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What doesn't work when you don't have cell service or WiFi?

Haven't yet ordered (waiting for the rebate fog to clear) but thinking about a 3 or Y a lot.

There's effectively no cell service where we live and we frequently travel to places that have neither cell nor WiFi. (We have excellent internet speed and WiFi at home.)

I'm wondering what doesn't work in those situations. I'm assuming updates will happen over WiFi when the car is at home, but what about route planning and navigation? Are there downloaded maps and GPS that's not reliant on cell service? If so, do those maps know where chargers are located even if they can't tell you about their current status? Does that system use WiFi when cell is not available? Does it "forget" your route and stops when it runs out of signal? I've been reading confused and conflicting reports about what happens with navigation.

Is there anything else important I'm not thinking about that stops working when the car can't communicate with the outside world? (not worried about entertainment systems here, just car function.)
 

Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
10,754
9,798
Visalia, CA
....I'm assuming updates will happen over WiFi when the car is at home...
Correct.
...route planning and navigation...
It works without internet/wifi/cell service and there's a slashed symbol so you know that the routing is not based on internet service
...do those maps know where chargers are located...
Good question. I haven't tried to see that when without internet service yet. I'll need to start to go to a national park that's free from cell signal to find out.
...tell you about their current status?...
That requires internet service
...Does it "forget" your route and stops when it runs out of signal?...
When the routing/mapping is based on internet/wifi signal, there's an icon showing.

When your car leaves an internet service area, there's a slashed icon signifying that routing/mapping is no longer based on it.

Those icons turn on/off as you get or not get internet service but the mapping/routing is still working either way.
Is there anything else important I'm not thinking about that stops working when the car can't communicate with the outside world?...
If your car is in trouble, Tesla Assistance operator can't access your car without internet service.

By the way, if you have a wifi hotspot device like your phone and the internet service is on, you can have your car use that hotspot wi-fi as well.
 

RayK

Safety Score 83 (Unsafe Following? I stopped!)
Apr 5, 2016
2,616
2,677
San Jose, CA
By the way, if you have a wifi hotspot device like your phone and the internet service is on, you can have your car use that hotspot wi-fi as well.
And that's a good reason to have cell service NOT from AT&T (at least in the USA). If the car can't see any AT&T cell towers, your phone may be able to see one of the other networks (T-Mobile/Sprint, Verizon).
 

joebruin77

Active Member
Dec 23, 2018
1,248
1,165
Encino, CA
Not sure if this still occurs, but I did drive along route 1 Pacific Coast Highway between San Luis Obispo, CA and Big Sur, CA. There is definitely no cell service along this stretch of coastal highway. For lack of a better word, the navigation went "caflouey". The map on display disappeared. The car was giving us wrong directions (if we followed them, we would have ended up in the ocean). So to me, it seems like if you do not have cell service, you cannot trust the navigation for even the most basic of functions. A simple way to deal with this is to bring up Google Maps or Apple Maps on your iPhone. This is what we did and it continued to work despite no cell service.

This road trip took place before the pandemic, so perhaps things have improved since then.
 

Frank99

April 2018 Model 3 LR RWD, EAP, FSD
Apr 7, 2016
402
546
Arizona
Obviously, the streaming radio stations won't work (unless you use your phone's hotspot).

In my experience, navigation will work just fine when you leave cell service, it'll remember the route and everything will be hunky-dory. Until you park the car - then it won't pick back up without cell service.
 
Without cell coverage or WiFi via the app you wont be able to:
control aircon remotely turn on/off adjust temperature
turn sentry mode on/off
control heated seats and heated steering wheel
open frunk
open/close trunk
check location/speed of the car
unlock remotely
allow someone to drive the car (while you're in a different location to the car)
Smart summon
vent or close the windows
sentry mode alarm alerts
restrict speed
change charging current (I think this is available now with the new firmware and new app version)
valet mode
check charging status

There are probably more things I've forgotten about
 
And that's a good reason to have cell service NOT from AT&T (at least in the USA). If the car can't see any AT&T cell towers, your phone may be able to see one of the other networks (T-Mobile/Sprint, Verizon).
Your statement that no one should have AT&T service in the USA is a bit broad. I'm no fan of AT&T, but where I live, it's cell coverage is far better than either Verizon or T Mobile.
 

RayK

Safety Score 83 (Unsafe Following? I stopped!)
Apr 5, 2016
2,616
2,677
San Jose, CA
Your statement that no one should have AT&T service in the USA is a bit broad. I'm no fan of AT&T, but where I live, it's cell coverage is far better than either Verizon or T Mobile.
I guess I should have stated my thoughts a bit clearer. I am a subscriber to AT&T cellular. Have been since they were known as Pac(ific) Bell. I give them $200 a month in return for 4 unlimited lines and HBO Max. What I meant to convey is that having a cell service different than what your car is using is a benefit in some cases. I never explicitly said or suggested that nobody should use their service. That was your interpretation of my (inadequate) words. Sorry for giving you that impression.
 
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Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
10,754
9,798
Visalia, CA
Your statement that no one should have AT&T service in the USA is a bit broad. I'm no fan of AT&T, but where I live, it's cell coverage is far better than either Verizon or T Mobile.

I think it's about a practice of "Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket" or diversification and redundancy. If one cell service fails, hopefully, another one still works. The reception is dependent on cell towers. Sometimes one company's cell tower is closer to us while another is not.
 
Without cell coverage or WiFi via the app you wont be able to:
control aircon remotely turn on/off adjust temperature
turn sentry mode on/off
control heated seats and heated steering wheel
open frunk
open/close trunk
check location/speed of the car
unlock remotely
allow someone to drive the car (while you're in a different location to the car)
Smart summon
vent or close the windows
sentry mode alarm alerts
restrict speed
change charging current (I think this is available now with the new firmware and new app version)
valet mode
check charging status

There are probably more things I've forgotten about
Yikes, that's a long list -- really, opening the windows or the trunk needs an internet connection? That's an absurd design, if true. (Or am I misunderstanding-- are you saying it's just the phone app that won't work to do those things but there is still a manual way to do them?)

Even so, it seems like a poor choice to have the app dependent on an internet connection rather than a local wifi hub in the car or the shared hotspot feature of the phone. But then I'm not a software engineer.
 
OP doesn't own a Tesla, wants dumb cruise control, says CT will get zero range of what his/her diesal 350 can pull, hates the center console, and now wants to know all the downsides of getting cell and wifi in the car he/she wants to buy. Yeah right.

OP, adding cell/wifi will take you back to the dark ages and cause your car to catch on fire. Don't buy a Tesla.
 
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Yikes, that's a long list -- really, opening the windows or the trunk needs an internet connection? That's an absurd design, if true. (Or am I misunderstanding-- are you saying it's just the phone app that won't work to do those things but there is still a manual way to do them?)

Even so, it seems like a poor choice to have the app dependent on an internet connection rather than a local wifi hub in the car or the shared hotspot feature of the phone. But then I'm not a software engineer.
No no no.. They're just saying that the remote functions you can control from the phone app don't work if the car can't see a cellular signal. Duh. It's pretty reasonable and true of any car. You can still operate all those functions when you're in the car.

Voice recognition doesn't work and mapping routes might get wonky. That's about it.
 
OP doesn't own a Tesla, wants dumb cruise control, says CT will get zero range of what his/her diesal 350 can pull, hates the center console, and now wants to know all the downsides of getting cell and wifi in the car he/she wants to buy. Yeah right.

OP, adding cell/wifi will take you back to the dark ages and cause your car to catch on fire. Don't buy a Tesla.
OK, but the problem is I did a test drive and completely loved the way the car handled and drove, and I'm excited to move on to an all electric vehicle. For better or worse I'm a curious scientist and like data and ask lots of questions about most everything. What's a fellow to do?

FWIW, I would really very much prefer having cell service where I live and travel. The local tinfoil hat brigade has been quite successful in preventing that, at least where I live.
 

Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
10,754
9,798
Visalia, CA
...phone app that won't work to do those things but there is still a manual way to do them...

When I got my Tesla in 2012, the original design for the Tesla phone app means it needs to log in to the Tesla server first, so that needs any kind of available internet service (cell, wi-fi, hotspot...)

Without internet service, you can still access your car fine with a fob to open your doors, frunk, and trunk.

Tesla then introduced the key card that you can access your car without internet and the fob too.

Tesla then introduced the phone key that now not only works with the internet but also with Bluetooth too.

Thus, if you want to enjoy the latest technology, don't buy my 2012 Tesla!
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
12,036
7,831
Yikes, that's a long list -- really, opening the windows or the trunk needs an internet connection? That's an absurd design, if true. (Or am I misunderstanding-- are you saying it's just the phone app that won't work to do those things but there is still a manual way to do them?)

Even so, it seems like a poor choice to have the app dependent on an internet connection rather than a local wifi hub in the car or the shared hotspot feature of the phone. But then I'm not a software engineer.
He's talking about remotely. Obviously doing such things in the car doesn't require an internet connection. Also most of those actions are still available in the app even if you only turn on bluetooth. It has to be given there are plenty of places without cell service.

Other things not mentioned is voice commands don't work without internet, and for the nav, although it'll still work, the search autocomplete will not work. It will revert to the dumb nav system where you have to enter the exact address.
 
Last edited:

Frank99

April 2018 Model 3 LR RWD, EAP, FSD
Apr 7, 2016
402
546
Arizona
OK, but the problem is I did a test drive and completely loved the way the car handled and drove, and I'm excited to move on to an all electric vehicle. For better or worse I'm a curious scientist and like data and ask lots of questions about most everything. What's a fellow to do?

FWIW, I would really very much prefer having cell service where I live and travel. The local tinfoil hat brigade has been quite successful in preventing that, at least where I live.
Your phone will still work as a key to get in the door, and to start the car. But none of the other features of the phone app will work without cell/wifi connectivity.
Almost everything in the car will work as expected - except streaming music services (Spotify, etc) and navigation. If navigation is started while you have communications, it works fine until you shift the car to "park", then there are differing opinions about how well it works.

Feel free to ask questions here; do it in a friendly fashion and you'll get plenty of friendly answers - some of them may have bear some resemblance to reality. ;)
I'll say that I picked up my Model 3 in May 2018, and I still love it every day I go out to drive it (although the "Safety Score" is really beginning to chap my hide). What's really interesting to note is how many things Tesla did differently than a legacy automaker - and how many of those make daily driving so much better. These range from the spartan interior, which is remarkably calming while driving, to the remarkable vent system, to the two-turn lock-to-lock steering, which makes tight turns so much easier, to manage. My Ford tells me what my current MPG is; Tesla gives me a full-screen energy graph. As a technical person, I delight every time I stumble over something that they've done that makes driving less of a chore - but then I also despair of them ever being able to reliably play an MP3 file.
 
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