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Car wouldn't unlock with key card or phone

DaveG_NJ

Member
Oct 7, 2020
298
815
NJ
Ran a quick errand today, left the store to get back in my car (iPhone in pocket) and when I went to open the door, the car beeped once, but didn't unlock. Tried a few times and then, thinking my phone was having bluetooth problem or something, I took my key card out and tried that - same thing - the car beeped but wouldn't unlock. I thought maybe I was trying to get into the wrong Model 3 at that point. I checked the license plate, it was mine and then went into the phone app and saw my phone key was connected, so I hit the unlock button in the app and the car unlocked. Got in and drove home, and now everything seems fine.

I'd chalk it up to some weird phone issue, but why didn't the key card work? The car had about a 75% charge and my phone had a full charge. I'm on the latest software (2021.4.18.3). At least I was close to home (and about a block from the Tesla dealer), but I'd hate to get stuck somewhere. I tried a search, but all the issues seem to be related to the phone.
 

Sandor

Member
Dec 12, 2019
45
62
SoCal
Not sure about the card issue, but I've just discovered this weekend that my wife's car problems with opening the model 3 (won't unlock when walking to the door, but would work from app) were due to the iPhone's settings. Check to make sure the Tesla app has access to location services "Always" not just "when using". I think one of the latest Apple updates changed that setting to the default without asking. After putting it back to "Always", she can open the door just fine 100% of the time now. BTW I'm on 2021.4.18.2.

Hope it helps
 

bjrosen

Member
Apr 19, 2019
298
299
Westford MA
You might have been touching the wrong spot on the pillar with your card. I was without a phone for a day while the battery was getting replaced and I had to use the card. I first tried around the pillar camera and that didn't work, I then tried lower on the pillar and it worked.
 

DaveG_NJ

Member
Oct 7, 2020
298
815
NJ
Is your key card working now?
Yes. Both key card and phone are working fine again. I looked in the Locks section of the car controls and saw both were active and were used within the last 15 minutes (after I got home). I also watched the Sentry footage of me trying to get in multiple times. I hate glitches that go away on their own, because they are bound to return.
 

DaveG_NJ

Member
Oct 7, 2020
298
815
NJ
You might have been touching the wrong spot on the pillar with your card. I was without a phone for a day while the battery was getting replaced and I had to use the card. I first tried around the pillar camera and that didn't work, I then tried lower on the pillar and it worked.
I thought about that, but it beeped once, just like the phone did, so it knew I was doing something. I wish I had looked at the screen at the time. Normally, if you don't have your phone and try to open the door, the screen will say something like "touch your key card to the pillar as shown".
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,783
5,697
Yes. Both key card and phone are working fine again. I looked in the Locks section of the car controls and saw both were active and were used within the last 15 minutes (after I got home). I also watched the Sentry footage of me trying to get in multiple times. I hate glitches that go away on their own, because they are bound to return.
I've had times where the phone didn't work (like immediately after I turn on bluetooth and it's likely still establishing the connection), but didn't have a time where the keycard didn't work. Also note, if you turn on NFC on your phone (if your phone has it) and your Tesla app is on, that can be another way to unlock the car. It seems the NFC reader is a more direct path than bluetooth (which may need some bootup time from sleep as well as time to establish a connection).

If the authorization fails and you pull on the door, it'll show a picture on the screen for you to tap the keycard, but from your other comment you already knew that.

It could be from bad read by the reader. To get a good read, align the card to the reader antenna, and hold the card steady as close to it as possible (do not keep moving the card back and forth, I see a lot of people do that for NFC cards in general, thinking that helps when it actually makes it hard for the read to happen correctly).
The reader antenna is the one marked as 1 in the picture below of the b-pillar. It's pretty much a bit below the center of the B-pillar. The thing on the left is the camera, the #2 is the card reader.

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Last edited:

Need

Active Member
Nov 22, 2017
2,972
2,262
Rancho Cucamonga
OP, you said you heard a beep with the keycard and phone, but there shouldn't be a beep. I don't remember ever hearing a beep when the car is unlock. The only sound are driver mirror lowered and side mirrors unfolding. When the car auto lock, there is a beep. So maybe your car has some kind of random logic failure that thinking it has to lock the car again?
 

95gator

Member
Dec 27, 2020
49
12
LA
Not sure about the card issue, but I've just discovered this weekend that my wife's car problems with opening the model 3 (won't unlock when walking to the door, but would work from app) were due to the iPhone's settings. Check to make sure the Tesla app has access to location services "Always" not just "when using". I think one of the latest Apple updates changed that setting to the default without asking. After putting it back to "Always", she can open the door just fine 100% of the time now. BTW I'm on 2021.4.18.2.

Hope it helps
Thanks for this. I hope that’s the reason my phone has been working intermittently. It’s been making me crazy. I haven’t tried it but indeed it was set to “only while using app” checked so thanks for for that!
 

rayk111

New Member
Jun 30, 2020
3
0
Charleston, SC
I am having this same issue. I can unlock with the phone app only.
I approach the car and my fob nor the keycard works. When I touch the card to the pillar the screen says recording. The sentry mode is on but the car will not open unless I unlock with my phone.
 

Oldrocky

Member
Jul 17, 2021
75
6
Burlington, Wa.
Not sure about the card issue, but I've just discovered this weekend that my wife's car problems with opening the model 3 (won't unlock when walking to the door, but would work from app) were due to the iPhone's settings. Check to make sure the Tesla app has access to location services "Always" not just "when using". I think one of the latest Apple updates changed that setting to the default without asking. After putting it back to "Always", she can open the door just fine 100% of the time now. BTW I'm on 2021.4.18.2.

Hope it helps
??? - anyone tested this long enough to know if this affects battery drain on the iPhone in any serious way?
I just tested my 2018 X and this fixed the problem of requiring to have the key fob in order to open/use
the car. However, I still had to open the Tesla App on the iPhone.
- Jim in Burlington, Wa.
 

FloridaGary

Member
Sep 27, 2015
639
315
Orlando, FL.
??? - anyone tested this long enough to know if this affects battery drain on the iPhone in any serious way?
I just tested my 2018 X and this fixed the problem of requiring to have the key fob in order to open/use
the car. However, I still had to open the Tesla App on the iPhone.
- Jim in Burlington, Wa.
I've had location services for my Tesla app set to "Always" for the last 3 years and never a problem with battery drain. All other apps are set to Off or Only While Using.
 

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