Radio Reception

Radio Reception

I picked up my Model S two weeks ago today. The reception for the AM/FM radio is significantly worse than the reception for my other cars (I had seen a suggestion on another forum that you should disable the HD feature to improve the reception. While this limited the distortion, it did not improve the reception). I called Tesla and was told by one person I spoke with that they were aware of the issue and that there is a booster antenna available that the service department could install. When I called back to set up an appointment, I was told that the booster antenna was only for the Roadster and not the Model S. Has anyone experienced a similar issue and found a solution?

PBEndo | 13. September 2013

It is a common problem. Mine has not been solved but many report having the antenna wire grounded properly helped their reception.

tes-s | 13. September 2013

I have the problem. As soon as I hear someone has had service fix it, I will bring it in for a fix. I have hear about the grounding, but nothing difinitive.

PBEndo | 13. September 2013

My MS is in the service center now and the reception issues is on the list. I am hoping they can fix it, but my loaner has the same problem, maybe even worse, and it is much newer (VIN +5000 compared to mine) so I am not optimistic. On the positive side, I only use the FM for talk radio so the static and fading in/out is easier to tolerate than it would be for music.

bish | 13. September 2013

You can use TuneIn to listen to any radio station you want. As long as you have a decent 3G connection, your "reception" will be crystal clear.

ramtaz | 13. September 2013

My MS has been in service 3 times for the FM reception, still is worthless.
I am never told what they did or do, I drive off and it sounds like crap!

ThorensP | 13. September 2013

Reception for my FM/AM are both poor. I have a P85 and 5.0, less than a month old.

RanjitC | 13. September 2013

How many people like me have had no problem with radio reception FM/AM or XM?
Maybe they just can't figure out what they did right in my car and then replicate it?

cwmenne | 13. September 2013

My radio, XM, 3G & GPS reception has been perfect, no complaints from me. July delivery.

nvjx | 13. September 2013

Nov delivery. Worst radio reception of any car I have ever owned!

tes-s | 14. September 2013

August delivery. Terrible radio, but I have not been to the service center for it yet.

stephen.kamichik | 14. September 2013

I received mine last April. Radio reception is good.

SunCoulombs | 14. September 2013

It is high time that Tesla takes care of this problem. The number of complaints is now considerable.

PBEndo | 14. September 2013

@bish "You can use TuneIn to listen to any radio station you want."

Sorry, but no. TuneIn does offer an impressive selection of radio stations, and allows access to stations that are geographically inaccessible. However, it does not offer all stations. My favorite station for my commute is not available.
In addition, some stations sound better than others. Many I have tried sound great but many do not sound as good as they would on XM or a proper signal with terrestrial radio.

unclegeek | 14. September 2013

I'm in Phoenix, took delivery 2 weeks ago and my FM works excellent on HD. I don't know if it's due to the antenna ground being done at the factory or that we have stronger signals here.

stevenmaifert | 14. September 2013

Tesla chose form over function by not putting an external AM/FM antenna on the car, which accounts for most of the crappy reception.

Brian H | 14. September 2013

Drill a hole in the fender and wire a whip antenna into the receiver.

No external antenna. Elon vetoed the idea.

bradslee | 14. September 2013

There are many discussions on MS radio reception issue in this Forums since the first MS in June 2012. One can search them via

AmpedRealtor | 14. September 2013

FM/HD reception is fine, AM reception sucks eggs and service center says no fix that they know of but they'll keep investigating. I knew this was probably going to be an issue, so I can't say that I'm shocked or upset in any way, but it's a shame that a car of this caliber cannot get good radio reception.

Bob W | 15. September 2013

A couple weeks ago I took the car to Fremont Service solely to have them improve AM/FM reception. The service manager said that only 20% of the cars they have modified with better grounding have seen any significant improvement, and there is nothing more they can do at this time. The AM reception and motor whine "is what it is."

I ended up cancelling the service because they had no loaner cars available, and Enteprise rent-a-car didn't open until 9 am (and I was there at 7:30 am on a Tuesday). I'll try one more time when my annual service comes up.

In the mean time, I'm quite happy with Tune-In, so I'm not missing much as long as I have a 3G connection.

thranx | 15. September 2013

Doesn't anyone concentrate on driving anymore?

tes-s | 15. September 2013

If I could find out how to turn off the radio, then I might be able to concentrate. Can someone tell me where the off button is? I did find the volume and mute.

Brian H | 16. September 2013

Mute is all you get, I think.

Elon refused to let the designers put any external antennas on the car, even 'shark fin' type.

Thomas N. | 16. September 2013

Elon is a forward-thinking guy. He probably thought with 3G who in their right mind would ever use AM and FM anymore.

Just like a transmission, it's backward.

AmpedRealtor | 16. September 2013

@ ramtaz - any time work is performed on your vehicle, they should provide you with a service order showing you exactly what was done. Ask for copies for your prior service visits, they should be able to email them to you.

@ tes-s - as far as I can tell, there is no "off" switch other than pushing the left thumbwheel/volume to mute the audio. That's what I use to "turn off" whatever audio is playing.

I've driven a couple of loaners all over Phoenix the last week, and I think I've figured out why this issue (at least with AM) is so variable. Whether your hear interference has to do with several factors:

  • Strength of signal
  • Frequency band
  • Proximity to external sources of interference (i.e., high tension power lines, motors, lightning, etc.)

If your AM station lies on the extreme ends of the AM band, or the signal is weak, or you are in the vicinity of external interference sources, or a combination of all or some of these will cause a whining noise when accelerating or decelerating (regen). At constant freeway speed, interference is minimal and appears related to acceleration and deceleration only.

This would also explain why some of us hear it and others don't. It seems to depend a lot on the above variables, which may be due to nothing more than bad antenna placement. This is most likely why there is no fix, but I've learned to get most of my syndicated programming from TuneIn (local station is not listed there).

SunCoulombs | 16. September 2013

An external antenna may also be hidden in the form of a thin wire in the frame of the upper wind shield. Nobody would see it.

fritzlan | 16. September 2013

I love my Tesla. But the radio is the crappiest radio i've ever had. And It's a hundred thousand dollars car!


ramtaz | 16. September 2013

Thank you AmpedRealtor, I have yet to receive any service paperwork copies or emails.
Ill call TESLA ownership and see if I can have them emailed, for future reference.

stevenmaifert | 16. September 2013

AM whining - AFAIK, there are no alternators in ModS that would cause whining in the AM radio. However, solid state regulators that use a pulse-width-modulated field control system can also create a whine. The intensity and pitch of regulator induced noise changes with changing current load. That would be consistent with the observation in AmpedRealtor's last post relating to acceleration and deceleration.

SCCRENDO.Ca.US | 16. September 2013

I am in Southern California and my AM and FM is fine.

2-Star | 16. September 2013

I am in Maine, and the FM reception is very bad in weak signal areas but just fine when the signal is strong. Never had problems in any areas here with my previous car (MB SL500) or with my wife's car (MB E-Class). Haven't checked AM yet. XM is bad around big groups of trees, just fine in other areas.

Theresa | 16. September 2013

Just an FYI to those who are stating that Tunein is the answer. I for one live in an area that AT&T does not cover very well. So if I try to use Tunein it cuts out as well. At times my nav maps will go for 20-50 minutes without an update because the signal is so poor from AT&T.

Mwal32 | 16. September 2013

I took delivery in late July and paid extra to get XM (which I love). It is absolutely unusable. Worst reception I have ever had in any car. Very disappointed.

AmpedRealtor | 16. September 2013

Saying that TuneIn is the answer is nothing more than diverting attention away from the issue, which is that the radio reception can and should be better. Not all stations are available on TunIn either - the one I listen to here in Phoenix is not listed. I think those who say that AM is old technology, etc., still don't understand that none of that matters. AM and FM should "just work".

I knew this was a common issue when I bought my car, but it shouldn't be.

SunCoulombs | 20. September 2013

Tesla should solve this problem soon!

Moonlightmile | 11. Oktober 2013

In So Cal and my AM is awful.. can't even listen. Especially when you accelerate....

kk7p | 11. Oktober 2013

Does "TuneIn" carry the low power local AM traffic alerts for the stretch of highway you are currently driving on? You know, the ones that say "Tune to 540 AM if lights are flashing"? And what do you do when you are out of 3G range ?

Reasonable AM receiver performance at the extreme ends of the AM broadcast band is a matter of safety, which Tesla likes to promote about the Model S.

(Model S scheduled for Nov 16 delivery :-)

EssDub | 11. Oktober 2013

I've got no issues with am/fm around NYC/NJ.. Only complaint about XM is that you often lose signal for a few seconds when you drive under a bridge... But my old RR had that issue as well. I wonder if they can cache a few seconds so that doesn't happen....

nvjx | 11. Oktober 2013

I agree with Amped Realtor's assessment above.

Forty Creek | 11. Oktober 2013

FM is very poor on my September delivered MS with 5.0
My favorite(local)station has static so often that I no longer choose to listen to it. Worked perfectly on my last car. 3G alternatives are great when they work, but experience frequent drop outs.

GLangston | 13. Oktober 2013

FM is fine on my Model S but AM reception weak and then unusable when accelerating, even after taking the car in for service (checked/reconnected ground connection and no appreciable improvement). I don't have XM so can't comment on that.

TuneIn works fine except when licensing restrictions (such as for live sports) prevent Internet broadcasting, and, of course, that's one of the main reasons to listen to AM radio these days.

There are lots of places to hide a wire/whip antenna away from the motor, I would think. Easy enough to understand why this design flaw was missed during testing, since the AM radio performance is passable when the accelerator is not being pressed.

joeisg | 14. Oktober 2013

Really wish they'd fix the Radio reception issue. It is sold as part of the car and should work. As others have said Tunein, while good, is just not a complete alternate - programs are not always on it, and 3G reception is a challenge to some of us.

Brian H | 14. Oktober 2013

Find the hookup to the radio antenna feed, patch in a whip antenna, and drill a hole in the fender and install it. Elon will freak out, but it's your car. ;)

jvandeford | 10. November 2013

The simple question is there anyone who knows where the antenna lines are located? If so are they standard? If they are I am going to have my local customizer do a Sharkfin and AM/FM antenna in the headliner area.

Honestly I find this astounding the TM finds this acceptable. And then to tell me on delivery ATT 3G is only for 30 days free....

Brian H | 11. November 2013

Elon will disapprove of your sharkfin. >:|

TeslaOwnerBlog | 11. November 2013

Interesting. I was quite unhappy with my Roadster's radio reception but I haven't noticed much in the Model S. From my understanding, the fact that it is an electric car is part of the problem. Lots of self interference. Here's my old rundowns including the fix that was discussed here in this forum for the Roadster. | 11. November 2013

Antennas are scattered all over the car. For a specific antenna see:

stroy | 19. Januar 2014

I had a crystal radio in the 1960's that had better reception than the tesla radio. Just came back from Santa Cruz and the static was deafening. It amazes me that owners accept these issues and Tesla wont fix them. You can call the bad plug issue what ever you want Elon, but the radio deserves a recall. For $100,000 I think the radio should be able to listen too. Hanging an old transistor radio on the dash would have been more successful. Even though I have had to bring my car in for 4 repair issues, it still is an amazing car to drive. Consumer reports must have not turned on the radio.

Mel. | 20. Januar 2014

stroy, what did you think of Tune in, and how did you use it?

joer293 | 20. Januar 2014

I'm curious what model of antenna noise filter do they use on the Model S? I can't find that info anywhere on the net. Perhaps swapping out the inline filter for a much better would work? They are fairly cheap, 5-20$ for a good one. If they aren't using a filter then well problem would be solved.

Joanna18 | 17. April 2014

I was just at the service center for something else and they acknowledged this is a known problem. Ridiculous that in over a year, there is no fix. Personally, I'd be happy to have them affix a sharkfin antenna to solve the problem. AM/FM/XM provide worst reception I have had in 30 years. Unacceptable in a car of this cost that purports to be technologically advanced. This isn't just a Muskina quirk, like grab handles. The epicenter of the interior of the car focusses you on its media center, and I have an AM/FM radio from a 1965 Ford Fairlawn.