Shockingly locked out of my Model S

Shockingly locked out of my Model S

I ran out of the house for a quick errand leaving my I-phone and placing my MS key fob in my pocket. Unknowingly the key fob fell out of my pocket in the seat and I got out of the car and went about my way. I returned minutes later to look in the window and find the locked car with the key on the seat and no way to unlock. Luckily I was able to install the Tesla app on my husbands phone (who was with me) to log-in and unlock the car. This has panicked me as my Acura would not allow me to lock the car if the keys were inside the car/trunk. Can Tesla remotely unlock the car doors, if this should happen and I'm alone and with out cell access?

RedJ | November 20, 2018

I’m actually glad that the car locks with the key inside. Otherwise there would be the risk of leaving my car unlocked with the key inside. If you don’t have your phone to unlock your car I’ve heard of people having a Good Samaritan stranger load the app on their phone and allow them to log in to unlock their car. I do believe, but can’t confirm, that Tesla would unlock your car remotely.

p.c.mcavoy | November 20, 2018

The car locking with the key inside is something that I'm confused about. I've see posts like this before where owners clearly state their key was inside the car and it locked, yet other threads with people stating that they accidentally left a key inside the car unknowingly and found later that the car was unlocked.

An example of the latter is an owner that posted on one of the Facebook Tesla pages about getting a notification at midnight that his charging was interrupted and found the car in the morning where someone had been inside clearing gone through anything in the car, including the glove box, looking for valuables. He insisted it must be a software problem until he latter realized he had an old key fob that didn't work, yet had left it in the car, and confirmed that it would still prevent the car from locking.

I know some cases where owners get locked out have been stated they key was in a bag with their cellphone, so likely shielded or interference from a cellphone preventing the fob from being detected, but that clearly does not appear to be the case that @tiffanyratliff stated above where is sounds like just the fob in or beside the seat.

Anyone able to define for me the definitive cases where the car will and will not lock with a fob inside?? This is one that still confuses me!

Bighorn | November 20, 2018

Predictably locked out. Conventional wisdom is that the phone interferes with fob signal, although I’ve picked up my car from service after hours where they’ve left the fob in the car, so I’m not convinced the phone is necessarily part of the equation. If you stand around your car with the fob longer than a certain amount of time, the door handles stop responding and you need to press the key to unlock it. It’s as though passive entry times out.
Tesla can open your car remotely.

SoCal Buzz | November 20, 2018

Shocking... :)

EVRider | November 20, 2018

The Passive Entry setting might determine whether your car will lock with the key inside. When Passive Entry is enabled, your car detects the key and unlocks automatically, otherwise you have to manually unlock the car. It doesn’t say anything about this in the manual, but I’m guessing that disabling Passive Entry allows the car to lock with the key inside. | November 20, 2018

@tiffanyratliff - Are you sure you were locked out? Some owners don't realize that when the handles are retracted, it doesn't mean the car is locked. If you push on a handle, it pops out and you can enter the car.

I'd also suggest you do a test with the FOB where you left it (but keep the phone handy). Close the door, and wait a minute for the handles to retract. Then test if it is really unlocked or locked. My guess is it never locked. If it does lock, use your phone to unlock. Love to hear your results.

kerryglittle | November 20, 2018

Push the handle. Its not locked.

ktslab | November 20, 2018

I left the fob in the S a couple of times. Every time, I was able to push the handle and the car unlocks. although I did not leave the fob inside the car for several hours, less than an hour each time.

PrescottRichard | November 20, 2018

That’s good info! Pushing the handle.

Also, quick thinking using your husband’s app. Your car & his account had to be linked somehow, it took weeks to get my car to appear in the app.

jjs | November 20, 2018

I have left the key fob in the car overnight. Still open the next day.

GHammer | November 20, 2018

There's something missing in this equation. My wife leaves her fob in the car all the time when it's in our garage and it never locks. Passive entry is enabled. The only difference I note in the condition of the car is that when the fob is left inside and car is unlocked, the mirrors do not fold in.

DermMD | November 20, 2018

This, like others have pointed out, is not locking but rather handles retracting, A simple push on the handle presents them back for opening. The cat is out of the bag now as indeed I have forgotten my FOB in the car all day at work and only realized as I try to find it again getting ready to go home. The doors never lock.

sentabo | November 20, 2018

I have closed the trunk with my fob still in my golf bag. I was able to open the car and drive home. I didn't realize I didn't have the key until I walked in my house and felt my empty pocket.

wisam.alrawi | November 20, 2018

It happened to me at the Supercharger but luckily I had the windows rolled down. I left the phone inside the car. I had a phone charger that plugs into the 12v socket in the car. That charger produces enough electromagnetic interference where the car can't see the key fob anymore if the key fob is close to it.

tiffanyratliff | November 22, 2018

Thanks all for the comments. The car is new and I have only had it for about a month and 1/2. I did try pressing the handles and they would not retract. I also apologize for the repost, again I am new to this and could not locate my original post. I am surprised by some of the rudeness of some of my fellow Tesla owners.

@TeslaTap, I did the test and it did unlock., however it would not a few days ago (previously I was away for a couple hours, not sure if that made a difference). I greatly appreciate your suggestions.

Praying that everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

dborn | November 22, 2018

Tiffany, I would add to Teslataps suggestion and suggest to test it again over a few hours or even overnight. Perhaps in your locked garage at home. | November 23, 2018

It is possible that there are dead spots within the car where it doesn't sense the FOB. I only ran one quick test putting the fob on the front seat. It is known if you put your phone on top of the FOB, it is unlikely to be sensed (i.e. metal surfaces block signals). It may also have a timed lock that ignores the FOB (hours?) as a good security measure, although I've not tested that.

Most owners would also have their phone to unlock the car, so some kind of auto-lock after a long time seems like a good idea. There are an almost infinite number of situations, and while one may annoy you (auto locking), most can be disabled if you don't mind manually locking the car each time. My guess is you'll never leave the key in the car again :)

dr_ram7 | July 24, 2019

I left my phone inside the car and the keyless entry locked my car. How can I unlock it?

Bighorn | July 24, 2019

Another phone if the fob is not at hand.

TranzNDance | July 24, 2019

That's one of the reasons I like having a cellular Apple Watch with the Remote app on it.

ayze82 | September 13, 2019

this happened to me once. i left my car key inside and the handle wasn't popping out when I pressed it. i'm wondering why car doesn't have the function it beeps if you leave the key fob inside and walked away. cause regardless if the car is locked or not it's not a good idea to leave the key inside the car.
also my Key fob sometimes not recognized when it's inside of the car. if you leave the key fob inside and if the car is not detecting it, it will potentially lock/ turn off. i think that's what happened to me last time when i locked myself out.
hope they fix the issue.

PrescottRichard | September 13, 2019

This just happened to someone on the Facebook page for AZ Tesla Enthusiasts. Phone & key were in the car, no Apple Watch with Tesla Remote (which could get you in). Since he had family there that he was helping out he was able to get his partner to unlock the car. Nice save!

PS- please refrain from using the word ‘shockingly’ in thread titles dealing with electric cars.

Riles246 | September 18, 2019

I had to disable auto-lock because of this. Since most other cars (ICE + EV) have on/off buttons, you can leave the car on while walking around to the passenger door to unbuckle your kids in their car seats. However, since Tesla doesn't have an on/off, when you get out of the driver door it thinks you're done and can lock you out of the car, with your kids still inside. I live in an area without cell coverage so the app is not an option most of the time.

I thought keeping the fob in the car would prevent it from locking, like basically every other car on the market, but no luck- I left my fob in the cupholder and went to get my kids out of the backseat and it locked (mirrors folder, the whole nine yards). Thankfully I was home so I could grab my other fob, but truly annoying.

I miss having either an on/off button, or in my Lexus I had to touch the door handle to lock it (when using the "keyless" feature). Don't get me wrong- on net, I love the Tesla, but the door lock/unlock is one of the areas where their attempt to innovate went a little beyond utility.

So long story short, if you have small kids, disable auto-lock on walk away to prevent lock-outs with kids inside.

TranzNDance | September 18, 2019

I've left my fob in the cup holder and the car did not auto lock. Fortunately, I got a reminder from Teslafi that my car was unlocked.

EVRider | September 18, 2019

@Riles246: Can't you just take the fob with you and use it to unlock the car when you get your kids out?

In any case, the car is not supposed to auto lock when the fob is inside, so maybe your fob needs a new battery.

sklancha | September 18, 2019

I've been genuinely locked out of my Tesla twice. The first time, we were in New Mexico, and had just plugged into a brand new destination charger on a remote and rural scenic trail. I plopped my purse (with fob and phone) in the trunk while chatting with the owners of the establishment. Unknowingly, my daughter closed all the doors- and we got locked out. Unfortunately, we were in a small triangle with no phone connectivity, so putting the app on an available good samaritan's phone didn't help. Tesla does have remote unlock capabilities, but despite their efforts throughout the night, we were still locked out in the morning. The closest certified Tesla roadside assistant had to drive all the way from Albuquerque- a 2 hour drive- to break into the car and rescue the fob.

The second time, was just as challenging. The fob got lost at a farm in Texas (whole other story), so we were relying on the phone to let us in the car. We were at a Supercharger in Missouri. Even though we weren't in the middle of no-mans-land (like New Mexico)- there was just no phone signal. Even calling Tesla for help was a problem! After several hours of trying, they eventually were able to remotely unlock the car.

Lucky for us, Tesla got a hold of the service station in Kansas City, and they were willing to stay open a bit longer so we could get a new fob. I guess two hour lock-out wore them out as much as it wore us out!

murphyS90D | September 19, 2019

My fob is in my key case in my pocket with the rest of my keys. When I get out of the car it is guaranteed to come with me. The key case has hangars for 8 keys, the fob is on one of them.

Riles246 | September 19, 2019

@EVRider- yes of course, if you can remember to grab it every single time that you step out of the car, sure- that would work. But with screaming kids, or a spill, or any other of life's surprises, the odds that I will remember to grab the fob 100% of the time when all I need to do is walk from the front of the car to the back of the car are basically 0%. I don't leave the fob in my pocket when I drive because some of my pants have a pocket that is shaped such that the fob falls out between the seats due to the seating angle in the Tesla, so that solution is out.

Good point on the fob battery- I'll definitely change mine. But the point remains- if it locks my kids in the car when the battery is less than full (the fob otherwise operates fine so it's not dead), then it's not workable.

Ultimately, disabling auto-lock solves it, so that's what I and all Tesla-owning parents need to do, unless they are robots who can perfectly execute the fob-grab every single time before walking to the other side of the car!

tigerkc | September 19, 2019

I have the habit of keeping the driver door slightly ajar after I get out of the car to access the trunk, plug in the charger, or whatever, unless I am ready to walk away. After I walked away, I also double check from the apps that the car is locked.

If it is important to you to not lock yourself out, you will find ways to develop a routine for it.

DermMD | September 19, 2019

Someone explained this earlier in this thread. The reported locking is most likely not actual locking but rather the door handles retracting which I believe is actually a good thing. I am on my second MS and I constantly leave keys inside and walk away, in error of course. It has never locked on me. Granted this is a sample of two but from reading the owner's manual locking the car in this situation would be errand behavior which indeed can happen but rather more likely to be perceived than actual error in technology.

sklancha | September 19, 2019

@Riles246 The problem being described actually is with the autolock setting of the car when the fob battery is almost dead. If the fob is left on your driver's seat- and the battery is working, you will be able to open the car door (even if it autolocked). What can mess with people like me (absent-minded, disorganized, and waits until point of desperation to change the fob battery...) is ignoring signs that the fob battery is low. Early signs can be sporadic and easily ignored or overlooked-
1- Door handle presentation: from earliest warning sign to dangerously low signs-
When you have to be much closer to your car ->
have to be closer to the drivers door ->
have to push on handle to open ->
have to push handle several times before it opens ...
2- Car recognizes fob- when the fob has a fully juiced battery, the car will recognize the fob, even when burried in a backpack full of gear... then
-only recognized if in front row
0nly recognized when in driver's territory
-Have to take it out of pocket/ purse/ brief case
-Have to place it in the cup holder area- (if you routinely leave your fob in that area, you wouldn't notice the other early warnings)

The fob battery works like a human heart- as it is loses its' strength, it prioritizes the most important of functions and slacks off on lesser important functions.

DermMD | September 19, 2019

As for the key in the trunk, that is also by design. When you drop off your car at service for pick up after hours they will lock your car and leave the FOB in the trunk for you to open with your phone or another FOB