Charge port doesn't unlock/release cable in presence of Keyfob

Charge port doesn't unlock/release cable in presence of Keyfob

My chargeport doesn't release the charging cable until I either manually unlock the doors or get closer to the front door for the car to detect the keyfob and unlock. Why is this? I approach my car from the back in my garage. If I press the button on the charging cable it will not release. I have to go past the cable to get closer to the front door so that the car will automatically unlock, or I have to press the unlock button on the keyfob. Then, when I press the button on the cable it will release. Is this normal?
When I approach the back of the locked car and press the rear hatch release it seems to automatically look for the keyfob and then unlock. Why doesn't the charge cable do the same? It seems reasonable that the charging cable lock should function the same as the other locks and open when the button is pressed in the presence of the fob.

bbryant | August 4, 2013

I have found that I must place the chargepoint rfid card on the
screen to stop charging, then the cable will release.

Captain_Zap | August 4, 2013

It sounds like your fob battery might be getting weak.

EJH | August 4, 2013

My vehicle behaves exactly the same way, so I doubt that there is anything unusual about your cars behavior. It is a little inconvenient nonetheless.

DTsea | August 4, 2013

the auto unlock is much more sensitive from the front than the back. i got new keys yesterday (the old ones had an issue) and still the same. so now i just put briefcase in back seat before unplugging. no biggie.

this is normla in other words.

JPPTM | August 4, 2013

One thing you need to do (after using your ChargePoint RFID card on the pedestal) is to hold down the ChargePoint release button for a good 2 seconds after you have finished charging. It seems to take a bit for the Model S to see the signal and then release/unlock the charge port & adapter. YMMV.

ian | August 4, 2013


PBEndo | August 4, 2013

@JPPTM and bbryant This thread is about the charging port on the MS with the Tesla HPWC or UMC, not using ChargePOINT.

@DTsea You are correct that the auto unlock is more sensitive from the front. However, pressing the rear hatch release seems to detect the fob every time.

I positioned my outlet and cable in my garage with the goal of making it difficult for me to forget to plug or unplug the car. Unfortunately, that means I have very little room to walk past the charging cable when it is plugged in. My typical morning involves me trying to squeeze past the protruding charging cable without spilling my coffee to get the car to unlock or having to fish the keyfob out of my pocket or briefcase. Certainly, this is not the worst problem to have, but if pressing the charging cable release button would make the car search for the keyfob it would take away one minor annoyance I have every day. This is the only time I even use the keyfob. I think it is merely something the engineers didn't consider yet. One thing that is great about this car is that this could probably be added via a software update.

PBEndo | August 4, 2013

Actually an even better option for me would be to allow a location based override of the walk-away door lock feature. I prefer to have this feature on in most places, but I don't need it, and even prefer to have it off in my own garage. Perhaps GPS could be used as it is with the Homelink. Even better would be if the car could tell when plugged into its home charger because that will only happen inside my garage.

David Trushin | August 4, 2013

The car must be unlocked to remove the charge cable. I don't think the car unlocks from behind unless you put the fob in the sweet spot on the rear window. I personally like that behavior because many times i go into the trunk and then leave the car, but i'm sure that many will find that a flaw as well.

PBEndo | August 4, 2013

@David I realize the car must be unlocked to remove the cable - that is a necessary feature.

I am requesting that the car unlock when the cable release button is pressed in the presence of the keyfob. This is the exact behavior that occurs when the rear hatch button is pressed (or the door handles if the keyfob has not already been detected)
Pressing the rear hatch button cause the car to "search" for the keyfob and detect it at a greater distance.

Bob W | August 4, 2013

I think that the charge port lock works the way it does to discourage theft. Remember that the "open charge port" signal emitted by pressing any charger button is the same signal for all Model S cars; any UMC or SuperCharger signal will open any nearby charge ports, if and only if the cars are unlocked.

So, say someone wants to steal a $650 UMC being used on a public or semi-private 14-50 outlet. Just after you lock your car and start to walk away, I could generate an "unlock charge port" signal (using any other UMC), and your UMC would unlock, and I could easily disconnect it and take it, even while your car remains locked. Yes, generating the signal would only work while you were still close enough to the car, but the port would stay unlocked for quite a while, and that would not be cool.

So I think you'll have to learn to accept the current behavior. For me, it's really no big deal to double click the FOB or tap the front door handle to unlock the car before I remove the charging cable. I don't use the "auto-present" feature because I don't like to see the handles open every time I walk into my garage to get something.

On the subject of security, it would be nice if we had the option to only unlock or present the driver's door or driver's side doors, instead of all doors, the way most other cars do it (first tap unlocks driver's door, second unlocks all doors).

PBEndo | August 4, 2013

@Bob W Sorry but this does not make sense to me. Correct me if I am wrong.

How is this different than the proximity sensing door locks? The keyfob would still have to be detected. If I was still close enough to the car for the keyfob to be detected, couldn't the thief also open the car doors or rear hatch?... and actually get in the car...? Yes.

In addition, if every UMC sends the same signal to all MS cars, you wouldn't need another cable, you could use my own cable. What prevents that from working is the the car is locked and won't release the cable until it is unlocked when it detects the keyfob. That would prevent any other cable from unlocking as well.

I am merely suggesting that the car search for the keyfob when the button on the UMC is pressed, just like it does when the other externally accessible buttons/handles are pressed. I don't see any change in security with this solution.

I agree about having selective door unlocks. I assume they can add this via a software update.

PBEndo | August 4, 2013

@Captain_Zap It is not a keyfob signal issue.

When I stand in the same spot near the charging cable with the keyfob in my pocket, nothing happens when I press the charging cable button yet my daughter can press the hatch release and the hatch opens, the doors unlock and the handles present. Then I can remove the cable. The car can detect the keyfob when it tries to, but pressing the charging cable button does not make it try.

This is the normal behavior for the car, I just wish it wasn't. It is the only time I have to actually find/use the keyfob.

nickjhowe | August 4, 2013

@pbendo +1 - I find I do the "Chargeport Two Step" - I also walk around the back of my car, and when I get to the charge port do a "two steps to the left" (to move far enough forward to get the car to unlock) then "two steps to the right" to go back to the charge port.

Agree with you - If the car can detect the fob near the rear doors and near the trunk, and it can detect the UMC signal, surely it ought to allow the chargeport to be unlocked without unlocking the entire car - or at least unlock the car when the UMC button is pressed with the fob detected.

PBEndo | August 5, 2013

@Bob - I think you are referring to the signal that opens a closed charge port door, not the signal to release the charging cable.

@nickjhowe - your description is perfect. What makes it worse is I purposely chose a cable location that would be difficult to walk around to help remind me to plug in/unplug. It is a pretty tight squeeze when I have to do the Tesla Two-Step. | August 5, 2013

It's just a step to the front
And then a hop to the back
Pull the charge cable out
And remember to latch
Put your hand on your hips
And slide to the left

Let's do the charge port again
Let's do the charge port again

(sung to the tune of "Time Warp")

I know this dance.... :o)

Seriously though, you can unlock by pressing the rear hatch switch also....

Anonymous | August 5, 2013

Same here, just walk up to front door then back to charge port. No biggie for me.

nickjhowe | August 5, 2013

@Kevin R - my rear hatch used to do "one press, nothing; two presses, two presses, nothing; three presses, unlock and open". Since 4.5 it now unlocks and opens with a single press. I don't have a way to only unlock the car using the rear hatch.

hsadler | August 5, 2013

Simple - park the car in the garage sideways with the driver door facing toward garage door. Then you have to walk past the car doors to get to the ChargePoint (port - sorry).

Another option is to put the Keyfob on a small bungie and toss it toward the car doors while standing at the ChargePoint (port - sorry again).

Belv | August 5, 2013

Looking at the owners manual on page 16 for charging, it states the following.

"To prevent unauthorized unplugging of the charging cable, Model S
must be unlocked or able to recognize a key before you can
disconnect the charging cable."

I agree with pbendo that this needs to be corrected and recognize the key. Currently my car is firmware 4.5, and I can only remove the cable if the doors are unlocked.

DTsea | August 5, 2013

Pbendo you dont want the car to unlock when you push the button on the charge handle because all the chargers are identical- same wifi signal- so that means anybody with a charge cable could unlock your car.

PBEndo | August 5, 2013

@DTsea Read my response to Bob above

"anybody with a charge cable could unlock your car"

If that were true, my own cable would unlock the car. Another charge cable would not be required. What currently prevents my charge cable or any other charge cable from unlocking the car is an engineering oversight. In order for the car to unlock, the keyfob must be detected. If the keyfob is detected, the car can be unlocked by pressing the rear hatch button, the door handles or automatically by proximity. If some cable wielding thief is right next to my car while my keyfob is detected, why would he bother with the cable, he could merely open the door. This does not seem to decrease security in any way.

@nickjhowe and @sambutterworth
You seem to understand. Perhaps you can explain it better. I had no idea this would end up being such a long thread just to explain the problem. I am considering adding some additional spelling and grammatical errors to draw Brian H into the conversation.

Belv | August 5, 2013

When the car is plugged in and locked, the button on the charge handle should operate exactly like the touch sensitive door handles and the rear hatch button.

Anyone can walk up and press the door handle, rear hatch button, or charger button. The car will not unlock without the key present.

The arguement that any charge connector can unlock the charge port is incorrect. It would still have to search for the owners key. This is the exact programming for door handles and rear hatch button. It needs to be updated for the charger button.

nickjhowe | August 5, 2013

@sam - I think the original request was for even less than that.

When the car is plugged in and locked, the button on the charge handle (UMC) should unlock the charge port if the fob is detected.

Belv | August 5, 2013

Nickjhowe, I agree and was trying to say the same thing.

riceuguy | August 5, 2013

Folks, this is by design. If you walk up to your trunk, for safety it does not open the doors, it only unlocks the trunk. If you want to keep your keys in your pocket, pressing the trunk button once will then unlock the charger, as will the app, pressing the key fob roof twice, or walking around to the door. This is not a flaw.

Bob W | August 5, 2013


I don't think unlocking the charge port when the fob is detected and you press the charger button is possible without hardware changes (specifically, a new fob proximity sensor).

There seems to be a "dead zone" as far as fob detection is concerned, near the charge port. I just tested this by locking the car with the fob, then placing the FOB on a high chair, about 2 feet from the charge port, directly in front of it, and about six inches below. This closely matches the fob's location if one were connecting or disconnecting the charger from the car with the fob in a front pocket. At this location, tapping the front door handle or pushing the rear hatch button did nothing; the fob was simply not detected when it was in front of the charge port.

If I moved the chair with the fob forward, so that it was directly in front of the rear door handle, then tapping on the driver's door opened it OK. Similarly, if I placed it directly behind the rear license plate, the rear hatch opened OK (I forgot to test the front doors with the fob at this location).

One thing I could not test by myself was having someone try to tap on the front door handle while I was touching the charger, and the FOB was in my pocket. Perhaps the conductivity of my body would allow the fob to be detected better, as long as I was touching the car. Try it.

If that doesn't work, well, I'm afraid the request cannot be satisfied without an expensive retrofit to add a new fob sensor and more wiring to the Model S, somewhere near the charge port.

Belv | August 5, 2013

Riceguy, I agree that current trunk and door handles work correctly.

We are specifically talking about releasing the charge cable.

I previously incorrectly wrote unlocking car but just want the Charge Cable to be released when key fob is present.

So, when the car is plugged in and locked, the button on the charge handle (UMC) should release the charge cable if the fob is detected.

Mike C | August 5, 2013

Agree with OP. If the car can detect the fob to unlock the hatch when pressed it should also detect the fob to unlock the UMC when pressed. This is also the only time I need to actually press the fob. The workaround (originally reported by GeekGirls) pressing the trunk latch once, no longer works since 4.5 because it now opens the trunk with one press.

PBEndo | August 5, 2013

@Bob There is no dead zone. When I stand at the charge port and press the button with the key in my pocket, nothing happens. Without me moving an inch, another person can go to my rear hatch, press the button and the hatch opens. When the hatch button is pressed the car is able to detect the key and unlock even though the key is in the exact same position.

Bob W | August 5, 2013

Please repeat my experiment, using the fob on a chair, to see if you get the same result that I did (I could not open the rear hatch or the front door when the fob was on a chair in front of the charge port). Maybe your proximity sensor works better than mine, or maybe having it touching a body allows it to work better.

Q: If no charger is connected, and the car is locked, and you press the charger button with the fob in your pocket, do you want the charge port to open? If so, wouldn't that open every other charge port nearby, if people were standing next to their locked model S's, e.g. at a Model S group gathering near a SuperCharger? I don't think that would be so cool. | August 5, 2013

I stand corrected-- the hatch does now open with one press.

PBEndo | August 5, 2013

@Bob W I could try to replicate your results with a chair, but since I would normally not place my keyfob on a chair to open the car, it seems significantly less relevant than my experiment with the keyfob in my pocket, which is strikingly similar to real world conditions. Identical, in fact.

To answer your question, I am not really sure how to respond.....but here goes!
This thread is about pressing the button on the cable when it is charging to release the cable (when the keyfob is detected). It is not about opening the charge port door when no charger is connected. In addition, the signal from the charging cable is very weak. Many owners have to hold it in just the right position to get it to open the chargeport on their own car. If you can get it to open another chargeport in a car that is merely nearby you must have a secret method. Are you using a chair to improve the transmission strength? Lastly, the circumstances of your question have a Model S group near their cars but with the doors locked. What if their cars were not locked. With the current (pun intended) functionality of the cable button, would you then expect all chargeport doors in the vicinity to open every time somebody presses a charging cable button since the doors are unlocked?

Brian H | August 5, 2013

Your car thief wouldn't get far. The car won't go into D or R or move with the charge cable plugged in.

Bob W | August 5, 2013

@pbendo, The charge port's antenna is in the rear window, not in the charge port door as many assume. Hold the charger up in the air, so that it has a clear line-of-site to the rear window, and all the charge ports nearby will open on any unlocked Model S within range. I tried it from 7' away and it opened the door on mine. I don't know what the range is, maybe 20 feet if there are no obstructions?

The experiment with the chair is only intended to verify if the sensitivity of your Model S proximity sensor is any better than mine (VIN 028xx).

OK, so you do not want the button to open and unlock the charge port when the car is locked and the charge port is closed and the fob is nearby, but you do want it to to unlock the charge port when the car is locked and you press the button and the fob is nearby and the charger is plugged in.

Pressing the button probably generates a radio signal whether the charger is plugged in or not. So the risk with this suggestion is that it could also stop charging of a nearby Model S (say, at the next SuperCharger stall), if the owner's fob happens to be close enough to his or her car when you press the button on your car. That would not be cool.

That's should only possible today if the car is other unlocked (I'll have to try it next time I get to a busy supercharge). Maybe the Model S is smart enough to ignore charger button radio signals while it is charging, and only looks for the connected button press. Sure enough, even with the UMC unplugged you can still press the button and remove the charger (which is nice if there's a sudden power failure). That means once plugged in, it doesn't need to listen for a radio signal. But it still may be listening for one, and that would have to change.

In sum, there are a lot of "what ifs" you have to consider for even the simplest and most reasonable change in behavior. And it does nothing to help you when using a J1772 adapter at a public charging station, since there is no "unlock" button you can press. You still have to unlock your car to get the J1772 out.

I'd rather see "long hold" of the key fob open and unlock the charge port instead of rolling down all your windows. Now that should be easy to implement, has little downside risk, and it helps those using a J1772 too.

Bob W | August 5, 2013

Edit first sentence in 4th paragraph:

"That should only be possible today if the other car is unlocked (I'll have to try it next time I get to a busy SuperCharger)."

Bob W | August 5, 2013

Something else to consider: when car is locked, the charge port is locked. When the car is unlocked, the charge port can be unlocked. It may not be possible to separate these two systems without hardware changes.

Would it be acceptable to you if all the doors also unlocked when you pushed on the button of a connected charge cable, if the fob was nearby? I assume you would prefer to unlock the charge port only, but maybe that's not possible. It depends on how the hardware is wired up.

PBEndo | August 5, 2013

@Bob W "In sum, there are a lot of "what ifs" " The sum of those "what if's" = 0

After reading my questions, your answers, my responses, and your responses, it is clear that I am being "punked". There is no other explanation. I am embarrassed that I did not catch on sooner and I not only let this charade continue, I played no small part in its long life.

@nickjhowe and sambutterworth - thanks for trying. Your efforts were worthy. I now realize I have spent more time trying to explain a relatively simple idea than I will ever spend doing the Tesla Two-Step.

Tesla ownership called me today schedule a service visit since they heard my charge port door would not open. Does anybody actually read anymore?

I actually have a new problem to worry about since my passenger side rear window came off the track today and will not close. That is a very bad thing in South Florida, where it has rained 19 of the last 17 days.

Good night all.

PBEndo | August 5, 2013

@Brian H Thanks for joining the conversation, I was worried about you.
By the way, you misspelled my name......

justineet | August 5, 2013

@pbendo.....what will be the impact on your charging if the charging port is unlocked purerly on fob proximity?? Wouldn't the charging stop everytime you r nearby if charging stops automatically when port is unlocked??

PBEndo | August 5, 2013

@ justineet yes it would

Hence my request to release the cable when the button on the cable is pressed and the fob is detected. No button press, no release.

justineet | August 5, 2013

@pbendo....that could work but it would need a little different software/hardware design than the automatic, keyfob proximity door opening

justineet | August 5, 2013

Otherwise you won't be able to be nearby your car with ur keyfob while it's charging

PBEndo | August 5, 2013

@ justineet. From what I understand about the charging cable and the fob, it would only require a software change. The hardware is already capable.

Mike C | August 5, 2013

This is a very simple concept, I don't see why people are making it complex. The chargeport should react the same way as the doors and trunk - no response to input when the fob is not there but response (e.g., door handles extend when touched if no tech package; trunk opens) when the fob is in proximity. As it is, pressing the button on the UMC does nothing even with the fob in full proximity, requiring an unnecessary two button press on the fob.

PBEndo | August 6, 2013

@Mike C. Thank you. I was beginning to question my sanity.

PBEndo | August 6, 2013

Well I got some rest and a cup of coffee so I will give it another go

@Bob W I don't share your concerns of a radio signal from a plugged in charging cable affecting nearby cars. If this is possible, it would already be happening at busy charging stations when a nearby car is unlocked. Certainly not every car at the charging stations is locked every time a nearby Tesla owner unplugs his car. I don't have multiple Tesla's (yet!) to test this, but I have not heard of this happening. Can anybody report an experience that justifies these concerns? Has anybody had their car affected in anyway by a nearby cable button or unplugging?

In addition, if a radio signal is generated and is strong enough to reach a nearby car, and that car does not have the ability to distinguish it from its own cable (lots of if's), it still should only stop charging for a few seconds and then resume charging. That is what happens when you press the charging button but don't remove the cable. Charging resumes almost immediately.

To answer your question about unlocking the car as well - For my purposes, yes that would be fine. However, I can understand why others would not want the doors to unlock, or at least not every time. For me, that would be great. I have over 9000 miles and I have not needed to use a public charging station yet. I only charge in my closed garage. As I mentioned above, I would prefer the doors wouldn't even lock in the first place in my own garage.

nickjhowe | August 6, 2013

@pbendo - it is true that a UMC will open the charge port of any car in range. It happened to me at a Supercharger, and the service tech in Dania says you can hear all the cars go click, click, click when you press the UMC to charge one car.

Note the cars have to be unlocked for this to happen.

PBEndo | August 6, 2013

@nickjhowe - does it only open the charge port door? Will a cable that is plugged in also open the door on other cars? Will it make them stop charging?

danej | August 6, 2013

It's amazing how many times pbendo has to explain this simple issue, one many of us deal with every day. It's a nuisance, and should be fixed.