WARNING: Car will drive without key at all if it is already on......

WARNING: Car will drive without key at all if it is already on......

Had the interesting experience today of seeing how my new model s drove 45 minutes away with my girlfriend without a key! She was dropping me back off at home and i got out of the car with the key in my pocket. I can only guess that because she was in the drivers seat and the car was still never shut off and continued driving. Didn't realize until she got to her destination and I had to drive up to Topanga to bail her out! Not sure if this is a good feature or bad. Will definitely remember to always have the key from now on, but definitely an easy mistake to make.

Don't get stranded! anyone else have this problem?

discoducky | January 12, 2013

Oh, that's not good. Hope TM sees this or you let them know

GoTeslaChicago | January 12, 2013

Same has happened with my Prius, except passenger can exchange seat with the driver. Car runs till you shut it off, even unattended. So the Model s is better, but not completely goof proof.

trydesky | January 12, 2013

My 2012 Prius will start to beep when the key gets about 10 feet away from the car..but it doesn't shut off (I think that's for safety).

The Tesla should at least beep at you when the key is outside the car, regardless if the driver gets out of the car or not.

jjaeger | January 12, 2013

Believe that it does provide you a "Key not in car" warning on the dash. She was likely enjoying the ride too much to notice.

Pungoteague_Dave | January 12, 2013

It does warn that there's no key in the car. This is NOT a problem and no fix is required. Our Prius does the same thing, stays on until shut off. It has to work this way for safety reasons.

lightly | January 12, 2013

My 2009 Prius did shut off after I failed to notice the beeps as I exited the car. Only problem was that I was at the car wash. Needless to say they were not too happy with me. They had to do an emergency shut down restart with cars both in front & behind mine.....


heems | January 12, 2013

This is not a Tesla specific item. My MB behaves the same. Many times I valet the car and forget to give the key. They park the car, but can't start it without they key. When I go to pick it up they ask for the key.

Pungoteague_Dave | January 12, 2013

No Prius will turn off on its own. I have owned 3, a 2004, a 2008, and currently have a 2011. If you start the car with the key inside, and leave the car running (on) it will go anywhere you want with no key in the car, although will beep and put a warning on the screen. However, if you turn it off by pushing the start button, it will not restart without the key in proximity. This is also how the Tesla Model S is designed and is perfectly fine and safe. In the car wash example, the car must have been turned off and then a restart attempted, requiring the fob to be inside the vehicle.

riceuguy | January 13, 2013

Yep...same with the key, stupid owner. Had valet at airport chase me down in the terminal as I was leaving for a week and my car would have sat in front of the terminal until towed!!

July10Models | January 13, 2013

Definitely not a safety feature in ICE car. Read a story once where an elderly couple parked a Toyota in their attached garaged and exited the vehicle with the key fab and forgetting to turn the vehicle off. They succumb to CO2 and did not survive. In the Models S it is safety feature because once the driver leaves the Model S, the car shuts off preventing a juvenile or other from driving the car.

July10Models | January 13, 2013


ofertel | January 13, 2013

All makes sense, but what you guys are missing is that there is no "turning off" the model s. you just exit the car. So definitely easier to forget.

prash.saka | January 13, 2013

@ofertel, that's scary. May be, there should be a virtual keyhole or something so that we can remember to leave/take-out the key as necessary.

~ Prash.

Timo | January 13, 2013

@ofertel and I had to drive up to Topanga to bail her out!

Does that mean that car doors were locked and she couldn't get out of the car?

SD Supercharger | January 13, 2013

You should be able to turn the car off if you go to settings. Otherwise there would be no way to keep it in neutral (i.e.--going through a car wash) since once you leave the seat the car automatically goes into park.

Lou in SoCal | January 13, 2013

My CLS now turns off when more than 20-30 feet away with the key. Hopefully this can be resolved with a software update with the Model S.

SD Supercharger | January 13, 2013

Sorry, I meant "controls"> E-bRAKE/Power Off

riceuguy | January 13, 2013

@Timo and ofertel, the issue was that when she got to Topanga and got out, she couldn't restart the car to drive back! Maybe the solution is to allow the app to remote authorize a car start...

drp | January 13, 2013

I think tesla can do that if she had clled

drp | January 13, 2013

If she had called...I meant

riceuguy | January 13, 2013

@drp...unlock yes, but can they make the car "start"?

Dave-LasVegas | January 13, 2013

An exclamation-mark-in-a-triangle warning on the dash [(!) Hey! Where's the key go?] would have been nice in this case. It might be difficult to keep the false alarm rate down, though. That's a puzzle for the engineers.

jjaeger | January 13, 2013

As stated several times - there is a dash warning displayed. She missed it or ignored it.

jat | January 13, 2013

@Dave-LasVegas - there is already. It says something like "Warning: key not detected - the car will not restart".

tork | January 13, 2013

If I got out of my nissan and my girlfriend took it half an hour away... then turned the car off... then realized that I had taken the key with me, she wouldn't be able to restart the car either. I honestly don't see what the problem is here. This is the way every other keyless start vehicle operates.

tork | January 13, 2013

I do agree that the car should make a sound when you get out of the car and take the key with you though. This is something my nissan and old prius used to do.

ofertel | January 13, 2013

@Timo - no she could get out of car just couldn't get back in.

regarding the dash warning - I asked her and she said she very well could have ignored it there was no beep or anything. Seems like it is easy to miss. I think a better warning would be appropriate here.

Also - I get that this might be how other keyless cars operate, but that doesn't mean it is something that can't be improved on.

Love the idea of wireless starting. We are having a DS come out tomorrow for our new owner tutorial anyway so we will run a couple of these questions buy him and find out.

just have to add it that we are obsessed with the car!

prash.saka | January 15, 2013

@ofertel, I too love the idea of wireless starting. Driving without the keys is a very easy thing to miss. Especially, if you have 10 things on your mind. May be soflauthor can make a feature on his center console that can do something about this :)

Also, the parking spots in the area where we live require us to print parking permits from a machine, which is every few yards. So, if we step out of the car to get a parking permit, would the door be unlocked and the car remained turned on?

If it is, that's a bit scary as we don't have a clear line of sight to the car when at the parking machine. Leaving the car running and have the doors unlocked, especially when you can't see the car is a bit scary.

~ Prash.

Justinwyner | January 31, 2014

This just happened to me. The car is valeted at my condominium and the valet has his own key. I got in with a carful going to the theater. Turned out I had taken the keys to my wife's car instead of to the Tesla. I got out to help people out in front of the theater and could not move the car again. If there was a warning, it was silent and not intrusive to the conversation amongst us. All we would have needed was the persistent annoying alarm that we get when we are driving off with the Frunk unlocked to alert us to the problem. I missed part of the performance while a taxi brought the keys from 30 minutes away......but imagine if I got out after driving the car 200 miles from Boston to NY?

Tesla should have some kind of password system that would allow them to remote unlock the car, or have the iPhone app act as another key. The fact that Prius and now most of the other cars do the same thing is no excuse for Tesla, the world's greatest car not to solve the problem.

mjs | January 31, 2014

Continuing without the key IS a safety feature, despite the sad case with CO2 above.

It has to keep running because there is a possibility that while driving, your car can lose contact with the key for a variety of reasons. If that happens, the car can't just shut down.

There are better solutions than what we've seen though. There could have a safety feature that shuts down only if the car is not moving for more than 15 minutes, which would have saved that couple. Or there could be a more urgent warning from the car that the key is missing. Or, as mentioned above, use an app as a key.

J.T. | January 31, 2014

Many have suggested a pin code on the main display to enable the car without the key.

tezzla.SoCal | January 31, 2014

Since I have two Tesla's, I have 2 keys on my keychain. While driving I get a message about once a day that the key is not in the car. I'm glad it's only a warning!

Mathew98 | January 31, 2014

Easy solution. Give the valet a generous tip and ask to park the car yourself.

ajbullis | January 31, 2014

Happened to me two summers ago in my sister's 6-speed Altima! She drove it home from work, and I met her at the house. She got out (with the fob in her purse) and I took the car with the nephews in it still, for a hair cut. Got into the middle of a major intersection waiting for traffic, and stalled the thing! Dope! Needless to say, no fob, no push-button start re-activation! There I was, pushing it out of the intersection, with a 5 year old and 3 year old in the car! Sis had to come over with the fob to re-start!

PaceyWhitter | January 31, 2014

I would worry that if the app could be used as a key, that could facilitate vehicle theft.

LeonardV | April 3, 2014

Just experienced my wife dropping me off at the train station and driving to work not realizing she did not have her key fob. She did not notice it until she went to look for her keys going into her office and realized she had left them at home. She was stranded and so had a coworker take her home to get her keys.

We later tested the scenario again and there was definitely no warning or sounds whatsoever. I was able to drive the car away indefinitely with no warnings whatsoever. I put it in park and back into drive again still no warning. It was only after I exited the car, did the car no longer operate. Then when I tried to put in park, it offered an error message that the key was not detected.

I have contacted Tesla and apparently their understanding was that it should give a warning as soon as the key was not detected. They said they would research it and get back with me.

CU OPEC | April 3, 2014

Common problem with keyless cars nowadays. Interesting how different manufacturers "solve" the problem. All cars that I've had or been in when the key was accidentally removed kept running. That in itself I think is a must, for safety reasons. A Toyota Sienna will give a warning and sound the chime a few times. It's kinda soft though so if you're distracted you can miss it. The Volt actually has a really neat feature. If the key goes missing a message shows up in the speedometer display, the chime goes off as one would expect, BUT if you then close any door (it is assumed a person got out with the key in his/her pocket) the car actually honks the main horn 3 times, VERY good feature. It warns the driver and also warns the person walking away with the key. This scenario happened to us about 2-3 times and every time immediately fixed the problem.
So my vote for Tesla is do exactly that. A big font warning and indoor chime (like frunk open) and if any door changes state from "open" to "closed" sound the horn 3 times in a row.

LeonardV | April 3, 2014

Yes, I am totally OK with the car continuing to operate, just would really appreciate an alert when the key is no longer detected.

J.T. | April 4, 2014

@CU OPEC Your evaluation of the Volt reminded me of a bit Bill Cosby used to do. He hated the old fashioned "church bell" door chimes. He thought it would be much more effective that when someone rang the door bell the chime would simply be "Hey!! Someone's at the door!"

So, instead of honking three times if there'd be some announcement from the car like "Hey!! Get back here with my key!!" I think it would be quite effective.

CU OPEC | April 4, 2014

Haha yeah of course..if there was a PA speaker installed, how cool would that be. Then we'd be getting close to KITT LOL.
I think with the existing electronics (and I hope and assume the horn is electronically connecred like in most new Mercedes where a CAN bus command can be used to trigger the horn) then this would be a rather simple software "fix" for Tesla!

DaphneGreen | April 4, 2014

For me it comes in very handy. I'll drop my husband off at the hardware store or something with the key, drive to another store and park. When he's done, he'll walk to the store and use the key to get in.
As long as one is aware of this, I see no problem. A beep might me good as a warning.

chrisdl | April 4, 2014

There you go! It's not a bug, it's a feature :-)

bmerino02 | October 16, 2015

I have the tesla app and there's a button for start. I clicked it and it asked me for a password to allow for keyless driving if you step on brake within 2 minutes and drive. I tried if and the dash says no key in car can't drive. Does this function work for anyone?

hiimphilll | October 16, 2015

Keyless start and driving works fine for me . for both tesla and remote S app.