What Happens if Your Tesla Key Fob Runs out of Battery

Every piece of tech has a limited lifespan, including your Tesla’s key fob. You can still start your Tesla – with or without the key fob.

So it’s not all doom and gloom, as long as you know all your options. Tesla has built various backup measures to ensure motorists can get into their EVs. A quick trick is to log into the Tesla app and unlock the electric car in California. Keep reading to dig into the details.

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Driving a Tesla Without a Key Fob

Driving a Tesla Without a Key Fob

It is all too common for motorists to lose their key fob. They either misplace it or lose the battery. In any case, it is helpful to have an alternative way of unlocking the EV.

The Tesla app on your phone can come in handy as a key. But first, you have to pair your phone with the Tesla. Here are the directions you should know about.

  • Press the car icon on your Tesla’s screen.
  • Select the “Locks” option.
  • Tap on the plus icon to reveal several options.
  • Select Add Phone Key.
  • Download the official Tesla Mobile app on your phone.
  • In the app, press the Phone Key button.
  • Now hit “Start” to search for your Tesla.
  • This will pair your phone and Tesla for later.
  • Finish this process by confirming the pairing by using a key card.


Now your phone and Tesla are paired. You can unlock the Tesla using your phone in case your key fob stops working.

Unlock Your Tesla Using a Smartwatch

You can use your Apple Watch to unlock your Tesla without using the key fob. You will have to download a third-party app called “Watch App for Tesla.

The app requires watchOS 6.2 or later or iOS 13.0 or later. Kim Hansen, a Tesla Model 3 owner, initially built this app.

Hansen wanted to simplify the process of unlocking Teslas. He received overwhelming support for his idea and submitted the app to Apple.

Hansen received approval for his app in less than one hour. The app is available for only $8 on the Apple Store.

The app makes it easy to unlock your Tesla remotely from your watch. For obvious reasons, this feature only works if you have an internet connection.

Moreover, the app also notifies you about the status of your Tesla. You can keep track of whether the car is locked or unlocked. The app even tracks windows, doors, and trunks.

You can open and close your trunk remotely. You can also access a charging indicator that displays Tesla’s current charge state.

Besides unlocking your car, the app can also:

  • Activate the Tesla’s seat heaters, air conditioner, defroster, and vent
  • Switch control between multiple Teslas
  • Perform various commands
  • Open and close the windows
  • Display the car’s charge status
  • Use Siri to notify you of the charging status

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Your Phone as a Tesla Key

You should know a few things about using your phone as a key.

The Pros of Using the App as a Tesla Key

It is very convenient to unlock your Tesla from anywhere. All you have to do is open the app and unlock the app. This obviously requires access to the internet to work.

Tesla has a special feature that makes unlocking it even easier. The car senses that your phone is in your pocket. This prompts the car to open when you touch the door handle automatically.

The Cons of Using the App as a Tesla Key

You will lose access to your car if your phone is misplaced or dies. This means you will need your key fob to unlock the electric car in California.

There have been reports of bugs in the official Tesla app. Users have noted that the app doesn’t always work.

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Key Fob Battery

It is expected for Tesla key fobs to run out of battery. The battery is primed to run for at least 5 years with normal use.

But even so, the key fob’s battery is not a significant concern. It is effortless to swap out the battery for a new one.

It’s as simple as changing the batteries in your TV remote. All you need is a small file and a battery. Don’t have an appetite for using the file on your key? Take it to the official Tesla service center.

Here are the instructions for DIY enthusiasts:

  • Flip the key fob over to reveal its underside. You will see a very small opening.
  • Use the file (or a sharp object) to crack at the opening gently. Don’t apply too much force or you could break the fob.
  • The base should come apart easily. Lift it off once it starts to give away.
  • You should be able to see the battery. Remove the battery.
  • Place your new battery in the key fob. Remember to insert it with the positive side up.
  • The battery should slip into place nicely. You shouldn’t have to force the battery into place. If you struggle too much, you might have selected the wrong battery.
  • Now put the key fob together again.

Your Tesla key fob should start working like usual again. Note that you’ll need to resync it with the car for Passive Entry.

Here’s a fun fact you probably didn’t know about your Tesla key fob. You don’t need the battery to unlock the car.

The key fob uses a special chip that can run without batteries. It transmits a special encrypted code using radio waves.

Your Tesla computer can catch this information from the key fob. This should unlock the Tesla with ease.

In other words, you can drive your Tesla with no batteries. Just make sure the computer can detect the chip in the key fob.

When buying a battery, always look for a CR2032. These batteries are universally accessible in every online store and hardware shop near you.

Key Fob Battery

What if the Radio Waves Don’t Work?

Tesla has another failsafe in case the chip fails to communicate with the car. Try placing the key fob in specific locations of your Tesla car.

This will unlock the door. The locations for these slots depend on your Tesla. The Model X has a slot on the bottom passenger of the front shield.

Placing the key fob at this location unlocks the doors of the Tesla. The Model S can also be unlocked this way.

Make sure to pick up the key fob once the door is opened. Place it inside the front cup holder on the passenger side to unlock the EV.

The B-pillar on the Model 3 and Y can be used to unlock the doors. Place the key fob to open the door. This only works for two minutes.

Signs that the Key Fob Battery is About to Die

It’s only a matter of time before the key fob battery dies. There are a few telltale signs that the key fob battery is about to die.

Knowing these signs will help you replace the battery before the key fob dies.

Signal Strength

The most prominent strength of a low battery is bad signal strength. As a rule, the signals should be detected from fifty feet away.

As the battery drains out, the range also goes down. If you approach your car and it doesn’t unlock, it’s time to replace the battery.

Inconsistent Performance

Another sign of a dying key fob is the key not working consistently. Pressing the key fob should work instantly. If the buttons take their time to work, it’s time to get a new battery.

Pressing Multiple Times to Unlock the Car

Do you have to press the button multiple times to unlock the car? This means the key fob battery is draining.

If it takes several clicks to perform a task, it means your battery needs replacement. But if replacing the battery doesn’t work, you’ll have to get a new key fob.

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What does it Cost to Replace a Key Fob

Sometimes, your Tesla Key Fob is beyond repair. Simply replacing the batter won’t fix it. This means you’ll have to get a new key fob.

It is good to know how much it will cost you. We have listed the average price of Tesla key fobs. The price depends on the model of your Tesla and location.

The numbers quoted below are subject to change:

ModelKey Fob Replacement Cost ($)
Model X125
Model 3150
Model S300

Various factors affect the cost of Tesla key fobs. Knowing these factors will help you reduce the costs of replacing key fobs.

The Cost of Parts

It is costly to find parts for Tesla cars and their parts. This is mostly because Tesla is still relatively new.

It isn’t easy to find parts. The technology for key fobs is very advanced. This is why it costs so much to replace them.

There are several parts involved in making Tesla key fobs. This includes the fob casing itself, the internal wiring mechanism, and the chip.

The chip is a significant reason why the key fob is so expensive. Tesla will have to make special chips that are compatible with your car.

This ‘uniqueness’ is another reason why Tesla key fobs are expensive. Programming the key fob to work with your car is an additional expense. It requires labor, expertise, and time.

So if replacing the battery doesn’t work, you’ll have to replace the key fob.

Prices Depend on Your Location

Your location also affects prices. Most people go to dealerships to buy Tesla key fobs.

Others might seek alternatives to find a lower price. Your local car locksmith might also have a few solutions for you.

The Time it Takes to Make Key Fobs

Some key fobs are more complicated than others. If your key fob is complicated, it’ll take more time to make a new one.

Depending on its features, it may take more time to program the key fob. You will have to pay for this time.

This shouldn’t hinder you from replacing the key fob. It is a necessary aspect of owning a Tesla.

Pressing Multiple Times to Unlock the Car

Is It Worth Buying Tesla Key Fobs?

Given the high price of Tesla key fobs, should you buy them?

You can unlock the car using an app on your phone. So why use a key fob? There may be scenarios where you don’t want to use the phone app.

Or perhaps you want to give the car to someone else to drive. In this case, the key fobs should come in handy.

But other than these applications, the app makes the keys redundant.

Call Tesla Roadside Assistance

If nothing else works, you can call Tesla Roadside Assistance. This service can be availed for free under your warranty. Most Teslas have a warranty of 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The representatives will first walk you through a verification process. This step ensures that you are the owner of the Tesla and prevents car theft.

You can also access Tesla Roadside Assistance through your smartphone app. Tesla Roadside Assistance provides the following services:

  • Car locked
  • Flat tires
  • Towing the car
  • Battery out of charge

Tesla Key Card

The Tesla Key Card is an ingenious idea that works like most hotel room keys. Using the Tesla Key Card is relatively straightforward.

Simply tap the card on the window of the driver’s door. This will instantly unlock your Tesla’s door.

Keeping the Tesla key card in your wallet is always a good idea. This is an excellent fail-safe in case you lose your Key Fob.

Another alternative is to buy wedding rings with a built-in NFC chip. You could also use earrings, necklaces, and other artifacts paired with these chips.

You are more likely to be in possession of wedding rings. This is a fool-proof way of unlocking your Tesla without a key fob.

Read: Tesla Roadside Assistance Van

Wrapping Up

So what happens when your Tesla key runs out of battery? Not much. You can still start your Tesla if you have paired it with your phone.

Battery replacement should be relatively inexpensive and you can do it yourself. In some cases, you might have to replace the key fob entirely.

Is it worth spending the $150 on a new key fob? It really depends on your needs.

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