Tesla Won’t Unlock: All You Need To Know

Last updated on April 18th, 2023 at 11:17 pm

The security feature on your Tesla requires you to unlock the car before accessing it. Therefore, you’ll need a valid key card or a key fob to unlock your Tesla car.

That said, you might be in a situation where your Tesla will not unlock even if you have a key. You must be aware of possible reasons why the key will not unlock your Tesla, just in case.

Your Tesla will only unlock with a key if you have paired the key with the car. Pairing your Tesla with the key will help establish communication. Other reasons your Tesla may not unlock with a key include configuration issues, temperature influences, etc.

In this article, I’ll highlight why your Tesla will not unlock with a key or phone, outlining the details. You’ll also know why the car will not unlock when you approach it.

Why Won’t My Tesla Unlock with the Key?

Tesla Won’t Unlock

Here are possible reasons why your Tesla won’t unlock with the key:

  • Unpaired Key Card
  • Configuration issues
  • Damaged key Card
  • Temperature influences

#1. Pairing

Your Tesla will not unlock if you use a key that you have not paired with your car. For the car to communicate with the key, it must be correctly paired.

#2. Configuration Issues

Your key Card might not work on your Tesla due to certain flaws in updates. Try removing and reloading the card to fix up the flaws.

#3. Damaged key Card

Even the slightest dents can cause your key Card to stop working. So ensure to always handle your key Card with care and always inspect it for cracks. 

Why Can’t I Unlock My Tesla with My Phone?

If you can’t unlock your Tesla with your phone, you have not activated mobile access on your Tesla.

To activate mobile access, go to the main page on your Tesla’s touchscreen. On the main page, tap on controls and navigate to safety.

On the screen that pops up after you tap on safety, you’ll find an option to activate your device’s mobile access. 

Once you activate mobile access on your Tesla, you must add your smartphone as a phone key for your Tesla. You can then unlock your Tesla through the app on your phone.

Why Won’t Tesla Unlock When I Approach?

Your Tesla will not unlock when you approach it if you have not activated the passive entry feature or if your key fob is faulty.

#1. Passive Entry Feature

The passive entry feature on your Tesla is a feature that activates its sensors. The sensors will detect your key fob a meter away and unlock the Tesla doors.

For the passive entry feature to work, you’ll need to activate it in your Tesla settings.

With the passive entry feature activated, you can unlock your door without directly using the key fob. Instead, the door will unlock when the key fob is within a one-meter radius of your Tesla.

You can also activate the feature in your Tesla for the doors to automatically extend when it recognizes your key fob.

Here are steps on how to activate passive entry on your Tesla:

  • On the main screen of your Tesla, navigate to “controls” and tap on it
  • After tapping on “controls,” go to “safety” and tap on it.
  • From the options on your display screen, you’ll find one that says “passive entry”. Toggle it on to activate passive entry.

Here are steps to activate the feature for your door to automatically extend:

  • First, on the main screen of your Tesla’s touch screen, tap on “controls.” 
  • After tapping on “controls,” tap on “vehicle.”
  • On the following display screen, you’ll see an option that says “Auto-present handles.”
  • Once you toggle on the auto-present handle option, your car door will automatically extend when it detects a valid key fob.

The door handle might retract after it extends, but you don’t have to panic. 

Here are some of the reasons why your car door handle will retract:

  • You didn’t use the door handle within one minute of the extension
  • The door handle will retract after the last door of your Tesla closes
  • The door handle will retract if the key fob is out of range for up to 48 hours

#2. Faulty Key Fob

Your Tesla doors will not unlock if your key fob is faulty. Unfortunately, the malfunction of your key fob is most likely due to the battery. 

However, if you have the right tools, you can replace the key fob’s battery.

Here is a table showing materials you’ll need available to replace our key fob’s battery and their respective function:

A soft surfaceYou’ll place your key fob on the soft surface to prevent dents and scratches.
Flat bladed toolTo open up the cover of the key fob
Front retaining clipsTo secure the battery in the key fob
A Panasonic CR2032 batteryTo replace the old battery in the key fob
WipesClean the new battery before you put it in

Here are steps on how the replace the battery of your key fob:

  • The first step is to prepare a soft surface to place your key fob. You wouldn’t want your key fob to have dents or scratches.
  • After placing the key fob on a soft surface, get a flat-bladed tool to remove the bottom cover of the key fob.
  • Gently lift the battery away from the front retaining clips
  • Get a new battery (preferably Panasonic CR2032). Clean the new battery and put it in the battery space with the plus side facing up.
  • Put the broader side of the cover into the vital fob’s opening to close it up, and do a little push with your thumb to secure it.

Test out the key fob with the new battery and if it still refuses to work, try cleaning out the key fob’s motherboard.

You can easily clean the board using alcohol and a clean rag. Pour a bit of alcohol on the rag to make it damp, and gently wipe the board of the key fob.

After cleaning the board, use the rag to get in between the buttons and remove any debris stuck there.

Once you finish cleaning, allow the alcohol to dry before you reassemble the key fob. Alcohol dries quickly, so you’ll only have to wait a bit.

You can use a cotton swab in place of the rag and brake cleaner in place of the alcohol.

However, you must be very careful when using a brake cleaner because it can be quite abrasive.

You can also use canned air to carefully blow out all dirt and debris from the key fob.

Again, it is important to keep all dirt and debris away from the key fob so as not to affect any component.

If you try any method possible and your key fob still refuses to work, you should contact Tesla to get a new one.

Can You Unlock a Tesla Manually?

No, you cannot unlock a Tesla car manually. Although there are no ways to unlock your Tesla manually, there are alternatives to using a key fob to unlock your Tesla.

You can unlock the car using a key card if you do not have a key fob.

Place it on your Tesla’s driver door window frame to unlock your Tesla with a key card. The sensors in your Tesla will detect the key Card and unlock the door.

Instead of using a key card to unlock your Tesla, you can use the Tesla app on your phone.

To unlock your Tesla through the app, carry out the following steps:

  • Download the Tesla app on your smartphone from the play store or app store
  • Sign into the app with your username and password.
  • On your Tesla’s touchscreen, add your phone as a phone key for your Tesla. Your phone will then be able to communicate with your Tesla through Bluetooth.

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