7 Common Tesla Model 3 Headlight Issues [With Fixes]

7 Common Tesla Model 3 Headlights Issues - With Fixes

I remember the first time I ever pressed the accelerator on my Tesla Model 3, and it felt incredible! I’ll never forget what the Tesla sales guy said to me; “welcome to the future.” While my Model 3 and I have become inseparable over the past year, I must say, the EV has some problems when it comes to the headlights. I did a little research online and found the:

7 common Tesla Model 3 headlights issues – with fixes

  1. The Headlights Won’t Turn Off
  2. Flickering Headlights
  3. Headlights Fogging Up
  4. Lights Are Too Bright, Annoying for Other Drivers On the Road
  5. One of the Headlights Won’t Work
  6. Headlights Turning On and Off at Night
  7. The Headlight is Poking Out Like It’s Going to Pop-out

The obvious fix for all of these issues is to call the mobile Tesla service or go to your nearest Tesla center for a quick checkup and repair.

While your warranty may cover most or all of the fixes, sometimes it a bit of a hassle, or you need to take care of things on the go. Not to mention, what if you did something that caused these issues and want to avoid it in the future? Read below to find out more about the 7 most common Model 3 headlight issues and how to fix them.

» MORE: Why Do Tesla Lights Flash? [3 Reasons]

Model 3 Headlight Issues

It seems like every time you go online or check out the news that there is always a problem with Tesla cars. Like the stock, Tesla’s electric vehicles perform like rollercoasters. At the same time, they are the most incredible and annoying cars you can buy.

The truth is you need to shut out all the noise and focus on the facts.

Tesla makes headlines because, well… it’s awesome! I mean seriously this is like the first sexy, high speed, comfortable, safe, and long-distance traveling, mass-produced electric vehicle on the market. So reporters, blogs, and forums are always going to bash on the automaker even at the hint of the smallest problem.

With that in mind, I want to keep it completely honest with you guys. Tesla has some major problems. Here’s the thing, these guys have only been making cars for 11 years. The top automakers of the past century have been making cars for over 100 years, and you want Tesla, Inc. to be flawless? 

Think about it. They are leading and defining the standard for a completely new segment. Plus, when it comes to making batteries, Tesla’s core competency, the automaker is years ahead of the competition.

I’m not just saying this because I’m a huge fan but because it’s true. In fact, the company is aware of its youth and inexperience when it comes to manufacturing, which is why they have an official forum on their website where people can praise and complain about their EVs, in an effort to make future models and software updates.

» MORE: Why Are Tesla Headlights So Sensitive?

Don’t Worry: Tesla is Fixing Headlight Issues

What you should know before you go read on is that many of these issues have been improved in subsequent productions and software updates. In fact, Tesla started to really address its headlight issue in 2018 when the nonprofit, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Model 3 headlight’s an “Acceptable” rating.

For an automaker that boasts about being the safest vehicle, getting a barely average rating from an independent non-profit that focuses on reducing the number of accidents and injuries on the road, is a huge issue.

In the same report, the IIHS ranked the front crash avoidance feature a “Superior,” so it wasn’t like this was a biased report or anything. The headlights just weren’t living up to their potential.

Tesla quickly addressed the issue focusing on bright LED reflector headlights, and this year, the IIHS gave a “Good” score, sighting a positive trend towards a safer headlamp.

So trust me when I say they are working on it! Ok, now let’s get into the common issues we were talking about.

1. Tesla Model 3 Headlights Won’t Turn Off

Usually when you’re struggling with your car’s headlights, it is an issue of them not working at all, but you read the heading correctly. A Model 3’s headlights not turning off is among the rarest issues Tesla owners experience.

As far as I can tell, there can only be two reasons why this might happen:

  • It’s a hardware issue
  • It’s a software issue

Too corny? Bear with me here.

A hardware issue is very rare when it comes to Teslas, but it’s not impossible. You may have gotten a defective model. This is unlikely because many of the assembly processes are carefully completed my precision coded machines, so if there was a bug in the system, it would occur in more than a few EVs. Of course, nothing is impossible, and there could be some wiring issues that cause your Model 3’s headlight to remain on throughout the day.

However, what is more likely, is that you have a software problem. This can be easily resolved by performing a hard reset on your Model 3. To do so simply:

  • Brake your car.
  • Press both buttons on the steering wheel.
  • Wait till the car shuts down and begins restarting (you will see the screen turn off and the Tesla logo flashes on).

It goes without saying that you should not reset your Model 3 while on the road. 

This should resolve any bugs or software issues you may have. As a good side note, it’s good practice to always keep your Tesla up to date as the manufacturer is always coming up with cool new updates. That’s right! You get new whoopee cushion noises and resolved bugs.

If, after you hard reset your Model 3, the headlights still won’t go off while your driving in daylight or while the car is off, then it could still be a software problem, but you may have actually caused it by adjusting the headlight features. Well… Tesla is still responsible for the issue, but you sort of kicked it into gear by adjusting the headlight features.

» MORE: Do Tesla Employees Get a Discount on Cars?

How to Adjust Headlights in Tesla Model 3

The Model 3 is truly the car of the future with its slick outer shell, minimal interior design, and customizable features. Among the things you can customize or alter are the headlights. On your interior screen, you have the ability to adjust your headlights, changing their intensity and direction.

More than a few Model 3 owners noticed that there is a bug that kicks the headlights into a loop where they remain on. In some instances, a hard-reset worked, but other times, it didn’t. Fortunately, a quick trip to the Tesla service center should resolve the issue.

The technician will plug the car into his or her laptop, reset and launch the system, and voila! No more headlights forever.

You should know, however, that this issue was something that happened more in the past, and recent software updates have fixed most of these bugs.

2. Flickering Headlights

Flickering headlights one is among the more common headlight issues on this list.

This was an especially problematic annoyance for one individual on the official Tesla forum who goes by the handle 2015P90DI. It doesn’t seem like flickering lights would cause such an outrage, but apparently, it got this specific Model 3 owner pulled over.

Our friend in question was driving on an empty highway in the desert at night while it was raining and around 38 degrees. Yeah, not the best conditions to get pulled over in.

Apparently, 2015P90DI (I’ll be referring to him as Flicker Guy from now on) had his Model 3 on autopilot. He mentioned that it was really annoying driving in autopilot because the car couldn’t recognize that his hands on the steering wheel while he was holding it in his natural position. The screen flickered often, and he had to constantly grab the wheel harder to make sure the car knew he was driving.

The autopilot and automatic high beams he had set up kept flashing and flickering, which along with the prolonged turn signal the autopilot system kicks in when changing lanes, caused the police officer on duty to pull over Flicker Guy.

He tried explaining the situation but the officer asked him to get out of the car and pass a sobriety test in the cold, dark, and wet desert.

Personally, when I tried the 30-day free autopilot trial Tesla offered me on my Model 3, I never noticed any flickering, so it’s likely a car-specific issue.

In the same forum thread, multiple Model 3 owners explained that the issue was caused by reflecting signs and stop lights he may have been passing. Apparently, the autopilot and automatic high beam features were flashing and flickering when passing these signs.

Turning off automatic beams, and keeping your Model 3 up to date or occasionally hard-resetting it will fix headlight flickers (get used to these last two answers, they apply to a lot of the issues in this list).

3. Headlights Fogging Up

Headlights fogging up one is a major problem with Model 3 Teslas. Not only does this happen often, but it can also cause internal damage to your headlamp.

All of the blogs and forums I looked up online had this issue at the top of the list. Model 3 owners are worried that the condensation and drops of water within the headlight will cause it malfunction and reduce the intensity of the light.

Tesla has explained in the past that this is nothing to worry about. The automaker noted that the headlights are only partially-sealed and that the condensation would go away once the car is on and the lights lit, generating enough heat to get rid of the water.

While this may be true, it doesn’t really put your mind at ease. Multiple owners have had to replace their headlights, and they aren’t cheap. A replacement caused the problem to go away which begs the question, are the lighting elements really semi-sealed or do the Model 3’s have faulty headlights that accumulate condensation on the inside potentially damaging the headlamps.

When the German EV rental company NextMove canceled its massive Model 3 order, and they said condensation inside the headlights as one of the main issues.

If this is something that bothers you, either keep your EV in a heated garage or get the headlights replaced, neither of which are sure fire ways to prevent condensation.

» MORE: The Best Way to Clean Tesla’s Vegan Leather Seats

4. Lights Are Too Bright, Annoying for Other Drivers On the Road

Model 3’s have fairly strong lights and high beams, and owners have been flashed and asked by other drivers to turn off their high beams even when they weren’t on!

You should never compromise your vision and safety to please other drivers, so do NOT put anything on your headlights or beams that could lower their intensity.

You may have to adjust your headlights from the settings on your interior screen. If the lights are pointed upward, they may be annoying for other drivers, so you may want to lower them slightly, as long as you still have a clear line of vision while driving at night.

5. One of the Headlights Won’t Work

Fortunately, this one has a simple answer… it’s broken.

Sucks right? Not really, under your 4 year or 50,000-mile warranty, headlight replacements are covered (as far as I know, you will have to call your Tesla service center to make sure).

The mobile service support team will actually come to your house and replace the headlight for you, so you don’t have to drive. It does involve popping out the rim, but no harm done, the guys and gals over at Tesla are super professional!

Get your faulty headlights replaced as soon as possible. You can get pulled over, or worse get in an accident.

6. Headlights Turning On and Off at Night

This headlight issue has a funny story behind it. Not because of the problem itself but in terms of how the public reacted to it.

While parked and completely off, one of the Model 3 headlights would go on and off followed by the other in some cases. This prompted a long list of interesting theories and conspiracies.

Answers online ranged from hackers spelling out their initials, to the car’s artificial intelligence communicating in morse code with other vehicles around it, to more anecdotal responses like the little guy is having a vivid dream.

The truth is this is a well-documented headlight issue with a few simple reasons and solutions.

1. You have outdated software: Model 3’s with the 2018.50 software version may experience this problem. 

Solution: update to the latest version and the issue should resolve itself.

2. Sentry mode is on: Your Tesla has an amazing function called Sentry mode, where it records activities around your EV to a pre-installed flash drive. Even if you don’t have the drive in, the car still, notifies you of the problem, turns on headlights, and plays loud music, warding off any potential intruders. 

Solution: make sure Sentry Mode is off via your Tesla app (if the headlights going on and off is a real issue for you).

3. Your car is cold: Extreme cold temperatures like those recorded in Colorado or Canada could potentially cause your headlights to turn on and off at night or while you’re driving.

Solution: keep your Model 3 in a heated garage.

Again, we want to make this really clear. There is no way that your car has become self-aware, and if it was going to be hacked, they would have at least unlocked the car. The likely cause is one of the three described above each of which has a simple fix.

7. The Headlight is Poking Out Like It’s Going to Pop-out

This one is more of a pet-peeve. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do with headlights that feel and look like they are poking out. That’s because this is a design choice by Tesla.

Even if you rub your hand against the creese and swear you feel it popping out more and more, the truth is it’s likely all in your head, and you are going to have to get over the fact that this is how you Model 3 was designed. To be honest I love the front design of my Tesla. It’s tight and curvy with beautifully defined edges that make the car look sleek and fast.

There you have it! The 7 most common headlight issues you can find on a Tesla Model 3 and what you can do about it. As I said, this is a truly phenomenal car and when you consider everything you gain when purchasing a Model 3, a few flickers or drops of water don’t really matter. Make sure to drive safe and fix any problems you may have with your headlights immediately.

Tesla Discounts:


The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

Recent Posts