Can I Drive a Tesla With Trunk Open? Don’t make this mistake!

There are times when we all need to transport large items in our car. The question is will my Tesla allow the trunk to remain open when driving?

You can drive your Tesla with the trunk open. However, it will reduce your range by approximately half.

In this article, we’ll tell you exactly what happens when the trunk is open and common mistakes to avoid.

Tesla trunk open
Infographic - Can I drive a Tesla with trunk open

What happens when the trunk is open?

It’s not every day that we need to transport a large object, but it does happen from time to time. You don’t want to go to the bother of organizing a collection only to realize your Tesla won’t let you drive with the trunk open.

This is not the case with your Tesla, but there are a few things to consider before picking up:

The beeping warning sound

Nearly all modern cars have alerts to tell you that doors and windows are open and seatbelts are not in use when they should be. This is also true for Tesla. If your trunk is open, a warning will sound, and you will be directed to close it. If the load you’re moving has an overhang, then this is not possible. Tesla understands this, and the beeping will cease after 3-4 minutes. It’s irritating, but knowing it will stop will save your sanity. It will begin again if you stop/ start.

The rear-view camera

The rearview camera is located above the rear driver’s plate. It makes sense that if your trunk is open, the camera will record the sky or a higher view than usual. When you shift to reverse, the camera will show this view on your touchscreen. This is no longer an accurate representation of the rear of your car and can’t be relied upon for reversing.

The Range Depreciation

One of the biggest concerns about driving an EV is range anxiety. When you’re transporting any item with the trunk open, the range will reduce by approximately half; not allowing for this is a common mistake. When the trunk is open, it interferes with aerodynamics. Tesla engineers have worked hard to make their cars as efficient as possible.

If you are traveling a long distance with your item, you will have to top up your charge several times, and this will increase your journey by possibly many hours,

The Cold Interior

Due to the open trunk, the car’s interior will now be noticeably colder (depending on your location). We already have range depreciation because of reduced aerodynamics, but if you attempt to turn on the heater, it will reduce even further – possibly by an additional 50%. And all the heat is being sucked out the rear; this is the second common mistake to avoid. My advice is to leave the heater off and bring a blanket.

Other Unavailable Onboard Tech

Teslas are high-tech machines. Designed to work most efficiently when everything is as it’s supposed to be. i.e., All doors closed. The trunk open while driving is not part of that plan.

The onboard computers quickly check everything when you startup. If the trunk is open, certain driving capabilities are unavailable or become limited. Two of these are Cruise Control and Auto Pilot (only available on certain models).

Cameras and sensors throughout your car must all be in sync for these options to work. When your trunk is open, the rearview camera is in the incorrect position, and they are disabled.

How Far are You Traveling with an Open Trunk?

Tesla trunk open

This might seem like an obvious question, but if your journey is only a couple of blocks well then the range anxiety and the cold interior won’t be a big issue. But if you are traveling further afield, such as relocating or delivering a large item that is more than 30 minutes drive, I would consider other options – such as hiring an alternate car or shipping your item to its final destination.

Tesla Trunk Bigger than You Think

The Tesla trunk has a large capacity and can fit more in than you would imagine. Depending on the model you own, it outranks most other vehicles in the luxury category.

ModelTrunkTrunk + Folded Seats
319.8 cu ftN/A
Y30.2 cu ft72.1 cu ft
S25 cu ft61.4 cu ft
X37.1 cu ft85.1 cu ft

The trunk space is impressive, especially in the X, and as you can see increases dramatically when the seats are folded. However, the Model 3 is not a hatchback, and the space in the trunk is limited. The lid’s design reduces what you can carry even further as the opening to the trunk is quite limited. This leads me to the next question – what are you transporting?

What are you Transporting with your Tesla?

As I say, the Model 3 has quite a small opening. Your item may not even fit past the entrance of the trunk. Flatpack items or anything long but not of great depth should fit in all other models with no problems at all. Any bulky items, you should definitely check before agreeing to transport them.

If you do find that you have to have the trunk open, ensure that your item is well tethered down and that your trunk lid is not free to move up and down. There are sensors in the lid and at the latch that can be damaged by repeated banging on the item.

Is it Legal to Drive with The Trunk Open?

In nearly all states, it is legal to drive with your trunk open, but there are limitations to the length of overhang you have.

If you are just traveling a few blocks, within reason, this isn’t going to be an issue, but if you are traveling further out of town or indeed out of state, I would recommend checking the state guidelines for overhang.

They vary from state to state; Alabama has a 4ft limit to the rear, whereas Louisiana has an 8ft limit. This distance is measured from the center of the rear axle to the end of your overhang.

Always better to check first before getting a ticket.

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E John Cunningham

Hey, I’m John and I'm a technical writer here at I’m a Red Seal qualified Auto Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience working on Classic and Modern Cars. I've worked for GM, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Audi, and VW main dealers. Yep, I’ve skint my knuckles on them all!

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