A few days ago, I went to drive away, and alas I could not open the door. The door handles all presented themselves, but the driver door would not open. When I first got my low VIN car, my doors were haunted and opened by themselves. Five years later, the driver door motor just wore out.
I went to the passenger side rear door and it opened just fine.
I called Tesla and they confirmed that my driver door was stuck, and I made an appointment to have a mobile service person come to my home.
Using the Car with a Broken Door Handle
I had a few days between the break and the service appointment. A few earlier appointments were available, but none that were particularly convenient. So in the meantime, I still wanted to drive the car.
There are at least five ways to get into your car by yourself when you can’t open the passenger door listed in the order of the most amusing to the most convenient:
- Open the sunroof, crawl onto the roof, and drop down.
- Get into the passenger seat, and hurl yourself over to the driver’s seat.
- Get into the back seat, and manipulate the seat and your arms to open the front door.
- Get into the passenger seat, open the driver side door, leave the car, and hope that the door did not shut itself if you are parked at any angle (like parallel on a street).
- Get into the passenger seat, roll down the driver side door window, leave the car, and open the driver side door.
I only tried the last 3 methods. I know as a teen I had crawled over from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat in a vehicle and found it harder than it looks. Trying to open the door didn’t work as well as it sounds as the door tended to close itself. The best way by far was to just open the window from the passenger seat, walk around the car to the driver’s side, and easily open the door through the open window.
The professional and friendly mechanic showed up in a Tesla promptly on time. The total cost to replace one door handle motor is $740. Unfortunately my car is out of warranty and I had to pocket the cost. The service is the same price whether you take your car into the service center or have the more convenient mobile service fix your vehicle.
The actual service takes about one hour.
Unique Door Handles and Motors
I have a cheap streak and was contemplating moving one of the passenger seat door handle motors to the front seat. I didn’t think I would do it at this stage, but I could imagine that if the car was much older, having a non-functioning back seat door opener would perhaps be acceptable.
Turns out, all four door handles are unique and all four motors in the door handle are unique! Because of slight differences in the shapes, the plastic around the motor encasing is different.
I like the convenience of the mobile service; perhaps even more than the convenient valet service that sporadically occurs now. I hope my new motor will last longer than 5 years.