Tesla has revolutionized the way people see the electric vehicle, and this is for good reason. But what about some of the problems that all this technology comes with? Many Model 3 owners have noticed WiFi connectivity issues with their brand new electric cars.
If you are a Model 3 owner, you have likely noticed connectivity issues both while you are at home and while you are traveling. This can negatively affect your vehicle’s performance while on the road, and can even interrupt updates if your Tesla is not connected to a cellular network. This article outlines several troubleshooting options and selects the best solutions for this particular issue.
To start, you should ask yourself: is your Model 3 even scanning for WiFi networks properly?
In the menu on the main touch screen panel, you should see a WiFi icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Pressing this icon will open the WiFi list, at the bottom of which is the “WiFi Settings option.” Press here and then make sure the WiFi is turned “ON” by tapping the virtual switch in the upper right-hand corner of this menu.
Now that your Tesla’s WiFi function is turned on, it should start scanning for available networks. Unless you are near a network which you have already connected to at some point, your Tesla will not automatically connect to the internet. In this case, it will simply show you the available networks in your area.
In order to connect to a new network, there are a few requirements:
- The network must be at least 2.4 GHz WiFi.
- It must be WPA or WPA2 security, or no security at all (The obsolete WEP standard does not work with 8.0 software and up)
- Must allow a VPN with UDP with extended sessions.
- WiFi has to provide internet.
It is important to note here that some networks for which there is no password protection do require you to accept “Terms and Conditions,” which requires an extra step after connecting. Tesla WiFi also requires you to manually press”Connect” after verifying the password on a protected network.
The Model 3’s WiFi works by using the integrated antenna that is housed in the driver’s side rear-view mirror. It uses a VPN connection to establish secure connections between WiFi networks and the car.
All the hardware (except the antenna) is behind the main console and is easy to access in the event that you have to perform maintenance on the equipment.
If the antenna has been damaged or the electrical wiring is compromised, you will probably have issues connecting to WiFi networks, and this problem may worsen over time, as damaged hardware will not resolve on its own.
Aside from the obvious, like music and video streaming, the Model 3 provides a number of features through the WiFi function.
- GPS Navigation
- Local Traffic Updates
- Live Satellite Mapping
- Tesla Exclusive Video Games
All of these features require a stable data connection, whether that be through your cellular network while driving or through WiFi while at home or at your place of employment. If you can not get a stable connection, this makes life pretty inconvenient for the average Tesla owner. Tesla is in the planning phase of offering continuous WiFi availability through a Starlink partnership.
This would provide high speed internet to all Tesla owners who also have a Starlink account. Of course, this will involve some minor (or major) equipment upgrades to present and future Tesla models, but the possibility is tantalizing.
Tesla Inc. provides vehicle owners who are still within their warranty with award-winning customer support, even if you are not within range of a certified Tesla maintenance tech or service center. These professionals are familiar with almost all your potential issues and are a great help even with complex problems that seem to be giving you consistent headaches.
Tesla Support offers a myriad of options such as Do It Yourself guides, warranty information, and account support. You can also chat with a service team member with the online chat feature or dial the Customer Support Center directly to speak with a representative.
Tesla Support also offers helpful video guides and instructional walkthroughs for the Model 3 which you can find here. Some users have complained that Tesla Support is not much help after the warranty expires, which is why Tesla owners have established such a robust and diverse community of online resources.
There are still a few nuances to the Model 3’s internet technology that may be preventing you from obtaining a stable connection. These quirks are more environmental than anything, and may require you to change locations.
Unless there is a router in direct line-of-sight with your Model 3, the antenna in the vehicle often has a hard time connecting to the network through walls and structures. If you are in the parking garage at work or at home, and the router is obstructed, you may need to relocate to a more clear area of the building.
Many users have noted that parking their Model 3’s outside their houses interferes with the car’s ability to reliably connect to a network. This is why it is important to boost your home WiFi signal as much as possible if your car is too far from the modem.
Remember, if you have your Model 3 set up to hand over WiFi connection to your cellular network if the WiFi becomes too weak, it may take a few moments to fully reestablish the functions that were running off of WiFi.
You may need to consider purchasing equipment for your home WiFi such as an extender. This piece of equipment enhances your WiFi signal and extends (as the name implies) the range of the signal from the point of origin.
Different internet providers use different types of modems and routers, and this variously affects how a device can connect to the network. Some routers use a cascade that maintains your connection from one router to the next without losing your connection. This is often the case in large complexes like hospitals and office buildings.
So, if there is too much overlap between several routers, your Model 3 may have trouble connecting. If this is the case, try to reboot your car and, if you have access, reboot the modem or router.
Much of the time, according to many users, this solves the problem immediately. After you install the extender, try rebooting your modem and reconnecting your Model 3 to the improved network. (Try to install the internet extender as close to where you usually keep the Model 3 when it is at home. Like the garage or near the front door.)
On occasion, the software your Tesla is using may be outdated, especially if you bought a used Tesla or if you have not activated it recently. This will impede your Model 3’s WiFi capability if the newest software is not uploaded to the car.
There are two phases to getting updates: The Download Phase, and the Install Phase.
- The vehicle has to download these data packets first, then it can move on to actually installing them and integrating them into the software
- Both phases require a strong internet or cellular connection
- To check for updates, you will need to open the “Software” tab on the main screen of the Tesla’s central console
- Here you will find notifications on required updates and a control panel that allows you to schedule updates for later
Some of these features can only be found in the “Advanced” menu. In this section, you can also customize your update preferences and schedule updates on a regular basis.
Of course, the Model 3 will need a stable connection to download any new updates. But how do you get the update if you can not connect to WiFi? Well, you can try connecting your Model 3 to an internet hotspot from your iPhone or android. In this case, if your connectivity is especially poor, many users have had success placing their phones very near the drivers-side mirror (where the antenna is located).
If there is just no way to get a stable enough connection to download the necessary updates, you may have to call Tesla Support to troubleshoot hardware issues.
Typically, your Tesla will continuously install what are known as “rolling updates.” These are software updates that occur either in the background or with the approval of the driver on an ongoing basis. These updates improve the performance of the vehicle in many ways:
- Updated energy consumption monitoring software
- New safety updates that improve the speed of software intercommunication
- Updates to Tesla’s AI program
It is important to understand how and when these updates take place, and how they change your driving experience.
In short, no, you can not drive your car during the “Install” phase of the update process. You can, however, drive the car safely while the car is downloading the update package.
Keep in mind that if you are driving and lose signal, even if it switches to cellular service rapidly, the downloads will be paused. If this happens frequently, it will just prolong the download phase unnecessarily.
If you have reason to believe the update failed, or if the main screen freezes, you may have to perform one of a few different kinds of reboots. Rebooting your devices and the Model 3 is a good way to ensure that data caches and cookies that may be interfering with the WiFi are cleared and the system is clean.
- The first kind of reboot you can do is the simplest. It is a touchscreen reboot that involves pressing and holding the both scroll wheel buttons on the steering wheel. Hold them down at the same time for about 20 seconds until the home screen displays the Tesla logo.
- The next reboot is the CPU and Screen Reboot. Note: all reboots must be performed while the car is parked. Depress the brake pedal while simultaneously holding the scroll wheels until you see the main screen shut off. After that, the Tesla logo should appear, signifying the completion of the reboot.
- (If you are doing these reboots exclusively to help with an update or to try and connect with a router or cell phone, remember to reset the devices you are trying to connect to as well.)
- Next, you can try the vehicle hard-reset (the hard-reset returns the Tesla to its factory default presets). Open the hood of the car and find the 12-volt battery. Remove the covering and detach the power cable from the battery terminal. After about ten seconds, reattach the cable to the terminal.
In the next step, we will cover what to do after this check-list has been completed.
If you are using the Tesla App on your smartphone, you have to make sure that the settings on your phone and in your Tesla match up. Make sure that the settings were not altered by the update, and, if they were, return them to their original settings.
Make certain that the cellular device you are using is not causing problems. Reset the device either by rebooting it or simply by restarting the bluetooth function. This will make sure that the device can connect to the Model 3 without issue.
Not all the changes that an update makes are going to be visible to the user. Many updates are firmware or “under the hood” coding updates. Many bug patches and coding changes are small and do not change the user interface at all. But do not worry, this does not mean that the update did not work.
Some changes, however, will change the display screen icons or menu configurations. These may look different to you upon restarting the car, and may require some getting used to before you are comfortable with the interface again.
These changes may result in connectivity issues where there were none, leading you back to step 1 of troubleshooting. But do not worry, the same steps will apply before and after updates.
Most Model 3’s that have gone through the most recent software update do not remain connected to the WiFi network when you park and leave the car. Tesla Inc. maintains this is to cut down on unnecessary power drain.
This being the case, your Model 3 will only reconnect to your home network (or whatever network is freely available) once you open the door. This means that the car is not actively searching for, downloading, or installing new updates while you are away. If you leave the car for a few days and a few rolling updates accumulate, then it will take the car longer to download and install them.
There are three main reasons that you are likely experiencing WiFi connectivity issues:
- Your WiFi at home is not working properly and you should reset the router.
- You have not properly configured your Model 3’s WiFi
- Or you have a damaged WiFi antenna in your Model 3
After following the steps for troubleshooting your at-home WiFi connection, and potentially buying an extender to make sure your Tesla has a stable connection to connect with, you will want to move on to configuring your Tesla’s WiFi.
If you are using the Tesla App, make sure the settings on your phone are congruent with the settings in the car, otherwise, things like keyless entry and keyless start-up will not work properly.
Next, you have to make sure you manually push the “connect” button in the WiFi Settings menu to get the Model 3 to connect to the network.
After going through these previous steps, if the network does not provide an internet connection, or the Model 3 functions that depend on WiFi are not working properly, you may have an antenna problem. You can order replacement parts from Tesla Support and install them yourself, or you can go to a licenced maintenance facility to have the part installed by a professional.
All in all, these problems are common enough that you should have little resistance in finding a viable solution to connectivity problems. Between the Tesla Support and the online communities, there is a wide range of options available to you, and you should have this issue sorted out in no time. Refer to this guide for all the information you need to solve your Model 3 WiFi connectivity issues.