Unlocking Tesla With Key Card [Step-by-Step Guide]

Unlocking Tesla With Key Card [Step-by-Step Guide]

With cars, Tesla offers 2 key cards inside a black wallet. Even if the card seems tough in the hand, it works well if used rightly.

But many new drivers wonder how to unlock Tesla with card and struggle to access the car. It’s easy! To do that, you need to place the card on the card reader and wait for some seconds until the car gets unlocked.

Well, it might seem pretty easy, but this does require some clear instruction. Keep on reading for detailed explanations along with other topics!

Unlocking Tesla With Key Card [Step-by-Step Guide]

Exactly How To Unlock Tesla With Card!

The direction for unlocking the Tesla using a key card is the same for Model X, Y, S, and 3 cars. Here’s how you can do it yourself:

  1. Bring the activated key card near the car. If you carry it inside a wallet or bag, pull it out so the car can be used physically.
  2. Then, tap the Tesla with a key card on the card reader location.
  3. After that, you need to wait for 1 – 2 seconds so that Tesla can recognize the key card and grant access.
  4. Once you see mirrors unfold, exterior lights flashing, or horn noises, it indicates the door is unlocked.
  5. Next, get inside the car and immediately put your foot on the brake pedal.

Be sure to press the brake pedal within 2 minutes or the car will need re-authentication of the key card.

If your car needs reauthentication, simply place the key card on the card reader. After detecting the card, it will take around 2 minutes to authenticate.

How To Lock Tesla With Key Card?

The way of locking a Tesla using the key card is the same on all series. Let me break this down below:

  1. Go outside and close the door of the car. Then, scan the key card on the card reader on the outside (located on the driver’s side door panel).
  2. Once the mirrors fold, it indicates the car is locked. That’s how to lock Tesla Model 3, Y, X, and S with a key card.
For Your Information: Tesla car will automatically get into lock position as soon as you are 10 feet or so distance.

Where To Put Tesla Key Card?

The location of the card reader is visible on the outside and inside. To understand it better, here’s the detail:

Outside Card Reader

It is on the driver’s side door pillar, right under the Autopilot camera (round camera) which can be seen in the given picture.

Where To Put Tesla Key Card

If it seems hard to understand, put the key card on the exact spot where you use the key fob. Sometimes the card might not work due to debris or other reasons. If this happens, read this guide to fix the Tesla key card issue.

Inside Card Reader

The location of the interior card reader is different in Model S & X and Model Y & 3. To simplify it, the Model Y and 3 cars contain the card reader right behind the cup holder in the middle of the center console.

Model Y and 3 interior card reader
Figure 1: Model Y and 3 interior card reader

On the other hand, you’ll find the card reader at the top of the phone charger (on the left side of the center diverter).

Model S and X interior card reader
Figure 2: Model S and X interior card reader

How To Start Tesla With Key Card?

To power on Tesla using the key card, the procedure is the same for all series (including MX, MS, MY, and M3). Let me show you the direction below:

  1. Get inside the car by unlocking it with the key card. 
  2. Next, press the brake pedal one time and the screen will show a prompt asking for scanning the key card. 
  3. Then, put the key card on the interior card reader. 
  4. After some while, the car will grant access and then you’ll need to enter the valid pin. 
  5. To finish the process, pick a drive mode and drive to your destination.

How To Start Tesla Without Key Card?

If you forget to take or lost the key card and the car requires it for starting the car, here’s how you can do it without the card:

Method #1: Use Tesla App

Open the Tesla app and then use your credentials. After that, put the car in to drive position and pick drive mode. And then, carry on with your driving.

Method #2: Start The Car Remotely

In the worst-case scenario where you don’t have a phone plus key card, then ask a stranger to borrow the phone. Next, call your close friend or spouse to inform them about your situation.

Start Tesla Car Remotely

After that, tell them to use their phone and download the Tesla app. Then, you’ll need to give them information about your Tesla account to enter and then tell them to click on Controls > Start to remotely start the car.

Use Your Phone As Key Card

You can use your phone (android or iPhone) as a key card by changing the settings. To do that, here’s the direction:

  1. Download the Tesla app on your phone and log in.
  2. Next, turn on the Bluetooth connection on your phone.
  3. After that, turn on the location on your phone by going to the Tesla app’s settings (Location > Always).
  4. Then, go to the touchscreen and click on Controls > Safety > Allow Mobile Access.
  5. Afterward, open the app and click on Set Up Phone Key on the screen or go to Security > Set Up Phone Key. Set it up by following the prompts on the app and touchscreen.
  6. Now, walk near the car and test it out.

Wrapping Up

As a driver, it’s essential to know how to unlock Tesla with card in the right way. I’ve given all the needed details that might help you understand the process as well as other handy topics. Hope you find this guide helpful, and I’ll look forward to seeing you with a new topic soon!


  • https://www.tesla.com/ownersmanual/
  • https://www.tesla.com/support/videos/watch/keys-meet-your-model-x
  • https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/driving-without-a-key-card-or-phone.224599/
  • https://www.tesla.com/support/videos/watch/phone-key-setup-model-s-and-model-x

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