Home Modifications Improved Charge Port Access with Extra FOB Antenna

Improved Charge Port Access with Extra FOB Antenna

An additional Fob Antenna installation fixed my Tesla Two-Step Problem!

Created by our guest contributor Steven Barnes.

Yes, I have the same problem when I walk up to unplug my UMC. I must do the Tesla Two-Step moving to the left so the fob in my pocket engages the fob antenna at the dash and presents the door handles, so I can release the UMC. I just completed an owner installed fob antenna nearer the charge port. This has improved my fob reception to the car. And as a result, when I walk up to the charge port, the door handles present and I can unplug the UMC.

I used TeslaTap.com’s research to locate the fob antenna at the end of the dash. I emailed my SC rep and asked her to order the following: Antenna, Passive Entry (1014951-00-A) priced at $ 39.69. They had it in stock so it became a fresh excuse to drop by my SC to visit and pick up the antenna. (Editor: Note that this is the part number for the USA FOB antenna, other countries may have a different part, as the FOB frequency varies by country due to local regulations).

FOB Antenna on Side Dash Panel

FOB Antenna on Side Dash Panel

I removed the three snap-in driver side panel on the end of the dash to access the existing fob antenna and wire lead. I unplugged it from the car to make it easier to work with. I stripped enough insulation off the black and white leads to expose the wire. I soldered a spare 2.1 x 5.5mm DC Power Female Pigtail to the white and black lead on the car’s fob antenna. I want the SC folks to have an easy way to disconnect my extended fob antenna wire if they need to.

I found about 20 feet of 22 gauge speaker wire and twisted the exposed wires on the speaker wire and a spare 2.1 x 5.5mm DC Power Male Pigtail together to give me an easy way to plug the speaker wire into the existing fob antenna. This is going to be made permanent later. (Editor: I’d recommend using a twisted pair, with stranded wires. This reduces electrical interference into the circuit overusing non-twisted speaker wire).

I snipped the white factory connector off the new fob antenna and soldered the other end to the speaker wire (which will now be referred to as “long antenna lead” to use to test for a suitable location for the new antenna.

I connected the male pigtail and the female pigtail so the new fob antenna was connected to the car’s fob antenna at the dash. Now I could place the new fob antenna in different locations to test the door handle presentation while I stand at the charge port.

Running the long antenna lead wire to the inside of the trunk near the charge port didn’t work well. My guess is the metal is blocking the signal. I believe the length or gauge of the speaker wire also causes the signal to degrade. I tried several other locations, but the best was inside the rear small window nearest the C pillar. So that is where I decided to secure the antenna.

Editor tip: More detailed instructions and pictures on how to get into the C pillar and sills are shown on the first page for installing the Sub-woofer wiring.  Although it is shown for the passenger side, you’ll route the wires on the driver’s side.

I was going to conceal it behind the C pillar interior panel so I removed the parcel shelf, parcel shelf left side bracket and then snapped out the left side C pillar interior panel. There wasn’t room behind the interior panel and the inside of the roof. But removing the interior panel gave me access to the corner of the headliner near the C pillar small window. The antenna will fit in between the roof and the headliner at the C pillar small window.

I untwisted the wires connecting the speaker wire and the spare 2.1 x 5.5mm DC Power Male Pigtail so the speaker wire was a small end. I used a wire fish tape to thread the long antenna lead up into the roof and pulled the lead until the antenna was secure above the headliner at the corner near the window. I used the wire fish tape to thread the long antenna lead wire along the inside of my pano roof and towards the front of the car and to the overhead speaker grill.

I removed the cap and the screw and popped the A-pillar interior panel open in order to pull the long antenna lead from the headliner down along the A-pillar to the corner of the dash. I could not get the wire fish tape from the corner of the pano roof down to the top of the C pillar panel opening. So, I pushed the long antenna lead out through the front of the headliner where the rearview mirror is located. Then I threaded the long antenna lead across the front of the headliner at the windshield pushing it up into the headliner for concealment.

I threaded the long antenna lead down the A-pillar. I avoided running the lead in front of the A-pillar airbag. I threaded the long antenna lead to the bottom of the A-pillar and into the corner of the dash. I soldered the 2.1 x 5.5mm DC Power Male Pigtail to the long antenna lead and insulated the wires with heat shrink tubing. Then plug the male pigtail into the female pigtail’s connector to connect the C pillar mounted fob antenna.  (Editor: we recommend wiring under the driver side sills instead to avoid any possibility of interfering with the curtain airbag that is along the top of the headliner and along the A-pillar. See alternate instructions on how we did this for the Sub-woofer wiring)

I buttoned up the removed panels at the C pillar interior panel, the parcel shelf bracket, the front headliner speaker grill, A-pillar and fob antenna access panel.

Note 1: During my testing to locate an acceptable location, the door handle presentation would stop. I don’t have an explanation as to why. But I found that if I went into to Controls > Settings > and turned the present handles switch to Off then back On. The door handles would work again when I approached with the fob. Your mileage may vary!

Note 2: You may choose to route your long antenna lead a different method than along the headliner. I considered removing the door sill/kick panel and threading the lead there. But the rear door sill removal seemed more complex than routing along the headliner.

After completion of the project, I plugged the UMC in to test the door handle presentation and UMC release. I waited for the car to shutdown, the windows to fold in and the UMC port to change from blue to black/off. I walked up eight times with my fob in my right front pocket. Of those eight times six times the car responded properly presenting the door handles and allowing me to unplug the UMC without the usual Tesla Two-Step. Of the two that didn’t work, one responded with one step to the left, and the other worked with two steps to the left. If my car continues to work even 75% of the time saving me the Tesla Two-Step, I am satisfied it was worth the effort.


shrink 27-Jun-2017 - 12:43 am

Interesting article. I didn’t realize speaker wire could be used essentially as an antenna.

Does anyone know if the Antenna, Passive Entry (1014951-00-A) part can be used to retrofit auto present and/or auto lock on the older non-tech package cars?

Moderator 27-Jun-2017 - 8:01 am

Sorry I don’t know – perhaps someone else does. I expect auto present/auto lock is a software option, and adding hardware may not do anything without having a matching software configuration (which is very difficult to get to).

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