Can you disconnect the Tesla from the internet?

Can you disconnect the Tesla from the internet?

Okay so I have been hearing reports that the Tesla will know where you are, how fast you are going and it can even control your car while driving. While the GPS tech doesn't really scare me, the fact that an outside source can control it does.

Is there any way to remove internet access to the Tesla? Would the car just stop running if it detected no online signal? Would the car be able to at least start and turn off without internet?

AoneOne | 6 settembre 2015

It's really no more intrusive than OnStar or other telematics systems, but if you don't trust Tesla you would have to get someone to disconnect the cellular antennas. No doubt the car would run, but you'd lose so many of the features of the car such as:

- Software updates that fix bugs and add features.

- Real-time traffic info for the NAV.

- Slacker and TuneIn radio.

- Remote access to find your car and turn on the climate control before you get in.

- The ability to unlock and drive your car using just your cell phone and password (if enabled).

- A web browser, though its slow and limited.

- The ability to monitor other's (family members or service personnel) use of your car.

Here's what Tesla has to say on privacy:

And here's what they say about hacking the car:

Tâm | 6 settembre 2015


There's no technical reason that you cannot run Model S without the internet.

It's been well known that Tesla had run and continues to run without internet providers in countries such as:

China (before Tesla established business there, now China does have Tesla internet provider,)

The Philippines (still no Tesla company there but someone bought one and is running there.


and 110 MPH Model S in Merida, Mexico.

dergillster | 6 settembre 2015

@AoneOne Thank you very much! I appreciate your response!

Now here's to what I have to say about your criticisms:

-I don't mind not having software updates, the fact that hackers can't access it makes me feel much safer

-I understand that Real-traffic time info. can be particularly helpful, I myself wouldn't really bother using it

-I don't need radio if I can just play my music through my iphone or through that of a usb

-I wouldn't trust unlocking my car with a cell phone, I will always prefer the old-fashioned way of using a key to do it.

-I will just bring an ipad or my phone along to browse the internet

-I don't need to worry about monitoring other who use my car, as it will only be MY car ;), plus I'll just install dashcams inside and outside of it.

Thanks for the links on the Tesla statements, very much appreciated!

dergillster | 6 settembre 2015

@Tâm So are you telling me that I could run my Tesla fine without internet albeit limited services?

NKYTA | 6 settembre 2015

Why buy one of the more/most advanced technologically connected cars and intentionally hamstring it?

Not saying you could not, or should not...but I think it is a valid question.

prp | 6 settembre 2015

@dergillster, tesla have over 100,000 model S. Unless you are royalty or seriously important, I cannot see anyone at tesla making a decisin to watch your every move.
If however you lose your car, lock yourself out, or have an electronic failure, then you might appreicate the internet connection.

mclary | 6 settembre 2015

dergillste - No, but can we disconnect you from the forum?

What is the point to your thread again?


Muzzman1 | 6 settembre 2015

I think I have a way you could keep your Model S disconnected.

Get a Wifi router of any sort, maybe even one of the "mifi"'s etc. Hook the car up the that "wifi" hot spot and keep it powered in the car.
Do not provide the router/wifi with a data plan
So essentially the Model S will think it's on WIfi, but the wifi it's on, goes no where.

whitex | 7 settembre 2015

1. Without internet the large screen maps don't work, not just traffic
2. Updates you could still get at home via wifi, unless you're worried the logs are uploaded in a batch fashion (collect all day, upload on first connection - which could very likely be the case).
3. Big picture question: you admit you carry a cell phone, you want to bring ipad for browsing - you are already being tracked by at least a handful of companies (cell phone carrier, cell phone manufacturer, google if you ever use google for ANYTHING on the device, etc, etc) and at least one government agency (see Mr. Snowden for details). Why does it bother you that TMC will have your data?

LOL I understand paranoid, but at least me paranoid with some logic behind it.

DLebryk | 7 settembre 2015

Of course the car runs without internet connectivity. That's what happens when you lose cellular access. There is no connectivity at all, and the car runs just fine.

tes-s | 7 settembre 2015

Yep. Your computer can also be disconnected from the internet. Why not try that for a while?

Bighorn | 7 settembre 2015

Tesla is not allowed to monitor your GPS position data without your permission. They can look at logs to see what's been done with the accelerator pedal though--totally unrelated to connectivity.

badgermom | 7 settembre 2015

@f3rretus Are you saying it's the fear of the car being hacked, not the fear of Tesla monitoring your every move that is the concern? Personally, if I were that worried about someone taking control of my car I would not drive a Tesla. My husband says it's not a car; it's a computer with a huge battery. Just happens to have a few wheels as accessories. Why pay all that money to disable a major part of what makes this car so special?

Big T | 7 settembre 2015

dergillster said, "Now here's to what I have to say about your criticisms"

AoneOne was not being critical. AoneOne simply answered your question and made sure you were aware of some of the features you'd lose -- in case they were important to you.

KL | 7 settembre 2015

You might want to disconnect your smartphone from the Internet too. Your wireless provider also knows your speed and location among other things. But the phone will continue to power on!

Anthony J. Parisio | 7 settembre 2015

Please remember that almost all the hacking today that allows anyone to take over the car requires they have been in the car once. They must install the virus physically into the car. No one has figured out how to take over a car without having installed some virus manual first.

SbMD | 7 settembre 2015

@dergillster, you bring up an interesting concern about someone taking control of the car. Heck, as the Internet-of-things movement progresses, even our toasters are at some risk!

Some interesting security work being done in this space, and opinions exist that in general the auto manufacturers may not be well positioned to protect the driver from a security breach, with the possible exception of Tesla (as pointed out by @Anthony directly above).

I would guess, based on the recent security testing on the MS, that the car's kernel is well protected and serves the key functions of the car, and hence cannot be touched even through OTA updates. This helps to protect someone driving the car and why someone would have to physically connect to the car in order to hack the kernel as a first step.

I would also venture a guess that the people who have the hardware for autopilot also have a kernel which also enables the OTA autopilot update but with strict and car-specific handshake rules for allowing software access for the autopilot routines, and these are probably sandboxed to a degree. Hence, any adjustments to the kernel would require going to a service center to physically access the car.

Furthermore, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a soft "kill switch" present when the autopilot is released, allowing the driver to stop autopilot if they had any sort of irregularity, which would be "hardwired" to the kernel and couldn't be tampered with, even through an OTA update.

If so, then this is not conceptually different from an unconnected car... if someone wants to hurt a driver in an unconnected car, there are many ways to do this once they gain physical access to their car.

dergillster | 7 settembre 2015

@whitex I am not paranoid at all of anyone tracking me, the reason I bring a smartphone is because I know no one can hack my Tesla from it, as long as the Tesla is not connected to it.

God what is it with you people? I don't care if everyone will know where I am, I just would like to keep my car safe away from hackers.

Is it all that hard to explain on here?

dergillster | 7 settembre 2015

@SbMD so are you saying that it's impossible to hack a Tesla and take control of it manually? Well thank you for answering my only concern about the car. That's all I really wanted to know is if there was any way to protect myself from some amateur hacker. I'm glad to know that my fears are exaggerated.

SCCRENDO | 7 settembre 2015

@dergilster. Unfortunately as others have stated we are an Internet dependent society. As an extreme we could not use anything including TVs, smartphones, toaster ovens etc. i personally find the internet convenient and have an iPad, iPhone, apple watch. Do Internet banking and have apple pay on my watch. Run my home air conditioner, solar panels, pool and spa, TV from my iPhone. Run my car off my apple watch. Life for me is so much easier this way. Am I at risk of being hacked? Sure I'm a great target. I try be savvy and safe with passwords etc. I sure someone somewhere could find a way to hack the Tesla. However it's all about measuring risk. Tesla is at lower Rick than most cars on the road. There are going to be more and more Teslas on the road. So unless someone with particularly savvy targets you what are the odds?. Why spend all that money on a car if you are not going to take advantage of the convenient benefits. I say "What me worry" but to each his own.

SbMD | 7 settembre 2015

@dergillister - yes, as far as anyone on the forum knows, an exclusively OTA attack does not appear to be feasible at this time. Your fear of being hacked is understood, but the engineers at Tesla appear to have given this extensive thought and appear to have designed their systems from the ground up to protect the driver.

Corollary to your concern: doubtful that remote control of car functions aside from those enabled on the smartphone apps would be available; specifically, any call to the car to use autopilot to do something such as drive to pick up someone who requests it, would probably do this by sending a request for such an action with a pickup location, then the car would handle the driving without resorting to remote control from the cloud. Of course, I could be totally wrong, but it wouldn't make sense to do this any other way. The simple fact is that cloud-based control of driving function is not going to be responsive enough to ensure safety in driving. I am basing this in part on the limitations that we see with cloud/internet based control of other systems which are similarly not feasible (e.g. distant location robotic surgery, where a surgeon sits at a robot console in Boston and controls a robot in California).

As things evolve, we will no doubt learn more :)

dergillster | 7 settembre 2015

@SCCRENDO.Ca.US Woah there, I am not some person who hates the internet, I do have a computer a smartphone and a smart TV connected to the internet. I am majoring in computer science.

I know I am vulnerable to hackers no matter what. The thing is that if someone were to hack my financial information from my house, I could call to say I have been a victim of theft.It would be fixed after a while.

If someone hacks my Tesla, some jagoff amatuer could take control of my car, which would be a scary thought.

However as SbMD has said, it is not possible unless someone has physical access to it and has manually installed a virus into it.

So I know that I am safe, I still would use all of it's features though I am not concerned about the car because of it's features, I am more concerned with the fact that is probably the best electric car on the market in terms of safety of speed, safety and being efficient since it is electric and I myself am an environmentalist likes it for zero emissions.

dergillster | 7 settembre 2015

@SCCRENDO.Ca.US Woah there, I am not some person who hates the internet, I do have a computer a smartphone and a smart TV connected to the internet. I am majoring in computer science.

I know I am vulnerable to hackers no matter what. The thing is that if someone were to hack my financial information from my house, I could call to say I have been a victim of theft.It would be fixed after a while.

If someone hacks my Tesla, some jagoff amatuer could take control of my car, which would be a scary thought.

However as SbMD has said, it is not possible unless someone has physical access to it and has manually installed a virus into it.

So I know that I am safe, I still would use all of it's features though I am not concerned about the car because of it's features, I am more concerned with the fact that is probably the best electric car on the market in terms of safety of speed, safety and being efficient since it is electric and I myself am an environmentalist likes it for zero emissions.

Bighorn | 7 settembre 2015

Looks like a hacker slipped the echo virus onto your PC.

Tâm | 7 settembre 2015


Yes, your Tesla can literally "run" with 4 wheels rolling fine without the internet. Add to the list of countries that does not have over-the-air connectivity to your Tesla but their car runs fine: Saudi Arabia.

To add to your paranoia of spying:

They, not just Tesla, like NSA said they spy on your electronic communications but they certainly do not listen to your phone calls nor read your e-mails. Same as when Google says they analyze your e-mail for targeted ads but they certainly do not read your e-mails, and so on...

I am not sure if that's the same as an executioner showing you an electric chair and he reassures you that he personally does not activate the lever so go ahead and sit down right in and have all the high voltage electric wires hook up on you.

SbMD | 7 settembre 2015

@BH - Ha! Good one
@BH - Ha! Good one
(damn virus)
(damn virus)

@Tam - not seeing that the OP truly had issue with spying, but perhaps now they will :)

marc | 7 settembre 2015

The internet is not necessarily needed to hack your car. What is needed is time, patience, lots of smarts, and (probably) a fairly large budget. That, of course, could change over time. The budget is to buy a tesla and reverse engineer all of the electronics down to at least the chip level to see what vulnerabilities could be introduced. The effort is beyond something a petty thief or teenage joyriders are likely to do.

I'd start the task by looking at how the car talks to the key fob. Might not be able to break in, but I imagine it would be pretty easy to deny entry to anyone else.

AoneOne | 7 settembre 2015

I like the idea of a WiFi hotspot without an uplink as a reversible way to disable the car's internet connection. Of course, you can't be completely sure it's not also secretly sending data over the cell network. The paranoid imagination reels. :)

Similarly, even though you can disable remote access in the car's settings, there's no proof that this completely prevents Tesla from accessing your car.

"You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." Scott McNealy, CEO, Sun Microsystems, from 1999.

Still, I am comforted by the fact that there have been no reports of hacking the connection from Tesla to the car: that would be the most obvious point of attack so it seems it must be a well protected channel. However, protecting a communications channel is much easier than protecting all of the computing hardware and software in the car. And then there's social engineering of Tesla personnel which is probably the greatest vulnerability.

SbMD | 7 settembre 2015

@marc - there was a post some time back talking about the risk of someone intercepting the communication between the fob and car, which can occur with any keyless entry system.
@AoneOne - disabling remote access doesn't keep Tesla from communicating with your car.

whitex | 8 settembre 2015


Ok. So if I understand you correctly, you're worried about someone hacking without any physical access to the car, correct? If so, you are correct, disconnecting from the internet completely will reduce (not eliminate) your chances of being hacked. However,at the same time you'll be foregoing any security patched to the software, so become more vulnerable there (say there is an exploit that will make the car activate emergency breaking if I shine a laser pointer at the autopilot camera, this is just an example - there could be other bugs or security vulnerabilities that I personally would want patched as soon as they are discovered). Also, there are still many other vectors you are susceptible to, for example:
1. Someone could sabotage your car by having physical access to it
2. Someone could have hacked to the factory and inserted a time bomb in the software that makes something bad happen on some day at some specific time. Even if someone discovers this and a patch fixes it, you don't have that patch.
3. Someone could track your location (of your phone) and hack the traffic lights in your path to cause an accident.
4. Someone could track your location and hack a truck traveling in the opposite direction to crash into you.
5. Someone could track your location and hack a draw bridge you're about to cross.
6. Someone could hack your phone and gain access to your car from the phone via bluetooth, unless you rip that antenna out as well.
7. Someone may be able to hack through the XM or even FM digital (HD) radio. Even if this vulnerability has been closed, you, without updates, remain vulnerable.
8. Someone could hack your phone, plant incriminating evidence there and have you land in prison for life.
9. If you have a heart pacer of certain brand, someone can kill you with a laptop from up to 50 feet away (there is a good presentation from University of Washington on that topic, scary stuff).

The above are just some examples. Anything can be hacked. In the end it all comes down to risk management. Most modern cars can be hacked, some that are not even connected (via other forms of wireless communication, requires being in proximity or having a hacked phone in proximity). With the recent media attention to the Jeep hack, more information has surfaced that shows that as far as car security goes, Tesla is leading the field - so if you're considering any modern cars and are worried about security, Tesla is a really good choice.

I work in the security field and IMHO, patching your devices is probably one of the easiest things that an average user can do to reduce the changes of being hacked. Of course, in the end, it is up to the user, at least for the time being - it's likely that laws may be introduced requiring all cars to be updatable via OTA to allow both security patches and breach containment (e.g. an exploit it discovered, a containment patch goes our that disables whatever functionality has the vulnerability, then a patch, or even a hardware fix is rolled out).

f3rretus | 8 settembre 2015

badgermom - I didn't comment on this thread.

f3rretus | 8 settembre 2015

dergillster - It can be a tough crowd at times. I own a fully loaded Volt that came with onstar. I hate onstar. The Volt has a fuse that disables the onboard cell radio. Pulling the fuse is all it took to disable onstar's access to the car. I confirmed this with the onstar app and cessation of the monthly status reports. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Tesla also has a fuse that can be pulled to disable the cell/wifi radios. I don't think you have to remove any of the antennas. You have every right to do this for whatever reason you want. You don't have to explain yourself to anyone. I'll look for the fuse on my Tesla and let you know if I find it.

f3rretus | 8 settembre 2015

whitex - dergillster is asking if there is a way to disable the cell radio. He's not saying he wouldn't re-enable it for s/w updates.

dergillster - you're right. Some people just can't answer a simple question.

jordanrichard | 8 settembre 2015

dergilster, the "control" from a hack that you hear about required the hackers to have physical access to the car. The one involving the Jeep, took the hackers, with the permission of the owner, an entire year to do. Then they were able mess with the Jeep over the air. Tesla also invited people to try and hack a Model S, and they only thing they eventually were able to do is the same limited thing one can do with the app, like flash the lights, honk the horn, etc. Nothing that disables the brakes, steers the car, stop it from running, etc.

1PT1 GEE | 8 settembre 2015

Also to be considered, if you did take your car offline what would Tesla's response be? On my first tour of Fremont last year I remember them saying that they knew of 3 cars at that time which had gone offline. Not sure of the repercussions. Would that affect the warranty? OTA updates?

dpena23 | 8 settembre 2015

Tesla must have some very interesting statistics since they trac where all the Model S' are driving to. I wonder if they have real-time tracking of all the thousands of Model S' at the same time. Thousands of Blips on the screen....

Tâm | 8 settembre 2015


If you can track planes in the sky, you can track Tesla on the ground.

whitex | 8 settembre 2015

@f3rretus: whitex - dergillster is asking if there is a way to disable the cell radio. He's not saying he wouldn't re-enable it for s/w updates.

Yea, he is, just not in the original post. Read his comment in the thread: I don't mind not having software updates, the fact that hackers can't access it makes me feel much safer .

daryl | 11 marzo 2017

Being a programmer and systems engineer, I would appreciate a way to turn off the internet connectivity. I could turn it back bun if I want to check for updates. I don't need or want to browse the internet, use maps, use internet radio, or autopilot for that matter. In fact, when I get my model 3, If I can't figure out how to turn it off, or even hack it off, I may just resell the car.

Silver2K | 11 marzo 2017

can I turn my "back bun" too if I wanted to?

j | 4 aprile 2019

We need an internet switch.
OFF when we don't want it.
ON for updates or when we want it.
It's just a basic question of moment, choice and freedom.

booshtukka | 5 aprile 2019

Lots of people giving their opinions, a lot less people answering the question.

It can be done, and easily. Thieves did it in my driveway in minutes before driving away, thwarting me from tracking the car. I don’t know the technique used. I’ve been told they can easily disconnect the SIM or aerial but I have no actual information I’m afraid. | 5 aprile 2019

@booshtukka - Yep, in european cars it's quite easy - maybe 15 seconds, but I'll avoid saying how. In North America's cars, that same technique doesn't work and it is qutie a bit more difficult to kill the cellular connection quickly. It has to do with Europe's fragmented cellular networks and I'm not sure there is a good work around. At least PIN to drive would slow them down and require a tow truck to steal a car now.

@daryl - Why would you buy a technically advanced car if you want to disable every great feature in the car? Seems like car made in the 60-70's would fit your needs better. No computers at all! Here's what that connection gives you:

Standard Maps
High-definition maps for Autopilot
Voice control
Software updates
Streaming audio
Web browser
Crash alert to Tesla
Vehicle theft tracking
Remote access to the car via your phone (location, remote climate on/off, unlock, etc.)

j | 9 settembre 2019

You can have audio and navigation on your phone/tablet or else.
Disconnecting your car is just a basic privacy feature. It should be enshrined by law.
Companies are profiling us and selling our personal data to people trying to influence our vote and our life. If they don't, hackers or mistakes will do it.
Collecting personal data destroys democracy.
No way, I don't want anybody to know where I am, when, and at what speed.
It's just nobody's business.
I would still have a great car to drive me from point A to B. | 9 settembre 2019

@j - Now I agree tracking is done by phones and can be a privacy issue. Then again, seems most people give out every single detail of there life on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, where info is all heavily monetized.

Tesla does not sell data to any third parties and I'm unaware of any successful hacks of its data. If you hate all the features I've listed above, I'm sure you can locate the fuse and disconnect the main display, which disables the internet connection. You're the first person I've heard of that want's to do that.

Now I would be far more worried about other automakers. Security and privacy were never a concern, and trying to shoehorn it in after the fact rarely works well. Within 5 years every new car will be internet-connected. As to how well it protects your security and privacy is a good debate.

Very few automakers write their own software, other than engine management. This means they cobble together stuff from a number of vendors and have very little insight as to security. Automakers stick in CarPlay and Android Auto, with apps from yet other people. Millions of lines of code totally out of control of automakers. Tesla so far has avoided these looming catastrophes by doing most development in-house.

dougk71 | 9 settembre 2019

Tesla provides LTE and pays the fees for it directly. Now if you don't have internet at home or don't allow the car to access it then all the car has is LTE. At some point Tesla might want to pass the monthly LTE cost on to the customer or at least keep the money in house ( Elon's house ) with Starlink.
Now it seems draconian to turn the owners screen off if the owner wants their car disconnected from the Tesla network.
Does Microsoft own your Win 10 PC or do you......does Tesla own your car or do you?

EVRider | 9 settembre 2019

If you want a car that you can disconnect from the internet, Tesla isn’t the car for you. Connectivity is a key part of the car’s technology. I understand why some people want to disconnect, but Tesla will never make it easy to do that.

Earl and Nagin ... | 9 settembre 2019

Under "Safety and Security", you can scroll down to "data sharing" and there are a couple of check boxes to tell the car not to send data back to Tesla. I use it when I'm in places that are sensitive about photography.

NV4NV | 10 settembre 2019 "Tesla does not sell data to any third parties and I'm unaware of any successful hacks of its data."

Starting with my order in October 2015, I began the use a custom email address tesla@[oneofmydomains].com for communications with Tesla ONLY. At that point in time, I had NEVER used it for any other purpose, so it should not have been known to any third parties.

Why, then, starting in November 2015, did I start receiving emails from trying to sell me a center console? [They are now apparently defunct.] This was even before I took delivery of my MS in December 2015.

I do agree with you that there have been no "recent" data breaches or sales of customer data by Tesla, but evidence does suggest that something was going on in late 2015.

Captain_Zap | 10 settembre 2019

I'm a non-user of Facebook, Google or any other service requires sharing or access to personal info and I have not had an incident regarding Tesla sharing data since the denim discount uproar that happened around 2013. I think they learned their lesson.