The phone key feature offered by Tesla allows owners to use their smartphone as a key to lock, unlock and start their Tesla vehicle. This convenient keyless entry system uses Bluetooth connectivity between the phone and the car to authenticate and gain access. However, many Tesla owners have experienced problems with the phone key not working at times.
In this detailed guide, we’ll cover the most common issues that can cause the Tesla phone key to stop working, along with troubleshooting tips and solutions to get it fixed.
How the Tesla Phone Key Works
Before jumping into the troubleshooting, let’s first understand how the Tesla phone key feature functions:
- The phone key feature uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to communicate between your phone and the car.
- Once paired, your phone acts as a key fob to lock and unlock the car when you approach or walk away from it.
- The Tesla mobile app on your phone has a Phone Key option that you must enable to activate the feature.
- An authentication handshake between the phone app and the car’s software verifies that your phone is a valid key.
- The valid key can then unlock and start the car by communicating via Bluetooth when you are in close proximity.
- Up to 3 phones can be connected as keys to a Tesla vehicle at a time.
- The phone key requires intermittent internet connectivity and the Tesla app running in the background to function properly.
Knowing how the phone key tech works makes it easier to troubleshoot when issues arise. Now let’s look at some of the most common problems experienced by Tesla owners when the phone key stops working.
Most Common Problems of Tesla Phone Key Card
Here are some of the most common situations in which Tesla owners face problems with the phone key and are unable to use their phone to unlock or start their car:
1. Bluetooth Connection Issue
One of the main issues owners face is that the Bluetooth connection between the phone and the Tesla car gets disrupted. This leads to failed authentication and prevents the phone key from working.
Some common reasons for Bluetooth connectivity issues include:
- Weak Bluetooth signal
- Bluetooth being turned off on the phone
- Interference from other devices causing signal drops
- Phone and car Bluetooth pairing got removed
- Bluetooth system malfunction after a software update
2. Tesla Mobile App Problems
Since the Tesla app on your phone is needed to enable the phone key functionality, any issues with the mobile app can also cause problems:
- App failing to launch or open
- App crashing repeatedly
- Login authentication problems
- Phone key toggle disabled or missing
- Permissions denied for the app
- Background app refresh disabled
3. Low Battery or Dead Phone/Key Card
The phone key relies on bluetooth connectivity and background app functioning. If your phone has low battery or switched off, the Tesla won’t detect your phone as a valid key.
Similarly, if your key card’s battery runs out, it will stop communicating with the car and won’t work for unlocking.
4. Software Bugs and Update Issues
Problems are often experienced after Tesla software updates. Bugs in the updated car software or app version can cause the phone key to suddenly stop working. Rebooting and trying again usually resolves update-related glitches.
5. Distance and Interference Problems
The Bluetooth signal between your phone and car needs to be strong for the system to authenticate and function. Being too far from the car or objects causing wireless interference can lead to key malfunction.
6. Multiple paired Phones Causing Conflicts
If you have multiple phones paired to one Tesla, switching between the phones often causes issues and failed unlock attempts. Too many paired phones can create confusion in key authentication.
7. Hardware Damage or Faults
In rare cases, any hardware damage like a cracked phone screen, damaged Bluetooth antennas or a fault in the car’s keyless entry system can also prevent the phone key from working.
Now that we have covered the key trouble areas, let’s move on to resolving these problems and troubleshooting tips to get your Tesla phone key working again.
Troubleshooting Steps and Solutions
Follow these tips to troubleshoot and fix any Tesla phone key issues you may encounter:
Ensure Bluetooth is Enabled on the Phone
Make sure Bluetooth on your phone is turned on. Also, check that Bluetooth connectivity and visibility for your Tesla is enabled under the paired devices list on your phone. Toggle Bluetooth off and on again if needed.
Check the Tesla Mobile App
Open the Tesla app and verify that you are logged in to your Tesla account. Navigate to the phone key settings and ensure it is enabled. The app needs to be running in the background for the phone key to work.
Reboot Your Phone and Car
Sometimes a simple reboot can clear up any software glitches causing the malfunction. Restart your phone and do a reboot on your Tesla car’s touchscreen to refresh the connections.
Re-pair Your Phone
Go to the Bluetooth devices list on your phone settings, remove the pairing with your car, forget the device and then re-pair it from scratch. Also remove other connected devices to avoid interference.
Check for Software Updates
Install the latest Tesla car software and app updates available. Updates often resolve key-related bugs and improve connectivity.
Disable Key Fob or Card
Temporarily disable other paired key fobs or your key card in the Tesla car settings. Too many paired devices can overwhelm the system.
Reset Your Phone Network Settings
Reset the network settings on your phone to clear up any issues with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. Reboot the phone after resetting settings.
Move Closer to Your Car
If standing right next to your car door, check that the key is in a pocket or bag closest to the sensor. Otherwise, move closer to establish a strong Bluetooth signal.
Contact Tesla Support
If you have tried all troubleshooting tips without success, contact Tesla customer support. They can run diagnostics, check your account status, re-activate the phone key, and resolve any deeper system issues.
Tips to Avoid Tesla Phone Key Problems
Here are some useful tips to avoid running into phone key problems in day-to-day usage:
- Update to the latest Tesla software version whenever a new release is available.
- Enable automatic background app refresh on your phone for the Tesla app.
- Maintain a strong Bluetooth signal between phone and car by keeping them closely paired.
- Disable Bluetooth on other connected devices to prevent interference.
- Avoid pairing too many phones as keys to one Tesla car.
- Check key card battery level periodically and replace when required.
- Switch off your phone’s Bluetooth if you are experiencing repeated failed unlock attempts.
- Restart the Tesla app and your phone before important trips to refresh connections.
When to Contact Tesla Support
Get in touch with Tesla customer support or your local service center if you are experiencing persistent phone key problems that are not resolved with basic troubleshooting.
Some scenarios when you should contact Tesla Support are:
- Phone key stops working after a software update
- Bluetooth pairing issues persist after all resets
- Noticeable decrease in key signal range
- Multiple phones paired as keys creates confusion
- Phone key activation not working on a new phone
- Hardware issues suspected with your car’s sensors
Tesla can run remote diagnostics, check for any underlying issues, push software fixes, and remotely reconfigure your phone as a key if needed. Expert tech support can solve complex problems that cannot be resolved through basic troubleshooting.
The Tesla phone key provides a convenient and effective keyless access system when working properly. But problems like intermittent loss of Bluetooth connections, mobile app issues, dead batteries or interference can cause it to fail unexpectedly.
Following the troubleshooting tips outlined in this guide should help you identify and resolve the most common factors that can cause your Tesla phone key to stop working. Maintaining your phone, car software and Bluetooth connections while using best practices can prevent many issues from arising. But do contact Tesla support for help with any persistent or complex problems.
With some diligent troubleshooting and preventive care, you can continue enjoying seamless phone key access to lock, unlock and drive your Tesla for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tesla Phone Key Not Working
Here are some common FAQs Tesla owners have about troubleshooting the phone key:
Why does my Tesla phone key not work after an iOS update?
iOS updates can sometimes disrupt app permissions and Bluetooth connections. Check the Tesla app permissions, re-pair your phone Bluetooth, reset network settings and reboot your phone to get it working after an update.
How do I reboot my Tesla car to troubleshoot phone key issues?
You can reboot your Tesla by holding down both scroll buttons on the steering wheel for over 10 seconds when parked. Alternatively, you can also reboot your car by powering it off and on again through the touchscreen.
Why can’t my phone unlock my Tesla after replacing it?
When you switch to a new phone, you have to set it up again as a key by pairing it through Bluetooth and enabling phone key in the Tesla app. Your previous phone’s access gets automatically revoked.
Should I disable the Tesla key card if my phone key isn’t working?
Temporarily disabling the key card can help troubleshoot issues caused by too many paired devices connected to your car. Re-enable the key card after resolving the phone key problems.
How do I re-pair or forget my phone’s Bluetooth connection to the Tesla car?
On your phone’s Bluetooth settings, tap the “i” next to your Tesla car name, then tap “Forget This Device”. To re-pair, go to Add New Device on your Tesla touchscreen and search for your phone.
Why does my phone key work only intermittently?
Intermittent issues can be caused by weak Bluetooth signal, interference from other devices, or problems with continuous connectivity between the phone app and the car.
Should I reset my phone to factory settings if phone key issues persist?
Factory resetting your phone should be the last resort after trying all other troubleshooting tips. Backup your data before resetting your device.
How far can I be for the Tesla phone key to work properly?
You need to be within a range of around 30 feet for the phone key to reliably lock, unlock and start your Tesla car. Moving closer helps improve the Bluetooth connection.
Is it possible to delete or revoke access for lost or stolen phones paired to my Tesla?
Yes, you can remove any phones paired as keys to your Tesla by logging in to your Tesla account or contacting customer support. This will revoke access for lost or stolen devices.