Tesla Dead Key Fob or Cell Phone Help: Part I, Getting In

Getting into Your Tesla

Model S

There are two back up entry versions for the Model S depending on when it was built. It is unclear where the exact separation is, so try them both.


Note that Tesla uses an all electronic system, and so there is no hard key and corresponding key cylinder available to unlock the car. In each case, the key fob is held to a spot on the body of the car until the key fob is recognized.

Early Models

Model S open earlyIn the earliest versions of the Model S, the back of key fob is to be placed against the passenger side front fender, somewhat below and to the right of the emblem, as shown in the image. When the fob is recognized, the door handles will extend as they do normally.

The instructions in newer models note that if the car does not respond, first try repositioning the fob. Failing that, try removing the dead battery from the fob and go through the process again. This last bit really shouldn’t be necessary.

Note that it will take several seconds for the car to recognize the fob.

Newer Models

Tesla Wiper SpotThe concept is the same in the newer Model S, but the location is changed. However, it remains on the passenger side. Place the key fob near the base of the passenger side windshield wiper. The image to the right shows the exact spot that worked in the model we tested, and we tried several. Then press the driver’s door handle. The handles will extend if it is recognized, but it took a full 20 seconds in the car we tested. Try repositioning the fob if this fails. If it continues not to be recognized, try removing the battery and go back through the process.

Again, be patient – it took a full 20 seconds for the car to recognize the fob in the model we tested!

Model X – All Models

Model X openTesla’s Model X uses an entirely different back up location. There again is no hard key or key cylinder. In addition, the door handles do not extend in normal operation as with the Model S. The mirrors will extend when the key fob is recognized.

Place the key fob at the base of the car on the driver’s side below the front of the rear door, as shown. If the car fails to respond, try changing the fob’s position. Finally, if the car continues not to respond, remove the battery from the fob and start over.

Once again, be patient. It may take several seconds in each position.

Model 3

Tesla has jumped the shark with the Model 3, doing away with the key fob altogether and relying on a mobile app to get their owner’s in and started. And it works. Of course, a mobile phone’s battery can be drained in a day or less, it can fail, or the phone itself can go missing. So, the back up is a key card, the size of a credit card. No pun intended, but don’t leave home without it.

Model 3 openTo get in, the key card is placed on the door frame between the front and rear doors on the driver’s side and just above the bottom of the windows, as shown. The mirrors will extend inviting you inside.

There are videos to help here.


Continue to Part II, Getting Started …


* Keep these instructions with you in our Dead Key FOB App. Search “Dead Key FOB” at your device’s store or click here.


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