Here’s How To Open A Tesla Frunk Without A Key (w/video)

9 months ago by Eric Loveday 35

The video above shows how to open the frunk of a Tesla Model X without entering the vehicle and without access to the key fob (walk-through starts from the 10:30 mark of the video).

This manual opening procedure is quite simple and it’s there so that first responders can access the high-voltage electrical connections under the frunk.

Some are saying this is a security flaw, but that’s only true if you often have valuables in the frunk.

Here’s an illustration showing how to manually open the Model X frunk from the outside:

How To Open Model X Frunk – Image Via Jalopnik

… and here’s how it’s done on the Model S:

How To Open Model S Frunk Without Key – Image Via Jalopnik

Jalopnik states:

“Prior to 2014, these releases were located under the glove box inside, so you’d have to first break into the car to get to the trunk release to plunder the booty within. These current frunk releases, though, are accessible from outside the vehicle, using tools no more advanced than a flathead screwdriver.”

“Sure, the alarm does go off when the trunk is opened, but only when its opened, meaning by the time the alarm is wailing, whoever opened the trunk is likely hauling ass away from the car with your laptop bag.”

Moral of the story…the external releases are necessary, so don’t store valuables in the non-secured frunks of the Model S & X.

Source: Jalopnik

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35 responses to "Here’s How To Open A Tesla Frunk Without A Key (w/video)"

  1. philip d says:

    “Sure, the alarm does go off when the trunk is opened, but only when its opened, meaning by the time the alarm is wailing, whoever opened the trunk is likely hauling ass away from the car with your laptop bag.”

    This is such a non story. The same could be said about any smash and grab job.

    These guys are good at leaning up against a window in broad daylight with the proper tool and popping the glass. Then they grab what’s in the seat and walk away while the alarm goes off.

    It’s not like there’s an entire population of people who are on the fence about being a petty theif and the knowledge that they can pop the frunk of a Tesla with a screwdriver pushes them over the edge.

    How about you don’t leave your laptop bag either in your front seat or the frunk. It has a strap so you can carry it with you. I never leave any valuables in my car period.

  2. MT says:

    I can’t imagine going on a road trip and emptying the frunk every time I stop for a night in a hotel. And what about stops along the way where you may be away from the car several hours, but haven’t reached your destination for the night yet?

    A decent volume of lockable storage that is not visible from the outside is very important to me.

    I often have several thousands of dollars in photo equipment with me when I travel.

    Now I’m having serious second thoughts about whether a Tesla is a good car for my style of road trips.

    1. Stimpacker says:

      Dear Mister Troll (MT),

      Obviously, valuables are stored in the TRUNK.

      Sure, like you said, a Tesla is probably not a good choice for your “style” of road trips.

      Which other car has a FRUNK for additional storage? Maybe you should consider a pickup truck or large SUV instead. Wrong forum for you.

      1. MT says:

        The Model S is a liftback car, right? Otherwise it couldn’t be fitted with jump seats. There is no traditional trunk. Who’s trolling now?

        Until this issue came up, I thought the frunk would make an acceptable substitute for a traditional trunk. It clearly does not.

        Think a bit more before accusing people of trolling, otherwise you come across as ignorant and intolerant.

        The “M” is for Michael, the “T” is the initial of my last name.

        1. TomBrown says:

          Or maybe you could buy a used model S, old front style. Then at least a potential thief would first have to break in the window and access frunk via the glove box. Worst case insurance would cover the losses I hope. Tesla’s (model S’s at least) also have a nice compartment in the back under a somewhat hidden removable floor.

          If not then please at least purchase something north of ~35 mpg combined. Maybe a Camry or Avalon hybrid has a nice lockable trunk.

          1. MT says:

            If I meet my goals next quarter, a Tesla is in the budget. Hadn’t seriously considered CPO until the end of unlimited supercharger use, now that plus this means an older model CPO may be the only Tesla I consider… I don’t like the thought of random strangers having easy access to my stuff. This is too much easier than breaking glass, breaking a lock cylinder, or jimmying a door lock.

            Toyota Avalon Hybrid was already the only car in the running after the Model S. Currently driving an ice Camry; wish it was a hybrid but I also want something that eats up the highway miles more smoothly.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        I’m with MT, here.

        If I paid for a “premium” car, I would be shocked and disappointed that it was constructed to bypass the lock on the front luggage compartment without breaking anything. Claiming that it “doesn’t matter” because the alarm would go off, seems to be missing the point. Cars are given locks to make it hard to steal stuff from the car, not because bypassing them will set off the car’s alarm system!

        And what if the alarm isn’t turned on, or malfunctions? If the car’s security is supposed to rely on the alarm rather than locks, then why give it locks in the first place? The locks on on the car should provide reasonable security on their own; they should not have to rely on some other safety feature working!

        I call on Tesla Inc. to move the emergency release back to the glove compartment. If emergency responders need to break the window to access that, well isn’t that preferable than putting it where any mischievous kid with a screwdriver, or casual thief who’s read about this “back door” into the car, can use it to pop open the frunk?

        Hey, Stimpacker! Does that make me a “troll” too? Perhaps you should consider being more open-minded. Tesla Inc. makes the best cars in the world, but that doesn’t mean they never make a mistake.

        1. Stimpacker says:

          Depends, PP.

          I have precious cargo.
          I refuse to put them in the trunk where it’ll be out of sight.
          Furthermore, a trunk offers no security because the liftback allows access from the cabin.
          I ignore the fact that you can pop the trunk of any car from the cabin.
          That just ruled out every car/SUV.
          So I want the frunk.
          Oh, it can’t lock. So I’ll have to choose something else.

          PP, you have constructive criticism. MT is ruling out a Tesla and everything else.

    2. dgate says:

      @MT I suggest you get a pair of wire snips and cut off the offending release cable if it is such an issue with you, problem solved!

  3. Tony says:

    If I could afford a Tesla, I’d probably re-route these cables where they were inaccessible as I feel the cons to having them outweigh the pros, especially after sites like this told the world how to access them.

  4. WARREN says:

    Feature doesn’t make that much sense. Why don’t other cars have easy acess to open the rear trunk lid without a key? Many cars have batteries in the trunk that a first responder may like to get to, but they don’t have easy access to thieves. I would be pissed if I were a Tesla owner and found out my belongings were so easy for unauthorized access!

    1. needa says:

      It is much easier to get into a trunk that has a key slot. At least with the Tesla you are going to spend a couple of minutes getting to it. When a key slot is involved… a flat head screwdriver and ten secs is all that is needed.

  5. EV4Life says:

    This shouldn’t be a surprise to any Model S or X owner.
    The frunk must be opened by first responders to allow access to disable the high voltage system in the event of an accident.

    This is old news folks, Jalopnik reported it 2/8, but this was old news before then.

    Of course, thanks (blame?) must go to all the news sites that delight in promoting videos like this so more petty thieves get to know about it.

    1. Ndm says:

      I have just figured out my retirement plan, step 1 hang out at supercharger step 2 open frunks step 3 steal washer fluid step4 sell it on the black market step 5 retirement, no worries for this guy!

  6. DL says:

    Of the dozen or so manufacturers that make cars with high voltage batteries, are there any others besides Tesla that have high voltage cable access for first responders in a non-secure location?

    It seems strange that Tesla feels there’s need to have these in a location that does not require unlocking the car.

    1. EV4Life says:

      You are in an accident and unconscious in your car, now start from there on how you would unlock the car, bearing in mind that the first responders first job is to make the car safe so that they can get you out.

      1. guyinacar says:

        Not rocket science, EV4life.

        I’d use a spring-loaded first responder window punch:

        http://www.firstrespondersupplies.com/mm15229.jpg

        First responders are taught to break auto glass early in their training, and many (most?) keep some sort of breaker tool in their turnout gear (fire), service belt (LEO), or back on the equipment.

        I was a fireman when I was young and fit, and I was taught to use a window punch at motor vehicle scenes long before I was taught the “jaws” or anything so complicated. Hell, you get to break car glass before they teach you hoses and ladders. Literally everybody in uniform knows how to do it. So, in the case of breaking into my BMW, that’s four seconds to break out a window, maybe 20 seconds to find and pop the hood, and five seconds to slice the big orange loop that says “slice me, first responder.” I’m not sure why this needs a security hole, beyond shattering glass. Or such a weird one, at that.

        Of course, if you use one of those without being a first responder, then you’ll be in possession of burglary tools, and you’ll set off the alarm when you break the glass. Two felonies, probably. But that’s as it should be, right?

        1. Lee Sweet says:

          IS there a mechanical release for the Frunk? I think it’s only electronic/by screen/by fob. Which is why it’s not accessible for first responders internally. I think that’s (mechanically internally) is a better answer, but it wasn’t done that way.

          And to answer the other question down there, the loop being cut IS the high voltage loop. Only high voltage paths are in orange.

          1. DL says:

            Uh, no, there’s no way a first responder is going to cut an HV circuit! The circuit to cut is the 12V one so that the HV circuits are then de-energized (via relays).

            I suggest you read page 13:

            http://135jik1bbhst1159ri1ax2pj.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/20/2010/11/2016_Model_X_Emergency_Response_Guide-Extrication.pdf

          2. guyinacar says:

            Actually, that’s correct. The loop is not orange. Apologies. The first responder loop is small and black with a bright yellow flag. I stand corrected.

            But still, I think BMW has the balance about right.

            “Security through obscurity” isn’t legit in this era.

        2. EV4Life says:

          if you were a current first responder you would know that you can’t “just do” anything to an EV – you must assume the car is live and not earthed.
          And to also answer @DL on the same subject.If you did some simple research you would find that you are accessing the low voltage system to disable the HIGH voltage system – you know, to make it safe.
          Don’t know about you guys, but I read the first responder docs on this car before posting….

          1. DL says:

            I have read them; Audi, BMW, Chevy, Fiat, Ford, Mercedes, Nissan, etc. and Tesla’s. My point is that no other manufacturer requires an EXTERNAL release mechanism to access the cable cuts (yes I know they are the LV cables).

            It seems that Tesla eschewing a simple under the dash hood (frunk) lever like everyone else in the world uses is the reason why they have to have this EXTERNAL release mechanism. To me, that seems like a bad decision, but others can have their own opinion of course.

    2. DL says:

      Also, the purpose of opening the frunk is not to access HIGH voltage connections, it’s to access the LOW voltage battery (12V) wiring so that it can be cut in an emergency.

      I checked several other brand’s emergency responder guides and none of them that I found require a non-secure way to access the 12V battery wiring.

  7. Warren says:

    My Focus and Leaf have the HI Voltage cutoff inside the car interior.

    1. DL says:

      Both the Focus and the Leaf ask that first responders cut the 12V cable under the hood as a first method of disabling the HV system. The second method is the pull the HV disconnect inside the cabin. You can imagine that a car with four injured occupants might make it difficult to access the interior disconnect plug.

      1. EV4Life says:

        That’s what I mean @DL
        Tesla has it out in an insecure place, but Nissan have it tucked away in a place so inaccessible (behind three 10mm bolts as well) that its almost pointless.
        There must be a happy middle ground.

      2. Warren says:

        Can you imagine how hard it might be to open the hood of the Tesla if it is rolled over, or wedged underneath a truck?

        1. EV4life says:

          I don’t know Warren – Imagine if your Leaf is rolled over or wedged under a truck and you have relatives in the back seat.

          Do you think the disconnect is easier to access between the now upside down seats?

          Point is, there must be a simpler way to provide access FOR ANY EV for first responders during the aftermath of an accident instead of all this pull tab A, insert tab B stuff.

  8. Vexar says:

    I don’t know why Tesla bothered with this if first responders are content to watch EVs burn to the ground anyway. I have yet to see a single story about how they followed this procedure and did *anything* at all. I do remember one fire story involved the owner using a fob to open something, mid-blaze.
    One more reason I am glad my Tesla is classic.
    My advice to newer Tesla owners: disable this safety feature, it isn’t going to save your life, ever. Sure won’t save your car!

  9. Jason says:

    I would prefer the frunk is secure. This disconnect cable could be placed almost anywhere that is accessible, eg why not just make the frunk opening cable the LV disconnect cable?
    Maybe another reason for the frunk cable is incase the fob doesn’t work, but then you would expect it would be in the car, under the dash.
    Elon talks about superior engineering, but this one makes little or no sense compared to an alternative that keeps the frunk secure.

  10. Nicholas says:

    I’m sure Tesla is your biggest fan now :/

    We all knew this safety loophole but we’re smart enough not to publicise it.

  11. Wayne says:

    Wow, this is the first time I’ve actually noticed fanboy craziness going on here. I’m a massive tesla fan, but this is in my view a real issue.
    To call out every person who is concerned about this a troll is outrageous.
    Tesla is great but not a religion. Please allow people to air views.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      +1

  12. Zac says:

    I think you would have a better chance at being involved in a terrorist attack while being stuck by lightning than having someone who is willing and able to get into your frunk this way. If they read this they will know the alarm will go off, so you’ll have to be park in a very isolated space, and this super villain would probably have to know what’s in your frunk since he probably already knows that a lot of owners of the refresh Teslas either don’t use their frunk or don’t have anything worth stealing in there since it’s small and all frunks can get a dent if closed improperly and you often get nice fingerprints on the front of your car. Nobody is going through all this trouble for what might be in your frunk. The only way somebody is going in your Tesla is if you leave the doors unlocked.