Tesla Model 3 Winter Weather Issues are Starting to Appear

by Denis Gurskiy

With the recent boom of Tesla Model 3 delivers last quarter, the majority of Model 3s are starting to see their first winters. And, to be frank, there seems to be some issues that need to be worked out. Owners are already starting to air their grievances with the car and we are not even close to the coldest period of the year.

As of right now, the cause for concern for many owners is the door not being able to open in cold weather. For those unaware, the Model 3 uses a flush door handle design and is opened as follow.

As you can see, it is harder to gain as much leverage as a traditional door handle design. The Model 3 also does not benefit from the motorized handle that is in the Model S/X that can break through ice.

Additionally, the door is frameless, so the window has to retract a little in order for the door to open.

For the time being, certain Model 3 owners are not only having trouble with opening their handles. But in the event that they are able to unlock the door, the window will be frozen and will not retract.

Here are some videos and posts we have found to share:

Model 3 Frozen Door Handles from r/teslamotors

Model 3 handle freezing and more this afternoon… from r/teslamotors

Model 3 – Window in cold weather from r/teslamotors

Side note: Being suggested to start your car two hours prior to using it is one of the most ridiculous things Tesla could suggest.

Now if not being able to enter your car was not bad enough, one owner shared his issue of not being able to charge the car as well. It appears that a metal locking piece was unable to retract, thus not allowing him to insert the charger.

Frozen handle and window guy from earlier… Chargeport door + lock w/video from r/teslamotors

Now going through some of those comments you will see that some are proclaiming that calling into question the Model 3 winter capability as nothing but FUD. Several comments point out that the people in these videos are not pushing hard enough, or exaggerating their issues. There is also the camp of people who state that “it happens to other cars”. That however should not mean the people shouldn’t bring up these issues. Tesla prides itself on innovation and should be open to critique to matters such as these. I’m sure Elon would love to tout the idea that his cars have conquered the evil known as frozen door handles.

With that being said, I cannot comment on the amount of strength being used in these video. Nor can I test the strength needed to open the handle as I do not have a frozen Model 3 that I can test. However, something such as the charging port lock not being able to disengage is hard to exaggerate. Although once again, are these isolated incidents? Who knows, maybe the mechanism was faulty from the start and a little cold weather set it off. Or perhaps a large portion of Model 3 owners in the Northern States and Canada will potentially not be able to charge their cars all winter.

There are several ways that Tesla could remedy the situation. One of which is being able to open your car from the app in the handle does not work. However in this case you would have to pray that the windows are not frozen as well.

One other feature suggested is analogous to Tesla’s Cabin Overheat Protection which starts to cool the car down when the interior temperature is over 40C/105F. But obviously do the opposite and start heating the car once it is under a certain temperature.

So while that might solve the frozen handle and window issue, there is still the potential issue of the frozen charging port. There is a manual release that one can pull to unlock it. However, the owner stated that this did not work. This might seem like a harder issue to fix for Tesla and I do not know how they would go about it if the prevalence of the issue is higher.

So can we say that the Model 3 winter capabilities are compromised? No, I’m not going to be over dramatic. Like I said, these could be small cases that are being blown out of proportion. But as the temperature gets colder and colder, it could be possible that a cascade of complaints come with them. Buckle up everyone and lets see what happens. By New Years we’ll have all but forgotten these problems or we’ll be questioning “Was this car even tested in the winter?”

What do you guys think? Are these issues isolated, or will they become more prevalent as the weather gets colder? Let us know down in the comments below.

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