How to Open a Tesla Model 3 Door (Inside, Outside, or Without Power)

By Muhammad Hassan •  Updated: 11/09/22 •  11 min read

Tesla is well-known for deviating from tradition and doing things in its own way. To me, it seems like their hidden motto is… Break the norms! 

While they’re trying to bring uniqueness to their cars, some of their basic mechanisms confuse a lot of people (like how to open a Tesla Model 3 door).

And I have no shame in confessing that I was also one of those confused people a while ago who didn’t know how to operate that engraved door handle.

But after some research, I was able to crack the code to the Model 3 door, and that’s exactly what I’m going to help you do. 

Let’s hop into it.

How to Open a Tesla Model 3 Door From Outside

It’s so simple, really!

The Tesla Model 3 door handle looks like an engraving on the door, but on pressing the wide part with your thumb, the handle pops out toward you, and you pull it using your fingers to open the door.

In case you can’t use your thumb, the door can also be opened using your finger to press the wide part and pull the edge of the door with your other hand.

The coolest thing about this handle is that you can pick different styles to open the door. Here’s a fun YouTube video from the All About Tesla YouTube channel that depicts how people of different generations open the Tesla Model 3 door.

Whoever made this video has great observational skills!

How to Open a Tesla Model 3 Door From Inside

Opening the Model 3 door from inside the car is poles apart from ICE cars, but it’s not rocket science.

As the car is electrically powered, there’s a button provided at the top of the interior door handle. Press that and push the door outward to open it while sitting inside the car. 

Here’s a quick demonstration from the How To Open YouTube channel on opening Tesla Model 3 doors from the inside: 

If you have any children and they know how to do it, they might want to give it a try… Children are curious!

For this, the Model 3 has child locks that can be activated from the touchscreen. 

To activate, go to Controls > Locks > Child Lock

In earlier Tesla models, this button isn’t so prominent, but the company has changed it in the year 2021 models. If you don’t own the latest model, you can put a sticker on that button to make it obvious. 

How to Open a Tesla Model 3 Door Without Power

Imagine yourself in an emergency situation where your Model 3 has no power left or the interior opening button stops working because of a random malfunction.

You’d be thinking that you’re now stuck in the car. But don’t worry, because if plan A fails, we have plan B! 

All you need to do is to pull up the emergency door release located at the front of the window switches and your door will open. 

This function is completely mechanical and has nothing to do with your car’s electrical system. However, Tesla recommends it be only used in emergency scenarios as they have performed limited durability tests on it.

Also, when you open your Model 3 door without power, the touchscreen displays an emergency warning. 

Watch the Model 3 emergency door release demo in this video from the EveryAmp YouTube channel:

How Do You Unlock Tesla Model 3 Doors?

Tesla provides a whole bunch of options for doing one simple task, as is the case with unlocking your EV.

You can use three different methods to do it, allowing you to select the one that suits you best.

The Key Fob Method

To unlock your Model 3 using a key fob, make sure that your key fob is linked to your Model 3 system. If added, then:

  1. Press the middle of the key fob twice to unlock the door. 
  2. To lock your Model 3 doors, press the middle of the fob once.

You can also open and close the frunk/trunk of your Model 3 using this key fob. All you have to do is:

The Key Card Method 

Want to unlock the Model 3 doors via a key card? It’s as easy as breathing!

But before we get into the nitty-gritty of the whole procedure, make sure you’re holding the key card properly; pick it in a way that the side with the sensor is toward the vehicle. 

Now all you have to do is to put the magical key card sensor on the center pillar of your Model 3 for a short time (i.e., 1–2 seconds) so that your Tesla picks up the signal. That’ll unlock the door.

The Tesla App Method

If you’re as lazy as me who doesn’t bother to take the key card or the key fob out of his pocket, there’s an even easier way to unlock your Model 3.

Think of the face unlock feature on your phone. It feels like there’s no lock, but there’s one!

The Tesla app works in the same way — using your phone’s Bluetooth to connect to your Model 3 so that whenever you get closer, it unlocks and locks when you get away. 

Here’s how you can use the phone key according to Tesla:

  1. Download the Tesla mobile app on your phone.
  2. Log in to the Tesla mobile app using your Tesla account username and password.
  3. Make sure that your phone’s general Bluetooth settings are enabled.
  4. Open the Tesla mobile app in your phone’s settings and select Location > Always
  5. Allow Mobile Access is enabled on the vehicle touchscreen (Controls > Safety > Allow Mobile Access).
  6. While sitting inside the vehicle with a key card handy, open the Tesla mobile app and tap “Set Up Phone Key” on the main screen or navigate to Security > Set Up Phone Key
  7. Follow the prompts on the mobile app and vehicle touchscreen to set up your phone key.

Model 3 “Auto-Presenting Door Handles”

Tesla Model 3 owners often complain about its door handles not being auto-presenting like the Model S, but you have to compromise the premium features to cut the price when you’re buying an entry-level Tesla EV. 

However, as I earlier said, there’s always a plan B, and in that case, we have the aftermarket auto-presenting door handles upgrade… Problem solved.

I’ll just skip the theory part, which can be accessed in our ultimate guide to Tesla Model 3 door handles, and move to the best product available on the market.

Best Auto-Present Door Handles for Tesla Model 3:


how to open tesla model 3 door

EVOffer has perfected the art of “auto-presenting door handles,” and that’s why I’ve ranked it as the best product on the market.

The package includes four door handles (one for each door) that allow you to open the doors without pushing or pulling the door handle. 

Whenever you approach your Model 3, the door handle automatically pops out like it’s been waiting for you to come. 

This feature also works when:

It comes in two different variants based on your vehicle’s door type. Variant A is suited to Model 3s without an OEM electric tailgate, whereas Variant B works for Model 3s with an OEM electric tailgate.

Another cool feature of these door handles is that they illuminate while popping out, making your Model 3 stand out at night. 

You can choose between blue and white light based on your personal preference or your vehicle’s shade.

Check out the looks in this YouTube video from EVOffer:

You can get them installed by your local Tesla expert or follow this tutorial guide if you feel confident about a DIY project:

It’s a tricky job for sure!


✅ Works perfectly with every Model 3 variant
✅ Complete package (includes 4 door handles)
✅ Illuminates while popping out
✅ Different color options for light
✅ Multiple options to activate auto-present 


❌ Tricky installation process

Common Model 3 Door Opening Problems That Owners Faced — and Their Solutions

As Teslas are electrically powered, there’s a relatively higher chance of malfunctioning in their systems than in manual systems. 

Many Tesla owners have repeatedly reported various issues regarding door opening in their Model 3. 

For instance, look at this one:

I’ve had my Model 3 for going on 6 months now and I’ve started to have issues with the door handles getting stuck. One would not fold back in after being released, but would go back in slowly after being given a little nudge. Another started to develop the same issue, and would only fold back in very slowly (with accompanying squeaks).


There are more issues like this, but now that we have an idea of our problems, let’s break them into sections and discuss solutions to each one of them.

Door Harder to Open/Close

I’ve been exploring the Tesla community, and to my surprise, there was a huge debate on Tesla’s rear door opening issue. Here’s an excerpt from the discussion:

I took delivery of my 2020 Model 3 three days ago (long range AWD, red exterior, white interior, 19″ sport wheels, FSD). Upon inspection I immediately noticed the rear left door is harder to open than all other doors in the cars. This is the second time it happens to me!


My passenger-side door is a bit harder to close. Not so hard to close that I would book a service appointment for though. I imagine the striker needs to get adjusted.

Manitoba Keith


In case you get into a similar situation, you can fix the issue by reporting it to Tesla Customer Care and scheduling an appointment with the expert.

This might be happening because your doors aren’t properly adjusted. Learn to adjust them in this quick video from the Ingenext YouTube channel:

Door Latch Issue

The door isn’t open, but the car thinks it is… Weird, huh! 

This is all due to a faulty door latch. It always frustrates Tesla owners, which can be clearly seen in these forum posts: 

Hello all,

I’ve been having issues with my door opening that I would have to push the door to open. So I was playing around with the latch and I closed it by accident and now the car thinks the door is closed but it’s actually open. I try to unlock the car with the fob and turning on the car but the latch would not open and I can’t close my door. Has anybody been through this and is there an easy fix? Thanks for any info you may have.


Funny I’ve been having the same issue but it only “releases” if I reset from the steering wheel.

mobile service comes Monday…



While Tesla owners are complaining about the door latch issue, they’ve also come up with a solution:

Ranger came by and it was the actuator that needed to be replaced. Replaced in 15 min.


It seems that this issue is mostly caused by actuators that can malfunction due to power failure or some other reason. However, you can avail of Tesla’s repair services to fix or replace it.

Final Thoughts: How to Open Tesla Model 3 Doors

I have laid down every detail about how to open Tesla Model 3 doors from the outside and the inside and in an emergency situation when your car’s battery dies. 

The process is quite simple as you’d expect it to be. I mean, how hard can opening a car’s door be? It’s just tricky on the surface but straightforward underneath when it comes to the Tesla Model 3.

All you have to do is to push at the right place on your Model 3 door handle, and it’ll open quite effortlessly.

But if you want to take it up a notch, invest in auto-presenting door handles that not only look sleek but also make the door-opening procedure easier and more interactive.

Last but not least, don’t let any issues with your door handles go unnoticed. If you feel any weird thing with your doors, call the Tesla service center immediately.

Muhammad Hassan

Engineer by trade and writer by passion, Hassan is an automotive enthusiast who thinks EVs are the future. At TTU, he discusses the coolest features and products Model 3 owners look for -- so they can better experience their cars. In his free time, he enjoys tea, reading, and listening to podcasts.

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