Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.

New Owners - Neutral is different for Car Washes!

This site may earn commission on affiliate links.
My wife and I independently took the new Model 3 to the Car Wash without knowing that the method for shifting into Neutral has changed from the Model S.

I pulled up and drove into the lanes, and then couldn't figure out how to get into Neutral. I completely clogged up the car wash lane and they had to move cars out of the way so I could back up.

As I left, I searched for how to switch into Neutral and found the answer on this forum. Like I said, the same thing happened to my wife, so I'm guessing it may happen to many new Model 3 owners.

On the S, you push all the way down (basically, 2 clicks) to get into drive, and then softly push it back up one click to go into Neutral. That does not work on the Model 3!

On the 3, you push down (1 full click) to get into drive, and then softly raise the stick WITHOUT clicking for a few seconds and it will shift into Neutral.

I hope this helps somebody. I felt very foolish not knowing how to shift my car into Neutral!
Does that work? I would use Tow mode, myself. I would think leaving the car (when in Neutral) would put it in Park! But I'm sure you tested that by now....

I couldn't get it to stay in Tow Mode. No idea why, probably user error. But I was referring to a drive thru style car wash, the ones where you pull up onto a conveyor, put your car into Neutral, but stay in the car.
  • Informative
Reactions: dhrivnak
My local car wash banned Tesla’s after they got frustrated at my Model 3. So I just went to the car wash down the street that allows you to stay in the car. Turned out to be a better and cheaper wash too.
I have xpel on all the Tesla’s so no fear of swirl marks or scratches.
I'd love to hear all about what happened that made them frustrated at your Model 3! :D
I'd love to hear all about what happened that made them frustrated at your Model 3! :D

It's one of those car washes where you get out, the attendant puts into neutral, and the car goes through the wash unmanned. They've washed my Model S multiple times and never had any issues with it. Tow mode on the Model 3 is in a different menu and isn't really called Tow Mode so they were having trouble finding it. Once I finally came out I find all the workers yelling over the car. Then I enabled tow mode and for some reason the car would not stay in neutral so the attendant had to sit in the car through the car wash. After the wash he told me they lost 2 customers because they didn't want to wait and they're no longer willing to wash these cars anymore. I said "well you're gonna fail if you don't learn to adapt to new tech".
The car was clean though so theres that :p
You now have to hold the lever for a couple of seconds to get it to shift into neutral, prevents inadvertent selection when disengaging AP at cruise:


Push the lever up or down to the first position and hold it there for more than 1 second to shift into Neutral. Neutral allows Model 3 to roll freely when you are not pressing the brake pedal.

I tested this behavior while parked. From Park, neutral is available at the first detent up or first detent down. However if you are in Drive, first down detent does not select neutral even after 5 seconds holding it there.

But as soon as you leave the car it will go back to Park so you may need tow mode to go through a wash.
  • Informative
Reactions: RedOctober
Do those automatic car washes do a decent job without damaging the car? I'm lazy, but I use the coin-operated wash where I park the car in a stall, feed the machine some quarters, then use the spray wand and the brush.

I took the Roadster to a tow-through car wash once, but it's so low to the ground they would not accept it. Once I took it to a place where some kids were washing cars to raise money for something. They loved the car and did a very nice job. If there was a hand-washing place where someone who cares about your car washed it by hand I'd go there.
Since you're discussing Car washes (pg 119 in the manual), here's a caution that the Manual lists:

Caution: If washing in an automatic car wash, use Touchless car washes only. These car washes have no parts (brushes, etc.) that touch the surfaces of Model 3. Using any other type of car wash could cause damage that is not covered by the warranty.
Don't have my Model 3 yet but does it have the Manual available on the screen like they do on the Model S? There go you to Controls - Settings - and the Manual icon is in the lower left of the window. Personally even on the Model S I think it should be easier to find for those times you have a question and need to look something up on the spot...like how to get into Neutral or Tow mode without going through all the screens you think it might be on.