Again, what was wrong with a normal handle?
If you've never tried entering a Tesla Model 3, you may not know this car has pretty abnormal door handles. Rather than pulling on an exposed handle (like a normal car), the Model 3 requires owners to push the flush lever from the back, then pull from the front to open the door. It's a bit strange but it works. Unless it's cold outside. Numerous Tesla owners have reported that the door handles freeze in cold temperatures, leaving no way to get into the car.
The Tesla website contains a "Cold Weather Best Practices" guide with tips on how to open the doors in such circumstances. Tesla's recommendations include warming up the car using the app and applying "a few forceful bumps to the door handle." It sounds like the solution to this issue isn't too difficult. Unfortunately, a CarBuzz reader informed us that Tesla's cold weather procedure damaged his car.
A reader sent us these photos and a short video showing the damage from attempting to unfreeze the handles on his 2019 Model 3 Mid-Range. When he opened the handle after "a few forceful bumps," the chrome from the door handle peeled right off because is was frozen to the car's paint. Even though this owner followed Tesla's published procedure, his local service center quoted him $270 to fix the handle because his three-year-old car with 68,000 miles is out of warranty.
CarBuzz obtained a copy of the conversation with the service center through the Tesla app as well as a copy of the repair bill. The door handle itself costs $145 from Tesla, while the labor to install it adds $105 (with $20 in tax).
Despite alerting the service technician that he followed Tesla's procedure, the company refused to replace the handle free of charge. Our reader says he canceled the service visit, saying he is "going to live with it" for now.
As a temporary fix, he peeled off the loose chrome that made the crunching sound in the video. A warning to any Model 3 owners, our reader says the area where the chrome peeled is quite sharp and he cut his finger on it, so please open your door with caution.
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