Why Do Tesla Lights Flash? [3 Reasons]


Why do Tesla Lights Flash?

Anyone with a Tesla has probably figured out that this is the most incredible car ever created and available to the masses! For a company that has only been producing electric cars for about 11 years, these guys are making some of the safest, most comfortable, sexiest, and fastest cars out there. With that said, the fully electric vehicles have some minor problems with randomly flashing headlights as the main 

Why do Tesla Lights Flash? Tesla has not officially come out with a reason why the cars lights are flashing, but leading theories include:

  1. The 2018.50 Update
  2. Cold Temperatures
  3. Activated Sentry Mode

Read below to find out why these could be affecting your headlights and some common theories that are definitely wrong!

» MORE: 7 Common Tesla Model 3 Headlight Issues [With Fixes]

3 Reasons Why Your Tesla Headlights Are Flashing on Their Own

The front of your Tesla is definitely attractive, but when the headlights go off, it’s not winking at you. 

All jokes aside, it seems that this is a reoccurring problem for many Tesla owners, but the model type doesn’t really seem to matter. The problem isn’t extremely common, but it has happened to more than a couple dozen cars with video to prove it’s happening. 

Tesla has not released an official statement explaining the issue, but there are three main answers to shed light on the situation.

  1. The 2018.50 Update
  2. Cold Temperatures
  3. Activated Sentry Mode (most common)

Let’s take a deeper look, and hopefully, you can resolve your flashing headlight problem.

1. The 2018.50 Update and Updates in General

On December 27th, 2018, Tesla rolled out the 2018.50 software update. The update fixed bugs and added some great features, but it also seemed to include random flashing lights.

Most Tesla owners describe the problem as occurring during the night with the right headlight going off first, followed by the left. The problem didn’t occur before the 2018.50 update, which is why people believe the update is the root of the problem, but you can’t just skip an update like you can on your computer.

With Tesla, you have to keep in mind that this is not your average car with a gas motor and tons of manual buttons on the inside. In fact, Tesla is praised for its minimal interior design which includes one screen that basically controls your entire vehicle. So instead of having to change your oil or get your engine looked at, you have to update the car’s software in order to fix a bug with the battery or add special features, including autonomous driving.

So here’s the good news! Tesla has rolled out many updates since 2018.50. There hasn’t been the same level of outrage over flashing lights with new software versions, so, for the most part, the issue being caused by software is likely resolved.

On the subject of updates, another leading theory suggests that when the vehicle is connected to your home WIFI or WIFI at a Tesla Service Center, the car will automatically update to the latest version, fixing various bugs and so on.

These minor updates may cause the vehicle to behave awkwardly and specifically flash its headlights on and off.

2. Cold Temperatures

If it’s not the update, it could be the weather.

Some drivers in cold areas like Alaska and Colorado have noticed their Tesla headlights flashing randomly at night and occasionally while driving. As an important note, if your headlights malfunction while you are driving, you need to go get them fixed at the nearest Tesla service center. The best part is that your car will warn you if you have any major issues… yep, that’s how great Tesla is!

Extreme cold temperatures mostly seem to affect the headlights at night and on Model 3’s and S’s.

3. Activated Sentry Mode

The last, and most common, reason for why your Tesla lights are flashing is the fact that you could have Sentry Mode turned on.

Sentry Mode is among the coolest features of a Tesla. If you place a flash-drive in your car and set up Sentry Mode on your Tesla app, the car will enable an extra layer of security. When you are away from the car, and someone, or something, get’s too close to the car, the car flashes the headlights in an attempt to ward off the intruder. This can be someone bumping into it, scratching the exterior, or trying to break into it. It will also start recording from the cars several exterior cameras so you can watch it all back on a saved video (for proof if you needed it).

Even if you don’t have Sentry Mode fully set up, if the switch is on in the app, your lights will still flash when Tesla feels threatened.

» MORE: Why Are Tesla Headlights So Sensitive?

Are Your Tesla Headlights Being Hacked?

A common theory seems to be that Tesla vehicles are being hacked. Most Tesla’s with flashing headlights seem to have the right one go off than the left shortly after spelling, in morse code, either AA or MA. Some people think these are the initials of the hacker or group of hackers getting into Teslas and forcing the electric vehicles to flash their lights.

This could be a leading suspicion apart from a few minor errors in thought…

  1. If the vehicle was hacked, it would only happen to single vehicles
  2. If the system was hacked the problem would occur to multiple vehicles at once, so you would see hundreds of flashing lights on Tesla lots
  3. If the software version specifically was hacked then all Tesla cars with the update would experience the problem and not just a couple dozen
  4. Most importantly: Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla, Inc. publicly announced that he would gift a free Model 3 to anyone who would be able to hack into a Tesla car

Musk’s vocal approach to marketing and his companies has made him an honest character in the eyes of the market. Someone who is committed to creating among the safest cars in the world, it makes sense that Musk would challenge top hackers to get into the car to find the weakest points and hopefully stop future cyberattacks.

So no, your car hasn’t been hacked into yet. I mean c’mon, why only flash the headlights when you can hack Elon’s bank account?

Is It Artificial Intelligence?

No. It is not artificial intelligence. Musk is very adamant about the fact that his vehicles only use functional/narrow artificial intelligence and not general AI. While there is not self-aware AI yet, it’s understandable why some people might fear that their cars are being overtaken by robots who are communicating with one another using headlights.

Before you start running and planning your method of attack against Terminator Model 3’s, keep in mind that your Tesla’s AI, if you even have it set up to begin with, can’t just become self-aware all of a sudden and decide to flash its lights.

Besides the fact that functional AI doesn’t work that way, don’t you think the car would do something cooler than just flash its lights?

» MORE: Tesla Model 3 Sentry Mode Explained

What To Do About Flashing Headlights?

There are a number of things you can do to ensure your headlights stop flashing randomly.

  1. Update to the latest software version.
  2. Keep your car warm if it appears to be cold weather related. Maybe place a cover over your car or park it in a garage.
  3. Turn off Sentry Mode unless it is absolutely necessary, in which case just be aware of the fact that lights will flash.

Most importantly, if the problem persists or presents itself while you’re driving, then schedule a time to get it checked out and fixed at your nearest Tesla Service Center.

Well, there you have it. Even the most amazing cars on earth have some minor problems. In all seriousness, be safe, keep your car updated, and get professionals to check it out if you can’t get the issue fixed. The guys and gals at Tesla will always help with a smile!

Tesla Discounts:

Greg Gottfried

The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg Gottfried, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. Being a Tesla owner allows Greg to fact-check information and personally try new scenarios out before publishing an article explaining the process.

Recent Posts