Door Latch Releases

One common complaint about the Tesla Model 3 is the door latch releases, particularly in the front seats. There are no frames for the windows. When fully raised, the glass just presses into a soft black rubber seal. When you open the door from the exterior or by pressing the interior door-release button, the window first drops a bit to protect the rubber, then the door opens.

But these are electromechanical functions that won’t work if the 12vdc power is off. For this reason, Tesla provides a purely mechanical door release in the front seats in case of emergency. You lift up on the lever and the door opens, but without the benefit of first lowering the window. Done often enough, and there’s a chance you’ll damage the rubber seals.

The problem is that if you reach for the latch release where you’d most likely expect it to be, you’ll actually pull the emergency mechanical release. The proper button simply isn’t where most people, familiar with other car doors, expect it to be. If you own a Model 3, you get used to it right away, but occasional passengers or other drivers tend to pull the mechanical release instinctively.

Rather than constantly explaining how to open the door from the inside — something I shouldn’t have to do to begin with — I decided to find an easier way to communicate with Tesla Model 3 newbies.

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I’m a big fan of the vinyl kits by Kenriko. I’ve installed one on my center console to solve the problems of scratches and fingerprints. (Plus, I didn’t like the glossy finish.) I plan to install Kenriko’s kit to cover the wooden dash (when it’s available), the steering wheel and the door sills. I also installed the door trim wrap kit, shown above.

But for the door-release button, I used Kenriko’s piece as a template and hand-cut a piece of yellow vinyl. Now all I have to do is say, “Press the yellow button to open the door.” I’ve got them on all four door-release buttons and they work great. It looks rather garish in the photo above, but that’s because I wanted to lighten the image to show the dark materials. In reality, it’s not this bright, but it’s still bold enough to be seen, even in a darkened garage.

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