies to buttons on the screen. I believe it already works that way with many cars. You probably cannot open the trunk of falcon wing doors while the car is not in 'park'. It is a shame this happened. It was an accident, and I am not going to speculate about distractions etc.

dbh | 2016年4月8日

You can definitely open the falcon wing doors from the car while the car is in Drive, if it is still unlocked.

dbh | 2016年4月8日

I meant, "can definitely open the falcon wing doors from the fob while the car is in Drive".

qosmioamit | 2016年4月8日

I don't see any reason to have the fob buttons active when the car is in drive mode. I sympathize with you, but it should be covered by insurance.

vperl | 2016年4月8日

Bag the fob


NumberOne | 2016年4月8日

@dbh That is good to know. Thanks for checking. Fob bagged.

vperl | 2016年4月8日


vperl | 2016年4月8日
jpcompetello | 2016年4月8日

After reading all ( or at least most) of the posts in regard to this matter, I must say that Tesla should ensure that the X (or for that matter any Tesla) not be allowed to move forward or back of any other direction, while ANY door is open. A signal is just not sufficient. It does not matter whether any other manufacturer has this feature or not, this is Tesla--the kind, remember? Hope the issue is resolved soon in your favor!!

eric.zucker | 2016年4月9日

@jpcompetello: No. Bad guy blocks your door and you can't get away? Faulty sensor and you're stranded?

Even if the car didn't respond to fob buttons when out of Park, there still are corner cases.

Remember one has to double-click the trunk or FWD buttons. It's surprising there are false triggers, maybe the timing to detect these clicks needs tweaking.

Putting the fob in a shield is a good idea. Thanks vperl for the link.

carlk | 2016年4月9日

Agree with @eric.zucker. NO car in the world that would not let you to drive while door or trunk is open for good reasons. It create more problems than it fixes. You can't fix stupidity anyway.

aesculus | 2016年4月9日

We are still jumping to conclusions that the fob detected a user pressing it. I have a hard time getting my fob to respond to my clicks when I intend to open the doors. Something seems odd here about having the fob in a pocket causes a button press. Maybe the fob is defective?

Redmiata98 | 2016年4月9日

Let us JUST be careful with the fob, not disable it. Scenario: pax door will not fully close and hence if the door deactivation is in place, you cannot drive your car. This happened to me and because the deactivation was NOT in place, I was able to drive my car home and eventually to the service center for repair. If deactivation had been in place, I would have been stranded at worst or forced to wait fir a flatbed wrecker at best.

This type of rational to make things goof-proof is why we cannot lower our windows with the fob. If the deactivation is desired, the best alternative might be to make this a feature that can be activated or not.

vperl | 2016年4月9日

Your are just blocking unwanted, butt dialed FOB signals.

sankar | 2016年4月9日

I have a Chevy Spark where the keyfob frequently gets activated while in my pocket. I have a Honda Odyssey, where it is almost impossible for this to happen (and it has never happened to me). The keyfob in the Odyssey allows me to open the rear hatch as well as the sliding doors. First the button is depressed - which makes it difficult to press accidentally. Second it requires the button to be depressed for at least a second before it opens the doors/hatch. Third, when the doors/hatch is starting to open, it makes a very distinct sound (always) that is loud and distinct from all other sounds. So I am trained to know if a door/hatch is about to open - it's very difficult to miss.

Given all of this, I would consider it a UI flaw that a door can open accidentally and you not know about it.

NumberOne | 2016年4月9日

@sankar From what you describe, it sounds like your Model X door would not open without you noticing. It makes a sound that is very audible. Remember that there is no engine, so unless there is a significant amount of ambient noise, you will hear it. There is also a warning on the console screen and on the dash. We have to pay attention to a lot of things when driving.

vperl | 2016年4月9日

Mediums are everywhere.

adamgreen | 2016年4月9日

As a fellow X-er, I sympathise (and with only 10 or so days' Xperience, I have a laundry list of bugs and design flaws (most of which would not delay bringing the product to market, but clearly the Falcon Wing doors and both 2nd and 3rd row seats require a blank page re-design.
There seems to be the need for the UI to offer a lot more depth of access to system automation.
Maybe there's a whole FAQ-load of things I don't know about hidden access to settings.
In short, thanks for the heads-up about the door damage risk.
The X really needs a setting to apply the driver's door interlock to all hatches and latches.
It would also be nice to mute the false alarms. For example, why signal a seat belt chime when the car is in Park for Pete's sake?! Surely that counts in your favor -- all the beeps and bells mask the one really important beep -- the wing is up!

rdalcanto | 2016年4月9日

My FOB always goes in my front right pocket. This will not change based on the ability to pocket press buttons on the FOB. If I put the car in drive, and there are warnings on the dash and center console, and an audible alarm, I will look into what the car is trying to tell me before moving.

rdalcanto | 2016年4月9日

This reminds me of a friend of mine who put his SUV in reverse. There were alarms suggesting an obstruction. He thought "that can't be right," and proceeded to drive over and destroy his $8,000 carbon mountain bike that he accidentally left on the ground behind the car. Luckily it wasn't a small child. Always investigate a warning/alarm before deciding to ignore it.

NumberOne | 2016年4月9日

@vperl only a medium can figure this one out.

av8rbud | 2016年4月9日

I feel badly for Mark. When I first got my X, I determined that I would put the FOB in the cup holder under my right elbow each time I got in the car. It has become a habit. Just a way to help me not inadvertently operate something without wanting to. I flew helicopters for 30 years and each person that does fly seems to develop a cockpit organization plan that works for them. Just a suggestion that works for me.

ian | 2016年4月10日

Could Tesla consider a way to deactivate the fob while it's in the holder, maybe the same as Blackberry used on their phones with a small magnet in the holder that locked the phones keyboard.

vperl | 2016年4月10日

put Faraday bag in cup holder.

Have final solution, but I doubt current owners or reservation holders would accept solution.

mvbowles | 2016年5月3日

Today marks 7 weeks since my door was damaged and the shop ordered parts to repair. Still NO DELIVERY DATES from Tesla for some of the parts. The shop finally moved my $150k Tesla X to their remote spare lot and put a tarp over it. Depressing. 7 weeks, no word from Tesla on parts. That's not acceptable. Making my second lease payment and insurance payment now.

lilbean | 2016年5月3日

Sorry to hear that. It should be stored indoor. What a bummer!

DarthB | 2016年5月3日

Sorry to hear that. Now that I have the car and better understand how this could happen:

The key fob requires double click in order to open the FWD. Was the fob defective? Also it seems the instrumental panel would show a warning when any door is open while you are not on park.

Is the car not drivable? I would pick up the car and still enjoy it until they have parts.

lilbean | 2016年5月3日

Does the door beep before it opens?

dbh | 2016年5月3日

@lilbean, no, I don't think it beeps before it opens. I pocket-dialed my left falcon door 3 times and my right one once in the first two days getting into the car, same as the OP. I heard a slight wooshing sound and turned around and noticed it, but it's not exactly loud. I'll verify again today. I no longer carry my key in my jeans.

lilbean | 2016年5月3日

Thanks dbh. I checked too. Mine doesn't beep. My odyssey trunk beeped upon opening. Hopefully, Tesla is reading this and will give us necessary updates.

c3 | 2016年5月4日

I do not have my MX yet and have not had a chance to see one of the key fobs. That said, I would venture to guess that the fob uses membrane switches. If such a switch is pressed to the point of actuation (say while being compressed in your pocket) it is very easy to imagine how it, while teetering at the point of contact, could make several electrical actuations of the switch (double, triple, quadruple clicking if you will). All such switches must be "debounced" either with a hardware circuit and/or in software even for normal operation. Tesla engineers may want to investigate an additional debounce algorithm for what I will call "pocket pressure actuation" (button pressed and held teetering at the point of actuation). I am fairly certain they could significantly reduce the incidence but I doubt the firmware in the fob can be updated over the air.

eddiemoy | 2016年5月4日

I agree with most here, it is user error. the beeping should should have signaled to you something is wrong. but instead, you just drove off. a big 17" screen showing you your door is open should also be another indicator.

it is unfortunate that it is taking tesla so long to get you your replacement part which should be covered by your insurance as it is your accident and no fault of tesla design wise. tesla is obviously having part shortage issues since they can't deliver their model x's in any significant quantity.

look for Q2 to report miss of model x badly!

lightonwater | 2016年5月4日

Software Fix: If attempt is made to roll while door(s) deployed flashing image of doors deployed with green close door(s) button. (User option to have "Off into the Wild Blue Yonder" play simultaneously).

Appreciations 1) for the painful sharing of who is probably a very necessary beta tester for such an innovative and complex vehicle. 2) for Tesla being open enough to allow us all to learn prior to such experience thru aa true forum.

PixelatedEngineer | 2016年5月9日

I really would like the ability to add user-defined macros to Tesla's control signals. All of these suggestions could be implemented immediately by the user community with this tool.

lilbean | 2016年5月9日

In all fairness to Tesla, if I open my FWD with my fob while it is in drive, the screen shows a bright red door, a door open message with a yellow triangle and a rapid, grating alert beeps like crazy. I'm not sure if this was a software update that happened before or after this incidence, but rest assured, you will stop the car if you see or hear this. I always turn the radio off when I'm parking or leaving my parking spot.

lilbean | 2016年5月9日


Mom2Dancers | 2016年5月10日

What a terrible incident! It seems to me that we should have an option to set the FOB to be inactive while driving (or while inside the car). As PPs suggested, many FOBs work that way, and I certainly would have never considered that the doors could be opened with the FOB while driving! I hope Tesla will remedy this!

aesculus | 2016年5月10日

It sounds like the FOB in his pocket opened the doors before he put it in drive. Not sure why he did not hear them move or also did not recognize or hear all of the alarms when he did put it in drive. Also this happened early on and it's hard to say what sw might have changed between the event and the time we all started 'arm chair quarterbacking'.

rossRallen | 2016年5月17日

I must have butt-dialed my right FWD open in the closed garage using the fob.

I checked in on my X using the iPhone app and it showed right FWD open! If I had opened the garage door unaware, it would have hit the FWD, which stopped partially-open due to detecting an obstruction.

Not good.

aesculus | 2016年5月17日

That's why I have mine set to umbrella mode as the default. It's a pain when out and about if people just pull the lever before I can get to the screen, but I am not risking my doors entangling with unknown objects.

Oh I wish these were location dependant. :-(

rossRallen | 2016年5月17日

How about a Settings screen disabling/enabling fob features such as Frunk, Trunk, and FWD open?

BTW - I don't see how I could have done two quick presses of the FWD button on the fob with it just in my pocket. One press? Sure. Two?

Mom2Dancers | 2016年5月18日

@rossRallen, I don't doubt it could have just been a glitch that opened your door (and not the FOB). Last week, our X was at the SC, and they told us our driver door opened (unexplainedly) and got a ding in it as a result. Had to add that to their list of repairs needed.

dbh | 2016年5月18日

It's definitely easy to pocket dial the doors. I did it *again* today when washing the car on the street - had the fob in my front pocket. Every time it has opened without explanation, the fob has been in my front pocket in the fob holder they gave me. I count at least 8 times it opened by surprise (once when I was putting the outdoor cover on!). Hard to remember, but never put your fob in your front jeans pocket imho. I also found that if you get into the car, push the brake, and you pocket dial a falcon door while the front door is closing, you can't even hear it open. You better pay attention to those warnings on the screen, and not assume they are just seatbelt warnings (which you might ignore just pulling out of your garage for a wash or something).

ernie | 2016年5月18日

Small carabiner on your belt loop with fob attached, problem solved. Always ready for action. Sure you can get a holder which blocks signal, put it in your pocket, and then fish it out, activate, put back in thanks. Problem solved for me. But then I am a simple guy.

aesculus | 2016年5月19日

Odd but I struggle to get my doors to open with my fobs. Sometimes takes multiple attempts. I have new batteries too.