Model 3

Phone Key doesn't work without App running?!?!?!?

edited November -1 in Model 3
It used to be my phone's bluetooth was all that was needed to unlock my car without the Tesla App running but within the last week or so that is no longer the case and I have to have the App running (in background at least) for it to work. WTF? It won't even show up in the list of bluetooth connections without the App running. Come on, really?!?!?! So if your App is down, like it was for a bunch of people some time ago that I read about and couldn't believe that people relied on the app, I won't be able to get into my car?!?!?!?


  • edited March 4
    @gary: Calm down. It has always been necessary to have the app running in the background (or foreground) for the phone key to work. If you thought otherwise you were mistaken. The app doesn't have to be connected to the car via the internet for phone key to work, so it doesn't matter if there's no internet connection.
  • edited November -1
    riddle me this...

    How can an app do any actions if the app is not running?
  • edited March 4
    Although my iphone always works, I carry a key card in my wallet just in case...
  • edited November -1
    If you do not carry the key card you are crazy. What happens if you drop your phone, it is stolen, or it just locks up?
  • edited March 4
    @Joshan - Or the battery dies ?
  • edited March 4
    App: background
    Keycard: pocket
  • edited March 5
    I do carry both the phone and card but until recently, I've never had to have the app running (foreground or background) to open or run the car. The only thing it needed was the bluetooth connection, which now, only shows up in the list of bluetooth connections if the app is running (foreground or background). When I force close the app, the bluetooth connection goes away - I don't mean just disconnected, I mean it goes away in the list of devices - unlike all my other bluetooth devices. Maybe its a security feature to keep from hacking? I just never keep apps running, I force close them when I'm done with them. Sort of an OCD thing.
  • edited November -1
    @gary_shank: Sorry, but I am 99.9% sure that you are mistaken. Question though..have you updated your phone recently? If so, the update might have messed up a setting somewhere.

    Highlights from the manual:
    Before you can use a phone to access Model 3, 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 user name and password.
    Note: You must remain logged in to your Tesla Account to use your phone to access Model 3.
    Note: If multiple vehicles are linked to the Tesla Account, you must switch the mobile app to the vehicle that you want to access before you can use the phone as a key.
  • edited November -1
    The information in the posts here is vague, so it's hard to be helpful. My initial reaction is the question whether you made a battery power saving exclusion for the Tesla app on your phone. Without the exclusion you would get the behavior you are complaining about.
  • edited November -1
    @gary: The phone key capability is provided by the app. It can’t work if the app isn’t running, any more than it could work if the app wasn’t installed. Not only does the app have to be running, but you have to be logged in, and if you have multiple Teslas, the car you’re trying to access must be the one selected in the app.
  • edited November -1
    I have experienced that the car would sometimes (rarely) unlock without the app running and posted about it.

    People were all over me saying that's the way it's always worked. Even EVRider said, "I don’t know if that’s actually new behavior." And now he says it has always been necessary.

    My experience after almost two years with the car is that the app almost always needs to be running in the background for the auto-unlock to work. There have only been a few occasions when I've forgotten to start the app where it has allowed me into the car. I generally only drive on weekends so don't leave the app running all the time.
  • edited March 5
    The app has to be running. Of course it can’t work without the app running. Same thing with computers. You have to turn them on for them to connect to the internet. Nothing has changed about this requirement since 2018 from my experience.
  • edited March 6
    When I bring up my bluetooth settings on my iPhone, I have a list of devices that I can connect to (speakers, etc) and when I first setup the Tesla App on my phone when I got my Model 3 back in Nov 2018, there were a few new devices that showed up in that list. One was "Tesla Model 3" which is the audio connection and another one with just a string of letters and numbers (which I determined was the door & car operation) and both would stay connected even when I "force closed" the app until I walked far enough away from the car and they would change to "Not Connected" but remain in the list. Now, within the last week or two, only the Tesla Model 3 audio device shows in the list constantly until I start the Tesla App and then door/operation shows up. And when I "force close" the App, Tesla Model 3 audio remains but the door/operation goes away. I'm a computer programmer with IBM so I notice things like that. An app doesn't have to be running for bluetooth connections to work - iOS handles it. Maybe its different on Android phones but I don't know about those. At this point, it doesn't matter. I will live with it as it is. As I mentioned, maybe its this way now due to security concerns, which is fine, I can understand that. I still force close all my apps when not in use, I just have to remember to launch it before I need to get into the car.
  • edited March 6
    Force closing most apps in the background on an iPhone is completely unnecessary according to Apple. Especially if you have kept background refresh switched off. No need to force close anything except to satisfy OCD. Which by the way I also do… I force close stuff all the time with the **exception** of my Tesla app; it stays open in the background all the time.
  • edited March 6
    Atoms - "The app has to be running."

    I don't think that is necessarily true. If the car and phone are paired the car should be able to detect the phone's bluetooth signal without the app running. These two excerpts are from the manual.

    "Using your phone is a convenient way to access your Model 3. As you approach, your phone's Bluetooth signal is detected and doors unlock when you press a door handle."


    "Model 3 communicates with your phone using Bluetooth. To authenticate your phone or use it as a key, the phone must be powered on and Bluetooth must be enabled."

    No mention in either of these about the need for the app to be running. Plus the experience of myself and others is that it works, at least sometimes, without the app running. This next excerpt may prove to be the key.

    "You must remain logged in to your Tesla Account to use your phone to access Model 3."

    So perhaps without the app running you are logged out of your Tesla account after a period of time and starting the app logs you in again. This should be easy to test by starting and then closing the app and then approaching the car and see whether it will unlock and start.
  • edited March 6
    My car never opens without the app open. Just tried it now too. Doors are dead. Trunk dead.
  • edited March 6
    Tesla actually tells you not to force close the app. I’m assuming the problem you are reporting is why they make this recommendation.

    You can try removing your phone as key and adding it again to see if that helps? I’ve always noticed when my phone is out of phone key range, the Bluetooth “device” that’s the string of characters disappears. Only when I’m in range of the vehicle does it reappear.
  • edited November -1
    Force closed all apps. Restarted phone. Nothing running. Walk up to car, pull handle, windows fold out and door opens. So no, the app does not need to be open. Don’t believe me, try it yourself.
  • edited March 6
    Mirrors, not windows. Sorry
  • edited March 6
    Bluetooth connections are setup and running without the app. Only need app to operate remote Functions over LTE
  • edited March 6
    Although the phone key feature uses Bluetooth to detect your phone, it requires the app to run in the background (or foreground) in order to authenticate your use of the phone key. If you delete the app from your phone but not from the Control > Locks screen, the phone key will stop working even though the Bluetooth connection is still there.

    It’s difficult to be certain the app isn’t actually running, especially with background app refresh enabled. Certain iOS apps will still run in the background even if you force quit them.
  • edited March 6
    Installed, yes. Visibly open in the foreground or background, no.
  • edited March 6
    @lbowroom "Don’t believe me, try it yourself."

    I tried it. Didn't work. June 2018 build LR RWD, 2020.4.1, iPhone X, iOS 13.3.1

    If the app didn't have to be running why would it make a difference which one of multiple Teslas was selected?
  • edited March 6

    I can only surmise that you have changed a setting on your phone that I have not. One of those allow processes to work all the time instead of only when using app
  • edited March 7
    Might be related to background app refresh?
    I don’t toggle that option on my iphone and the car does not respond without app physically open in background.
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