My referral code

If you find my review and notes on the Tesla Model 3 useful, please consider using my referral code which will give you $100 in supercharging credit when you get a car from Tesla.

Tesla Model 3 Key - Bug reported May 2018 - not fixed

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 90% 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.

I have been speaking to a few friends with Model 3's. The ones that have iPhones seem to have no issues with the key. The ones that have Android phones have the same issue I do. So the problem is not specific to my car, or my phones. Tesla really needs to fix this issue. If Toyota can make a keyless remote, then I expect a working keyless remote for a car that costs twice as much money.

I spoke the tech that came out to fix my car. He said my phone settings were all fine. He said that Tesla has had endless issues with all different types of phone hardware and software. He said that Tesla will eventually send out key fobs to all Model 3 owners, but he had no idea when that would happen.

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 econo-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.

I was recently in a new, 2018 Model S with the base seats. The central part is made out of fabric and the edges are made out of a leather like material. They are far more supportive on the back than the Model 3 seats. The Model S is less sportsy than the Model 3, yet the seats are far more supportive. I wonder if I can swap in Model S seats. No idea if they have the side airbag...

Tesla Model 3 Stereo

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.

Overall the user interface of the radio as well as the USB music player is completely unacceptable and needs to be significantly reworked.

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 Song Selection - Bug reported

You can say something like 'Play Dennis by Blondie' and it will play a song. This sometimes works quite well, and sometimes works quite poorly. I tried the quoted phrase, and I have gotten it to work about 5% of tie time. Sometimes it finds other songs by Blondie, such as Heart of Glass or other songs that don't sound at all like Dennis. Sometimes it plays songs totally unrelated to either Denis or Blondie. It is so unreliable that I filed a bug report. I have tried many songs with varying degrees of success. It found 'Where the Streets Have no Name by Two Cellos', but couldn't find 'ET by Katy Perry' I also tried 'Extra Terrestrial' without success. It does display what it thinks you are saying, and even when the text is correct, often the appropriate song cannot be found. It does seem to do a well with spelled out radio station names however.

I did get the internet radio to find a song with a french name successfully (this is the first time that worked).

Tesla Model 3 Internet (slaker) radio

On Friday, the Internet based radio, powered by Slacker stopped working. On Sunday, I called Tesla support. After waiting on hold for about 30 minutes, I got the local service. When I tried to play internet radio, I was asked to log in to the slacker account, or try to log in with the tesla account. No matter what I did, I went back to that screen. (I don't have my own slacker account or credentials). They had me reboot the car which didn't help. They told me to go to a service center, which isn't open today, to set up a slacker credentials. I said there must be some way to do this over the phone. They said they were not qualified, but they could transfer me to some real tech support. The real tech support, noticed I had a decent signal. Finally, they suggested rebooting the touchscreen. That worked. So there is some kind of bug that disabled my access to slacker until I rebooted. I know quite a bit about software. It is easy to write buggy software, and much harder to write bug free code. However, this is the second time I have had to reboot the touchscreen (the first was when my LTE modem hung). Tesla needs to write more reliable software. They also need to make it clearer when something has gone wrong, and what to do about it. I think the tesla touchscreen may be more complex than any other car user interface. It needs to be reliable and not crash or hang every month.

Tesla Model 3 Voice Input Needs LTE

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 Phone dock

The model 3 center console has a place to put two phones, which is very nice. It has a power connector for each phone. One is for an iPhone (lightning connector) and the other one is a micro usb connector. This is a really cool feature... unless you have 2 phones of the same type, or unless you have phones in cases, or unless you have a new phone with a usb-c connector. In those cases, the best you can do is to plug one phone in. In my case, I have an older phone with a micro usb connector. The problem is that I have a case, which means my phone does not align with the connector.

This is not a good design. Perhaps there should have been two adjustable slots, and you could get two connectors that are appropriate for your phone. With the slots, you would be able to mate with your phone even if it had a case. Almost any non-iPhone phone you will buy today will have a usb-c connector, so you will be out of luck with the existing connectors. In my case, when I use a straight micro usb cable, my phone will not sit flat in the area unless the cable is sharply bent. I really need to buy a right angle connector cable. This is a poor design for phone holders and should be fixed.

Tesla Model 3 LTE Modem (cell phone) Hung- Bug reported

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....

I have observed two different failure modes. Sometimes, streaming audio just stops, but after a few minutes, it starts again. It is as if the LTE modem failed, but rebooted in a few minutes. Sometimes, the LTE modem fails, and stays failed until I reboot the GUI or until I wait overnight. I suspect there are several issues.

When I updated to v9 software, the next day my LTE modem crashed again. I rebooted the car and GUI and it started working again. Yesterday, while I was driving, the LTE modem crashed again. I put in a call to Tesla, perhaps there is a hardware issue that is causing the problems. Some friends with Model 3's have never had this problem, and never needed to reboot the car or GUI.

LTE modem failed again. I decided not to reboot the GUI, and the next morning, the LTE was working again. Perhaps there is some kind of watchdog timer... Tesla will send someone to my place today to look at the logs and perhaps figure out what is going on.

Tesla Model 3 USB input - Bug reported

I have documented issues with the USB media player. None of them were serious enough for me to file a bug report. This changed today. I tried to use my USB media player today. Using the same USB drive that I have been using for several months, I looked for Quadrophenia. I had been able to find it before. It was missing. In fact, about 90% of my albums have gone missing. I went under artists, and I was unable to find The Who, and roughly 90% of the artists went missing. It can't be very hard to make a working media player. Even though my 2012 Prius media player sucks in many ways, it is far superior to the 2018 Model 3 media player. Perhaps they should license software from Toyota to play media (only half joking).

I did not previously report bugs with the media player as I was able to work around them. However, I can find no workaround for these issues, and so I am reporting this as a bug. Hopefully it will get fixed soon.

Tesla Model 3 - Wifi doesn't work - Bug reported

I got a message on my tesla screen saying there was a map update, but I had to use wifi to get the update. This makes sense, because map updates can be really big. So I try to connect to my house wifi, but I can't find the signal. So I try at work, but though I have the correct password, it won't connect. I also tried with a friends phone acting as a hotspot. Today, I got a reasonably high power router close to the tesla. The model 3 would not authenticate with the correct password. Result - no way to update maps, and no way to connect to wifi.

Well, I was able to connect to the WiFi. The car can't see my main network, but I added a network, and the car connected. I am told the map update is 3 to 5 gb, so using WiFi makes good sense. No idea how to tell when the map update happens though.

Tesla Model 3 - Door Handle broke - Bug reported

For the last few days, I have noticed that when I get in the car, and try to close the door, it is really hard to get it to close properly. Today, I saw the door closed, however the door handle was in the open position (it is supposed to snap back to the closed position when you release it). I was able to get the door to close securely, however when I rolled down the window, I realized that the door handle was in the open position. I called tesla and told them about the problem. Naturally, they had never heard of such a thing happening. They said they will order a door handle (as they don't have any in stock), and send their mobile repair people to me, with a replacement handle, in case it needs to be repaired. Could I be the first person with this problem? I wonder...

Well the tech showed up, and had seen the issue before. He squirted in some molybdenum disulfide lube, and the door handle worked great.

Tesla Model 3 - V9 Software

I got the V9 software. I can now play centipede on a tiny screen. It is not as easy to move around as an arcade game. The user interface for the radio still sucks. The usb music player still thinks each song on an album is a separate album (If you have 10 tracks on album X, it will sow 10 different album X's each with one track.) The vehicles displayed around the car are more like the real vehicles.

When I drove my car fir the first time with V9, after about 20 or 30 minutes, the LTE modem hung. I know this because the streaming music stopped. Also the voice commands stopped working. After I stopped the car, I rebooted the car and rebooted the graphical user interface, which fixed the problem (I did that because it worked the previous time the LTE modem hung.) Hopefully it won't happen again... There is no excuse for the LTE modem to hang. Properly written software doesn't crash. Critical software should also have keepalive timers and watchdogs timers. It is clear that the LTE modem software isn't properly written, and doesn't have a keepalive or watchdog timer.

This morning when I got in my car, I saw an error message on the screen saying something like 'screen not responsive, reboot the GUI'. The screen was in fact nit responsive. This is the most severe issue I have had with the car to date. Rebooting did fix the issue. I wonder what would happen if the screen became unresponsive while I was driving? At least it seems there is some kind of watchdog on the screen GUI.

Also, the display of nearby cars is far more detailed than v8 software. What is bad is the cars passing me or the cars I am passing, weave from side to side in a crazy drunken fashion that is quite distracting, and not an accurate reflection of reality. This really needs to be fixed.

Tesla Model 3 GPS screen

Yesterday, while driving, my GPS screen stopped updating. This has happened several times in the past. Interestingly, when I set a destination, the GPS screen started updating again. This has happened several times in the past. It is annoying, but not nearly as annoying as the LTE modem hangs.

If you have comments or suggestions, Email me at

Created with gnu emacs and template-toolkit, not some sissy HTML editor.

No Java or javascript needed to view my web pages. They both have significant security issues.