Woman locked out of Tesla after handles freeze

@khadijahxceesay/TikTok Wachiwit/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘I did not know this was possible’: Tesla owner locked out of car after door handles freeze

'I just wasn’t expecting this.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Dec 17, 2023   Updated on Dec 17, 2023, 8:22 am CST

Electric cars and frigid weather aren’t a great combination: anyone who’s ever owned one of these cars will tell you that. Not only do batteries tend to underperform in cold weather, giving drivers much less range than they thought they would have, but the design choices of some popular electric car manufacturers, like Tesla, may also leave some folks out in the cold. Literally.

This is something TikToker Khadijah Ceesay (@khadjiahxceesay) said she learned the hard way after attempting to open the door to her Tesla vehicle, but couldn’t due to a thick frost covering the lever-style handle, preventing her from opening it.

This style of handle, which is found on the Model Y and Model 3 vehicles, presents an aesthetically pleasing, flush look to the car. One just needs to press the thicker part of the handle to pop open the door and enter the car.

However, with even just a sheer coating of ice, popping open the handle is difficult and it’s frozen flush to the car. Some owners of a Tesla vehicle, like this writer previously, have found a solution which is to either melt the ice or elbow the thicker part of the door handle with a bit of force to crack the ice and pop open the handle.

While it kind of takes away from the elegant and sophisticated style branding Tesla is going for, you’re at least able to enter your pre-heated car and be on your merry way.

However, it seems that Ceesay was stuck left trying to figure out how to get the door handle open.

“My car is frozen,” she says, trying to use her thumb, which is what one would typically do to open the car door in frost-less weather, as she grunts and attempts to get it to pop out.

She even tries a rear passenger door, laughing to herself in the process. “I did not know this is possible,” she sasys. “My car is literally frozen…and I have to go to work.”

She continues to try to open the Tesla. “Maybe this’ll work let me try that,” she says as she heads to the back of the vehicle and pops open the trunk before the clip cuts out.

One commenter suggested that she just use the Tesla’a remote start function to pre-heat the vehicle and melt some of the frost off. However, she demonstrated in a follow-up clip that this is easier said than done because, for whatever reason, when she opened the Tesla app on her phone, she would get an error message stating that the operation failed.

@khadijahxceesay It’s too early for this! How is my car frozen. #tesla #winter #fyp #senegalaise_tik_tok #senegalaise_tik_tok ♬ original sound – khadijah Ceesay

As a previous Tesla owner, this writer has also encountered this problem several times but was able to counter it by using the cell phone’s data to interact with the vehicle.

There have been some notorious instances of Tesla owners being locked out of their vehicles due to a lack of mobile phone connectivity. For example, the time Glenn Howerton of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia parked his Tesla in a parking garage, but was locked out of it after his key fob malfunctioned. Since there was no data signal in the “bottom floor of the garage” he couldn’t use his mobile phone to interact with the car. He was, ultimately, able to gain access to the car with a key fob, but it wouldn’t start for some strange reason.

The actor, who spilled the beans about the incident on a podcast he conducts with his comedy show co-stars, says that the way Tesla’s customer service handled the incident (they told him there was nothing they could do) ultimately made him swear off of buying products from the company ever again.

There was one commenter who responded to Ceesay’s initial video about the frozen door handles that speaks to a solution, writing, “Use the app to open the door, Tesla literally fixed this issue with the app.”

However, she says that the Tesla mobile application is inconsistent and doesn’t always unlatch the door for drivers and fails in its attempts to do so.

“I know. It’s just barely winter and my car is the only frozen one at home,” she said. “That was the point of the video. Also, the unlatch doors feature fails some”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Tesla and Ceesay via email for further information.

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*First Published: Dec 17, 2023, 11:00 am CST