Do Teslas Have Keys? Key Fob, Key Card, and Lock App Explained

Tesla is one luxury EV brand that ensures its cars have the best safety system.

An important aspect of a car’s safety system is the lock and unlock mechanisms.

Features such as the cabin camera, sentry mode, security alarm and the unlocking pattern are clear proofs that Tesla has a quality car safety system.

This article gives a lengthy description of the different methods for unlocking your Tesla.

Here’s the Answer to Whether Tesla Has Keys

Tesla supports three types of keys. One is the phone key, the second is the key card, and the third is the key fob. Each Tesla model supports one or two of these unlocking options, and they evolve every year.

Let’s jump into any differences across the years and when these three key methods were introduced.

What Are the Options For Unlocking Your Tesla?

As emphasized earlier, Tesla supports three types of keys, including:

The Phone Key

The phone key, also called the lock app, uses Bluetooth connectivity to unlock the vehicle provided you download the Tesla Mobile app to your phone and log into it.

This key method also uses the Walk-Away Door Lock feature.

This comes on immediately after you exit and walk away with your phone. However, this feature will not operate if you left your key card or key fob in the car.

Tesla introduced the feature in 2017 and launched it on the Model 3. The new software update for the Model 3 did not even support the use of traditional keys.

The only unlocking method for the Model 3 was this phone key and the key card, which would be explained in the next heading.

The Bluetooth connectivity also talks to the device to let it know you’re there. This phone key is also available on the Tesla Model Y and it works the same way as the Model 3. 

For the best experience with this Bluetooth access, ensure:

 1. Your phone’s Bluetooth should be activated. Activate it by navigating through the settings of your Tesla mobile app and ensure that your Bluetooth setting is turned on.

2. Access to your location should be enabled. To activate this, open your Tesla mobile app and select Location> Always. It is best to keep the mobile app running in the background.

3. For general mobile access, go to your vehicle’s touchscreen. Tap on Controls> Safety> Mobile Access.

Model Y can also connect to three phones simultaneously. Just make sure the other phones’ Bluetooth is out of range.

The Key Fob

This key option only comes standard on the Model S and X.

Unlike the Model 3 and Model Y, the Model S and X do not support your phone as a key because the key fob is the standard method of unlocking them.

The key fob was introduced since Tesla launched the Model S in 2012 and the Model X in 2015.

This key fob allows you to do the following:

  • Front trunk: Double-click on the fob to unlatch the front trunk.
  • Doors: Click once on the key fob to lock doors, provided all the doors are closed. Double-click to unlock doors.
  • Rear trunk: Double-click to unlatch the rear trunk. To open the charge port door, hold down for one or two seconds.

With the key fob, you can also power up Model S and X by pressing the brakes within two minutes of clicking the unlock button on the key fob.

If you exceed two minutes, you would have to click the unlock button or put the key fob close to the card reader. When the card reader detects the fob, the two minutes activation begins to read again.

The key fob also has something similar to the Walk-Away Door Feature.

It doesn’t lock the doors automatically like the phone key, but when you walk away from the vehicle, you can still lock the doors by pressing the fob. Just don’t be completely out of range.

The key fob can still operate even when the battery is dead. To unlock the vehicle, simply scan the key fob on the card reader at the driver’s side door pillar.

With the key fob, you can also drive the vehicle with the following steps:

  • Place the key fob at the top of the left phone charger.
  • Place the front of the door downwards. 
  • Swipe downwards on it.

Last, you can connect the same key fob with two vehicles provided you authenticate the keys. However, the key fob works with only one vehicle at a time.

The Key Card

The key card comes standard on all Model 3 and Model Y. The remodeled Model S and X also come with this key card.

The key card is like a spare key or an alternative to the key fob or the phone key.

Tesla vehicles always come with two key cards and one bifold wallet for easy entry, operation, and transport.

The Tesla key cards are durable, waterproof and without battery. They are also cheap to replace as they only cost $35. To use the key card, place the card against the card reader below the autopilot cameras on the driver’s side door pillar.

The car brings up a sign through the following ways. They include:

  • The exterior lights may flash
  • The mirror folds and unfolds if the function is on
  • The vehicle horns may sound if the lock confirmation sound is activated

You can power up the vehicle by pressing the brake pedal within two minutes of scanning the key card. If you exceed two limits, you would have to reactivate it by holding the key card close to the card reader located around the center console.

It is, however, important to note that the key card will not automatically lock or unlock your door if the Walk-Away Door Feature is activated. It only operates either using the lock app or the key fob.

Recently, it was reported that Tesla has stopped providing Model S and X owners with key fobs. Instead, they will get a key card like the Model 3 and Y.

Luckily, the key fob is just like an accessory and can be easily bought if you so desire. The key fob cost around $175 at the Tesla store.

Related: Tesla Camp Mode (10 Typical Question Answered)

Can You Unlock a Tesla Without a Key?

You can unlock your Tesla without using a key as long as you have your key fob around you.

Tesla vehicles have sensors around the driver’s side that can detect the key fob you’re carrying. It can detect the key fob within a range of one meter.

For the doors to unlock without a key, the passive entry control must be activated. It is activated by clicking on Controls> Safety> Passive Entry. 

You also do not need to touch the door if the auto-present handles setting is turned on. The door handle actually extends automatically as you approach the car.

Can You Drive a Tesla Without a Key?

Tesla does not have any physical key or keyhole. Pairing your phone with the car is the most preferred way of driving your vehicle.

All you need to do is to log into the app remotely. Go to the controls, tap the start button and then enter your Tesla password.

Note that this keyless driving does not unlock your car automatically, you would still have to unlock the car through the mobile app.

You can drive your car for as long as you want with this feature, but once you put your car into park, you’ll need to go over the process again.

The only issue with this keyless driving is the fact that it needs a working internet connection or Wi-Fi to operate. If you’re stuck with a bad network, there’s no way you can get out of that situation.

Related: Do Teslas Respect Speed Limits On Autopilot? (We Checked)

Can You Request a Regular Key or Key fob For a New Tesla?

As emphasized earlier, the key fob is like an accessory to your Tesla and can be gotten whenever you want.

To pair your key fob with your car, simply go to locks in the tab control. Follow the instructions given on the screen. Once you have paired them, you can either customize the key fobs or unpair them.

The key fob may not connect to your Tesla when the temperature is low. You should probably wait till the temperature is normal. If it still doesn’t connect, then you can contact Customer Care Support.

Related: Why Do Some Teslas Have Dual Motors? (Explained)


Keys | Tesla

Tips for using Tesla’s Keyless Driving feature | 

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