Caution and Tips with Autolock/Phone-as-Key on Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 doesn’t come with a key fob – it’s designed to operate around the smartphone app. With the app, you can remotely operate the locks, as well as set it up to automatically unlock as you near the vehicle, and lock when you walk away from the Model 3.

If you forget this, and do something with your phone that you shouldn’t, your Tesla may not lock and you may be robbed (and thus sentry mode will not be enabled).

I was on a long road trip recently / moved out of my apartment so I had virtually everything in there. All of it got stolen out the trunk, and Sentry Mode recorded nothing because technically the car was unlocked.

Reddit user 629afo src

Configure locking alerts on the Stats App

If you use the iOS Stats App, there is a feature that notifies you and locks the car if it notices you are away from your Model 3 and it is unlocked. The app can alert you if you enable the feature. Get the App on the Apple App Store

Leave Bluetooth Enabled

Your phone connects to your Model 3 via bluetooth. If you have bluetooth disabled when you leave your vehicle, your car will not lock when you walk away.

To leave your phone in your car, you need to turn off bluetooth on your phone, or turn your phone onto airplane mode, or turn off/power down your phone all the way.

Don’t leave your phone in your Tesla Model 3 – even for charging

This sounds obvious, as the phone is your key, but if your phone battery is almost dead, it’s easy to leave your phone charging just like you used to in your last vehicle. However, then when you walk away (even if you use the keycard), your phone/key is still in the car.

While I always keep my key card in my pocket, one mistake I make from time to time is leaving my phone in the car. Either charging in the box with the USB ports, or just laying on the seat. If a bad guy came along, he could open the doors, even if I had locked them with the keycard.

Reddit user jselbie src

Another Reddit user tells of a time when he left his phone in the car, closed the door to put his kid in, and accidentally locked his kid inside. Anytime you leave your phone in your Model 3 when you aren’t in it can make your life difficult.

Caution when more than one phone enabled as Model 3 Key

If you and your spouse both have your phones set up as keys for the Model 3, then neither one of you can leave your phone in the car – it can cause the same issues as mentioned above

Carry your Tesla Key Card with you

In September 2019, Tesla’s Model 3 app experienced an outage that caused issues. Some owners couldn’t log into the app, others could, but had no cars listed. As a result, those owners couldn’t unlock their vehicles – some for almost 3 and a half hours!

Tesla provides key cards, and this incident is a reminder that it’s a good idea to always have one along.

Just remember – when using the keycard, the car doesn’t automatically lock when you walk away like when you use your phone as key.

You can also buy a Model 3 key fob for $150. The first editions of these didn’t support passive entry like other Tesla vehicle fobs. The current version of the Model 3 key fobs do support passive entry.

Configure multiple driver profiles to disable auto-locking at home

Some Tesla Model 3 owners don’t want their car to autolock when they are parked at home in their garage. There is currently no way to set that up, but there is a clever workaround: create multiple driver profiles.

Use your standard driver profile with autolocking configured, and create a second profile to use at home – and turn off auto-locking for that profile only. In order to prevent using the wrong profile and having auto-locking turned off when you aren’t at home, do something to help remind yourself to switch profiles like setting the seat or mirror position way off for your at-home profile.

7 thoughts on “Caution and Tips with Autolock/Phone-as-Key on Tesla Model 3

  1. Want to make sure my car LOCKS when i walk away
    i have the Tesla Lifestyle APP on my phone
    but does it automatically do lock when i walk away with my phone
    i don’t think so
    so how do i lock it??????
    Reading your information online it seems i have to install iOS Stats App and programme it to lock/unlock
    is that so?
    Nothing clear on the website
    Advise please

    1. Using the Tesla App, and using as your ‘phone as key’ you can lock or unlock the car.

      If you want to auto-lock when you leave the vehicle, you need to use the stats app.

      If you want to leave your phone in the car, you have to turn off the bluetooth connection so that the Model 3 doesn’t know the phone is in the car.

  2. What’s the best way to prevent auto lock with phone when walking away, for example when at a supermarket and you want to leave people in the car?

  3. It is said here “You can also buy a Model 3 key fob for $150, but is doesn’t support passive entry like other Tesla vehicle fobs.”.
    This is a wrong statement. M3 has now key fob with passive entry support.
    Key fobs without passive entry were the first version of the key fob, then Tesla upgraded it.

  4. Does my car lock automatically if I leave my phone and card key in the trunk of my car and walk away?

  5. I am having my car wrapped at a local shop. I was intending to set the car in valet mode while at the shop to prevent any new iphones or key cards from being set up in the car, however, in valet mode the frunk locks and the shop needs to open the frunk to wrap the hood. If someone were to link a new iphone to my car, would I be able to tell if there are other phones linked?

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