Lack of key fob

Lack of key fob

I have had my MS for over three years and 55,000 miles. Best car ever!! Bought my wife a M3 two months as she previously owned a Lexus IS350 and MS was too big for her.
We both love her car with one HUGE exception. We constantly are waiting for the car to wake up. The phone app is simply awful. I would hate to rely on this car in an extreme emergency. I can't imagine how one would feel trying to get someone to a hospital and dealing with this. As Much as I am a Tesla supporter this is unacceptable. She must really love everything about this car or i would be hearing about her wanting her Lexus back. I find it is annoying that I won't drive her car.

willowtip | 29 mei 2018

It sounds like from the Consumer Reports video that we will get the option for a key fob eventually. when? who the hell knows but it sounds like it is going to happen

RSavage_92024 | 29 mei 2018

My Model 3 can be awake, idling, or sound asleep.....I walk up, push in the door handle and the car opens and is ready to rock. Not usually, or most of the time, but every single time. Not really sure why you have to wait for yours to 'wake up', but that's certainly not my experience.

ebmcs03 | 29 mei 2018

What phone are you using?

jordanrichard | 29 mei 2018

Not complicated. Carry the key card in your wallet.

slasher0016 | 29 mei 2018

Use the key card?

rmg007 | 29 mei 2018

Does she keep the App open and running in the background?

Scoopok | 29 mei 2018

I have it running in the background and it still takes a few minutes at times. Using the card is like needing a key- not like a fob that unlocks by being close. iPhone 8. Maybe its because i have two cars on the one app?

shannon.lgrizzly | 29 mei 2018

I’m a pretty big Tesla fanboy but on this issue.....there is just no excuse. Try this mental exercise. How much would you let someone bet you to test the key fob on your other car? For me? Probably $100k honestly. That is how confident my key fob works every time. Now....and you have to be honest with yourself how much for the phone app to work? If it is at all less then there is something wrong.

I can already hear the righteous, “any amount of money! My app works every time!” Please accept the argument that it isn’t nearly a universal truth. And that is the irritating part. There is no excuse for it to be worse. Not for something as basic as unlocking your darn car!

billlake2000 | 29 mei 2018

shannon, it's a bear when that happens

lilbean | 29 mei 2018

I see what you did there, @billlake2000.

billlake2000 | 29 mei 2018

lilbean, busted!!

lilbean | 29 mei 2018

Haha! Btw, my phone key works every time!

afrandx | 29 mei 2018

Even if you love the phone key no fob system (I think it's pretty cool), I can't see why anybody would be against it as an add on item for those who want it. I would love a little toy car that acts as my backup.

bckator | 29 mei 2018

I agree w/ OP. This is a big problem. The card is not a viable solution. They need to provide a 100% reliable solution. I'll be taking my car in for service until they do.

lilbean | 29 mei 2018

I'm not against the fob. I have one for the X. I just think it's interesting that people were excited about the high tech key card and now so many complain about it.

shannon.lgrizzly | 29 mei 2018

Spot on lilbean. I was one of those people. On paper it just makes sense. “Most” of us have our phones with us all the time. The app is useful for the other things it can do so it just seems like a no brainer. But they just didn’t execute for whatever reason. My money is on the phone functionality itself. I’m betting there is variability on the phone end. They were never spec’d to be used like this. It’s a quasi NFC application over a Bluetooth channel. I’m not an expert just my thoughts.

lilbean | 29 mei 2018

Maybe you should get a Note8. It works great. :)

sroh | 29 mei 2018

I agree with afrandx. I don't need it. But offer it as an accessory for those who want it and are willing to pay for it.

But I'd like to think it's going to get better over time.

Early on, we experienced this issue. The car would be asleep and wouldn't recognize the phone. It was slightly annoying to have to pull out my wallet, but certainly not a deal-breaker. It's got much better over the past few software downloads, just like I expected it would. Now, it's only an issue when we have to wake the car up to turn on climate control. That may take up to 15-30 seconds. Even if the car is 'sleeping,' the doors open 100% of the time, just like RSavage mentioned.

phil | 29 mei 2018

lilbean | May 29, 2018 "I just think it's interesting that people were excited about the high tech key card and now so many complain about it."

It's not the slightest bit interesting, it's completely obvious. It's a nice concept, so obviously people liked the idea. It's apparently implemented poorly, so obviously people complain that it doesn't work well.

Sweetride | 29 mei 2018

@scoopok, have you checked to be sure your Tesla app is switched to show the Model 3 and not your S?

Takeo McCauley | 29 mei 2018

Love the "idea" of my phone being the primary means of interacting with the car because I DO have it with me all the time and I don't like carrying anything extra in my pocket, like a key fob. However, I, too, have the experience of the "waking up" delay, which is annoying.

It's embarrassing to take my M3 with friends and everyone has to wait at their doors for me to get my phone out, enter my password and wake up the app.

The unfortunate work around is having to "plan ahead" before approaching the car. For example, before leaving a store for the car with purchased items in hand, I have to first access my phone, wake up the app and ensure it connects.

Based on this thread, the app works great for some but not for many others. The customer experience should be mostly uniform for close to 100% of us.

Note: I have a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

willowtip | 29 mei 2018

@Takeo McCauley

if you are using a samsung you definitely need to make sure you don't set the Tesla app to "optimize battery usage" turn that off as it will put the app to sleep. this will definitely cause problems with all Samsung phones

ReD eXiLe ms us | 30 mei 2018

"I would hate to rely on this car in an extreme emergency."

The majority of fatal accidents occur at speeds below 45 MPH on surface streets with cross traffic and within two miles of a given destination or departure point. Contributing factors typically lead back to Driver Error such as operating the vehicle during inclement weather conditions, while sleepy or fatigued, and during periods of emtional distress such as anger, sadness, or perceived emergency.

If you find you must drive in an ' extreme emergency', take your time. Remain calm. You should be able to get to a hospital with time to spare.

On the other hand, if you live somewhere that is prone to carjackings... MOVE.

If you encounter people in business who are trying to shoot you as you get into your car... Change careers.

If you cannot live without a keyfob, be patient and Tesla might offer the option for Model 3 some day... Or you can trade it in and get another Model S instead.


nadurse | 30 mei 2018

I think the phone is awesome, I love not having to carry keys anymore and if im walking around the house or whatever I never have to remember to go grab my keys if I want to get something out of the car or show someone the car...

However, I find it disappointing how often my phone doesnt work, and agree it is unacceptable. for 99.9 percent of the time, the result of this failure is mere inconvenience. But for emergency situations, and that phone key doesnt work. Man... that makes me nervous. I do keep my card in my wallet so that helps but its still adds like 5 seconds or whatever to put my phone back in my pocket and reach for my card, assuming i have my wallet on me.

There has to be a way to make the phone work all.the.time. I really dont want a key fob but if thats the only alternative to get 100% functionality, id probably take one.

spuzzz123 | 30 mei 2018

As long as my phone keeps working 100% of the time. It has been more reliable than the fob on my last car, who's batteries went dead twice in a 3 year ownership stint. And boy that was scary because there was no backup keycard or even a physical key (Infiniti). I completely understand frustration though for those who aren't as lucky. Part of me believes that most of it is a phone configuration issue, but even so -- if Tesla cannot figure out how to talk people through it, then a fob is necessary.

doelcm | 30 mei 2018

I don't want a fob for myself (but I only have.a VIN so far, so I may change my mind).

Is it really possible to add a fob to a Model 3? Most key fobs use a different kind of radio than the Model 3, right? Does the M3 have the right radio sensors built in?

The fob could be bluetooth, but that would require occasional charging, and it might have the same "waking up" problem that a phone has. It doesn't seem to be a solution that would make people happy.

The fob could also be NFC, but then you'd have to place the fob near the pillar to unlock the car, and to start the M3 you'd need to place your key fob in the correct place inside the vehicle (like you have to with the card. I don't think that would satisfy fob fans either.

I'm seeing the addition of a key fob as an optional solution for people who buy a M3 in 2019 or later. Those who already have one may be facing an expensive retrofit or they may be told it's just not feasible. Like adding Autopilot to a 2012 Model S.

Of course, if they did design sensors into the Model 3 that can be repurposed or co-purposed to act the way a traditional fob does, all that is moot.

I'm hoping that my Model 3 works with my iPhone X to my satisfaction, and that whatever issues others are having can be solved by software updates (to the phone or the Tesla).

stryde | 30 mei 2018

An interesting observation...

I carry my phone (iPhone x) in my front pocket, and it's successfully unlocked every time I've used the car for the past month.

My wife carries her phone (iPhone 8) in her back pocket. Most of the time she has to take her phone out of her back pocket for it to work.

doelcm | 30 mei 2018

My key fob used to have a problem unlocking my Toyota if it was in the same pocket with my iPhone. This was in my 2005 Prius. I don't think I've had a problem with the 2010 Prius. I don't know if difference was because the fob changed or because the iPhone changed.

pulsar2612 | 30 mei 2018


"If you encounter people in business who are trying to shoot you as you get into your car... Change careers."

Or get a car that is better suited to your job? Like a Humvee... or a tank. The original Porsche design for the German Tiger was a hybrid electric, so it's only half a step down, right?

pulsar2612 | 30 mei 2018


The human body can interfere with bluetooth which i believe is what the phone app uses to connect to the car. it could be that having the phone in the backpocket degrades the signal enough that the car struggles to handshake. Some of that will also depend on where the bluetooth antenna is on the phone and how the phone is oriented in the pocket. if the antenna is flush up against your booty so that it's trying to project through your flesh, good chance the signal will be weak and noisy if not outright blocked.

snm3 | 30 mei 2018

@doelcm, the fob did not work because of RF interference from phone. Some phones have higher SAR levels than others. But again this is not specific to Toyota, many car fobs have this problem if you keep phone and Fob together, either you lose the range or it does not work at all. I thought it is pretty well known issue.

As far as using phone as Key, for me it was hit or miss. I ran into same embarrassing situations like one of the gentleman mentioned above when I tried to show-off.. :)

Waking up the car from app is even more annoying. First have to fish the phone, enter long pass code (our corporate policy), find the app, launch it, and wait for it for several seconds (some times it took good 40 seconds) which feels like eternity. Think, you have hand full of groceries and it is raining, and you are trying to do this waiting in the rain. (ofcourse I am in Seattle :) ).

I think 100% reliable FOB is a must, or someway if Tesla can make card work long range which doubt as it is passive RF Tag.

This also make it easy to use Summon feature in future when it is available. I would like a small fob which I can hook it to my home keys.

CST | 30 mei 2018

I wonder if Android devices are hindering the app by putting it to sleep. On my latest phone, it has a pretty aggressive system for suspending apps that aren't "in use".

spockagain34 | 30 mei 2018

I don't understand the issues people are having with the phone unlocking the car. 99.9% of the time when I walk up to my Model 3 and push the door handle, the car unlocks and is ready to go. The .1% of the time this has failed, I open the phone app and hit the unlock button and it unlocks immediately, before the car fully wakes up. People do realize that the unlock button will work before everything on the phone screen has updated, right? As long as you're in close proximity you can open the frunk and doors from the app, just like a key fob, even if the app is showing that the car is waking up and the other options aren't available.

And if that isn't working its because the phone you're using either isn't up to date on it's firmware, the Tesla app isn't up to date, or your phone isn't all that reliable.

ryanmathewfriedman | 30 mei 2018

I've got a LG G4 and would love a functioning key fob.

"Phone-as-key" hasn't been working for me for weeks now, despite the fact that bluetooth calling works just fine. Also opening the app to connect to the car takes minimum 15 seconds. Half the time connection to car fails unless I restart the app.

When I'm going to my car, I make sure to take out my phone and get the app started ahead of time so that it will be working by the time I get there. Not exactly the 'wave of the future'. My girlfriend's 2007 Prius has a proximity keyfob that works instantly and 100% of the time.

I was at the service center yesterday for them to fix some cosmetic issues. I mentioned the issues with the phone key and got a response along these lines:
- every phone is different
- firmware for car and phone are changing all the time
- we can't do anything about it here
- it will probably be fixed in some future update

... but at least Elon has his mind on cup holders.. so that's good.

Takeo McCauley | 30 mei 2018

@willowtip, thanks for the tip...
"if you are using a samsung you definitely need to make sure you don't set the Tesla app to "optimize battery usage" turn that off as it will put the app to sleep".

I looked within the Tesla app and in app manager but did not see where I can turn off "optimize battery usage". Any additional insight would be most appreciated as I want this phone app to work. Many thanks.....

willowtip | 30 mei 2018

@Takeo McCauley

this setting for Samsung is under the BATTERY settings

go to the battery section - hit the 3 dots in upper right - optimize battery usage. find the Tesla app and switch it so it is not optimized.

this is the #1 problem with those using Android. the app is being put to sleep.

weluvm3 | 30 mei 2018

@ryanmathewfriedman "- firmware for car and phone are changing all the time"

Sounds like a pretty convincing argument in support of a manufacturer supplied key fob, don't you think?

johnmann | 30 mei 2018

I feel for all you having phone key problems. I was really worried about this prior to taking delivery. I hope that Tesla can work these problems out for everyone because ours has worked flawlessly and it really is great. I didn't expect to be saying this, but it is even more convenient than a fob. I would like to see them offer an optional fob, but once the phone key works for you there would be very few cases when you would want to use a fob instead.

hpn | 30 mei 2018

I would opt for a key Fob.
Most doesn't work half the I have phone and wallet constantly having to wave it..

arkreymer | 31 mei 2018

Key Fob technology is rather pricey.
A Prius replacement Fob is around $200, plus a $200 programming fee.

You do not need a cell phone for wireless access, just a smart bluetooth device running the Tesla App.
I have tried the following low cost options.


The $50 Barnes and Noble Nook 7 can run the Tesla App, and has bluetooth.
It works just fine as a Key Fob with my Model 3.
The only downside is that it is a bit larger than you might want.
But it works !

Unihertz Jelly phone

The $ 125 Unihertz Jelly cell phone is a 2.5 inch device the size of a Key Fob.
It runs the Tesla app and works fine with my Model 3.
Downsides :
1) Battery life stinks while running the Tesla App and Bluetooth, needs a charge every 2 days.
2) It is not available in Tesla Red.

The Jelly's battery life is fine if you disable the App.
If the App could be tweaked by the Tesla folk to use less power, this could be a great Fob option !

arkreymer | 31 mei 2018

I have also run the Tesla App on a Samsung Chromebook Plus, and logged into my Tesla account.
But the display in the Tesla App seems to be black on black.
It would be challenging to pair this device with the car, working blind.

It would be nice to have a working Tesla App on the Chromebook.
I think the software wizards at Tesla do not have time to work on 'it would be nice' tasks right now.

nadurse | 31 mei 2018

Something weird that happened to me a few days ago when I went to my garage and got into my model 3... it didnt recognize my phone as a key, i had to use my card on the center console to put into gear. And yet, when I looked on the screen my phone was bluetooth synced for calls/media, but not to start the car.

Anyways, just now I went into my battery management section on my phone and selected the Tesla app to be one of the "unmonitored apps" so it wont ever put the app to sleep automatically. Hopefully this helps

Pauldfaria | 31 mei 2018

nadurse, I've seen that constantly. I'm going to attempt to turn off battery optimization for the app on Android and then see how it works. The handles have delayed so much at times that I've gotten used to just using my wallet. Fortunately, it works without having to touch the pillar, so my wallet isn't getting wet when it rains (nearly every day the last 2 weeks).

coolnewworld | 1 juni 2018

I HATE WHEN THE CAR WON'T ACCEPT MY PHONE AS A KEY!!!!!! THIS IS BULLSHART!!!!!!!! Other than that, I love my 3 more than any car ever, Thank you.

bj | 1 juni 2018

A fob is coming “soon”

Ygor81 | 1 juni 2018

I've had the car over a month, and my phone key has yet to fail. It has been 100% flawless.
The only time it did not work, was because I had my bluetooth switched off (low power mode). Honestly, the key car is so much nicer to carry around. I love it. If people want to drop $100-200 on a FOB, let them. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

pko.888 | 1 juni 2018

It would be helpful if people would report which phone they use when they report both issues and whether it is flawless.

spuzzz123 | 1 juni 2018

Flawless iPhone 6s. iOS 11.3.1

spockagain34 | 1 juni 2018

Flawless iPhone X iOS 11.3.1

MarylandS85 | 1 juni 2018

Ditto what @spockagain34 said.