Consumer Reports recently wrote that three years after Tesla first began having door handle issues, it’s still struggling to eradicate them all, and in the worst case the car can be “undriveable.”
The publication found door handles on its $127,000 Model S to be faulty, as its editors were unable to enter the car through the driver’s side, having to use the passengers side door instead. Even then, the car wouldn’t shift into drive seeing that the transmission won’t leave park if it believes a door is ajar.
The way door handles work on a Tesla is unique in that they remain flat against the aerodynamic car until it senses that a key is near, only then will they extend out for access.
CR had similar door handle dilemmas a year ago, and it’s a leading complaint of the 1,300 Tesla owners who had responded to a survey the publication sent out.
“For a vehicle that changes everything, in powertrain and infotainment, it’s strange to see a relatively mechanical system be their biggest problem,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of auto testing in regards to the issue.
USA Today also reports that there is no fix in the works for these malfunction-prone door handles, and that Tesla officials don’t believe there to be one on its way in the near future.
While many other companies also struggle with perfecting keyless entry, they oftentimes create a backup plan if the driver cannot electronically open the vehicle, such as a metal key and lock. In Tesla’s case there is no such backup, as there is no other way to access the vehicle if the handles don’t work.
In the expected reliability category, Consumer Reports rated Tesla as “average.”
Ed. Note – Since the writing of this story, Tesla has responded, and you can read that story here.