Tesla Model 3 Door Handles: Everything You Didn’t Know

By Muhammad Hassan •  Updated: 01/29/22 •  12 min read

All Tesla vehicles have peculiar door handles, and we all have gotten confused over how to operate them at least once (you’re a genius if you haven’t).

In this ultimate guide, we’ll be talking about the Model 3’s door handles in detail, and while we’re at it, I’ll also show you how to operate them.

Let’s get into it.

Working Mechanism of Tesla Model 3 Door Handles

The working mechanism of Model 3 door handles is quite simple (of course for those who know how they work). 

At first, most of the people get stumped over what to do with that thing that’s supposed to open the door for them. 

It is only after guidance from the owner that they learn this craft. 

Mathew from the Tesla Tips by MTN Ranger YouTube channel shows us three ways to open the Model 3’s door easily in the following video:

Quite straightforward… No?

To summarize, just press the wider part of the handle toward the inside to open the door. Next, just pull the door toward you any way you like. The most common way is by using the thinner part of the door handle.

Why Does It Work As It Does?

After some research, two major reasons popped up:

  1. Tesla is all about aerodynamics, and conventional door handles were just not gonna cut it.
  2. The Model 3/Y are more budget-friendly vehicles, so to cut down the cost, they weren’t made automatic as Model S/X door handles are.

Door Handles: Model 3/Y vs. Model S vs. Model X

We have already discussed the working mechanism of Model 3/Y door handles. Here’s the demo:

Credit to EveryAmp YouTube channel

And here’s how Model S door handles work:

Credit to kenken830 YouTube channel

The mechanical handle will slide out automatically when you approach a Model S from the driver’s side with a fob in your hands. 

The handle will be illuminated by a tiny light. 

When the handle is exposed, you just pull on it the same way you would any other car handle. The door will release, and you will be able to open it by pulling it open.

And finally, here is how Model X door handles work:

Credit to LagmanZ YouTube channel

Simply push the handle if you have a Model X. 

When the premium upgrade package is installed, not only will you be able to open the door, but it will also open itself. Optional settings are available, much like on the Model S. 

To open the back falcon-wing doors, just press the handle or double-click the fob. A double click on the fob will reverse the movement of the doors, while a single click will stop the movement altogether.

Upgrading Your Tesla Model 3 Door Handles…

Look at this Tesla Model 3 from the unveiling event:

Tesla Model 3 door handle wrap kit at the unveiling evevnt
Where are the door handles?

Weird, right?

Its door handles are color-matched and its window trims blacked out.

The 2016 to 2020 production Model 3 had chrome instead (until the design was updated in Model 3’s late-2020 refresh).

Regardless of the year model you own, changing your Tesla Model 3 door handles to black or a color of your liking looks superb.

Here are other reasons why you may want to personalize your door handles with wraps:

✅ Wraps are the most cost-effective way to customize your door handles without jeopardizing your lease agreement or resale value.
✅ The vinyl wrapping helps protect the original handles from wear and tear. Use vinyl covers for years and your door handles will appear brand-new when you remove them.
✅ Little touches, such as the handkerchief on a suit’s pocket square, can make a tremendous impression. Wrapping your door handles is one of those small details that may really improve the appearance of your Model 3.

Best Tesla Model 3 Door Handles Wrap Kit:

Full-Coverage Custom Cut Graphics

Available in 23 colors.

Tesla Model 3 door handles wrap kit by Custom Cut Graphics.

This product addresses a BIG problem others have yet to solve:

Visible gaps.

Most wraps are cut to measure.

This wrap, however, offers an extra inch around the edges to leave no visible gap, making them look professional even if you don’t install them perfectly.

Available in many colors (from matte black to neon yellow to “silver rainbow”),

You can choose to black out, dramatically contrast, or color-match your handles as you see fit.

Keep in mind: wraps may not provide a perfect color match for all Tesla models.

Black Model 3 owners seem happy with their Gloss Black wrap, claiming they look “close enough” or match “almost perfectly.”

The brand discloses a “95% match” on its Pearl White and a “slightly darker” color on its Midnight Silver wrap.

Neutral colors have proven a good enough match for customers.

Don’t expect blue or red variants to match as well, though.

Following the brand’s percentage measure, they look like a 70-80% match at best, which might be enough for some Model 3 owners.

Virtually every brand will fail to match Tesla colors 100%, though, as most brands use 3M automotive vinyl wrap — and they don’t have Tesla’s exact colors available.

At just a few bucks extra from the regular version, the extra 1/8″ of material is worth paying for if you’re concerned about leaving visible gaps on the edges of your door handles.

This Tesla Model 3 door handle wrap kit also includes 6 individual pieces (3 for each side), virtually including 1 future replacement for free.


Fits: All Model 3 and Model Y years and trims.

✅ No visible gaps on the edges

✅ Easy to install

✅ 3M automotive-grade vinyl wraps with 8-year warranty

✅ Includes 6 pieces (2 as extras)

✅ 90-day warranty & free replacements


❌ May not provide a perfect color match. Particularly true for non-neutral colors like blue or red.

Runner-Up Tesla Model 3 Door Handles Wrap Kit:

Nikola Pro

Available in 7 colors.

Tesla Model 3 door handles wrap by Nikola Pro

Nikola Pro wins the second spot for a few reasons:

(1) The product is cut to measure and may still leave visible gaps on the edges.

And (2) for that very reason, it’s possible that under pressure (e.g. car washes) the wrap peels off prematurely.

A handful of cases were reported regarding this — something to consider if you wash your car very often.

On the positive side,

People do seem to have an easier time installing this product, with customers confirming it takes 5-10 minutes total for all 4 handles.

Black, silver, and black Model 3 owners are happy with their wrap — not 100% perfect, but a good enough match.

And whenever buyers have problems, the brand is responsive and sends replacements right away if needed.


Fits: All Model 3 and Model Y years and trims.

✅ Easy to install

✅ 3M automotive-grade vinyl wraps

✅ Outstanding customer service


❌ May leave visible gaps on the edges

❌ May not provide a perfect color match. Particularly true for non-neutral colors like blue or red.

❌ May peel off prematurely under pressure (e.g. car washes)

Genuine Carbon Fiber Door Handles Wraps:


Carbon Fiber Tesla Model 3 door handles wrap by CoolKo

If you’re a carbon fiber aficionado, CoolKo offers genuine carbon fiber door handle wraps to match your style.

This kit is equally easy to install but the brand offers no videos or instructions, which some customers would appreciate.

(Follow these tips for clarity on how to install handle wraps properly.)

Tiny visible gaps may be present, which is the case for most pre-cut vinyl wraps.

And as any real carbon fiber product, the kit comes at a premium…

But an ABS plastic with carbon fiber texture is available — if you’d rather keep the looks and save the money.


Fits: All Model 3 and Model Y years and trims.

✅ Easy to install

✅ Genuine carbon fiber

✅ Great match for cars with other carbon fiber accessories


❌ May leave visible gaps on the edges

❌ No installation instructions

❌ Limited color availability

Best Chrome Delete Kit:

Nikola Pro

This brand has proved to please Model 3 customers looking to chrome delete their vehicle at a reasonable cost.

Even better, the company gives excellent customer service, frequently replacing or refunding your item if you make a mistake or decide to quit.

Here’s a detailed installation video from Nikola Pro:

Door handle chrome delete installation starts at 1:12.

With all the necessary installation instructions and supplies included and a six-year warranty, this is a tried-and-true option for Model 3 owners who prefer the distinct aesthetic that a chrome deletion kit delivers.

>>See more choices

>>Learn all about Nikola Pro Chrome Delete Kit

Model 3 “Auto Present”

The main difference between Model 3/Y door handles and Model S door handles is the “auto present” feature.

As stated earlier, Model 3/Y are budget-friendly vehicles; hence, some of the premium features weren’t added to them.

However, thanks to aftermarket manufacturers, you can now have the “auto present” feature installed in your Model 3 or Model Y.

There are currently two major companies offering this feature:

Now per the experience of Frugal Tesla Guy, you don’t want Hansshow products. Why? See for yourself:

Too bad! Lucky for him; it was free.

After having such a bad experience with Hansshow, Frugal Tesla Guy switched to EVOffer and Amp Tech to get the same feature. 

Per his experience, both companies have perfected this feature to the point that you won’t regret investing even a bit. He shared his experience in the following YouTube video: 

Jump to 9:18 to hear his thoughts.

Common Door Handle Problems Model 3 Owners Frequently Face

Frozen Door Handles

Oh my! If I had a nickel every time a Model 3 owner stuck in snow cursed Tesla for Model 3’s door handle design…

Let me show you some examples:

I can show you a lot more, but let’s just stop at that. You got the jist, right?

So we are aware of the problem now, but what’s the solution? Should you bring out a blow dryer and start melting the ice? Well, you can do that too, but let’s be more practical.

After researching the crap out on the internet, I found some solutions. The very first comes from another Twitter user:

Jeff from the Pure Tesla YouTube channel gives a more practical solution in the following video:

Just some effort and you’ll be good.

Stuck/Slow Door Handles

Reddit user kgunnar shared his situation where his Model 3’s door handles were getting stuck or slowly moving. Here’s his post:

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).

Surprisingly, he wasn’t alone in facing this problem (44 comments on his post are evidence enough).


Per my research, the best way to resolve this issue is by getting help from Tesla Mobile tech. You can try lubing the handle, but it may or may not work. Seeking help from experts seems to be the logical way to go.

Sunken Door Handles

hexxys from the Tesla Motors Club shared a “sunken door handles” situation with his fellow owners in one of his posts:

I took delivery of another model 3 performance last month and it had quite a few body panel alignment issues. Our first model 3 had some similar issues and they were mostly all resolved without issue.

That said, the new one has an issue our first one did not– the rear door handles are deeply sunken into their respective sockets. They aren’t even close to being flush with the door panel. Looks like crap.

He contacted Tesla and told them about the situation, and this is the reply he got:

I got a text from Tesla stating that the door handle is a known issue and that there’s no fix for it and they’ll do a recall when they can. I probably wouldn’t have taken delivery of it if I knew there were things wrong with it that couldn’t be fixed. I’m patient, I could’ve waited for one that didn’t have these issues. I feel like Tesla misrepresented the nature of the problem to me, and, by the time they told me they couldn’t fix it after all, it was too late to return the car.

You might face the same issue but with different circumstances, so it is important to know the solutions.


After a bit of research, I found two solutions. First, call the Tesla mobile shop and have them fix this issue. Most of the time they will, but if due to some reason they don’t, you can resort to plan B.

What’s plan B? Fixing this issue yourself. How? Gauss Guzzler from the Tesla Motors Club has shared a comprehensive guide in one of the forum threads:

>>DIY Correcting Sunken Doors

Now the guide is quite long, so I won’t share the whole procedure here. Just know if you are good with tools and have a spare hour on your hands, you’ll get it done easily. 

Final Thoughts: Tesla Model 3 Door Handles: Everything You Didn’t Know

It couldn’t get more comprehensive than this. I have jotted down everything there is to know about Model 3 door handles. 

I hope it answers all your queries and helps you have a better experience with your electric car’s door handles in the future.

If you think I missed something or you’d like to give a suggestion or ask a question, feel free to comment down below whatever comes to mind.


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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