Tesla is consistently at the cutting edge of automotive innovation, as the leader in electric vehicle technology and development of safety-enhancing tech. One of the most recently-introduced features for vehicle security is Valet Mode. Here’s an overview of what Valet Mode is and how and why to use it.
What is Tesla’s Valet Mode? Valet Mode in Tesla Models S, 3, and X is a feature that prevents access to user information such as home address and previous locations and locks the glove box and frunk for added protection when you need to use valet or otherwise leave your vehicle in the car of someone else.
Valet Mode is a feature that has been recently introduced in many different manufacturers’ lineups. As stories emerge of valets taking customers’ vehicles for joy rides, people want greater protections not only for their vehicles, but the belongings stored inside. Valet Mode offers just that, so here’s a synopsis on how and why you should use it.
What is Tesla’s Valet Mode?
There are a lot of different definitions and contexts when discussing exactly what the term “Tesla Valet” actually means: There is Tesla Valet Mode, Tesla Valet Service, Tesla Supercharger Valet Service, and Tesla Luxe On-Demand Valet… it’s easy to get lost in all of these nearly-identical terms! There are distinctions, though, and that is that Valet Mode is activated by the driver, rather than a service provided at a supercharger.
With Tesla Valet Mode, the security of your vehicle and valuables is priority: You can disable certain features and place limitations on the driving performance of your Tesla in either the Model S or X to suit your needs and concerns.
Some of the key functions of Valet Mode are:
- Locking the glove box
- Limiting the maximum speed and acceleration of the Tesla
- Hiding personal information that would typically be shown on the driver profile
A brief overview of the differences between the aforementioned terms are as follows:
- Tesla Valet Service: Tesla used to offer valet service for customers having their vehicles serviced at Tesla centers. It was once complimentary, then Tesla began charging for it, and now the service has abruptly ended in many areas.
- Tesla Supercharger Valet Service: This was created in recognition of the increasing crowding at Tesla charging stations. There have been new charging stations opened up with attendants to improve the drivers’ experience at charging stations. However, it’s not exactly a “valet” service, since the attendants don’t actually drive the car or take the keys. Customer experience has contested this, though, but visit your nearest Supercharger to find out for yourself.
- Tesla On-Demand Valet: This service is offered in partnership with Luxe for Tesla owners in New York and San Francisco, mainly to address problems regarding charging and parking.
How to Use Tesla Valet Mode
Tesla’s Valet Mode came about as a direct answer to customer concerns regarding the safety and security of their items in the context of receiving valet services. It was introduced in the Model S with the 6.2 software upgrade.
Enabling Valet Mode
Activation of Valet Mode is completely at your discretion. To activate Valet Mode, you need to access your driver profile. Click on the driver profile icon, and there will be a list of profiles displayed, along with the “Valet Mode” option. The first time you activate this mode, you will have to create a 4-digit PIN (this PIN will also be used to disable the mode). It can only be activated or disabled while in Park.
Once enabled, you will see the user profile set to “Valet” at the top and center of the LCD display. The display will also indicate that the vehicle has limited power, speed, and some disabled functions of the navigation system (i.e., hidden search results such as home address) to make clear to the driver that Valet Mode is activated.
Functions of Valet Mode
The main functions of Valet Mode are to enhance protections of privacy for the driver, both in personal information and physical goods that may be stored in the vehicle. Regarding privacy, the key functions that are disabled include:
- Homelink access
- Bluetooth and WiFi settings
- Favorite saved locations (i.e. home and work addresses)
- Past charging locations
- Ability to edit various settings
One of the major points to remember is to avoid leaving your phone in the car when Valet Mode is activated. By default, Tesla limits access to calendar data and phone contacts if your Bluetooth device is not near. Leaving your phone in the car during Valet Mode may contradict this personal security purpose and incidentally leave this information available.
The performance of the vehicle is limited during Valet Mode out of concern for the driving habits of valet workers while operating your vehicle. Some Tesla owners are concerned with the welfare of their vehicle in someone else’s hands, and that’s where performance limitations come in:
In the Model S, specifically, the maximum speed is limited to 70 mph, while the power and acceleration are limited to 25% (80kW) of their standard capacity. This said, you should note that Valet Mode is not exclusive to circumstances in which you’re using valet services: if you’re concerned about an individual borrowing your car, perhaps, this could be a good way to ensure safe driving and security of information.
Disabling Valet Mode
To turn off Valet Mode, you simply need to select “Valet Mode” from the top and center of the LCD display. When you select this, a number pad will open for you to enter your PIN. Enter your PIN, and Valet Mode will be disengaged. It’s as simple as that!
With the mobile app, the process of deactivating Valet Mode may be just a bit different. It may require a PIN, facial recognition, thumbprint, or other methods of unlocking, depending on your phone model. Once in the app, you can simply choose “Controls” and hit the toggle next to Valet Mode to turn it off.
Which Tesla Models Have Valet Mode?
There are currently three models of Tesla: Tesla Model S, Tesla Model 3, and Tesla Model X. Tesla Model Y is in development and is expected to be released in 2020. Currently, all three models have Valet Mode, and there is no reason to believe that Model Y will be any different.
Additionally, as mentioned before, Valet Mode was released with the over-the-air 6.2 software upgrade. The over-the-air updates are distributed to all Tesla vehicles, so you can be assured that any new developments with Valet Mode will be up-to-date and identical between models.
Does Tesla Valet Mode Use a Valet Key?
Firstly, a valet key is the physical form of the electric key fob that comes with nearly all modern cars. In the event that the key fob fails somehow, the valet key can be used to unlock the car door. It can also be used to lock the glove box and, in some models, the trunk, if you want to protect precious valuables if someone else will be operating your vehicle, like a valet (hence the name).
You will not need to use a valet key to activate or deactivate Valet Mode in a Tesla. This can be done either through the LCD console or via the mobile app, and the Tesla simply removes the control option to open the glove box or trunk while also locking them.
You will, however, still need the key card to operate the vehicle in Valet Mode.
Can You Charge Tesla in Valet Mode?
Luckily, since Valet Mode only inhibits certain features of the Tesla, specifically regarding privacy and the speed/power of the vehicle, you will still be able to charge your Tesla if you decide to activate Valet Mode. This will come in handy in the event that whatever Supercharger station you visit does, in fact, have attendants.
There are nearly 14,500 Superchargers at over 1,600 stations across the U.S. Tesla has made them very convenient to locate: all you have to do is enter your destination on the Trip Planner, and your navigation system will automatically select a route that has Superchargers along the way. Charging only takes about 30 minutes, so you won’t have to wait for long.
So, what if you want to go and grab a bite or get some work done while your Tesla is charging? Although the official word from Tesla is that there are no attendants present at Supercharger stations, you may happen upon one that does, in fact, have some attendants present. In areas where there is a high demand for charging Tesla, such as in California, attendants are there to help move things along.
Although Tesla officially released a statement saying that the attendants are not there to drive customer cars or even as little as take the keys, many California-based customers have reported that attendants are doing exactly that. If you find yourself in this situation, it may be in your best interest to protect your Tesla and other valuables with Valet Mode. Just know that this won’t affect charging capabilities.
Can You Summon a Tesla in Valet Mode?
Although Tesla has not directly answered this question, it can be deduced that the Smart Summon feature, which allows your Tesla to drive completely independently to meet you at a location shared by your phone, cannot function while in Valet Mode. This is because, for Smart Summon to function wholly and properly, navigation must be enabled, as well as access to your location and personal information, including home address.
Although this function is controlled completely by the owner via the mobile app, and – apparently – when fully in Self-Drive Mode the Tesla very much falls under the maximum speed limitations, it wouldn’t make complete sense that such contradictory features could operate simultaneously.
Still, Smart Summon is still in its early phases of development, so it is possible that both Valet Mode and Smart Summon can be enabled simultaneously in the future.
Driving With Tesla’s Valet Mode
In recent years, there have been reports of valet staff taking customers’ vehicles on joy rides and even intentional abuse by mechanics to charge more for repairs. To combat this and secure the customer experience during valet, routine maintenance, and the like, Tesla introduced the limitations on driving speeds with Valet Mode.
As previously mentioned, this function sets a maximum speed of 70 mph and acceleration to 80kW. This is one of many Valet Mode functions that can be remotely controlled with the Tesla mobile app. (We’ll get into that in just a moment.) Check out this demonstration of the Tesla driving in Valet Mode. (Note: Tesla is still very responsive to the accelerator and brake, despite speed limitations.)
Those with vehicle software versions 2018.24 or higher have access to a function in the app called Speed Limit Mode. This enables the driver to set a custom maximum directly from the app (maximum can be set anywhere between 50-90 mph). The great thing about this app is that you can set this limit without having to be in full Valet Mode!
Perfect for those who have licensed teens who you want to protect, but still give them full access to the vehicle’s functionality.
How to Adjust the Minimum Speed for Valet Mode
Although the minimum speed defaults to 70 mph, you can reduce this minimum through the Tesla app as previously mentioned. To do this, you can follow these steps:
- In the application, choose “Controls” from the main menu (you will see underneath controls “Valet Mode” if it is activated).
- After choosing “Controls,” you will see that Speed Limit Mode is activated in addition to valet mode. When this is powered on, you will be unable to adjust speed settings and so, counterintuitively, will need to turn Speed Limit Mode off first.
- After Speed Limit Mode is turned off, you will be able to adjust your maximum speed.
- Activate Speed Limit Mode in order to set your new limit.
Which Features Are Not Compatible With Valet Mode?
Perhaps the most obvious feature that is not compatible with Tesla Valet Mode is Ludicrous Mode. Ludicrous Mode is designed to allow drivers to access the full capabilities of the Tesla drivetrain: acceleration of 0 to 60 in as little as 2.4 seconds. Another feature that will not work with Valet Mode is the web browser, due to possible personal information stored in favorited URLs or browsing history.
Navigation will also be unavailable while Valet Mode is activated, although the map will still be visible. This is another layer of protection for your personal information, including past destinations and saved locations.
Other modes like Sentry Mode and Joe Mode will still be available, as they do not interfere with the functionality of Valet Mode. Speed Limit Mode, of course, will be available as well and needs your PIN to be activated and deactivated. Although this normally has a range between 50 and 90 mph, in Valet Mode, your options for maximum speed will be 70 or lower.
Reasons to Use Valet Mode
You may be one of those people that becomes concerned with what people may think of any actions you may take to protect yourself and your belongings when they haven’t given you explicit reason to have to do so (i.e., clutching your purse in public when no one has said a word or made eye contact with you). In most situations, you’d be right to monitor this behavior, but with Valet Mode, it’s a precaution as simple as locking your car.
Even apart from the suspected joyrides of valet drivers (this Tesla owner observed spikes in the energy-graph after valet parking at a hotel and service center) you may just want to protect your teen driver, ensure that significantly important goods are extra-protected, added protection against theft, or increase the longevity of your vehicle by ensuring safe driving.
Using Valet Mode for Your Teen
Insuring a Tesla is an extremely expensive venture – on top of the factory price of the vehicle, this is actually a huge deterrent for many prospective vehicle owners. Teenage drivers, however, are among the most expensive to insure, regardless of location.
Depending on the model of your Tesla, your teen could cost several thousand dollars a year for full premium coverage on your Tesla. Given this knowledge and stories of past electrical malfunctions of Tesla models, you may want to ensure further protection of your child and vehicle by activating Valet Mode.
Of course, this reasoning for the activation of Valet Mode is primarily focused on the functional limitations of the Tesla when in Valet Mode. Your teen will not, by any means, be able to accelerate quickly, protecting them from hazards such as burning rubber or spinning out or surpass 70 mph or specific limits you’ve set via the Tesla app.
This alone is one reason many people may want to use Valet Mode, as a safety measure, not against, but for, a potential driver.
Protecting Valuable Items
Again, using Valet Mode shouldn’t be thought of as much more than simply locking your car. If you are transporting valuable items, and for some reason, you need to leave your vehicle for an extended period, valet mode is perfect for ensuring that your possessions are unable to be accessed at all.
Taking care to place these items in either the glove box or frunk will ensure that, even if your vehicle is unlocked. You should note, though, that the trunk will still be available – the trunk is accessible via the rear seats, so there is no sense in locking that.
Added Protection Against Theft
It was mentioned earlier that Valet Mode would hide personal information, such as home address. In addition to this – although the map is still interactive and displayed on the LCD console – navigation will not function either to navigate to new locations or show past travel history. In the event that your car is threatened to be stolen away from the home, you can not only track your Tesla, but be sure that the thief will be unaware of your home address.
Additionally, in order to deactivate the Valet Mode, you must have the login information for My Tesla or the PIN to the Tesla user profile. Without this information, any potential car thief would be completely at a loss with regard to deactivating Valet Mode, and therefore, no matter how far they may take your vehicle, your valued items would still be protected.
Ensure the Longevity of Your Vehicle
Enhancing the longevity of your Tesla by using Valet Mode is, admittedly, not a reason many would consider as their basis for activating this mode. So why do we bring it up?
The power and strong acceleration of the Tesla is one of its most attractive features. There’s no doubt about it. Although it can be fun to engage every now and then, hard acceleration is not the best habit to have for any vehicle. This places a heavy burden on components of the drivetrain and causes excessive, rapid wear on engine components as well.
Although this is certainly not a primary reason to use Valet Mode, this can be a contributing factor if you are planning to loan your vehicle to a friend or younger family member. Ultimately, the point is that you do not have to wait until you are specifically receiving valet service to place your Tesla in Valet Mode. It can be useful in many different circumstances to protect your Tesla’s safety on many levels.
What is the Difference Between PIN to Drive and Valet Mode?
In 2018, Tesla added a new security feature that allows drivers more control over who does and doesn’t have access to driving their vehicles. This option is available through “Controls” in the Safety & Security menu and is compatible with Valet Mode. It can be controlled remotely through the Tesla Mobile App.
PIN to Drive is exactly what it sounds like; it allows the driver to require a PIN in order to operate the vehicle. The key difference here is that, with Valet Mode, the PIN is needed only to activate and deactivate security features that alter the limitations of vehicle operation – not inhibit vehicle operation altogether.
PIN to Drive, on the other hand, completely removes the ability to drive the vehicle without proper clearance. This feature can work in tandem with Valet Mode and serve as an added layer of security if you need to leave your Tesla unattended.
Problems With Valet Mode
There are few issues that can come about with Tesla’s valet mode. A major contributing factor to these potential problems is any problem that may arise with the PIN. In order to activate Valet Mode, you will first need to set up a PIN number. Now, this will only be required the first time you activate it – from then on. You will use that same PIN for activation and deactivation of Valet Mode.
If you ever run into issues with your PIN, or simply forget it, you can reset it by using “My Tesla” on teslamotors.com.
Still, a few customers have reported having issues with Valet Mode, particularly with disabling the function. One Tesla owner shared that they have experienced a complete failure of their Tesla to disable valet mode. The person noted that they tried multiple methods of disabling the feature after the app would not allow deactivation: they deleted and re-downloaded the app and restarted the phone.
The console of the vehicle would not turn on, so this was not an option. Finally, the user was forced to call Tesla, and by rebooting the vehicle. Another person took a Tesla to a dealer and found that, somehow, the mechanic ended up with the vehicle in Valet Mode without knowing the PIN. A transfer of ownership was required to log into the app and disable Valet Mode.
What is Still Accessible in Valet Mode?
There are lots of elements that are still available even in Valet Mode. Any driver that is driving while in Valet Mode will still have access to the driver adjustment settings (adjustment to wheels, mirrors, etc.). This may seem unnecessary but consider the need for the driver’s safety when transporting your vehicle to its valet parking spot. (They’ll need access to these controls to account for this!)
If you don’t want a guest driver having a need to access and adjust these controls, an easy way to get around this is to set up a guest driver profile. Of course, this won’t be exact for every guest or valet that you may have driving your vehicle. You can adjust the settings based on the average height of people you typically have driving your vehicle, or even offer your own driver profile for safety and comfort.
Temperature control and music are two minor controls that are debatable on whether or not they should be available to be controlled by valet or guest drivers. Some customers have complained about their radios blaring after their vehicle is returned from maintenance or valet, so there may be a relatively strong case for making this feature unavailable.
Lastly, two points of information that would still be available to drivers in Valet Mode are charge locations and internet browser favorites. Based on what is saved as favorites or frequently visited charging locations, these available points of information can potentially divulge sensitive information like mail or home and work locations.