Keys

Three Types of Keys

Model S supports three types of keys:
  • Phone key - You can set up your personal phone as a "phone key" that communicates with Model S using Bluetooth. A phone key supports automatic locking and unlocking.
  • Key card - Tesla provides a key card that communicates with Model S using short range radio-frequency identification (RFID) signals. The key card is used to "authenticate" phone keys to work with Model S 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 S.
  • Key fob - The key fob allows you to press buttons to open the front and rear trunks, and unlock, lock, and drive Model S. 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.

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

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CAUTION
Remember to bring a key with you when you drive. Although you can drive Model S away from its key, you will be unable to power it back on after it powers off.

Phone Key

Using your phone as a key is a convenient way to access your Model S. 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 S, 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 username and password.
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    Note
    You must remain logged in to your Tesla account to use your phone to access Model S.
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    Note
    If multiple vehicles are linked to your Tesla account, you must ensure that the vehicle you want the mobile app to access is currently selected on the mobile app.
  3. Ensure:
    • Your phone's general Bluetooth settings are enabled.
    • Bluetooth is enabled within your phone's 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 turned on.
    • Access to your location is enabled. Open the Tesla mobile app in your phone's settings and select Location > Always. For the best experience, keep the mobile app running in the background.
    • Allow Mobile Access is enabled on the vehicle touchscreen (Controls > Safety > Allow Mobile Access).
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    Note
    Model S communicates with your phone using Bluetooth. Keep in mind that your phone must have enough battery power to run Bluetooth and that many phones disable Bluetooth when the battery is low.
  4. While sitting inside the vehicle with a key card handy, open the Tesla mobile app and touch Set Up Phone Key on the main screen, or navigate to Security > Set Up Phone Key. Follow the prompts on the mobile app and vehicle touchscreen to set up your phone key.

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

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

Once a phone has been authenticated, it no longer requires an internet connection to be used as a phone key for Model S. 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 S key cards, designed to fit in your wallet.

To use a key card to unlock or lock Model S, position the card as shown and tap it against the card reader located approximately one third the way up of the driver's side door pillar. When Model S 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.
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Note
You may need to physically touch the wireless phone charger or driver's side door pillar with the key card, and you may need to hold it against the transmitter for one or two seconds.
Image of a person touching the key card to the driver's side door pillar.

Once inside, power up Model S 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 in the wireless phone charger on the center console. When your key card is detected, your two minute authentication period restarts.

Key card with concentric circles on center console
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Note
If enabled, Walk-Away Door Lock (see Walk-Away Door Lock) operates only when you walk away using a phone key or passive key fob. When you walk away carrying your key card, Model S does not automatically unlock/lock.

Key Fob

You can quickly familiarize yourself with the key fob by thinking of it as a miniature version of Model S, with the Tesla badge representing the front. The key has buttons that feel like softer areas on the surface.

Tesla key fob with 3 callouts
  1. Rear trunk - Double-click to open or close the rear trunk. Hold down for one to two seconds to open the charge port door.
  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. Front trunk - Double-click to unlatch the front trunk.

Once inside, power up Model S 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 in the lower half of the left wireless phone charger, facing downward, on the center console. When your key fob is detected, the two minute authentication period restarts.

When approaching or leaving Model S carrying the key fob, you do not need to point the key fob at Model S 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 unlock the vehicle, scan the key fob on the card reader located on the driver's side door pillar (like the key card).

To drive the vehicle, scan the key fob on the phone charger.

  1. Place it at the top of the left phone charger, against the center divider.
  2. Point the front of the key fob down.
  3. Swipe downwards.
Key fob on left quadrant in lower right corner

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

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Note
You can use the same key fob with multiple Model S vehicles provided you authenticate it (see Managing Keys). However, key fob works with only one Model S at a time. Therefore, to use a key fob for a different Model S, touch its flat side against the card reader on the driver's side door pillar.
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Note
Model S supports up to four different key fobs.
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CAUTION
Protect the key from impact, high temperatures, and damage from liquids. Avoid contact with solvents, waxes, and abrasive cleaners.

Passive Locking and Unlocking

Locking and unlocking Model S 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 S 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 press the door handle to unlock and extend the handle. When carrying your key fob with you, you can also open the trunk without having to use the key by pressing the liftgate's exterior switch. If Walk-Away Door Lock is enabled, Model S 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 S.

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.

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Note
For increased security, passive locking and unlocking disables after being stationary for five minutes while within vehicle range when the vehicle is not in use (for example, you are standing outside your vehicle). In this situation, you must shake or press a button on the key fob to re-enable passive locking and unlocking.

Replacing the Key Fob Battery

Under normal use, the key fob 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:

  1. With the key fob placed button side down on a soft surface, release the bottom cover, using a small flat-bladed tool.
    arrows showing how to open the battery compartment on key fob
  2. Remove the battery by lifting it away from the retaining clips.
    Battery removed from key fob
  3. While avoiding touching the battery's flat surfaces, insert the new battery (type CR2330) with the ‘+’ side facing up.
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    Note
    Wipe the battery clean before fitting and avoid touching the battery's flat surfaces. Finger marks on the flat surfaces of the battery can reduce battery life.
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    Note
    CR2330 batteries can be purchased from any retailer that sells batteries.
  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 S.
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Warning
Key fob batteries contain a chemical burn hazard and should not be ingested. The key fob contains a coin cell battery. If the coin cell battery is swallowed, it can cause severe internal burns within two hours and can lead to death. Keep new and used batteries away from children. If the battery compartment does not close securely, stop using the product and keep it away from children. If you think batteries might have been swallowed or placed inside any part of the body, seek immediate medical attention.

Managing Keys

To display a list of all keys (phone keys, key cards, and key fobs) that can access your Model S, 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 S. To add or delete keys, see Adding and Removing Keys.

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

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Note
You can use the same key for more than one Model S. This prevents you from having to deal with multiple keys when you switch vehicles. If you customize the name of an authenticated key card or key fob on one Model S (by touching the pencil icon), any other Model S to which the key card or key fob is authenticated also displays the changed name.

Adding and Removing Keys

To add a new key card or key fob:

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Note
When adding a key fob, ensure it is at room temperature. Pairing a key fob that is very cold can be unsuccessful.
  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 on the wireless phone charger. To scan the key fob:
    • Place it at the top of the left phone charger, against the center divider.
    • Point the front of the key fob down.
    • Swipe downwards (as shown in the image).
    When you hear a chime and the new key is recognized, remove it from the card reader.
    Key fob on left quadrant in lower right corner
  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, see Phone Key.

Removing a key:

When you no longer want a key to access Model S (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.
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Note
Model S requires at least one authenticated key card or key fob at all times. If only one key card remains on the key list, you cannot delete it.