Three Types of Keys

Model 3 supports three types of keys:
  • Phone key - You can set up your personal phone as a "phone key" that communicates with Model 3 using Bluetooth. A phone key supports automatic locking and unlocking.
  • Key card - Tesla provides a key card that communicates with Model 3 using short range radio-frequency identification (RFID) signals. The key card is used to "authenticate" phone keys to work with Model 3 and to add or remove other key cards, phone keys, or key fobs. Unlike the phone key and key fob, the key card does not support automatic locking and unlocking. In situations where your phone key has a dead battery, or is lost or stolen, use your key card to unlock, drive, and lock Model 3.
  • Key fob - The key fob allows you to press buttons to open the front and rear trunks, and unlock, lock, and drive Model 3. The key fob also supports automatic locking and unlocking, if available in your region (see Passive Locking and Unlocking) and can be used as a backup to your phone key. The key fob is an accessory sold separately.

Model 3 supports a total of 19 keys, which can include phone keys, key cards, and up to four key fobs.

Phone Key

Using your phone as a key is a convenient way to access your Model 3. As you approach, your phone's Bluetooth signal is detected and doors unlock when you press a door handle. Likewise, when you exit and walk away with the phone key, doors automatically lock (provided the Walk-Away Door Lock feature is turned on; see Walk-Away Door Lock).

Before you can use a phone to access Model 3, follow these steps to authenticate it:

  1. Download the Tesla mobile app to your phone.
  2. Log into the Tesla mobile app using your Tesla Account user name and password.
  3. Ensure that your phone's Bluetooth settings are turned on.

    You must have your phone's Bluetooth setting turned on AND you must also ensure that Bluetooth is turned on within your phone's global settings for the Tesla mobile app. For example, on your phone, navigate to Settings, choose the Tesla mobile app, and ensure the Bluetooth setting is enabled.

  4. Ensure location access is enabled by viewing the mobile app in your phone's settings and selecting Location > Always. For the best experience, keep the mobile app running in the background.
  5. Ensure that Allow Mobile Access is enabled (Controls > Safety & Security > Allow Mobile Access).
  6. In the Tesla mobile app, touch PHONE KEY then touch START to search for your Model 3.

    When your Model 3 is detected, the mobile app asks you to tap your key card.

  7. Tap the key card against the Model 3 card reader on the door pillar or center console (see Key Card).

When Model 3 detects your key card, the mobile app confirms that your phone key has been successfully authenticated. Touch DONE.

If the key card is not successfully scanned within approximately thirty seconds, the mobile app displays an error message. To retry, touch PHONE KEY again in the Tesla mobile app.

To view a list of keys that can currently access Model 3, or to remove a phone key, touch Controls > Locks (see Managing Keys).

Authenticating your phone allows you to use it as a key to access Model 3.

Model 3 can connect to three phone keys simultaneously. Therefore, if more than one phone key is detected and you want to use, or authenticate, a different phone, move the other connected phone key(s) out of range or turn off its Bluetooth setting.

Unlike the mobile app, once a phone has been authenticated, it no longer requires an internet connection to be used as a phone key for Model 3. Authenticated phone keys communicate with Model 3 using Bluetooth. However, to use the phone hands-free, access your phone's contacts, play media from it, etc., you must also pair it and connect it as a Bluetooth device (see Pairing a Bluetooth Phone).

Key Card

Tesla provides you with two Model 3 key cards, designed to fit in your wallet.

To use a key card to unlock or lock Model 3, position the card as shown and tap it against the card reader located just below the Autopilot camera on the driver's side door pillar. When Model 3 detects the key card, the exterior lights flash, the mirrors unfold or fold (if Fold Mirrors is on), the horn sounds (if Lock Confirmation Sound is on), and the doors unlock or lock.
Driver's side door pillar

Once inside, power up Model 3 by pressing the brake pedal within two minutes of scanning the key card (see Starting and Powering Off). If you wait longer than two minutes, you must re-authenticate by placing the key card near the card reader located behind the cup holders on the center console. When your key card is detected, your two minute authentication period restarts.

Key Fob

If you have purchased the key fob accessory (available for purchase from Tesla stores or online at, you can quickly familiarize yourself with this key by thinking of it as a miniature version of Model 3, with the Tesla badge representing the front. The key has three buttons that feel like softer areas on the surface.

Tesla key fob with 3 callouts
  1. Front trunk - Double-click to unlatch the front trunk.
  2. Lock/Unlock All - Single-click to lock doors and trunks (all doors and trunks must be closed). Double-click to unlock doors and trunks.
  3. Rear trunk - Double-click to unlatch the rear trunk. Hold down for one to two seconds to open the charge port door.

Once inside, power up Model 3 by pressing the brake pedal within two minutes of pressing the unlock button on the key fob (see Starting and Powering Off). If you wait longer than two minutes, you must press the unlock button again, or place the key fob near the card reader located behind the cup holders on the center console. When your key fob is detected, the two minute authentication period restarts.

When approaching or leaving Model 3 carrying the key fob, you do not need to point the key fob at Model 3 as you press a button, but you must be within operating range.

Radio equipment on a similar frequency can affect the key. If this happens, move the key at least one foot (30 cm) away from other electronic devices (phones, laptops, etc.).

In the event that the key fob's battery is dead, you can still use it to drive the vehicle by scanning the key fob on the card reader located on the driver's side door pillar (like the key card) .

Instructions for changing the battery are provided in Replacing the Key Fob Battery.

Passive Locking and Unlocking

Due to market region or vehicle configuration, passive locking and unlocking may not be available for your vehicle.

Locking and unlocking Model 3 with your key fob is conveniently hands-free. Although you must be carrying a paired key fob, there is no need to use it. Model 3 has sensors around the vehicle that can recognize the presence of a key fob within a range of approximately six feet (two meters). Therefore, you can keep your key fob in your pocket or purse and simply pull on the door handle to unlock. When carrying your key fob with you, you can also open the trunk without having to use the key by pressing the rear trunk's exterior door handle. If Walk-Away Door Lock is enabled, Model 3 automatically locks when you exit and the key fob is no longer in range (see Walk-Away Door Lock). Passive locking and unlocking is automatically enabled when you pair your key fob to Model 3.

Although you can use the same key fob with multiple vehicles, it can only be paired to one vehicle at a time. To activate a paired key fob to a different vehicle, touch the flat side onto the driver's side door pillar and click any button on the key fob to confirm.

Replacing the Key Fob Battery

Under normal use, the accessory key fob (available at has a battery that lasts for up to one year, depending on key fob version and selected vehicle settings. When the battery is low, a message displays on the touchscreen.

To replace the key fob battery:

Tesla key fob
  1. With the key fob placed button side down on a soft surface, release the bottom cover, using a small flat-bladed tool.
  2. Remove the battery by lifting it away from the retaining clips.
  3. While avoiding touching the battery's flat surfaces, insert the new battery (type CR2032 ) with the ‘+’ side facing up.
  4. Holding the bottom cover at an angle, align the tabs on the cover with the corresponding slots on the key fob, then press the cover firmly onto the key fob until it snaps into place.
  5. Test that the key fob works by unlocking and locking Model 3.

Managing Keys

To display a list of all keys (phone keys, key cards, and key fobs) that can access your Model 3, touch Controls > Locks. An icon displays next to each key to indicate whether the key is a phone key, key card, or key fob. Use this list to manage keys that have access to your Model 3. To add or delete keys, see Adding and Removing Keys.

Model 3 supports up to 19 keys. When you reach this limit, you must delete a key before adding a new one.

Adding and Removing Keys

To add a new key card or key fob:

  1. On the touchscreen, touch Controls > Locks then touch + in the Keys section.
  2. Scan your new key card or key fob on the card reader located behind the cup holders on the top of the center console. After the new key card or key fob is recognized, remove it from the card reader.
    Key card scanned on card reader
  3. Scan a key card or key fob that has already been paired to the vehicle to confirm new key pairing.
  4. When complete, the key list includes the new key. Touch the associated pencil icon to customize the name of the key.

To add a new phone key:

  1. While sitting in Model 3, open the Tesla mobile app (if you have multiple Tesla vehicles, select the appropriate vehicle), then touch Phone Key > Start.
  2. Scan an authenticated key card or key fob on the card reader located behind the cup holders on the top of the center console (see Key Card).
  3. When the mobile app notifies you that pairing was successful, touch Done. The key list on the touchscreen (touch Controls > Locks) includes the newly authenticated phone key. The name of the phone key is determined by the name used in the phone’s settings.

Removing a key:

When you no longer want a key to access Model 3 (for example, you lost your phone or key card, etc.), follow these steps to remove it.

  1. On the touchscreen, touch Controls > Locks.
  2. In the key list, find the key that you would like to delete and touch its associated trash icon.
  3. When prompted, scan an authenticated key card or key fob on the card reader to confirm the deletion. When complete, the key list no longer includes the deleted key.