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Bluetooth phone key entry

We are new to our 3, and seek some understanding. Both our phones are set up as key cards. There are times when the phone key unlocks and drives fine, say to a local store. Then coming out of the store, the phone will not unlock the car, requiring the key card or unlocking from the app. Then the car may or may not drive, requiring again the card or the app. And sometimes it works flawlessly. This has happened to both of us. It seems to be completely random.

And the charge port door/charge adapter. While we haven't had it long enough to do a lot of charging, I note that sometimes pushing the button on the adapter opens the door, sometimes not. And sometimes we can get the adapter out, sometimes we fiddle with it to get it to release.

Can anyone shed light on this for us? Thanks.

EDIT: I should mention these are both Android phones.
 
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I've had this after the app updates and is closed, meaning I needed to re-open the app for it to work. It could also be your phone is turning off features to the app when it is not active or something. Android is a big open mess so it could be that.

You should always see your Tesla icon in your notification list. If you do not then your app is being closed. Not sure what kind of phone you have but if it was losing access to Bluetooth when it wasn't active it would also cause this issue.
 
The notification is always there and the app always tells me I'm connected to the car. I'll have to watch more closely at each incidence to look for something. I see people talking about making sure the app always run in the background, set background permission, etc, but they all seem to have iPhones, while the are Androids, a Pixel and a Samsung, both up to day with the Android 13 operating system. The only permission I see to set is under location, and "always" is not a choice, only "while app is in use" which I would think would do the job. If it only happened when we were both in the car, with both phones in play, I could see how it might get confused, but it happens when we're no where near each other. Anyway, thanks for the input and we'll keep plugging.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Moderator
Nov 28, 2018
14,308
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Riverside Co. CA
Android tends to have more options in "optimizing battery" than iPhones do. Basically, what you want is to ensure that nothing interferes with the tesla app running, including the phone itself trying to "optimize battery usage" for it and shut down background apps after a time etc.

I dont use my android phone as a key, I use my iPhone, so while I have both (one is a work phone one is personal), I only use one as a key because I leave the other one in my backpack, which is left in the car sometime.
 
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Please search forum threads for tips on phone-as-key. I looked but it might require searching the full contents, not just the titles.

The main thing is to turn off Android's battery optimization for the Tesla app (or open the app when the key doesn't work). And make sure the app is still logged in to Tesla -- I think an app update once caused it to log out.

Sometimes one has to delete & re-add the phone as a key in the car's settings.

There are recommendations to remove special characters from the phone's Bluetooth name (as in: Jane's phone), ditto for all your contacts, and turn off Bluetooth HD Audio. I've done all these and unlocking has worked since. To be scientific, I ought to test these tips separately, but the symptom is hard to reproduce.

FYI: Often when both phones are in range, the car will auto-select the wrong profile, I think based on which phone connects first. The phone key -> picks a profile, and the profile -> can pick a preferred Bluetooth device for phone calls and audio streaming. The UI is confusing on this.
 
There does seem to be some randomness with the 'phone as key' behavior in the newer model 3's. I sold my 2 year old Model 3 (silver/white, LR AWD) in November and replaced it with an identical but brand new one in December and the phone as key behavior has changed.

With my old car the phone was very consistent and always worked as a key. With the new car and the same phone it's very hit or miss. Maybe 1/3 of the time walking up with the phone is enough, but the majority of the time I have to get the phone out, unlock the phone, go into the app, and then use the Controls feature in the app to unlock the car and remote start it.

Very annoying, I need to spend the time to figure out what is wrong and either fix it on my end or get Tesla Service involved.
 
@Zigzag03 - I would simply buy a couple of Tesla's inexpensive key fobs. While phone-as-key mostly works it was never 100% reliable for me no matter which type of phone I tried. It also significantly affected my phones' battery life. I bought the key fob from Tesla (currently $175) and never looked back. It stays in my pocket and works much more reliably. Plus it's easier to use it to open up the frunk then pulling out a phone.
 

rjpjnk

Active Member
Mar 12, 2021
1,219
794
NJ
We are new to our 3, and seek some understanding. Both our phones are set up as key cards. There are times when the phone key unlocks and drives fine, say to a local store. Then coming out of the store, the phone will not unlock the car, requiring the key card or unlocking from the app. Then the car may or may not drive, requiring again the card or the app. And sometimes it works flawlessly. This has happened to both of us. It seems to be completely random.

And the charge port door/charge adapter. While we haven't had it long enough to do a lot of charging, I note that sometimes pushing the button on the adapter opens the door, sometimes not. And sometimes we can get the adapter out, sometimes we fiddle with it to get it to release.

Can anyone shed light on this for us? Thanks.

EDIT: I should mention these are both Android phones.
I’m not familiar with Android, but I think I have the same behavior on my iPhone. Whenever it refuses to unlock the doors or drive and asks for the key card I simply toggle the phone Bluetooth off and back on and it works again every time. I thought this was normal. I’d be happy to learn if there’s a fix.
 
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Thank you all, this is very helpful. @rpratt I would say ours is failing maybe 1 in 4, but agree very annoying, especially when it worked to get you out of the driveway, then fails at the grocery store 30 mins later! I think @CarlThompson prolly has the best solution, although I'm not sure I would agree that it's inexpensive, but I haven't purchased a key fob from a dealer lately. Maybe we'll start with one, see how she likes it, and since she drives it most, maybe it's all we'll need. Much appreciated, all!
 
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@CarlThompson prolly has the best solution, although I'm not sure I would agree that it's inexpensive, but I haven't purchased a key fob from a dealer lately.

I lost a key fob for my BMW a few years back. Between the cost of the fob and labor to program it the BMW dealer charged me nearly $800 to replace. With Tesla the part itself is much less expensive and you can program the fob yourself to give it access to any car you already have access to whenever you like, as often as you like for free-- no trip to Tesla required. You can also remove access for any key or fob yourself for free whenever you like. When I sold my first Model 3 last month I kept my key fobs and I'll be able to use them on my new Model 3 when it is built. So they really are inexpensive relative to what others are charging especially when you factor in what the flexibility to program it yourself gives you.

BTW, when I bought my key fobs they were $250 now they are $175. Tesla is actually very reasonably priced on parts and they're not trying to make a huge profit from them.
 
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Two tips.:

1. If the door doesn't open, hold the handle in for a while. Often it only takes a few seconds for it to recognize the phone.

2. Get a free app to toggle Bluetooth from the home screen. Doing that almost always works for me, and an app will make that quicker.

It's very intermittent, so don't get superstitious about what fixes it.
 
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@CarlThompson Hey Carl, I was just watching someone's UTube vid about the fob, dated Jan 2019, and it indicates that passive entry/lock doesn't work with it. You have to push the button to unlock/lock. Is that your experience?

I should have mentioned that Tesla actually made 2 versions of the fob for the Model 3. The original version was not passive but the current version is. So in fact I bought 4 fobs for my Model 3, two of the original fobs and two of the new fobs!

With the current (new) fobs, they are truly passive and you do not need to remove from your pocket or click anything to open the doors or the rear trunk or to lock the car (if you have walk away lock enabled). You will need to push a button on the fob to open the front frunk though. I will add that in my experience the Tesla fobs do need their battery (CR2032) changed more often than other manufacturers' fobs. I changed mine every six months to a year because when not fresh you may need to hold the handle for a few seconds before it recognizes you which I find annoying.
 
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Happens to me a lot, persisting through software updates and change of phones (both Android). I've found that the rear hatch unlocks more readily than the doors. Sometimes it works after repeated attempts. It usually happens when I'm carrying the phone in my back pocket, and if I swivel to bring it closer to the car, that normally solves the problem.
 
I agree, never had a problem with the rear hatch. Btw, was a self-closing rear hatch an option? My well equipped 2020 doesn't have it, but as I was watching a key fob video I noted that some cars can close the hatch remotely.
I referred to hatch because mine is Model Y. I have 3 options - the button on the hatch, the onboard screen or the phone app (for which I have moved the hatch icon to the home page). Powered trunklid was added to Model 3 in 2021 as a basic feature but there may be aftermarket retrofits.
 

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