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Car now unlocks without Tesla app running

Car now unlocks without Tesla app running

I don't usually keep the Tesla app running on my phone as I usually only drive on weekends. I went out to my car on Saturday opened the door and drove away. Later I realized that I hadn't started the app up first. I did some experimenting and found that as long as the phone is paired with the car and in close proximity that it will work as a key. This seems to be a fairly new behavior and I like it. Now I only need to start the app up if I want to preheat the car or do some other remote function. Has anybody else noticed this?

Hal Fisher | February 11, 2019

This is the way it has been since I got mine in December? It has a mini app that runs on the phone all the time, you probably just didn’t know. That would be horrible to have to wait about two minutes everytime for that app to start. I’d just used the card instead then.

EVRider | February 11, 2019

I don’t know if that’s actually new behavior. The manual doesn’t say the app has to be running in order to use the phone key, and it shouldn’t be necessary since the car is using Bluetooth to detect the phone key. The manual does say that you have to remain logged into the app, but that might just be during the set up process.

Bighorn | February 11, 2019

The problem is with people who have multiple cars. The app needs to be looking at the particular 3 for it to unlock with the phone.

jerrykham | February 11, 2019

@Bighorn has it pretty close. It is actually a bit more complex than that - although he is spot on if you have multiple Model 3 vehicles and likely if you just have a 3 and say an X or an S. If you have, like we do, an S and a 3, and Tesla / Solar City solar, then you have to periodically switch it to the 3, then you can switch it back to the solar. Then the little T icon will be in the Android notifications for several days. Seems to be about 5 days or so. After several days it will disappear - and it will then no longer auto unlock the vehicle. I then have to switch to the Model 3 for a moment and back to the solar and it will again work as a key for several days for the Model 3. It doesn't have to be constantly set to look at the Model 3.

Of course when you want to use the "Send to car" feature to send an address to the vehicle's NAV, it doesn't work very well when the app is pointed to your solar. I have done that several times to my chagrin.

Bighorn | February 11, 2019

@jerry
If I switch over to the S to turn on the heat remotely, my 3 will not open until I swipe back to it in the app. There’s no active refractory period.

gregoryab | February 11, 2019

I very rarely have the Tesla App running and my doors unlock and I can drive. Your cellphone is paired to the vehicle via bluetooth so the app doesn't have to be running.

ILoveMyModel3 | February 11, 2019

If you pone is set up as a Key and your Bluetooth is enabled that Tesla app doesn't have to be running because it's using the Bluetooth connection. If you don't want this to happen, turn off your Bluetooth and by doing this doors will not atomically lock or unlock.

LikeEVs | February 11, 2019

Even if you weren't logged into the app, you can still unlock the car. That worked out great last week, when for whatever result, I weren't able to log into the app. I was still able to drive the car.

rxlawdude | February 11, 2019

@Bighorn's experience mirrors mine. But I've had several recent instances where the app was "pointing" to the M3 but the car didn't unlock. No rhyme or reason I can deign.

johnmann | February 11, 2019

Interesting. I'm glad I finally learned this, late as it was. I'm pretty sure that there had been times in the distant past when it would not open until I started the app. With the app running it worked 100% I'll keep the app off from now on and see how it does.

I have never had two minute wait times for the app to connect. Usually around 30 seconds or less. I'd start it on Saturday morning and leave it running all weekend. Now I'll have to find some way to use all my newly freed up time :)

suddled | February 11, 2019

I'm pretty sure its always been like that. I don't 'open' my app to get in my car. The phone is in my pocket and I just walk up and open the door.

johnmann | February 11, 2019

Just to be clear, I didn't open the app to get in the car, I just had the app running in the background and left my phone in my pocket.

lbowroom | February 11, 2019

Just to be clear, the door unlocking and driving of the car works through Bluetooth connection, the app works through cellular connection, no need to have the app open to access or drive the car.

gballant4570 | February 11, 2019

When I say that my [phone as key works flawlessly, it is coming from an owner of a single Tesla. Maybe when the Tesla pickup comes out I can see how the app works with multiple Teslas....

CorkChop | February 11, 2019

Sorry man but that’s the way it’s always been.

Joho.keith | February 11, 2019

After 5 years with an S and 9 months with a 3, I honestly think TESLA made a mistake relying on smartphones for so much of the user experience. My iPhone works 95% of the time to unlock which is OK but the S system never failed in 5 years. Any other car I’ve ever owned never failed. I wonder how it will be 7-8 years from now with new phone Bluetooth hardware implententations and new phone software. Phone tech moves rapidly, the car hardware will be static. The lack of satellite radio is another miss for me. When cell coverage is spotty, streaming stops. The XM in the S works almost everywhere except underground. I’m a very satisfied 3 owner but I understanding that every car has some areas of improvement. I’ve learned to live with the misses in this car like I have with every other car (S included). Maybe version 2 of model 3 will incorpotate our feedback.

LadyGrey | February 12, 2019

We have two Model 3's. I haven't ever tried walking up to the car with the app not running, but I can verify that if the app is running, it will not unlock a Model 3 if it is pointing to the other Model 3. This happens by accident quite often (after pre-warming spouse's vehicle for example) so I have many data points to confirm it.

Neomaxizoomdweebie | February 12, 2019

I have one Tesla Model 3. I ran a simple experiment with iPhone Xs max as follows:
Closes all running apps including Tesla app.
Reboot iPhone.
Tesla will not open.
(checked bluetooth settings and observed that there were no encrypted bluetooth keys connected).
Launch app.
Can immediately unlock car and I did observe that encrypted bluetooth keys were connected.

I re-ran the above experiment with cellular and wifi disabled (i.e. app has no ability to connect to internet).
When the app was launched the car could immediately be opened.

Like the OP, I too have observed that the phone key can unlock the car when the app is not running. Apparently rebooting the phone wipes the car keys from volatile memory until the app is relaunched. I'm glad internet connectivity is not required to reload the car keys.