Consumer Reports’ Tesla Model S P85D Door Handles Break Before Testing Begins – Video


It was just the door handle that broke (said to be the most common problem with the Model S) and Tesla makes house calls, so the break wasn’t but a minor issue; but still, probably not the best start to the review:

Consumer Reports paid $127,000 for a Tesla Model S P85D but the door handle malfunctioned not long after the car arrived at our Connecticut test track. It’s an issue that has surfaced in our reliability surveys. But Tesla makes house calls.

Category: Tesla

Tags: ,

51 responses to "Consumer Reports’ Tesla Model S P85D Door Handles Break Before Testing Begins – Video"
  1. CDAVIS says:

    CR’s reporting/rating of Model S has been VERY positive (i.e.2015 Car Of The Year) to date. To the extend that a little negative Tesla reporting by CR, such as this very minor door handle issue, helps both CR & Tesla because it implies that CR is not a shill for Tesla…and CR at the end spun the door handle issue as a positive to Tesla by highlighting the Tesla Home Repair Service.

    There is no doubt that the CR guys very much like the Model S…I’d place good money that it’s the one car from the CR fleet they argue and draw straws on who gets to drive it home for the “real world testing”.

    1. See Through says:

      The question is, who gives CR (a non-profit organization?) the money to buy these expensive cars? They bought a Model S also last year or earlier.

      You could be stuck out in the middle where in the cold because of this ‘just a door handle’ problem. Doesn’t matter if Tesla comes and fixes it in a few hours.

      1. CDAVIS says:

        @See Through asks: โ€œThe question is, who gives CR (a non-profit organization?) the money to buy these expensive cars?โ€

        Answer: Mostly from subscription fees by Joe Consumer to which I am one. I think CR does an overall great job including their reporting on Tesla Model S.

      2. Dr. Miguelito Loveless says:

        Consumer Reports is a publication of Consumer Union, a non-profit foundation supported by subscripttions, donations and endowments. They take no advertising, and buy all products just as consumers do. They do NOT take demos or review products from manufacturers.

      3. Lensman says:

        Consumers Union, which publishes CR, is not a “non-profit” organization… which generally means charity. It is a “not for profit” organization. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any income; it’s just that it doesn’t have the aim of making money, as businesses do.

        But hey, “See Through”, nice attempt there at trying to insinuate that CR and/or its staff is taking money or “gifts” in exchange for good ratings, as most auto review magazines do. BTW, how long has it been since you were caught in a Tesla stock short squeeze? ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. kdawg says:

    Elon – Do not put these on the Model 3. Removing them will also help w/the cost reduction. K.I.S.S.

    1. Big Solar says:

      +1…… and half size touch screen…….

      1. Mikael says:

        Half sized touch screen would make no sense. A lot of it’s features and usability is because of the size. And the cost reduction would be minor, not validating such a move.

        1. Open-Mind says:

          Reduce cost? A half-sized touch screen would dramatically increase cost. The second redundant part would reduce economies of scale. But probably worse, the new small size means nearly all their user-interface software has to be re-designed. And that second code-base has to be maintained and re-tested every time there is an update. Bad all around.

          Agree on the door handles though … the option of “normal” (probably cheaper) door handles would be nice.

          I really hope the rear doors on the Model X have been tested more carefully than the door handles. If they have similar problems, the Model X could be a flop.

          1. Lustuccc says:

            Actually a smaller screen would probably INCREASE costs, since the 17″ screen is more of a standard size we can buy at any computer store. A 19″ touch screen would lower costs.

            1. kdawg says:

              I’d like a smaller more integrated screen as well. The 17″ one just doesn’t look like it belongs. If it costs money to update the software so be it. But that would be a one-time cost, and software is something Tesla appears to be good at.

              1. Alonso Perez says:

                It’s not a one time cost. You need to do all the UI twice for every new screen and feature.

          2. speculawyer says:

            This. Don’t split the code base.

          3. Rob Andrews says:

            Do what Apple did, make the screen smaller and keep the resolution the same. No UI change required.

            1. Anon says:

              No. Old people everywhere will hate you.

              1. Dr. Miguelito Loveless says:

                You speak soothely.

                1. Rob Andrews says:

                  It is all a matter of degrees. Make the screen 7″ and anyone over 45 will not like it. Make the screen 15″ or 13″ (a little more than 20% smaller) and it will fine. You will also hit the laptop sweet spot for low cost screens. I know Plenty of old folks that can use iPad with 10″ screen fine

            2. Open-Mind says:

              “Do what Apple did, make the screen smaller and keep the resolution the same.”

              Apple has never done that for one screen that is twice the size of another screen. You may be thinking of the 10″ iPad vs 8″ iPad-Mini. Those share resolution, but it’s only an 80% scaling. At 50%, everything would be too small to read/touch, especially while driving. That’s why the Tesla UI would all need to be redesigned.

      2. David Stone says:

        I would like to see any touchscreen coverable.

        Nothing shouts “break into my car” than a clearly visible expensive looking object.

      3. Lensman says:

        I fail to see the advantage of a smaller screen. Tesla’s interface is almost universally praised. If there is any change to be made, it should be in the mind of the driver, to accept a large dash display as normal instead of “wrong”. A larger screen is also good for those of us with aging eyes that need a larger typeface to read easily.

        The only change I’d make is to lock out the display of non-vital functions while the car is moving. Inviting distracted driving is dangerous.

      4. Omar Sultan says:

        I am going to guess everyone lobbying for a smaller touchscreen has not actually lived with the current touchscreen.

    2. speculawyer says:

      Or fix them. It is embarrassing that they are still flaky years later.

    3. jill jill says:

      I think K.I.S. is Sufficient Enough….I wouldn’t Accuse Elon of Extra S. He is Far From It ….

      1. sven says:

        No, K.I.S. is not sufficient enough! I would tell Elon to K.I.S.S.: keep it simple samurai. ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. Jim_NJ says:

    There was quite a lot of discussion about this broken door handle yesterday:

    Of note, is that according to CR, the car was disabled due to the fault:

    โ€œExcept this time the one on the driverโ€™s door of our P85D didnโ€™t pop out, leaving us no way to open the door from the outside. And significantly, with the car sensing a problem, wouldnโ€™t drive.โ€

    I sure hope the Model 3 keeps it simple and doesn’t use these types of handles!

    1. Lensman says:

      Yeah, the thing about the car refusing to operate because it detected a fault in the door handle operation is a lot bigger concern to me than the actual malfunction of just one door handle… not “handles” as the headline states. Having to get into the driver’s seat by entering thru the passenger door and climbing over is awkward, but most of us older drivers have had to do that more than once in our lives.

      Seems to me the car should be designed to distinguish between “Fatal error, do not start” and “Non-fatal error; this can be fixed later, let’s go ahead and drive now.”

      Yes, I know that in the event, the Consumer Reports team was able to deal with the situation using a smartphone app. But what if the driver was alone and didn’t have a smartphone with him? I just don’t see any good reason to design the car so it won’t start simply because an automatic door handle doesn’t work.

      1. Otmar says:

        The driver door is unique on many cars since it is intricately involved with allowing the car to shut down. If I put my Tesla in park and then leave via another door the car stays on until I open the drivers door. The action is similar to the headlights on my old Toyota van.
        I don’t know if this relation contributed to the problem that CR experienced.

  4. Ocean Railroader says:

    This really came as no surprise to me. But I would bet it would cost a few hundred cookies to get fixed.

  5. Denis says:

    During the last 2 years 1 never had a any problem with my handles.

    1. See Through says:

      Which car are you driving? I also never had a door handle problem in the last 2 decades.

  6. bro1999 says:

    I’ve heard of S owners literally having the door handles frozen in place, due to snow and/or ice. If Elon does include it on the ‘3’, it should be as an option.

    1. Anon says:

      Or they have a heater built in…

      1. See Through says:

        Use a hair dryer to warm it first. It opens up the market for Tesla accessories.

  7. Mike777 says:


    No panic required.

    1. kdawg says:

      If you read the article or watched the video you would realize it’s a much larger sample size.

      ‘said to be the most common problem with the Model S’

      1. Lensman says:

        Much as I love Tesla, I have to agree. The door handles, which automatically extend when you touch them, have been problematic since the very first with the Model S, and now it’s clear they still haven’t entirely solved the problem. Yes, I realize the failure rate is now pretty low, but it’s still the most common malfunction, and it’s an “unforced error”. It’s a problem which could be eliminated quite easily by simply using the same kind of handle other car makers use.

        This also does not bode well for concerns about the Model X falcon-wing doors. Like the extend-at-a-touch door handles, they seem to be an unnecessarily complex gosh-wow gimmick that’s put on the car more for show than functionality; a gimmick which Tesla would be better off replacing with something simpler.

  8. Tesla Moscow says:

    1. door handles
    2. cabin/doors sealings
    3. pano
    4. 12v battery
    5. contactors in the HV batt
    6. drive unit
    7. window mechanisms
    8. MCU
    9. instrumental cluster
    10. wheel alignment
    11. squeky and chepo interior
    12. breaking seatbelts ๐Ÿ™‚
    13. burnt/broken charge cords
    14. noisy AC pump
    15. roof sealant (cars with pano)
    16. covers for luggage rack ๐Ÿ™‚ (every second wash)

    poor service, no spare parts (EU), messed up sales staff, strange invoicing, new rules every month…

    yep..and we still buy them …but will stop once BMW or MB makes long range lux perf EV and finally we can select a dealer we like not be stuck with one of the Tesla service centers.

    1. kdawg says:

      I don’t see any Tesla service centers in Moscow. Closest one is Helsinki, Finland.

      1. Tesla Moscow says:

        Closest working one is in Berlin.

        Regardless of their location in EU they are all over crowded, undereducated and process messed up. Hope that US ones aren’t the same.
        I have 30+ cars we have to watch for…reliability and built quality is a huge problem for TM. And unfortunately they are not fixing most of the things. Adding D and “autoilot” is not fixing the bugs just adding new ones.
        I’d rather see both.
        They are still the best now, but need competition badly. It’s coming. So let’s wait and see:) while driving MS.
        There is an abyss in quality between what TM does now and even 5er/eclass/a6. Come on, one can stick 1 and on some cars 2 fingers between body panels:)

    2. Speculawyer says:

      Sorry, we don’t want to keep buying your oil.

    3. Mike777 says:

      MB has worse reliability.

    4. Fabian says:

      Won’t Tesla come to your house and fix all of this if you just pick up the phone?

      If you are so unhappy and so many things are broken and you are not getting any service, why don’t you ask for your money back?

      1. Lensman says:

        Read between the lines. “Tesla Moscow” doesn’t own a Tesla car, nor is he planning to get one. He works in the service department of a gas guzzler dealership, and he’s terrified of competition from Tesla and the rave reviews its service departments get from everyone, including Consumer Reports. He knows his company can’t compete; that’s why he’s posting all that FUD, including his downright hilarious claims of “poor service” staffed by “undereducated” service people. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. CherylG's_DirtyLittleSecret says:

    This is the epitome of over engineering where it didn’t need to be.

    A plain handle would do the same thing for less.

    Yes LESS.

    Now the handle needs a sensor, stepper motors with sensors to know what position it’s in, wiring electricals for it to work and computer code to basically immobilize the car on malfunction.

    I don’t recall any car that gets “Bricked” if the door handles get stuck……lol

    1. Alonso Perez says:

      Yep. It’s probably the single dumbest idea in the whole car. All things considered, that speaks very well of the car.

  10. JakeY says:

    People on TMC have doubts about the car not being able to drive. The keyless driving app’s 2 minute limit only applies to the time to press the brake and put the car into drive (if you do nothing for 2 minutes, the request will expire and you have to do it over again). There appears to be no limit to the amount of time you can drive the car (otherwise what is the point?)

    1. Lensman says:

      Okay, thanks.

      But the average driver wouldn’t know that. Just like the infamous “Broderization” of a Tesla Model S, someone unfamiliar with the car can have a lot of problems he wouldn’t have with a gas guzzler. In some ways driving a BEV is more complex, and requires more planning. I suppose in time that will change. In the early decades of a previous motorcar tech revolution, it wasn’t easy to drive a Ford Model T (for example, you had to adjust the spark advance manually), or start one in the years before the electric starter.

  11. Alonso Perez says:

    I was never a fan of these door handles. Still not. Rather have something mechanical.

    1. See Through says:

      It is helpful for those who have lost their fingers.

  12. Djoni says:

    Certainly something that nobody will miss.
    Beside doing absolutely nothing better that cannot be done whith conventional reliable door laching mechanism.
    If you think about aerodynamism, you need to think again.
    It’s finding a problem for a solution, IMO.
    No I don’t own a Tesla, and I would love to have the spare money to have one, but door handle ain’t in any way the premises.

  13. Bill Howland says:

    Yeah as a Tesla owner (its up in the air whether I will be one a week from now), this I find the most discouraging thing about their products. One of the Tesla Techs told me a few years ago now basically ALL of the initial door handles have had to be replaced. Now, as this CR issue indicates, they are still having trouble at this late date.

    My roadster has been the most trouble-prone vehicle I’ve ever owned, and also the most expensive to service. Unexpected repairs are costly, but so is Tesla’s ‘routine’ maintenance, which, I probably wouldn’t have purchased if I knew it was going to need as much as it did since I basically bought the car off the ‘Website Brouchure’ and should have asked the tough questions first as I usually do with any purchase.

    So once bit and twice shy, I asked the hard, politically incorrect questions before taking the plunge into an “S” or “X”. I did install (2) NEMA 14-50R’s in my garage thinking that surely sooner or later I’d buy something, but now I doubt it.

    The Roadster suffers from silly changes to the Lotus Elise, and it has nothing to do with being an early adopter:

    1). I finally saw a Lotus Elise. It has plain mechanical door actuators. I was under the mistaken impression that the Elise also had the troublesome electric switches that the Roadster has. THAT is totally dumb. If the mechanical door locks had been left alone, it would have saved me much grief.

    2). The TSL-01 power connector constantly freezes during the wintertime, as well as the port switch door itself. (There is no good reason for a door switch, but GM also has this kind of silliness so Tesla isn’t unique here. ALthough GM finally got rid of that silly remote control door on their chargeports on all Volts and ELRs.
    -People will say the j1772 didn’t exist when the ‘roadster’ was designed… That’s true but when 99% of the roadsters were actually made they could have implemented the j1772 to remain compatible with others. Tesla could have changed very early on, but at the time years ago the standard was 30 amps and Tesla expressing DID NOT go with it because they wanted 70. To me it was a silly issue since I rarely charged faster than 30, and it would have eliminated huge amounts of grief if they had simply done what everyone else did.

    As listed in a previous post here, apparently there are more than 10 liveability issues with the “S”. That to me disqualifies it from consideration.

    Too bad, a few simple different design choices (and again, its nothing about early adopter nonsense – the fact that in 2015 they can’t fix a 3 year old problem speaks volumes) would have made the roadster and S really great cars, or at least, better value cars.

    Now, most people who own “S”‘s love them… Bully for them. The intrinsic problems with the car would spoil it for me personally. And there is no arguing that point because you are you and I am me.