Tesla issue
Tesla update trapped driver in hot car! They weren't aware of manual door release. TikTok Screenshot / Brianna Janel

Update (May 19, 2024): The headline has been updated to accurately reflect the individual's situation.

A Tesla owner encountered a stressful experience after being stuck in her Tesla when she tried to update the car's system in a Chick-fil-A parking lot.

Brianna Janel anticipated the software update to take only 24 minutes, but she found herself trapped inside her vehicle in Costa Mesa, California, for nearly 40 minutes. Janel reported sweltering temperatures inside the Tesla, reaching 103 degrees.

She grew anxious about running out of air as the windows wouldn't roll down. Janel documented her ordeal in a TikTok video, which has since garnered nearly 30 million views.

Tesla offers manual door releases for situations with depleted power, but Janel opted to wait, fearing potential damage to her car. "Inside my car, it's 103 degrees, so I'm slightly freaking out. I hope I don't run out of air," Janel said.

"I can't open up the doors or the windows otherwise I could potentially damage my car, so I'm just stuck in here roasting like a frickin chicken dripping sweat," she added. The car's screen displayed a message informing Janel that driving and charging were suspended for the duration of the update.


Note to self don’t update your car when you’re in it. #teslatok #tesla

♬ original sound - brianna | 2025 BRIDE

"My Chick-fil-A order has been done for 30 minutes. I'm literally sitting outside," she said. In a follow-up video, Janel confirmed her eventual escape and the blessed relief of air conditioning. She revealed the car's internal temperature had peaked at a scorching 115 degrees.

"I literally made it out of my car," Janel exclaimed, sweat dripping down her face. "The AC has never felt so good, and I've never felt better. I feel like I just took a bath."

Janel admitted she could have used the manual release, but fear of damaging her car kept her from trying it. Having owned her Tesla for six years, she confessed this was her first time updating inside the vehicle.

Janel said she even attempted to activate the air conditioning remotely via the app but to no avail. She concluded with a clear warning: "Do not update it when you're sitting in the car. "Stick to updating it at 2 am like I used to do it."

Electronic Door Releases Not Exclusive to Tesla

Tesla isn't the only one offering electronic interior door releases. Consumer Reports lists other vehicles with this feature, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Chevrolet Corvette, Audi E-Tron, Lexus NX, and the Lucid Air.

Consumer Reports also highlighted a cautionary tale: A 2006 Cadillac XLR driver became trapped for 14 hours due to a dead battery. While the electronic door release was disabled, the driver could have escaped using the manual release – if he had been aware of it. This incident highlighted the importance of driver awareness regarding manual override features, especially in modern cars with electronic systems.

Tesla has faced criticism lately on other fronts beyond software updates. For one, its Cybertruck launch has been mired in safety concerns. Leaked drone footage reveals a backlog of incomplete trucks at the Texas factory, further fueling anxieties sparked by an insider's claims of serious safety problems encountered during development.

Aside from this, reports indicate that Elon Musk's decision to prioritise a visit to China and postpone his trip to India has caused friction with the Indian government.

While Tesla maintains its position as a pioneer in electric vehicle technology, the recent incident involving Janel raises concerns that could tarnish the reputation of Elon Musk's company.