Tesla manages to dominate the EV market with major selling points such as over the air updates and wireless connectivity, the latter of which comes standard on every Tesla Model 3. Connecting your Tesla to Wi-Fi is just as simple as connecting your smartphone.
It seems like everything can be done online nowadays, and even cars are now connecting to Wi-Fi. In this article, you will learn how to connect your Model 3 to Wi-Fi, including some tricks to stay connected at home and out in public.
Press on the LTE Cell Signal
When you tap on the LTE cell signal icon of your home screen, it should show that it is scanning for the nearest Wi-Fi networks. Your Model 3 connects to Wi-Fi in much the same way that your phone or laptop does. Before connecting to your home Wi-Fi, your Model 3 is using a cellular network technology called LTE or Long Term Evolution.
Tesla does not seem to charge yet for basic LTE cell coverage for your Model 3. In fact, Tesla may never start charging for this minimal coverage, as they benefit from the data they collect from having the car connect as you drive from place to place. Other sources state that cell coverage for your car comes complimentary for at least four years.
Note that your Model 3 can not perform all its cool features with just this LTE signal, which is where Wi-Fi will come in handy. Although your Model 3 can update anywhere, anytime with mobile data, Tesla puts their priority on vehicles that are connected to a Wi-Fi network as this does not incur additional fees to Tesla Motor Company.
Select the Desired Wi-Fi Signal
If you are at home trying to update your model’s software to the latest version, you will want to select your home Wi-Fi account. Whenever possible, it is strongly recommended to have your Model 3 connected to your home’s Wi-Fi when you are not driving.
Staying connected to your home Wi-Fi network will ensure that your onboard Tesla software is current and will provide the most up to date model-specific experience. When your Model 3 is properly connected, you can quickly stream and even download your favorite music and media and have access to real-time traffic updates.
If your router is outdated or a little too small, you may need to make the leap and invest in a newer or stronger router. Unfortunately, like most things in life, you get what you pay for when it comes to routers, but you can sometimes find a good deal. Here is a table labeling some of the pros and cons of a few of the best routers of 2021.
|Router Name||Wi-Fi Speed||Perks||Downsides||Cost|
|TP-Link Archer AX50||Up to 3 Gbps||Fast|
|It only covers a medium-size house||About $150|
|Nest Wi-Fi||2200 Mbps||User friendly|
|It does not support the latest Wi-Fi 6||About $170|
|Netgear Orbi||1266 Mbps||Inexpensive|
|It is not as flashy as the Nest or TP-Link Archer, with fewer features||About $130|
|Asus RT-AX86U||5700 Mbps||Ideal for gaming|
Excellent latency management
|The price is high if you are not looking for a gaming router||About $260|
|Netgear Nighthawk X10||7.2 Gbps||Perfect all-around router|
Great for the whole family
|It has a comparatively high price point||About $500|
Enter the Wi-Fi Password
After you have selected your home Wi-Fi or desired Wi-Fi account, you will need to enter the associated Wi-Fi password. Keeping your Wi-Fi private is essential to not only preventing identity theft and keeping your personal info safe but keeping unwanted people from stealing access to your network.
This may be common knowledge nowadays, but it is not typically a good idea to write your passwords down or use the same password for multiple logins. It is good to keep hackers on their toes and shake it up a little bit. Do as I say, not as I do.
Your Model 3 may just be a vehicle, but once it is connected to your home Wi-Fi account, it will be tied to one of the more critical aspects of your tech-involved lifestyle. Picking a secure password will be the easiest way to keep hackers out.
Confirm Your Model 3 Is Connected
By looking at the home screen, you should be able to confirm that your Model 3 is now connected to your Wi-Fi network. Your LTE cell signal icon should be changed to the Wi-Fi icon.
The first thing you should look for is the active Wi-Fi signal with enough bars to communicate well with your local network. Afterward, feel free to play around with some of the following programs to make sure you have a strong connection:
- Netflix – Try watching your favorite show or movie. The connection should allow easy and clear viewing.
- Youtube – Look up a favorite song and make sure the video and audio do not lag.
- Navigation Map – Move the map around to view different locations. The map should render relatively quickly.
- Trip Planner – See how long it would take for you to get to work. See how long it would take to get to the opposite end of the country.
- Spotify – Check out your favorite playlists and maybe download a few for offline listening while on the road.
Now that your Model 3 is connected to your home Wi-Fi, your car will automatically connect when in range without needing to enter in your password again. The best part about this is the convenience it will inevitably provide the average Tesla owner. Simply connect your Model 3 and never worry about updating your software again.
It is really that easy! The same principle will apply to any additional Wi-Fi networks that you connect with your Tesla. If you are on vacation at an Airbnb, at a hotel for business, or house-sitting for a friend, as long as you have the Wi-Fi network name and password, you will always be in the loop.
A fun little benefit to purchasing through Tesla is that your Model 3 will automatically connect to the free Wi-Fi in your local Tesla sales center or service center. If your car is in to be serviced and due for an update to the software, this can be done automatically while your car is being worked on. This takes care of two birds with one stone.
Use Premium Connectivity to Connect Remotely
If you want to have access to all the connectivity benefits of being on a Wi-Fi network on the go, you might consider upgrading your Model 3 to Tesla’s Premium Connectivity package. You can access a trial run of this package through your Tesla account and then purchase the benefits after for about $10 a month.
|Standard Connectivity||Premium Connectivity|
|Provides access to most benefits when connected to Wi-Fi||Provides access to all features when connected to Wi-Fi and over a cellular network|
|Is included with your base Model 3 package||Costs about $10 a month|
|Is always accessible||Comes with a free trial period|
|Provides access to standard navigation and maps and allows audio streaming through Bluetooth||Provides access to satellite maps, navigation, music and video streaming, live traffic updates, and more|
|Does not allow access to an internet browser on the go||Allows access to internet browser when connected to Wi-Fi or over cellular network|
|A Wi-Fi connection is needed to access all benefits||All benefits may be accessed through Wi-Fi or over a cellular network|
Extend Your Home Wi-Fi
In the event that you live in an apartment and your Wi-Fi does not extend out to where you park your car, you may still need to access traffic updates and other online features. Online data can become very expensive very quickly, so it is important to know a few free and less expensive ways to get the connection that you need.
The car’s Wi-Fi antenna can be found on the passenger side mirror and works best when the signal does not have to go through too many obstacles to link. Visibility is not required for a Wi-Fi connection, but keep in mind that the farther the distances, the less likely your Model 3 will have a steady connection.
For example, if you park your car in your garage, and the router is located in the family room just off the garage, the connection should be relatively seamless. However, if you park your car in your apartment’s basement garage and you live on the 6th floor, your connection may be nonexistent.
Using Your Smartphone to Extend Wi-Fi
If you are not able to connect your Model 3 to your home’s Wi-Fi network, you can use your smartphone to extend the Wi-Fi in your home a little farther. Using this method of using your phone as a link between your router and your Model 3 is pretty sneaky and not too difficult to figure out.
The first step is to be inside your home and make sure you have your phone connected to your main Wi-Fi account. After that, follow these steps:
- With your phone near your router, open up settings or system preferences on your smartphone. From there, access your connections settings and enable the mobile hotspot feature.
- Leave your smartphone in the home and go back to your Tesla Model 3, then click on the LTE cell signal icon on the home screen.
- Select your smartphone from the list of available networks and enter the password.
- Wait a few seconds for the Tesla to connect to your phone as a hotspot.
- If you are successful, the cell signal icon should change to a Wi-Fi icon.
You may need to fiddle with the distances a little bit to make sure that the phone is both close enough to the router and to your vehicle. Even then, keep in mind that the phone may not be able to be connected to both. This just means that the free option may not be accessible for you to extend your Wi-Fi.
Obviously, you will want to try the free method first because the best things in life are free. That old saying can apply to this, right? Do not get too hung up on this one method, though, as there are still plenty of ways to get the Wi-Fi you need to update your Model 3 software that will not break your budget.
Use a Wi-Fi Range Extender
The last hack to extend your home’s Wi-Fi connection has the benefit of being completely free, but it is also a bit of a hassle, and you would need to use these steps again every time you want to update the software in your Model 3. This may not be the most convenient option, which is where a Wi-Fi range extender would come in handy.
A Wi-Fi range extender is a relatively inexpensive option for those that need to update their Tesla frequently but cannot seem to get their car close enough to get a stable connection. A decent Wi-Fi extender runs about $28 and will provide a more long-lasting solution to this problem.
Setting up your extender is not too difficult either. Simply plug in the extender as close to your router as possible and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to connect. For most models, it is as simple as waiting until a light blinks or changes color and then pressing a button or two.
Using this range extender is typically just as secure as if your Tesla model was connected to the router in your living room.
Connect to a Mobile Hotspot
If you are willing to pay more as a consumer for the mobile hotspot option and happen to have an excellent data plan, you may not be too worried about using your mobile data as a tether point. For these individuals, connecting your phone to your Tesla as a mobile hotspot is just as easy.
- Whatever brand of smartphone you may own, make sure your phone’s mobile hotspot feature is turned on.
- At the top of your Model 3 home screen, tap on the LTE cell signal.
- Select your smartphone from the list of available networks.
- Enter in the password and press confirm.
- It may take a few seconds for your Model 3 to properly connect to the phone.
As previously stated, if the cell signal icon has changed to a Wi-Fi icon, you have been successful, and your Model 3 is now using your cell phone as a hotspot.
Note that the first time you connect to your phone as a mobile hotspot, your car will have to be parked, but once you have properly linked everything, the software should remember for next time, and you will be able to access your phone as a mobile hotspot with just a few taps while on the road.
Skim a Little Wi-Fi Off the Neighborhood
If your college or post-high school experience was anything like most, you have discovered the magic of free Wi-Fi that can come from so many local and national chains. This method of updating your Tesla is pretty bottom-of-the-barrel, but it will do just fine in a pinch!
If you are wondering about places that have free Wi-Fi, they are pretty common nowadays. Here is a list of places where you can access free Wi-Fi with little to no hassle:
- Starbucks paired with Google last year to provide free Wi-Fi in every one of their locations. Starbucks stores are pretty much everywhere, plus you can grab a nice beverage and a scone while your car is updating.
- Your local library will almost always provide some sort of Wi-Fi connection. Go talk to those sweet, old ladies and get that Wi-Fi password!
- Malls and large shopping centers can be a double win. With many stores grouped together, you stand a better chance to get some of that sweet, free Wi-Fi, and they usually have the added bonus of providing charging stations for a low fee.
- McDonald’s may not be the classiest locale on this list, but they do offer free, fast Wi-Fi. Next time you are in need to download a new playlist on your road trip, look out for those big, golden arches.
- Panera Bread has some awesome baked goods and some awesomely reliable access to Wi-Fi. There is absolutely nothing wrong with stopping in to grab a cup of soup, a roll, and sip a little Wi-Fi to update your Model 3.
Tesla models have redefined just how technology-packed an electronic vehicle can be. Whereas just over a decade ago, when a Bluetooth connection seemed to be the latest in high-tech vehicle performance, today Tesla Motor Company seems to drive us ever farther into the future, year after year.
With so many online benefits, it would be a shame to miss out on all that your Model 3 can accomplish. A Wi-Fi connection, be it through your home router or a mobile hotspot, ensures that you get the most out of your Model 3 user experience and performance.