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Refresh S: Sentry Doesn’t Alarm When Rear Seats Fold Down

I had the rear quarter window smashed on my refresh S a few weeks back; would-be thief folded down the seat to see that I didn’t have anything in the trunk. I was very surprised that the sentry alarm didn’t go off:
  • The latch button for the rear seats is electric (vs the mechanical switch on my old Model 3), so I would have assumed that it being activated while the car is in alarm mode with the doors locked would have set the alarm off? Or, if the car is alarmed, the seat lock shouldn’t actuate to unlock?
  • I also thought I remembered seeing that the refresh S had “interior radar” (perhaps I assumed it would have included this upgrade) to detect interior motion when locked, e.g. from someone who had smashed a window. Regardless, I would also assume that the interior camera would have noticed an entire row of seats folding down.
  • Sentry did record the “event” without alarming, but the video quality on the cameras was too poor for me to see the license plate.
Does anyone have similar experiences? Is there any reason why the seat latch couldn’t set off the alarm?
 

BCCA

Member
Jan 25, 2019
55
44
USA
You can test the "interior radar" by rolling down one or all windows, then take your fobs away from the car, so it will lock. After the car locks, approach your car and wave your arm thru an open window (be sure to have fob nearby in case the alarm goes off). In my case, the alarm goes off. Good luck.
 

vcor

Tech Specialist
Nov 29, 2012
576
335
California
I thought the seats couldn't be folded down if the car is locked. While maybe not a perfect test, I just got in the rear seat (2022 S) and locked the car with the fob. The rear seat electric button still works! Seems like a bug or a poor design. Agreed, the alarm should have sounded either for the glass breakage, movement in the car, or folding the seat down. It may be there is a delay before the alarm system is activated and/or sitting in the rear seat disabled the alarm, so this may not be a great test.

I had a 2016 S that had the rear window broken when I was a hundred feet away or so from the car. No alarm then. Here's my write-up and video of the thief along with suggestions on how to handle it. To Catch A Thief – Tesla Breakins – TeslaTap
 

WilliamG

Hinge Fanatic
Apr 20, 2019
6,728
10,626
Seattle, WA
Interesting post. Tesla could certainly add such a feature via software. I tend to leave my trunk privacy cover folded back/open at all times when parking to ensure nobody breaks in unnecessarily when there's nothing in the back, - which they can see from the outside. This might be the first post I've read of a new S broken into. With the Model 3 these incidents are commonplace...

Sorry this happened to you. :(
 

tps5352

Active Member
Supporting Member
Late to the party, here. But for people, like me, who stumble onto this interesting Thread:

I have written a number of times about the Enhanced Anti-Theft System (EATS) mentioned above in Post #1 by the OP, @avsrock90. For example:
This $350 accessory is available for classic/legacy/chromed (2012-2021) Models S & X in North America. (Standard equipment in Europe for those models, I read.)

I had EATS installed in my early 2021 Model X. What happens when you purchase this add-on accessory is that a Tesla mobile tech person installs a new overhead light fixture with two motion detectors and updates the software. This adds a "Tilt/Intrusion" slider control to the "Safety" screen of the car's main display.

I take it that refreshed Models S and X now automatically come with EATS (or something like it)? One way to tell: does your car exhibit the aforementioned "Tilt/Intrusion" slider control? If so, it definitely has (or should have) a working sensor to detect motion inside the cabin.

Side note: I believe that the EATS system was developed, in part, to combat the frequent smash-and-grab parked-car thefts occurring in the San Francisco Bay area.

I am left with the feeling that Tesla's overall security system functions and controls are helpful (sometimes extremely helpful) at times, but that they can also be confusing and sometimes problematic. As I tried to document, there can be a bewildering level of interrelationships among the security control settings (e.g., if this one is "on," then this one must be "off," and so forth).

Also, having a loud alarm (with Bach music) go off if someone smashes a window doesn't stop the damage or, apparently, stop speedy thieves who get in and out before any response arrives.

Nonetheless, having all the security systems (i.e., basic alarm, Sentry Mode, EATS) is better than nothing.

As to the OP's issue, if EATS (or its latest version) was (a) installed, (b) functioning properly, and (c) turned on, the alarm definitely should have gone off due to movement in the cabin.

On the other hand, if the car just had the standard security system, movement inside the car probably, by itself, would not trigger the alarm. A locked door or hatch has to be opened, I believe. (I don't know about moving the seat-backs.

Tesla car security is a hierarchical system of hardware and software (see description here). Mastering it in all circumstances (e.g., parked at home, parked in relatively safe area, or parked in dodgy locations away from home, etc.) in order to avoid false-positives and negatives (alarm going off, or not, wrongly) can take some effort.

I am still wrestling with the problem of small flying insects (unseen when I park) triggering the EATS when the car is otherwise undisturbed.
 

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