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Retractable Door Handles - Is It Practical?

jcaspar

Member
Aug 19, 2013
834
72
Sacramento

Francis Lau

P-1456
May 27, 2012
518
3
Bellevue, WA
I am chiming in to provide a data point. I have been driving my Model S since December 2012 and my original handles had no issues. A few months back, Tesla replaced them during a scheduled service with the newer version. So far, no issues as well.
 

mknox

Well-Known Member
Aug 7, 2012
10,103
1,867
Toronto, ON
I am chiming in to provide a data point. I have been driving my Model S since December 2012 and my original handles had no issues. A few months back, Tesla replaced them during a scheduled service with the newer version. So far, no issues as well.

Curious to know why they went to the trouble of replacing them if you reported no problems. Mine were also replaced, but it was because I would repeatedly get random doors popping open whenever I put the car in Park and the handles extended.
 

Francis Lau

P-1456
May 27, 2012
518
3
Bellevue, WA
Mine were the original versions that did not have the little give when you pull on it so when they asked if I wanted the new handles, I said yes as I like the new ones with the little give to it.
 
Mar 11, 2010
4,524
1,375
Humboldt/Los Altos
Mine were the original versions that did not have the little give when you pull on it so when they asked if I wanted the new handles, I said yes as I like the new ones with the little give to it.

I does feel more natural with the newer handles. The old ones were kind of neat feeling in an odd way but the potential for other doors to open when you close one door was probably still there even if it didn't happen
 

AnOutsider

S532 # XS27
Apr 3, 2009
11,957
200
I am chiming in to provide a data point. I have been driving my Model S since December 2012 and my original handles had no issues. A few months back, Tesla replaced them during a scheduled service with the newer version. So far, no issues as well.

As another point, I also got my car in December of 2012, and I believe I'm on my third set. No major malfunctions, just many little quirks. I still have the issue where the rear handle refuses to pop the door if I try right after getting out of the driver's seat. I have to let it go, let it retract, then it'll immediately re-extend and allow me to open the door.
 

artsci

Sponsor
May 10, 2012
6,256
3,234
Timonium, Maryland
This thread is yet another example -- IMHO, all too frequent on this site -- where judgments about failure rates are being made on the basis of anecdotal posts on on this site. Where's the hard data? Only Tesla knows, they're not releasing it, and they're under no obligation to do so. So we're just guessing.

I've had no problems with my retractable handles, so I would say the failure rate is zero. But I would be foolish to use my own experience as a basis for any judgments about overall failure rates.

That said, I think the retractable handles are one of the great features if the car. And I think the idea will be copied by many other manufacturers in the years ahead, and you can bet it will be highlighted as a major "innovation" in their advertising.
 

mknox

Well-Known Member
Aug 7, 2012
10,103
1,867
Toronto, ON
As another point, I also got my car in December of 2012, and I believe I'm on my third set. No major malfunctions, just many little quirks. I still have the issue where the rear handle refuses to pop the door if I try right after getting out of the driver's seat. I have to let it go, let it retract, then it'll immediately re-extend and allow me to open the door.

That's funny, because I have a similar issue. Every so often my left rear door handle will not open the door, and will snap back in, then slowly extend again and work the second time. My Service Center could not replicate the problem and asked me to try and video it. So there I am with my iPhone recording the door working perfectly for 10 days in a row, but guess what happens the first time I try without recording! I just live with it.

- - - Updated - - -

Mine were the original versions that did not have the little give when you pull on it so when they asked if I wanted the new handles, I said yes as I like the new ones with the little give to it.

I too prefer the motion when you pull on them.

- - - Updated - - -

That said, I think the retractable handles are one of the great features if the car. And I think the idea will be copied by many other manufacturers in the years ahead, and you can bet it will be highlighted as a major "innovation" in their advertising.

For me, the novelty wore off really quickly. I still contend they are way too complicated for the intended purpose.
 

AnOutsider

S532 # XS27
Apr 3, 2009
11,957
200
That's funny, because I have a similar issue. Every so often my left rear door handle will not open the door, and will snap back in, then slowly extend again and work the second time. My Service Center could not replicate the problem and asked me to try and video it. So there I am with my iPhone recording the door working perfectly for 10 days in a row, but guess what happens the first time I try without recording! I just live with it.

haha same. They couldn't reproduce, so I just deal with it. I guess for me it's more noticeable because I often either go to the post office and have packages in the rear, or have my son on board and go to unload him. Not enough for another trip to the SC, but just wanted to add a data point.
 

MartinAustin

Active Member
Jul 21, 2013
2,704
11,254
Austin, Texas USA
My thoughts on this... the retracting door handles are awesome for aerodynamics. I think every car should have them.

However, the thing that does not work for me in practice, is the touch-sensitivity feature. It's a pain in the ass. I would prefer it if the doors unlocked in the normal way with a press of the remote control. In fact the remote control needs to be pressed once for the driver's door handle to present, and then a second time to get the other three door handles to present. I don't like the fact that all four door handles present in the first movement.

On the subject of the Mercedes cars which someone linked to above... we should know by now that Mercedes claims one thing, and delivers something else.

Drag Queens: Aerodynamics Compared Car and Driver

Mercedes claimed that their car had a Cd of 0.23 and was therefore the world's most aerodynamic. It was independently measured in this test at 0.30... a massive difference.

Tesla also claimed that their car had a cD of 0.24 and was the world's most aerodynamic. However, when it was independently measured in this test... Car And Driver, they came up with 0.24. Exactly the same as Tesla's claim.
 

William13

Active Member
Mar 19, 2011
1,003
86
South Bend
My Nov 2012 delivery Model S has had multiple non-reproducible malfunctions of the handles over the years. They still put a smile on my face daily and are mentioned by half of the young women who admire the car. I prefer the light and feel (familiarity) of the originals and when the car is 25 years old with 500,000+ miles they will be a rare item.
 

ZBB

Emperor
Feb 27, 2013
1,549
270
Scottsdale
Another data point. I'm 2 weeks shy of the 2 year anniversary of my S 60. Just turned 36k miles. My car was delivered with the "new" handles (about a month or 6 weeks after they were first reported).

About 6-8 weeks after delivery, the passenger side handles failed to retract once. One of the tips was to double check the fuses -- and sure enough a few of the fuses were not fully set. I pushed them all back in (both fuse boxes), and that resolved the problem.

Service did replace one handle earlier this year. Car was in for service and they noticed it wasn't working, so replaced it. I'd never had an issue with it, so it may have just failed.

This isn't something I worry about...
 

mdevp

Member
Sep 30, 2014
538
87
nj

Just a Reader

Member
Mar 10, 2014
273
102
Frankfurt, Germany
...

On the subject of the Mercedes cars which someone linked to above... we should know by now that Mercedes claims one thing, and delivers something else.

....

We know nothing of that sort. A test done in a wind tunnel by people who aren't identified. They also do mention that the MB doesn't have some aerodynamically relevant features for the US market whereas the Tesla is only tested in the advantageous lowered position.

Anyway, retractable door handles look nice but otherwise they seem to be a solution in search of a problem. The very fact that many owners had issues with the handles shows us that their complexity does cause problems, anecdotal or not. I do not recall any other car forum where a car's handles have generated a huge thread.
 

swengl

Member
Dec 19, 2014
523
365
Lynchburg, VA
I'd love to see a feature that allows you to disable the auto-retract when you are "home" (either GPS-aware or when the car is on the house WiFi). There are many times when I need to run out to the car to grab something and I hate to have the motors going 3-4 times a day just for me to get into the car when it is in the garage. After hearing about CR's issue, I don't want unnecessary wear and tear ;)
 

imherkimer

Member
Mar 23, 2013
264
772
United States
60,000 miles, I have never had a single issue with the door handles on my Model S.
Belittle all you want, I have enjoyed them multiple times a day for two years without a single hitch or glitch.
Sorry for those who have had problems, but for me, they've been reliable. I like how they are responsive and discreet.
 

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