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door handle retraction mechanism

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by scottm, May 30, 2015.

  1. scottm

    scottm Active Member

    Jun 13, 2014
    #1 scottm, May 30, 2015
    Last edited: May 30, 2015
    Here are some pictures of the driver's door handle retraction mechanism.

    Mine needed replacement due to a micro switch wire flex fatigue breakage. (Insufficient strain relief). The handle would present and seemingly do all the right stuff in conjunction with the others... but pulling would not open the door. Some of the micro switches travel in and out on the bracket for each extension/retraction of the handle... and therein lies the fatigue. Wire broke right at the switch connection point.

    Ranger said this issue usually shows as intermittently worsening, pulls won't open door. In my case, it was binary; one day just stopped opening. What matters is how the wires are routed on the mechanism. If they are routed one way they flex more than if routed another way.

    The new part not the broken one. Part that came out? Junked: because of one busted wire.
    The 3-wire shiny metal clad device mid-center of the mechanism (wrapped around the heaviest looking bolt) is probably a limit detection of a fully retracted handle.
    The device travels with the handle in/outs and the heavy bolt bump stops it at a fully retracted position. I imagine the bolt is a set screw too, to make the chrome handle flush with the car when retracted.

    This switch is the extension limiter. There is a small set screw height adjustment under it.
    If the screw isn't set right, the motor driven extension will push the handle out too far... and if that happens... the handle will bump the human pull switch, effectively self-opening the door.

    The switch closest to the bottom of the picture triggers when the handle is pulled by you.
    This is the one that broke for me. You can see the funny angle this wire makes to the switch that travels about an inch, every extension/retraction.
    You just knew something had to fatigue with these fancy handles... this switch wire is the part that bears the brunt of it.

    The other switch at the top of the picture is one that gives feedback to the on-board potted computer, telling it the motor has begun to move the handle out.
  2. EarlyAdopter

    EarlyAdopter Active Member

    Jun 24, 2012
    Redmond, WA
    Thanks for the photos and writeup.

    Technically though, shouldn't it be called a door handle extension mechansim? The retraction mechanism is simply a spring.
  3. martinwinlow

    martinwinlow Member

    Jun 18, 2012
    Herts, UK
    Well at least us DIYers know what to look for now and how to fix it.
  4. scottm

    scottm Active Member

    Jun 13, 2014
    #4 scottm, May 31, 2015
    Last edited: May 31, 2015
    Probably a better name. But it's 50/50 argument, right?

    The spring loading is such that it provides "assist" on the retraction journey, and "resist" on extension. But
    if the motor extended the handle then the motor must also be spun backwards to allow the handle to retract, the spring alone is not enough. The spring is really just for taking slop out of the system so things aren't rattling, and it also provides that last bit of play needed for the tug to open.

    There is a "free-wheeling" degree of freedom for extension that allows extension without motor spin. In other words you could "simply" grab and pull the handle from its retracted position with no motor involvement. And if you do that and then let go the spring is what pulls it back in.

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