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Enhanced Anti-Theft System Control Settings


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Understanding the relationship among security system control settings is seemingly complicated by the addition of the Enhanced Anti-Theft System, available as an option for North American Models S and X, and standard with applicable European cars.

As I was going through this, I had flashbacks to studying to take the LSATs in the U.S. (For those that took them, remember the sections of the exam with those complex logic puzzles?)

Anyway, here is a table attempting to lay out the relationships among the car touchscreen and Tesla phone app controls.
Car vs App Settings.jpg

There are three scenarios illustrated: the first where you are controlling things with the car's Safety & Security screen Sentry Mode setting, and the second and third where you are using the Tesla App's Sentry Mode setting.

Two concerns were revealed or proven (from the reports of others) to me during this investigation.
  1. The main Sentry Mode on-off slider control on the "Safety & Security" screen of your car's touchscreen display appears to affect the Tesla App's "Controls" screen Sentry Mode setting in a logical fashion. The car's setting can turn the app's setting off and on in an expected fashion. Good, so far (but see #2, below).

    Unfortunately, the reverse is seemingly not true, at least in my Model X. Turning the phone App's Sentry Mode setting on and off does not appear to affect the car's displayed Sentry Mode setting. In contrast, however, the App's Sentry Mode setting does affect the top screen Sentry Mode Icon as you would expect.

    So if the App says SM is on, but the car's display screen says it's off, which to believe? The App SM setting (on); the S&S Screen SM setting (off); or the SM icon (on)? I assume SM is turned on, but I'll rely on other experienced users to chime in about this.

  2. Cabin Overheat Protection. As others elsewhere on the Forum have said, if you live where cabin temperature in a parked car is an issue, and you want COP on, you cannot have the Enhanced Anti-Theft System on at the same time. This means that you cannot run Sentry Mode. If you turn Sentry Mode on, the Enhanced Anti-Theft System features (tilt detection and cabin intrusion detection) automatically come on, and COP is shut off.

    To make matter worse, turning Sentry Mode off (via the car's touchscreen or the phone app) does not turn off the Security Alarm and Tilt / Intrusion features--so COP remains off. You have to remember to manually turn either T/I or SA off from within the car in order to enable COP. At least that is how it currently is on my 2021 Model X.
Has this been your experience? If true, Tesla should take a little time and straighten this out. One possible solution would be to place additional, specific controls for Tilt/Intrusion and/or Cabin Overheat Protection directly in the app, so that drivers are not inconvenienced by having to physically change the settings in the car itself. Or make it so that turning off Sentry Mode (by any means) turns off Tilt/Intrusion, so that COP will turn back on automatically. Any other ideas?
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So if the App says SM is on, but the car's display screen says it's off, which to believe? The App SM setting (on); the S&S Screen SM setting (off); or the SM icon (on)?...

After further testing, you can believe the Tesla App Controls screen and the Sentry Mode icon at the top of the car's touch screen. Even if the car's Safety & Security screen says that Sentry Mode is off, if the Tesla App says it's ON, it probably is. Look to the App and the SM icon,


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After further testing, you can believe the Tesla App Controls screen and the Sentry Mode icon at the top of the car's touch screen. Even if the car's Safety & Security screen says that Sentry Mode is off, if the Tesla App says it's ON, it probably is. Look to the App and the SM icon,

As I described in Post #1, above, fully understanding the interrelationships among the five primary security system control settings--(a) Sentry Mode (three different controls), (b) Security Alarm, and (c) Tilt / Intrusion (optional in North America)--remains somewhat challenging (at least for me).

For example, I keep forgetting that the Security Alarm setting is partly independent of the Sentry Mode setting. That is, Sentry Mode can be OFF but the alarm system can still be ON. In other words, if the alarm sounds it does not mean that Sentry Mode is necessarily on and active. For this reason I misspoke in Post #2, above, when I depended on the alarm sounding to prove to myself that Sentry Mode was on. That was inadequate evidence.

As described in Post #1, the three Sentry Mode control settings—(a) via the icon at the top of the car’s touch screen, (b) the slider control on the “Safety & Security” control screen, and (c) the additional slider control on the Tesla Phone App “Controls” screen—need not all be in agreement with one another at the same time! (More on that somewhat disturbing detail in a separate post.) Icon Off, SMS ON.jpg So if the three Sentry Mode settings are not in agreement, what is the best, easiest way to tell if and when Sentry Mode is actually ON?

Recognizing that Sentry Mode, first available in 2019, provided three innovative Tesla security actions (beyond what was available previously):
  • monitor car surroundings with cameras and sensors (Standby Mode),
  • warn off potential threats with flashing headlights and turn-signals (Alert Mode), and
  • warn the driver (after the alarm sounds) through the Tesla App (Alarm Mode),
you could:
  • check saved video files,
  • test to see if the car will flash its lights at a test subject, or
  • experiment to see if the car will message your App (when the alarm goes off).
But tese methods involve preparation, time, and effort (along with the possibility of loud noise). Is there a better, simpler way?

Note in the Post #1 table that If any of the three Sentry Mode settings is ON, then both the Security Alarm and Tilt / Intrusion on-off slider controls must be ON and be “grayed” out—meaning that they cannot be changed unless all Security Mode control settings (SM icon, touch screen SM slider, and App SM slider) are turned off. See thumbnail image, above, and this one: Icon ON, SMS OFF.jpg

As far as I know, these two slider controls are only locked ON when at least one of the three Sentry Mode settings is ON. Icon OFF, SMS OFF.jpg Icon OFF, SMS OFF - 2.jpg Therefore, a seemingly easy method to know whether Sentry Mode will be ON is to simply examine the Security Alarm and (optional) Tilt / Intrusion settings on the car’s “Safety & Security” touch screen before exiting the car. If they are on and “locked,” Sentry Mode is on (for at least one of the three control settings).

In conclusion, if vehicle security is a concern for you and you want to use Sentry Mode, I recommend a quick check of all Safety & Security Screen controls—Sentry Mode, Security Alarm, (optional) Tilt / Intrusion, and Sentry Mode location-exclusion boxesevery time the car is parked, at least until you become very comfortable with the various security controls and their effects upon one another. The last thing you want is for an incident to occur when Sentry Mode is unintentionally turned off.
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Further (and hopefully final) Notes on Security System Settings

(Note: Some language in this discussion has been used directly or modified from Pages 122 and 142-143 of the 2020 North American Model S, and Pages 144 and 165-166 of the 2020 North America Model X Owner’s Manuals.)

For drivers who must regularly or occasionally park their cars in vulnerable areas (which is pretty much everyone), fully understanding the car’s security system is important.

North American Models S and X are provided with standard security systems. An additional Enhanced Anti-Theft System can be purchased from Tesla. (Both systems are standard on applicable European Tesla cars.) Sentry Mode has been available (in North America) since 2019, I believe.

Standard Security System

The primary deterrent mechanism of the standard security system is the car alarm (or “siren”). If the car does not detect a valid key-fob nearby and a locked door or lift-gate is opened, the alarm sounds and the headlights and turn signals flash. The alarm can be enabled or disabled using the Security Alarm on-off slider control on the “Safety & Security” page of the car’s central touch screen.

It therefore appears that with the standard security system the alarm is triggered by the action of an otherwise locked door or lift-gate being opened, and not necessarily by a window being broken, the car being entered (through a window), or significant movement of the car itself. So if I understand this correctly, with just the standard security system a car could theoretically be illegally towed away (to a secluded area), or entered through a smashed window without triggering the standard system alarm.

Enhanced Anti-Theft System

This optional (in North America) system adds additional defense mechanisms that also ultimately rely on the car alarm. With this system installed the alarm will also sound if Models S and X (a) detect motion inside the cabin or (b) if the vehicle is significantly moved or tilted.

This enhanced system was seemingly designed to help prevent theft of objects inside the car (say through a smashed window) or of the car itself (e.g., by illegal towing).

Sentry Mode

Sentry Mode
uses at least four actions--(a) video monitoring, (b) proximity warnings, (c) the car alarm, and (d) messaging the driver—to help bolster overall car security. When activated, cameras and sensors remain on to record any close proximity activity when the car is otherwise locked and in Park. Sentry Mode software can be in one of three states:
  1. Standby (cameras and motion-detection monitor the area around the car).
  2. Alert (if someone/something is too close to the car, the headlights may flash and cameras record the event).
  3. Alarm (the alarm is activated for 30 seconds, loud music is played, and a message alert is sent to the pertinent Tesla phone App).
All three security systems—standard, enhanced, and Sentry Mode—share mechanisms and software in the car. However, depending on security settings, they can be somewhat independent of one another to varying degrees. They seem to perform different, additive, and individually-advantageous functions that together contribute to an overall improved security protocol. In my opinion, no one system fully takes the place of another, though Sentry Mode has apparently proven to be both popular and particularly useful.

Security System Control Settings

Tesla provides a certain amount of individual control over the three security systems. There are five key control settings (that I am aware of):
  • Sentry Mode Icon (next to the Dashcam icon at the top of the car’s central touch screen).
  • Sentry Mode on-off slider control (on the “Safety and Security” page of the central touch screen).
  • Security Alarm on-off slider control (on the “Safety and Security” page of the central touch screen).
  • Optional Tilt / Intrusion on-off slider control (on the “Safety and Security” page of the central touch screen). It is only present if the Enhanced Anti-Theft System is properly installed.
  • Sentry Mode on-off control slider (on the “Controls” page of the Tesla phone App.
These settings may be changed manually on the car’s touch screen and on the Tesla App screen (and perhaps by voice control inside the car).

There is also a Cabin Overheat Protection (COP) on-off slider control that is affected greatly by the Enhanced Anti-Theft System Tilt / Intrusion setting (#4), so it is included in this discussion.

Expanded Table of Security System Control Setting Interrelationships

The following table is an additional attempt to clarify and illustrate the relationships among the various control settings.
Security Settings.jpg
Note that a key security system mechanism, Sentry Mode, can be activated several ways--using the icon at the top of the touch screen (#1 in the Diagram), in-car voice command, the on-off control slider on the “Safety & Security” touch screen (#2), or the slider control on the Tesla App “Controls” screen (#5).

Sentry Mode Icon (# 1)

If Sentry Mode is activated using the icon at the top of the central touch screen (#1) the Sentry Mode slider control on the Safety & Securities screen (#2) does not appear to change its status, at least in my car. (This is an unfortunate programming oversight, in my opinion.) Nevertheless, I believe Sentry Mode is activated because the Security Alarm (#3) and (if installed) Tilt / Intrusion controls (#4) turn ON (and are “grayed out”--meaning they are temporarily locked and cannot be turned off) while SM (#1) is on, and the Cabin Overheat Protection control remains OFF (and is “grayed out") while Tilt / Intrusion [#4] is on. In addition, the Tesla App Sentry Mode slider control (#5) turns ON.

Sentry Mode Icon - ON.jpg Sentry Mode Icon - OFF.jpg
Sentry Mode Icon - ON Sentry Mode Icon - OFF​

If the Sentry Mode icon (#1) remains off, the Tesla App Sentry Mode setting (#5) also remains off. The two settings (#s 1 and 5) appear to be closely linked. If either the icon (#1) or App (#5) setting is turned on, the other will also turn on (through there may be a slight delay before the App setting changes its status to match the icon setting). Meanwhile, if the SM icon setting remains OFF, the other four settings (#s 2, 3, and 4, plus the COP) may be either off or on—they can be changed manually by the user while the Sentry Mode icon remains OFF.

This can result in another apparent setting conflict with the Safety & Security screen Sentry Mode setting on the car’s touch screen—i.e., with purposeful manipulation the SM icon can be OFF while the S&SS SM slider can be ON. And the language under the SM slider will state:

“Sentry Mode will be enabled when you leave the car”​

In addition, the Security Alarm and Tilt / Intrusion settings will be ON and grayed-out, giving every indication that Sentry Mode will indeed be on when the car is exited, even though the Sentry Mode icon and App SM settings are OFF.

SM Icon OFF - S&SS SM ON.jpg

Sentry Mode Slider Control (#2)

If all six (security and COP) controls are “off” and we instead activate Sentry Mode via the car’s Safety and Security screen (#2), we get similar results (to activating SM via the icon). Note that “Exclude Home,” “Exclude Work,” and/or “Exclude Favorites” boxes may be checked whenever Sentry Mode is turned on in this way (using #2). (See thumbnail image directly above.) To ensure that Sentry Mode is indeed ON when you park at these designated locations, you may need to manually uncheck these boxes.

At this point it is worth noting that using the central touch screen slider control (#2) always initially changes the icon (#1) and App Sentry Mode (#5) settings correspondingly. In contrast, using the icon (#1) and the App (#5) settings does not change the Safety & Security screen setting (#2)--a software shortcoming, I feel, that could contribute to unnecessary confusion.

Security Alarm (#3)

If all controls once again start at OFF, what happens when just the Security Alarm setting (#3) is turned to “ON?” The answer is, there is no change to the other five settings.

To understand why it is important to recognize that the Security Alarm system—the chief mechanism of the basic security system that comes standard with any car—is partly independent of Sentry Mode and the Enhanced Anti-Theft System. If Sentry Mode (#s 1, 2, and 5) and Tilt / Intrusion (#4) are turned off, but the Security Alarm (#3) is on, the car still receives basic security protection against doors and lift-gates in an otherwise locked car being opened. But if Sentry Mode (#s 1, 2, or 5) is turned on, Security Alarm (#3) and (if present) Tilt / Intrusion (#4) settings have to be on (and be locked, or "grayed-out").

So if the Security Alarm setting remains OFF, it means that all three of the Sentry Mode settings must be off as well, though they can be manually turned on (in which case the Security Alarm setting would lock ON). Also, if Security Alarm is OFF the Tilt / Intrusion setting has to be off and grayed out, whereas Cabin Overheat Protection can be off or on.

It can be important to understand the distinctions among, for example, these setting groups.

SA and T-I On and Locked.jpg SA and T-I On and Unlocked.jpg SA OFF and T-I OFF and Locked.jpg

SA & T/I ON and Locked SA & T/I ON and Unlocked SA OFF and Unlocked; T/I Off and Locked​

Tilt / Intrusion (#4)

In order to turn on the optional Tilt / Intrusion setting (#4), the Security Alarm (#3) must be ON. The three Sentry Mode settings (#s 1, 2, and 6) can remain off (or be turned on manually), but the Cabin Overheat Protection control cannot be turned on while Tilt / Intrusion is ON.

As with the Security Alarm setting, if Tilt / Intrusion is OFF it means that all Sentry Mode settings have to be OFF. With Tilt / Intrusion OFF, both Security Alarm and Cabin Overheat Protection settings can be either off or on.

Cabin Overheat Protection

The Cabin Overheat Protection setting itself does not directly affect security system settings. But its ON status is mutually exclusive to the Tilt / Intrusion ON setting. Neither can be ON while the other is also ON. This is apparently because intrusion (movement) detection is so sensitive that air movement of small objects within the cabin can unintendedly set off the alarm. Hence COP, which moves air within the cabin, cannot be in operation while Tilt / Intrusion is turned on.

Tesla App Sentry Mode Slider (#5)

The Sentry Mode control slider in the Tesla App “Controls” screen (#5) appears to operate similarly to, and in conjunction with, the Sentry Mode icon (#1). When the App SM control (#5) is turned on, the responses by the other settings are identical to that from the Sentry Mode icon (#1).

Tesla App Controls Sentry Mode Slider - ON.jpg

It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that changes to either the icon (#1) nor App (#5) SM controls do not appear to affect the visual status of the Sentry Mode setting in the Safety & Security screen (#2). (At least in my car.) However, I believe that they do control the car’s actual Sentry Mode status. When in doubt, check the the Security Alarm (#3) and (optional) Tilt / Intrusion (#4) control settings before exiting the car. If they are ON and grayed-out (locked), I believe Sentry Mode will be active when the car is exited and it locks itself.

In Conclusion

These determinations were based on settings within my 2021 Model X with the optional Enhanced Anti-Theft System installed. If anyone has additional or contradictory information, or if I have introduced an error, please let us all know.

I am not an expert on Tesla or any other auto security systems. How do the Tesla security systems compare to those of other manufacturers or to aftermarket add-on products you may have experienced?
  • Informative
Reactions: KalJoMoS and All In


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I know you posted this a while back, but I just had the Enhanced Security installed and this seems stupidly overly complicated in actual use.

Yes, agreed.

I have been running into some problems recently--i.e., the alarm going off at night, for no apparent reason.

I suspect (in decreasing order of likelihood):
  • Insect(s) in the cabin.
  • Rodent entering the cabin.
  • Cat/racoon on the hood.
  • Bored, punky kids pranking me (car is kept out under a Tesla car cover).
For now I am turning off Sentry Mode (which also turns of Tilt/Intrusion) when parked at home. (The alarm is still on, if a locked door was opened. But the EATS features and Sentry Mode are turned off.) I don't like not being able to use an expensive accessory, but getting out of bed at 2 in the morning (and upsetting the neighbors) is not a viable option. AFAIK, there is no way to have Sentry Mode off and Tilt/Intrusion on.

The intrusion feature is really sensitive. And, as my previous posts have indicated, the interaction between the car's display screen and the phone App can be complicated. Even after the research and posting I did, I still have to really think how to set all the slider controls.

I'd love an hour with the Tesla development Team to outline my concerns. (Maybe I need to send some suggestions.)

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