Locked out of my M3 with my phone and key card INSIDE the car!

Locked out of my M3 with my phone and key card INSIDE the car!

I stepped out of my car to put some air in my tires thinking it'd be ok since my phone was in the car and the walk away lock should not have activated, but nope! I closed the door and not even a min later I turned back around to grab some coins for the air machine and was locked out! Prior to getting out ofthe car I was playing music from my phone so it's not like the phone was not connected via Bluetooth!

The phone (iPhone X) as a key is pretty unreliable and 80% of the time I have to wake up my phone in order to et it to connect to unlock the car so I thought maybe if I called my phone to wake it up I might be able to unlock the car, but nope!

Ended up having to call Tesla's roadside assistance to unlock my car for me, it was very embarrassing...

TLDR: never leave your car with your phone and key card in it!

Kathy Applebaum | 26 settembre 2018

I accidentally did this. Luckily my husband was just riding off on his bike and I was able to chase him down to unlock the car. =0

Lesson learned -- I know where my phone and card are at all times.

DTsea | 26 settembre 2018

hate to have to tell you this but point of key card is to be in wallet separate from phone. just sayin'.

JAD | 26 settembre 2018

Did you try to cycle your phone to airplane mode? Did you try using the app instead of bluetooth? The trunk, which uses a different sensor to awake and unlock the car?

There are a lot of ways to get into the car. Never used the key card except to initially program the phones.

justchelen | 26 settembre 2018

I hardly ever use the key card, mainly rely on the phone. But, I always have the key card in my wallet for emergencies. Since I was just putting air in my tires I didn't need to bring anything with me to step RIGHT outside my car!

I do notice that opening the trunk is more reliable than unlocking the car so I did try to open the trunk, but it wouldn't open.

Bur really, the car shouldn't have locked automatically if the phone never left the car. I am not at fault for this!

mrburke | 26 settembre 2018

@justchelen - I agree with you and so does the owner's manual. See page 10 "Walk Away Lock"
I too, do not drive with my wallet in my pocket nor my my phone in my pocket.

JAD | 26 settembre 2018

Sorry, not trying to say you were at fault, just that there are a lot of ways to get into the car. The couple times it hasn't worked, were always when I had been working just outside the car, but cycling the airplane mode solved it.

majassow | 26 settembre 2018

Well, you can't cycle airplane mode if your phone is locked in the car! And I have noticed at least once where the car-- while in park and me sitting in the car--has brought up the "use the card to start" graphic. While the phone is charging and was used to drive already. So I can definitely see this happening...

Haggy | 26 settembre 2018

I had something almost like that happen. I didn't have my Model S fob with me, so I decided to use the phone. I left it in the car, stepped out to get air, and got locked out. Normally I'd take my phone out, but I was just stepping out for a moment. Since the Model S will lock even with a Bluetooth connection, since the phone isn't acting as a key, there was nothing to keep it unlocked.

I called my wife from a different phone and she unlocked it.

I never had the problem with the Model 3 and when I have left my phone in the car, it never locked. I keep the card in my wallet.

JustSaying | 26 settembre 2018

"hate to have to tell you this but point of key card is to be in wallet separate from phone. just sayin'. "

ST70 | 26 settembre 2018

@justchelen- yep...your fault...lesson learned

gballant4570 | 26 settembre 2018

I am only dreaming.... I don't have my car yet.... but my plan is to keep my key card in a front pocket card wallet, and use my phone as my normal access method. In my dream, this always works....

kevin_rf | 26 settembre 2018

@Haggy Does that mean your spouse could steal your Model 3? This is a basic wife in the middle security vulnerability. Hopefully it will be patched in 9.0. You need to up the security on your toys!

YongGaoHD | 26 settembre 2018

Ladies keep their phone and wallet in the purse... just saying... I am worried...

FifthOnLeft | 26 settembre 2018

I will brave the boos and say the forbidden word "hubris" which appropriately describes the poorly thought out use of the phone as key. I have my first Model 3 for 3 months now, and more than once I was caught at the car fumbling the key and the wallet (yes I do exactly as your master Musk insists) looking like an idiot. My dumb Ford Focus EV has a fob that turns out to be far smarter: it reminds me if the key is still inside the car and won't lock even if I try. Enough with the hubris and give me my damned fob.

Tomorrow I will take delivery of my P3D+ and I should be excited. But reading all the bickering about the stupid phone and card use really ticks me off. Enough with hubris.

ccsccs7 | 26 settembre 2018

I can't yet use my phone as a key, so am stuck using the card. I am super paranoid about losing the card somewhere (like I sometimes lose credit and ATM cards in my shoulder bag). You can't feel for key cards in an outside pocket of a shoulder bag as you're about to close the car door.

Josephc618 | 26 settembre 2018

If you granted access or connected someone else’s phone (like a spouse of significant other) prior to the incident. You could have called that person to unlock it for you via the app.

YongGaoHD | 26 settembre 2018

@Joseph, but my phone would be locked in the car.... I think we should report this to Tesla and request for a better user experience.

Totalfixation | 27 settembre 2018

Windows 10 has a 3rd party app, "Tesla Control" that you can log into from a computer and unlock your car.

I don't know why companies and developers don't make apps for windows 10 but this third party works great.

gbb0131 | 27 settembre 2018

I left my iPhone in the car about a month or so ago when I was checking into my hotel and realized it after I got up to the room. Went back to the car and it hadn't locked. I did have the keycard in my wallet though.

That's the bad part of where the charging matt is.. I forget the phone... black front on the phone and dark area...

calvin940 | 27 settembre 2018


Should not have happened to you. Hopefully they will fix this bug. It sure how it does the walk away lock if the keys are not walking away (since the car can't really follow you). Just and auto lock when the door opens and closes? That would be a very presumptuous approach for that feature.

TeslAnh | 27 settembre 2018

Hopefully, Tesla can come out with some basic remote control capability from our online Tesla unlocking, temperature control, battery status, etc....

disapr | 27 settembre 2018

The question here is why your phone/car is dropping the connection. I have a Pixel 2 XL, I leave the Tesla app running at all times and I turned off battery optimization for the app so that the OS can't 'pause' it to save battery. I've had my P3D+ for two weeks now and have had zero issues with the phone key. Not one. Always opens, locks, no prompts for key card.

There should probably be a site dedicated to Tesla Phone Keys with the settings and expected results for different OS's, app versions and phone hardware. My impression from reading several threads on this is that the iPhone X works pretty well so you should see if your use and settings are similar to other successful iPx users and if all of that checks out, take the car into service.

M3NOICE | 27 settembre 2018

There may be something specific to IOs. My wife did same thing with her iPhone and purse in the car. She was visibly upset that she had to call me from house phone to unlock her car... I am blaming the "old" phone 6Plus.

eplaskett | 27 settembre 2018

Remote S and an Apple Watch is good and insurance against this problem. I haven't had time use it yet, but it's reassuring to know that I can unlock the car from my wrist if necessary.

eplaskett | 27 settembre 2018

Er, it's good insurance against this problem, and I haven't had to use it yet.

h2ev | 27 settembre 2018

For those who wear a smartwatch, having an app on your smartwatch would be great for situations like this.

I don't have my car yet, but since ordering I've been looking at Apple watch compatible apps and was a bit surprise that the official Tesla app doesn't have an Apple watch companion app. There are a few third party app but I really don't want to logon to my Tesla account from a 3rd party app.

djharrington | 27 settembre 2018

You could also flag down a stranger with a smartphone and ask if they’d let you download the Tesla app, log in and unlock. Offer a reward, then change your password after you’ve logged out for extra safety.

YongGaoHD | 27 settembre 2018

The car should not lock when it detects the phone is in the car. Just like my two ICE cars, they do not lock if the key is in them. Sometimes I lost one of my keys in the car (fell to the floor somewhere) and forgot about it. When I tried to lock the car with the other key, it would not lock. Then I knew my key is in the car. Tesla should at least match that level of user experience. I don't have my M3 yet. I hope someone has already reported this bug to Tesla so it will be fixed soon. I'll pick up my car this weekend. I will try my best to take my phone with me every time I step away from my car. I guess it'll actually be good for me, helps me to be more organized (like, get to kids activities a bit earlier so I don't rush, hopefully then I remember :-)

disapr | 27 settembre 2018

It's not detecting the phone. It's detecting a token. If the phone is preventing the app from running (rendering the token available) or if the Bluetooth radio on your phone is intermittently switching off (rendering the token available) then the car cannot detect your key and will assume that you have reached the upper range for auto-lock (if enabled) and lock.

Proximity keys in not Tesla vehicles have similar issues because they typically have a single receiver near the drivers door. Shut the proximity key in the rear-right corner of the trunk and you'll likely be calling for roadside assistance. Obviously newer cars may have more (or better) sensors, but I tested this on my 2010 BMW M3 and 2012 BMW X5 and was able to lock the key in the car even though it would prevent this action if the get was somewhere near the driver seat. This probably could have been reproduced on my 2017 Raptor because it wouldn't unlock the door if you were even standing outside the rear door (crew cab) - You had to be standing directly in front of the driver door for it to unlock. Not the case with my Model 3.

disapr | 27 settembre 2018

Correction. (Rendering the token un-available)

wayne | 27 settembre 2018

My iPhone X has never failed to open the car or lock it on walking away. No idea why this is working better for me.

stuart.ramsey | 4 agosto 2019

just had this happen to me after having the car for two days. I went to a touchless car wash and had to take my wallet out to provide the credit card and left the wallet on the console along with the phone. as I wiped down my car, I heard it locked on me. no computer, no phone, no key card and 3 miles from home. I was fortunate that a stranger allowed me to google and call on his phone to get the car unlocked. It never even occurred to me that this could happen.

Lonestar10_1999 | 4 agosto 2019

The local chapter of the Tesla Owners Club had a boot camp meeting where this was discussed. They said that the M3 will come reliably lock/unlock with either the phone app or the card key. They cautioned that the M3 gets confused when you mix the two.

That is, don’t open your car with the phone app then lock it with the key card or vice versa.

SolArray | 5 agosto 2019

Apologies for being old-fashioned..., but all these years past I never left my car with the key in the ignition. If I left the car, the keys left the car. So now... if I leave the Model 3, the key (phone) does too. Eliminates any worries about tech issues.

Tiny exceptions: when unloading groceries or other packages for a few seconds... I leave the phone in place and leave driver's door slighly ajar (can't lock!). Same thing when adjusting tire pressure. New situations - new habits. Good luck!

Prashanthsharma | 6 agosto 2019

Easy solution.

Call your spouse and have them unlock it using the app.

I NEVER use the key card, always the phone. The only time I had to resort to the above was when I reset my phone.

Also, if you use your phone as key, you will never get locked out unless the phone crashes

vswendsen | 6 agosto 2019

Lonestar10_1999, I open my M3 everyday with my phone and lock it with the card. Have never had a problem. I can't take my cell into my office so phones have to stay in the car. Only way I can do it.

annerocks | 13 novembre 2019

Yesterday, I was at a charging station in Plainview, NY, 150 miles from home. A co-worker was with me who was interested in learning all about my M3 AWD. While sitting in the car, he asked about trunk space. Unlocked the trunk via the screen. We each got out of the car and shut the doors. Looked at the trunk and then shut the trunk. The car locked....with my phone and key card in side! My co worker had his phone. Called my husband to unlock the car but, he was in meetings and didn't recognize the phone number. After about 5 calls, I finally go someone from Tesla to answer the phone. Provided the last 6 digits of my VIN and they unlocked the car. Why would the car lock with my phone inside? Is this a known thing?

GeorgeA | 13 novembre 2019

I have 6 ways to unlock my M3. In order of use:

1. My key fob, daily use in my pocket. Highly recommend getting quick, easily reliable use every time.
2. iPhone - if not accidentally locked in car as stated by others
3. Key card in wallet
4. iWatch using Remote app
5. Call my wife on my iWatch to remotely unlock using her iPhone.
6. Last resort, call Tesla using my iWatch to unlock

In the future, use M3 exterior key card scanner for thumb print ID or outside camera biometric identification for face recognition or iris recognition!

lbowroom | 13 novembre 2019

Annerocks- shouldn’t happen. Good to know I can call Tesla with a Vin and have them unlock it.

Joho.keith | 13 novembre 2019

I bought the generation 2 FOB and gave up on the phone/key card nonsense after 14 months of frustration. My iPhone never was better than 80% successful. The FOB works.

ronjolley | 13 novembre 2019

@djharrington said it.

If you borrowed someone's phone, could you install the app, login and open your car. Yes, they get a reward. I wouldn't leave them with access.

Sarah R | 14 novembre 2019

Is the key card NFC or RFID? If it's NFC then I finally have a use for this NFC ring!