Tesla Model 3 Key

The Model 3 has a clever keyless entry system that uses a smartphone as the key. The model 3 can associate a smart phone with the car, by downloading the tesla app. Then, the phone can be used to unlock and start the car. I did that when I bought the car. The phone unlocks the car using bluetooth low energy. The app will say if the phone is connected to the car. If it is not, the car won't unlock. This happens at least 50% of the time. The solution is to put the phone on airplane mode, wait a bit, and take the phone out of airplane mode. Then it will associate with the car. The other solution is to use the key card to unlock the car. If you don't have the phone, you need to put the key card next to the cup holders to start the car. Whenever I need to use the key card to unlock the car, the car will start without the key card being placed next to the cup holders. I assume the phone somehow gets associated after I get in the car. The odd thing, is when I am locked outside the car, the screen lights up. I suspect it is because there is some communication with the phone. This is a very buggy system. My Prius has keyless entry that always works. It requires a special key fob, but it is completely reliable. I called Tesla support and they opened a bug report on the issue. I was told others are having issues using their smartphone to unlock the model 3.

Tesla Model 3 Seats

The Model 3 is supposed to be a sportsy car. It isn't a true sports car, but it isn't an econmo-box like my Prius. The seats should have some amount of lateral support for cornering. Ideally, a seat would provide enough support that while cornering, you don't have to brace yourself, and you can concentrate on cornering. My 2012 Prius has virtually no lateral support for either the bottom of the seat, or the back of the seat. I would like to improve that, but I don't corner very hard, so it isn't a big deal. The 2018 Prius has a much better seat with far more lateral support. The Model 3 seat is reasonably comfortable, and has electronic adjustments (which I really don't care about). The good news is the bottom of the seat has some lateral support. The bad news is the back of the seat has virtually no lateral support. It is comparable to my 2012 Prius seat, and has far less lateral support than the 2018 Prius. This is really poor for a car that is positioned to be a sportsy car. If the manual Model 3 seat is better,, I might swap out the drivers seat, when I can buy one for a reasonable price.

Tesla Model 3 Speakers

The factory speakers are reasonably good. I expected this because I purchased the 'premium package' which comes with the deluxe stereo. One amusing thing is when you go the the equalizer settings, it shows a 5 or 6 band equalizer with the bass and treble reemphasized. I set the controls to be flat. A sneaky trick from the factory.

FM Radio

The Model 3 has no AM radio. This is a shame, because there are decent traffic stations on AM radio. There is a HD FM radio. For those that don't know, HD stands for nothing at all. It certainly does not stand for High Definition. Each FM station can broadcast in standard FM, as well as at least 3 other streams called HD1, HD2, and HD3. HD1 is always (as far as I know) the same as normal FM in terms of programming. On every radio I have dealt with, you select the frequency, and then select the stream. For example, on Sony radios as well as Toyota radios, you can hit a button which will cycle through HD1, HD2, HD3, and back to HD1 (assuming there are 3 HD streams. Not the Model 3. On the model 3, you have to search a list of all radio frequencies and HD streams for the stream you want. This is pretty silly in an urban area that might have 100 different frequencies and streams. The manual states "Touch HD to play high defnition versions of available frequencies." This is true for going from analog FM to HD1, but not true to access HD2 or HD3. The manual is misleading at best. Searching (or scrolling) through over 100 streams is a very poor user interface.

So now you have found your favorite stream, and you want to make it a favorite. On all other radios, you make the frequency a favorite (or associate it with a preset of some kind). On the Model 3 it doesn't work that way. You need to touch the favorite icon (which is quite small) and the stream is market as a favorite. The problem is they are sorted by frequency. Lets say your favorite station is 88.1. You want to associate it with button 1 or the equivalent. If you have another favorite such as 100.1, it will appear before 88.1. In fact all of your favorites will appear before 88.1. I never thought I would say this, but the 2012 Prius radio is has a much better user interface.

When listening to the radio, I like to listen to a particular HD2 radio station. When I stop the car and restart it, the radio goes to the correct frequency, but plays the default stream, not the HD2 stream. On my Prius when I am listening to a specific station and stop and restart the car, the radio continues with the stream I was listening to. If the Model 3 started with the default stream, but switched automatically to the HD2 stream, that would be ok, but it just plays the wrong stream. This is a bug.

USB Input

The Model 3 can also play USB based mp3 music (and perhaps other formats). You can search by artist, album, and likely other means. The Model 3 quickly was able to index about 18gb of files on my USB drive. All of my mp3's were created by me and have correct ID3 tags. I have created them from CD's. For example, I have the two CD album Quadrophenia by The Who. If you search by album, you need to select the correct first letter. This is a poor user interface decision. It is nice to start with the first letter, but you should be able to search everything by album. I typed in a Q, and found nothing. It is unacceptable to not find the album when there are at least two entries (disk 1 and disk 2). So I tried searching by artist. I typed in T for The Who, and I was able to find the two albums. Even my crappy 2012 Prius stereo can find music by searching by album. I have no idea why this is broken.

If you are listening to an album, and you stop the car and then start the car, you might think that the album would resume. Even the 2012 Prius does that. But not the Model 3. When you select USB input, it does not resume playing. If you select the same album, either it will resume, or it will start from the beginning. I have had both happen. You can select 'factories', just like with the radio. But favorites can only be a song, not an album. This is a very primitive interface and unacceptable in a modern music player.

Tesla Model 3 Voice Input

According to the manual, the Model 3 can make phone calls or do navigation with voice commands. It turns out that you can also select radio stations, which is not documented. Today, while driving in a large urban area, I noticed that there was no cellular signal on the tesla screen. My cell phone still worked fine. It was unclear if the Tesla cell phone carrier was down, or some Tesla servers were down. In any event, there was no traffic data displayed on the map, which is less than ideal, but not a big deal. What was a big deal, and is unacceptable is that the voice commands stopped working. I suspect that the sounds get sent to some Tesla server which does speech recognition. That is a clever idea, as long as the cellular network works. For at least an hour today, it wasn't working, and voice commands did not work. My 2012 Prius can do voice recognition without a cloud server helping it. I admit the voice recognition isn't great. I would expect that the Model 3 could do the processing locally. I consider this to be a significant bug.

Tesla Model 3 LTE Modem (cell phone) Hung

Well, the LTE (which stands for Long Term Evolution) (cell phone) outage continued for a few hours. After being on hold with Tesla for about an hour, I got someone to help me. It turned out that the LTE modem in the car hung. We rebooted the car. We then rebooted the touchscreen twice. The LTE modem seems happy now. This was about a day and a half after a software update. I hope it doesn't happen again. This is the first time I had to reboot a car...

In real time systems such as a car, one should monitor critical assets. This is often done with a watchdog timer. A watchdog timer periodically emits a signal saying the system is ok. If the signal is not received, after a while the system is restarted. This is pretty standard stuff. The LTE modem should have a watchdog timer, and get restarted automatically when it hangs or crashes (not that it should hang or crash). Tesla needs to write better software. The LTE modem is needed for voice processing, real time traffic, software updates, communicating with the phone tesla 'app', and likely other stuff....

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