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Tesla Owners Left Stranded In Cold After Smartphone App Crashes Over Weekend

One of the perks of owning a Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) is using your smartphone as a key to open and drive your car. This feature allows users to do away with carrying a key fob. However, over the weekend, several Tesla owners reported getting a “500 server error” on their smartphone apps. The error would leave some stranded in the cold, unable to unlock their cars.

“Still stuck in Seoul” wrote Jaehwan Cho on Twitter after earlier reporting the server error when trying to use it with his Tesla Model 3.

So as long as you keep your keyfob with you, this should never happen, correct?
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So as long as you keep your keyfob with you, this should never happen, correct?

Sounds like a nice FUD/sensationalist story to me, the phone key still worked, servers aren't needed. The servers are only used for remote control of the car, so you could unlock/start your car from somewhere else (presumably for another person to use it, a rare use case I would think).

But always keep a key card with you in case your phone fails!
No one should have been stranded:
- phone as key still worked as that is direct communication between the phone and the car
- keyfob worked, direct communication
- keycards worked, reader on the car

The only thing that failed is the application, which needs to talk to Tesla servers, which in turn talk with the car through LTE or Wifi. It is possible that some people got stranded, if they relied solely on the unlock and start commands from the app. That would be a very bad way to be configured.
For everyone else, we just lost the ability to condition the car remotely, that sort of thing. No biggie.


Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
Riverside Co. CA

So as long as you keep your keyfob with you, this should never happen, correct?

I am not even going to give a click to that article because the BASE PREMISE is incorrect.

"Phone as key" never had an issue because it is not based on using the app to access the car. Any tesla with phone as key was NOT STRANDED.
Anyone with a keyfob was NOT STRANDED
Anyone with a keycard was NOT STRANDED.

The ONLY people who would have been stranded are those who:

1. Did not have a keycard or keyfob on them, AND
2. Never setup phone as key because they use some other remote app to access their car, which requires a cellular connection.

All the people who say 'I use my watch to remote start my tesla through this third party "Watch for tesla" app (or something like that, insert your desired THIRD PARTY app) MIGHT have been stranded IF they ALSO did not have a keycard OR Keyfob on them. That would be ENTIRELY their fault.

"I am going to use this third party app to access my car, through my watch even though tesla doesnt support this directly. I am ALSO NOT going to carry a backup in case the car goes out of cellular range. This makes perfect sense to me"... should have been said by no one.

Any article insinuating anything else is simply fear mongering.
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I’ve got to agree with jjrandorin on this one: this news is sensationalist crap. If you dropped your phone in the toilet - you would be far more stranded. My phone worked fine to lock/unlock my car and start it. All I was prevented from doing was remote control of doors, heat, etc.

so Tesla had a “glitch” — big deal. That’s the price we all pay with many different complex cars In 2021. It’s kind of a common sense thing to keep a key-card in your wallet - though I’ve never had to use one because of Tesla problems.


On The Clown Car
Sep 6, 2021
Just gotta ask, "Who leaves home without carrying a Tesla key card in their wallet or shoe (thank you Maxwell Smart)?" As the AmEx folks have said for decades, "Don't leave home without it." And that's all I have to say about that.
I‘ve done it. I’ve also very nearly gotten locked out due to phone battery dying. I now have a wallet attached to my phone which has the card in it along with ID and 1 credit card.

I’ve considered duct taping a card someone under the car so I always have access hide-a-key style.
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