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How to Remove a Tesla Model 3 Highland Door Panel

Learning how to remove a Tesla Model 3 Highland door panel wasn’t the easiest, but I figured it out eventually. Two things you’re definitely going to need: The right steps and the right tools. Today, I am sharing my learnings with you so you don’t have to struggle like I first did. Ready to master this skill? Let’s go! 

How to Remove a Tesla Model 3 Highland Door Panel

Removing a Tesla Model 3 Highland door panel is easy if you have the technical know-how and the correct tools. It’s the route to accessing various vehicle components, allowing for repair or upgrade. It also helps you carry out regular inspections of components behind the door panel and can help identify any potential issues with the car early.

Person holding the interior of a door panel

However, at times, you may face the challenge of removing the door panel, which may require seeking the services of an expert. Our experts at Hills Made can help remove the door panel and repair or add accessories to the components. With our experts by your side, you’ll never find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere!

Safety Precautions and Initial Steps

Before attempting to remove a door panel from your Tesla Model 3, it's imperative to follow certain safety precautions to avoid the risk of injury or damage to your vehicle. Being well-informed and cautious will help make the process smooth.

Here are some non-negotiable precautions you must take before beginning the removal process:

  • Power down: To mitigate any electrical risks, make sure your Tesla Model 3 is powered down and the key fob is at a safe distance from the vehicle to prevent accidental activation.
  • Window position: If possible, lower the window to avoid putting pressure on the glass while removing the panel.
  • Glove up: Wear protective gloves to maintain a firm grip on tools and protect your hands from sharp edges.
  • Have the right tools: Have the necessary tools for the job, such as trim removal tools, screwdrivers, and a panel removal tool. The correct tools help work smoothly and also prevent any damage.

Gathering the Needed Tools and Materials

Gathering the necessary tools and materials beforehand will make the process smoother and more efficient. Here's what you'll need:

  • Trim tool: The trim too is used for prying and removing plastic clips without causing damage
  • Torx T30 socket: Needed to unscrew the fasteners on the panel
  • 4-inch extension: Helps to reach screws that are set deeper within the panel
  • Flathead screwdriver: Allows you to remove the manual release cable collar carefully
  • Plastic clips: Have a few extra on hand, as they can break during removal
  • Microfiber cloth: Protects the door's paint and trim while you work
Man on the driver seat of a Tesla Model 3

Detaching the Trim Panel

The next step is to detach the trim panel. Carefully follow each step to avoid damaging the panel or the clips that hold it in place:

  • Begin by lowering the window of the door you're working on. This will give you adequate room to maneuver the panel.
  • Locate the door clip locations around the edge of the trim panel. It's important to note that these clips are designed to be reusable, so gentle handling is key.
  • With your pry tool, pull and release of the clips working from the bottom up. Avoid using excessive force, as this could break the clips or damage the door.
  • As you disengage each clip, detach the manual release cable and any door electrical harness connectors you encounter. This operation will make sure that the trim panel comes free without any tethering wires.

Releasing Panel Fasteners

Begin by locating the fasteners around the perimeter of the door panel. They might be hidden under caps or by the panel's trim to maintain the vehicle's sleek appearance. Pry off any caps using a flat-blade screwdriver, and take care not to scratch the surrounding area.

Using the plastic pry tool, insert it between the panel and the door frame. Carefully apply leverage to pop the fasteners one by one around the panel. These fasteners can be firm, so it's important to be patient and use gradual pressure. 

Disconnecting Electrical Harnesses

Locate the harness connection points on the door. They're concealed behind the panel or within the inner recess. Press the tabs on the harness connectors to release them, and then pull the connectors apart. If you feel resistance, check for any additional locking mechanisms or tabs that may need to be disengaged. 

Remember, these harnesses are delicate; handle them with care to avoid damage. 

You'll find harnesses for the window controls, door locks, and other features. Labeling each connector as you go can save time during reassembly and help you reconnect them correctly.

Tesla Model 3 with white interior seating and carbon door panels

Once the connectors have been detached, secure the loose harnesses to prevent them from dangling or getting caught on something. You can use soft ties or tape to fix them loosely out of the way.

Removing the Door Panel

When fasteners, clips, and connectors are disconnected, the panel should be free. Hold the panel firmly and ease it away from the door to complete the detach procedure. Remember to proceed with care to avoid any creasing or damage to the trim panel.

Related Questions

What are the Parts of a Panel Door?

A panel door consists of several components that lend both aesthetic appeal and structural stability. Stiles run vertically along the sides of the door, while rails are the horizontal parts. The door itself is composed of flat panels fitted within the frame made by the stiles and rails. 

Can you Trim a Panel Door?

Yes, you can trim a panel door. However, the amount you can remove is limited and requires precise tools and measurements to maintain the door's integrity. For a Tesla Model 3, you only need to modify replaceable trim pieces and not the structural components of the door.

Why is it Called a Panel Door?

It's called a panel door because of the distinct panels inset into the door's framework. These panels can be made from various materials and can be raised or recessed to create different aesthetic effects.


Once you know the right steps, removing the door panel of your Tesla Model 3 is an achievable task. With the proper tools and attention to detail, you can successfully access the internal components of your vehicle's door. Remember to proceed with caution to avoid damaging the clips or the panel itself. 

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