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How To Set Up Tesla Phone Key in less than 5 minutes

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

'Mostly' convenient method for operating Tesla Model 3 or Y

Your Model 3 or Model Y comes equipped with a virtual key called Phone Key that can be used in place of a physical one, and owners can use the Phone Key to unlock and start the car.

Under optimal conditions the connection between your smartphone and Tesla can work up to 30 feet, but in our real world experience we found that a reliable connection is typically made within 10-15 feet.

In this post we’ll go through the step by step process on how to set up your Phone Key and some tips to consider if your Phone Key starts to act up.

Setting Up Your Tesla Phone Key

What you need before starting:

  1. Compatible device with the latest iOS or Android updates

  2. Tesla App

  3. Tesla Key Card

  4. Access to car interior and touchscreen

  5. Estimated installation time is under 5 mins

Step-by-Step Guide (10 Steps):

Make sure you have all of the required items and begin installation while positioned in the driver’s or front passenger’s seat. We installed the Phone Key in our home garage with Internet access in case we needed to update or re-install the smartphone OS or the app.

  1. On your smartphone, download the Tesla app if you haven’t already done so (iOS or Android only)

  2. Ensure that the Bluetooth setting is enabled on your smartphone

  3. On your Model 3 (or Model Y) touchscreen, press the Car icon on the bottom left of the touchscreen

  4. Press the Locks icon on the touchscreen

  5. Press the ‘+’ sign beside Keys

  6. On your smartphone, go into the home screen of the Tesla mobile app and press ‘Phone Key’

  7. When the app asks ‘Set up you phone as a key?’, press ‘START’ and Bluetooth will start searching for your Model 3 or Y

  8. The app will then instruct you to ‘Hold your Key Card on the centre console’, so place Key Card on appropriate spot on the Centre Console

  9. Once the car recognizes the Key Card the process can be completed and your phone key will show ‘Success’. Press ‘Done’ on your phone to exit the screen and the name of your phone will show up under Keys on your Model 3’s touch screen

  10. Enjoy! You're all set to use your Tesla Phone Key to access and operate your Tesla

Troubleshooting Tips for Tesla Phone Key

When working as described, this feature can be a real game changer. With any new technology, however, it should not come as a surprise that there have been some growing pains along the way. Since the solution relies on the driver’s own smartphone hardware, many have pointed to unreliable Bluetooth connections and variability of supported devices. If you do ever experience any issues with the Phone Key, try some of the tips below:

Troubleshooting tips for Tesla Phone Key with your smartphone settings:

  • Bluetooth - Check that your smartphone’s Bluetooth setting is turned on

  • Power - Ensure your smartphone has sufficient battery power to run Bluetooth (on some phones Bluetooth is disabled as battery power approaches very low levels)

  • Internet Connection - Make sure that your smartphone has Internet connection

  • Updated Smartphone OS - Update your smartphone to the latest OS update for your iPhone or Android

  • Location Services in Phone Setting - In your Phone settings, set location services to ‘always on’ or ‘only when using app’ for the Tesla app

  • Restart your smartphone

Troubleshooting tips for Tesla Phone Key with your Tesla App:

  • App Setting - Ensure the Tesla app is running in the background

  • App Version - Ensure that you have the latest version of the Tesla App installed

  • Re-install app - Delete the app from your phone and re-install

  • Waking up car - Open the Tesla app and activate ‘Climate Control’ before heading to the car to wake up the connection

  • Correct car selected - If multiple vehicles are linked to your MYTESLA account, ensure you are logged into the Model 3 you want to access

Troubleshooting tips for Tesla Phone Key in your Tesla Model 3 or Model Y:

  • Reconnect smartphone to car - Delete the smartphone connection from your car and re-install

  • Soft reboot your Tesla vehicle

Have you figured out something else that’s worked for you? Share it in the comments below so others that others can try it out.

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