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Tesla Model Y fire incident: remember, there’s a manual door release, here’s how to use it in an emergency

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A video of a burning Tesla Model Y from Vancouver, Canada surfaced online during the weekend (below). The owner of this Model Y claims that his Tesla electric SUV automatically caught fire and he had to break the window to get out of the vehicle to save his life.

Although the cause of this Tesla Model Y fire has yet to be fully investigated, the video and the related stories took the internet by storm during and after the weekend.

It looks like as the smoke started to erupt inside this Model Y, the car lost all power and the electrical door release stopped working. In this panic situation, this Model Y driver quickly smashed the driver-side window and safely came out of the vehicle.

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However, as a Tesla owner, this guy should’ve known that there is a mechanical manual door release button in all Tesla vehicles. This information is explicitly explained in the owner’s manual and the emergency response guides that the automaker has allowed free access to (get all 4 Tesla emergency response PDFs that we posted just recently).

How to use Tesla Model Y or Model 3 manual door release

Owner manuals of every Tesla vehicle explicitly explain how to open the doors of your car when your car is out of both the main battery pack and even the backup 12V battery power.

Following visual and written instructions teach us how to open Tesla doors by using mechanical manual release buttons for both the front and rear doors. Opening the rear doors of a Tesla vehicle manually with mechanical function is a bit difficult compared to the front doors but being prepared and with the right info, it can actually be useful in emergency situations (video demo below).

Opening Fronts Doors from inside without Power

Top open the Model Y / Model 3 front doors from the inside without 12V power, lift the mechanical release handle located near the window switches (see illustration below).

It is important to know that in any vehicle collision with damage to the driver or passenger front door, the mechanical door release may not operate as designed. It is also important to remember that every vehicle accident is different and may require extrication operations to gain access to the vehicle’s cabin.

Tesla Model Y / Model 3 Owner’s Manual.
Illustration: Opening a Tesla Model Y or Model 3 front door using a manual mechanical release button. Source: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Video: Demonstration of how to use the manual/mechanical front door release in a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y.
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Opening Rear Doors from inside without Power

Twitter influencer Sawyer Merritt found out how to manually open the rear doors of a Tesla Model Y by looking into his own Model Y.

He found out that the rear manual door release is located in the rear door storage area. This is a small cable that is almost hidden behind a flap under the door storage. For a visual explanation, check the following photo tweets by Sawyer.

Video: Tesla Model Y catching fire

This looks like a rare incident, perhaps the first one for a Tesla Model Y that isn’t involved in any collision — and I am covering Teslas for more than 6 years now. It started with smoke that looked like is coming from the dashboard rather than the floor of the vehicle where the large battery pack is located.

The smoke coming out of the dashboard or air vents most probably hints that something was wrong in the frunk area (front trunk where the heat pump, radiator, and front axles are located) not the battery pack.

In about 5-7 minutes, just before the fire department arrived at the scene, the smoke started to turn into flames. Unfortunately, the firefighter also did not know how to manually open the Tesla front door.

Electric vehicle fires also need different treatments compared to the internal combustion vehicles using gasoline. Using too much water can further cause a chemical reaction or short-circuit between the battery cells. Firefighters surely need some new training to fight electric vehicle/Tesla fires.

Let’s watch what happened actually and don’t forget to drop your comments below.

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By Iqtidar Ali

Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on XAutoWorld.com, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii

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