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As I stated in the start, this project is a bit crazy for the cost and amount of effort it took. It really started with a phone-based CAN bus analyzer I designed. This got bogged down as the off-the-shelf CAN bus products I tried couldn’t keep up with the massive amount of data Tesla produces on a single CAN bus, let alone the 4 busses I wanted to monitor. It works well when you limit the data (which is done at the hardware level), but I wanted it all.

I shifted gears to designing my own low-level hardware and writing my own code for the microcontroller. This connected to the phone via USB. Bluetooth would never work for this, as it is way too slow. I then found the phone itself was also unable to process the massive amount of data coming in, store it and display the data in different ways in real-time. This was not going the way I wanted!  During this time, a few other owners introduced products with limited CAN bus recording with off-line processing. I may revisit that project as the phones/tablets gain more power. I only need that Intel i9 18 core extreme CPU that lasts longer than a few seconds on a cell phone battery!

I got the idea for Tshow when the refresh Model S came out, as it had the perfect display area behind the front T-badge. I could reuse some of the hardware and software work I’d previously done as Tshow is far less demanding.  Meanwhile, a new microcontroller with dual CAN bus hardware appeared late last year, which was perfect for this project.  I didn’t need all four CAN buses, but I did need two (CAN 2 and CAN 3) for monitoring data.

CAN Bus Data

With some of the prior work I’d done and more analysis of CAN bus traffic, I identified critical ids to track for the various features.  Here are the IDs I track for Tshow:

CAN BUS ID Byte(s) Bit(s) Function
2 0x203 1 6 Emergency Flasher
2 0x209 2 6 Left Blinker On
2 0x20A 2 6 Right Blinker On
2 0x238 2 3 Headlights On
3 0x00E 0 & 1 Steering Position
3 0x116 3 4-6 Vehicle State
3 0x222 0 & 4 Charging State
3 0x302 1 & 2 State of Charge

This CAN data was on a refreshed Model S. It’s likely to be the same on all versions of the Model S and Model X.  It may even be the same on the Model 3.

Real-Time Clock

To include day/night brightness and holiday features, I needed an accurate date and time. Unfortunately, I was only able to find the date/time broadcast on CAN bus 6. Since I didn’t want to add a third CAN bus to the project, so I used the processor’s built-in RTC along with battery backup. I wrote the code so the time and date are automatically set when the app connects to the processor.


I built the prototype on a breadboard, which makes it easy to try out different processors and design ideas while creating the companion Android app.

An early breadboard test

An early breadboard test

PCB and Schematics

As the project rolled along, I concluded PCBs would be necessary to ensure reliability and compactness.  That meant learning the latest schematic and PCB software. Of course, I made a few mistakes and had to re-run new boards. This is no different than most engineering projects (although costly for a one-off project).

Processor PCB version 2

Processor PCB version 2

Version 2 still had a couple of minor errors, and the remote control’s NeoPixels data was unreliable on longer cables. I  added a second differential bus transceiver and fixed the errors on the version 2 board. The version 3 schematic covers all these changes.

Processor Schematic

Processor Schematic (version 3, click for full size)

A few sharp engineers may notice I used some modules rather than surface mount ICs. Surface mount parts are difficult to solder for a one-off project and these specific parts are only available in surface mount. Luckily, there are modules available with the surface mount ICs, that is only slightly more expensive than the IC itself. They do take up a little more PCB board space, but not enough to matter.

The NeoPixels use a single serial data line. This becomes unstable for longer runs, typically over 12″. By using differential transceivers, the signal is not affected by wire length. The processor module connects to the receiver and remote via a differential connection, which in turn connects to NeoPixels.

receiver schematic

Tshow receiver schematic

The receiver needs mounting on the T-badge assembly very close to the NeoPixel input. I found the desired mounting on the passenger’s side physically interfered with the radar module, so in a last-minute decision, mounted it on the driver’s side and flipped the NeoPixels so the start (i.e. pixel 1) was on the driver’s side to keep the wire run as short as possible between the receiver and the NeoPixels data input. This required a fairly significant software change to “flip” the visual direction in various display modes.

Tshow remote schematic

Tshow remote schematic

Plastic Housings

Along the way, I couldn’t find a suitable plastic box to house the remote unit. I got the brilliant idea to make a 3D box for it – having never done so before! This required learning a new CAD system – Tinkercad. It took 3 tries to get it right, but the design improved dramatically with each iteration.  With that under my belt, I had planned to use a stock plastic box for the receiver, but a 3D box would be so much better.  I got a good box design after two tries.  For those who have never done 3D design, the tools today are quite impressive. Once the design is complete, I used an online service to choose a fabricator to make it, often in 2-3 days. Printing each box in ABS costs under $20. In the last iteration, I combined both boxes into a single print.

3D view of remote boxes

3D view of receiver box and lid (top), remote control box and lid (bottom)

My one regret is not making a 3D box for the processor unit. This would have been a bit more complex design and costly. It would have saved quite a bit of rework on the stock plastic box. If this is ever made into a production product, a 3D processor box would be great.


I wrote the microcontroller software using the Arduino IDE, in C++ code. While the Teensy 3.6 processor can run at up to 192 MHz, I run it at 120 MHz as more speed is unnecessary and it reduces the power consumption slightly. I wrote the Android software in Java using Android Studio. As such, it may not be easy to port to Apple iOS.  Not something I’ve investigated. Android devices such as a 5″ quad-core phone with Android 6.0 and Bluetooth 4.0 can be had for as little as $50 and will work great with this project if you don’t already have an Android phone or tablet

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Installation Parts

2 – Waterproof connectorized cables , 6 foot, 4-wire, 18 gauge, with stubs
1 – Cable, 8 foot, 6-conductor, 22 gauge, stranded
1 – RJ12 Phone cord, 6-conductor, 28 gauge, stranded, preferably black
2 – RJ12 6P6C crimp plugs (requires special crimping tool)
1 – Molex mating 12-pin Female connector #34729-0121
6 – Molex female crimp terminals #34803-3212 (sold in a string of 100)
2 – Male/Female 6-pin 10 amp Auto Connectors (comes in a kit of 5 pairs)
4 – Wires, 22 gauge, stranded, 1-2” long each
1 – Epoxy – two-part, for metal to plastic (also used in the prior section)
6 – Magnets – 10mm diameter x 1mm thick (ordered in prior section as a set of 25)
4 – Tie wraps as needed
2 – Adhesive tie wrap pads

For Tesla X or S Sept 2015+
1 – Diagnostics connector with ribbon cable (or similar). We no longer have a source for this part.

For Tesla S before Sept 2015
1 – TE Connectivity Data Connector Mfg Part#173851-2
12 –  TE Connectivity Connector Pins Mfg Part#173630-6

Processor Module Installation

You really want to install the Tshow processor module in the cabin. It’s a better environmental area than outside the cabin. Originally, I planned to install it in the inside front part of the center console, where it fits nicely. This is a rather hard place to get to, and it may need to be removed to update the software.  My car doesn’t have the pano roof or air suspension modules, so those areas were considered, but both are difficult to get to, and may not have enough free space for the Tshow processor module. I finally found a good place under the passenger seat. Easy to access and a good location to run wires.

The box is attached to the carpet under the passenger seat. The Velcro hooks will not hook into the carpet (I’ve tried all the versions they make). You need to use both the hooks (mounted on the box) and the fiber on the carpet. The best Velcro adhesive will also not work great on the carpet, so I used double-sided carpet tape to hold down the Velcro, which has more grip.  I’m sure there are other ways to do this. Obviously, you don’t want to drill/screw into the battery below the seat!

For placement, adjust the seat near full down and adjust front to back.  I chose a location where it is slightly less exposed, but the seat might run into it if at the maximum forward position. It will not hurt anything, but I don’t expect to move the seat that far forward. Leave room for the side and back connectors as well.

Under seat

Processor module under the seat – cables are attached in later steps

There are three cable paths needed for connecting the Tshow processor.

  • The Tshow LED assembly at the front of the car
  • The diagnostics connector for power and CAN bus connections above the “Cubby”
  • The remote control module, which is mounted in the center console.
Cables schematic

Cables schematic

CAN Bus Diagnostics Connector

Tesla has a diagnostics connector for our 12v power and two CAN busses (a total of 6 wires). You access this connector by pushing straight down on the center cubby (under the 17” display). It is only held in with two clips.  You can reach in and pull out two connectors – the 20-pin diagnostics connector is blue (refreshed S cars, Model X) or black (classic Model S).  You’ll also see a white 4-pin Ethernet connector you can ignore.

Diagnostics Connector Pinouts

Tesla diagnostic connectors

I built a cable that connects the 20-pin diagnostic connector via 8″ of the black 12-wire ribbon cable to one 6-pin female connector. The 6-pin male connector goes to the Tshow processor module female 12-pin connector. While unnecessary, I attached a 2nd 6-pin female connector to the remaining diagnostic leads, perhaps for a future project for other CAN bus connections.

A cable will run from the Tshow 12-pin female connector under the seat to the 6-pin connector in the cubby. This cable uses 22-gauge wires, as it may take up to an amp of power. Using thinner wires is not recommended, but thicker wires are difficult to fit into the 12-pin Molex automotive connector.

Tip – For the cable from the Molex connector, I attached the crimp pins to the cable for the 6-pin male connector, but didn’t insert them in the housing yet. I taped the wires/pins together so it is easier to route.  Once routed, the tape is removed and the housing attached.

On the same 12-pin Molex connector, I connected the 6” 4-wire female cable stub. This connects to the cable routed to the front of the car NeoPixels.  It is almost impossible to stick an 18-gauge wire into the Molex connector, so we need to add pigtails to the 4 wires. On the open end of the 4-conductor cable, solder 22-gauge pigtail wires and cover with the heat shrink tubing, and shrink. Crimp a terminal to each of the pigtails and optionally solder. See the testing section for how to insert these pins.

Route the wire from under the seat, under the passenger seat track near the center of the car. On the passenger footwell, pull back the carpet and side of the center console a few inches (do not remove it, but you need enough space to run the cables). It is only held in place by snaps, but some force is required to release the snaps.  Run the 6-wire cable along the inside of the console cover and up above the cubby.  At this point, I attached the 6-pin female housing that will mate with the 6-pin male housing that goes to the diagnostics connector.

Wire routing

Center console wire routing

Remote Control Installation

The remote really can be mounted anywhere you can see it and can press the state button. I elected to place the remote in the center console close to the USB ports, on the passenger side and used tiny magnets to hold it in place.  The rubber mat is easy to pull out. I drilled a small ¼” hole in the edge of the plastic where I’ll feed the wire.  In the larger console area, the bottom has a rubber mat, which also lifts out.

I used a 6-conductor black modular phone cable. I have a crimping tool and RJ12 6-pin connectors. This makes it far easier to route the wires without the connectors.   I attached one RJ12 connector to the Tshow module end of the cable. I routed it along a similar path as the 6-wire that goes to the diagnostic connector, under the seat track and along the inside of the console side cover. There is a hole at the top back of the console where the wire is routed. It’s a bit tricky to feed the wire through this area, so you may need to use a thin solid copper wire to help guide it.  With the wire now inside the console, run it along the bottom, passenger side where the rubber floor will cover it.  Feed the wire up through the ¼” hole I made earlier. Strip the wires and crimp the 2nd RJ12 connector. You’ll need an extra 8” of cable or so to do this, and once done the excess can be pushed back into the console well.  Be sure the wires on this cable have the same color wire on pin one of both connectors. Also, be sure the flat orientation is correct so it fits into the remote module without a twist.

Bizarre side story – The loose phone cable I purchased was defective and had 6 wires on one end, and only 5 on the other. I didn’t notice it while crimping the connectors and I spent at least an hour trying to figure out why it wasn’t working.  I had to remove that cable and start over with a replacement cable.  Never encountered anything like it before!

I cut a small slice in the large console rubber mat where the wire goes, but it likely is unnecessary. Insert the large rubber mat into the console floor. Ideally, the wire will fit into the channel and not make any bumps in the console floor.

On the smaller rubber mat, I cut a small cutout where the cable will feed to the remote module. Confirm the fit is correct.  Remove the mat.  Using the remote cover that has the 3 tiny magnets, I temporally attached 3 more magnets to the underside of the cover. Next, I placed the cover on the rubber mat in the location where it needs to reside. I added three more magnets to the underside of the rubber mat.  You may want to test the location by inserting the mat and confirming the location with enough room for the remote box when attached to the cover and that the console cover can close.

With the position set, carefully remove the mat. I then added a small dab of epoxy to each of the 3 magnets on the underside of the mat (not to attach to the mat, but to attach to the plastic under the mat. Carefully insert the mat and press down on the cover to get a good bond between the magnets and the plastic of the console.


Three magnets and RJ12 connector attached to the wire

After the epoxy is set (24 hours), remove the 3 temporary magnets and attach the lid to the remote module. Attach the RJ12 connector and set it in place. Push any excess cord down under the console.

Finished remote installation

Finished remote installation

Frunk Disassembly

I expect the way Tesla intended the T-badge assembly replacement is by removing the entire front bumper fascia. Not knowing how to do that (it may require a lift), I did it without touching the bumper, but it is far from easy.  My car is a refreshed RWD S, with the Biohazard filter. Other configurations may differ slightly, so you may need to improvise as needed.

With the frunk open, remove the center rear cover, the two side covers, and then the small front cover. These all snap out, there are no screws or bolts. Remove the cabin air-intake by first removing the two rubber drain tubes on the sides, releasing the two pull snaps above the drain hoses, and release the 3 plastic locking snaps near the windshield. The unit should lift out of place. Below that is the air duct to the cabin. It simply lifts up a few inches and then pulls out towards the front of the car.

Pull off the large rubber seal that is around the tub.  Remove the inner liner tub being careful to disconnect the LED and release button wires. The LED module connector is latched and is slightly tricky to release.

There are two 10m bolts that hold the tub in at the bottom left and right ledges. All the other bolts can be left in, as they hold the cabin filter. (The video shows two additional bolts being removed from the side of the ledges, but they can be left in). Release the two plastic locking snaps in the front and remove the tub, while pushing the wires and rubber gasket out.

Tshow LED Assembly Wiring

On my refreshed Model S (RWD), there was a hole in the firewall sealed with a black grommet. It is located about 10” down from the windshield and a few inches from the side of the car. It was partly covered by an aluminum foil sheet that I folded back.


Grommet in firewall

Remove the grommet.  Remove the front passenger door sill plate. The cable with the connector attached will fit through the hole and through a second hole about an inch in that comes out just above the passenger cabin fuse box.

You may need to thread a thin wire or string first and then pull the cable and connector through the firewall.  I cut a hole in the grommet slightly larger than the cable, and a slice to the edge of the grommet so it can be placed over the cable and reinserted into the firewall.

I routed the cable around the fuse box and down into the sill area with the other large cable bundle resides. When near the B-pillar I routed the wire under the seat track and under the carpet and out through the existing cut carpet patch. You only need an inch or two of cable exposed under the seat. I used a couple of tie wraps to keep it all neat in the cabin.

Routing wire along sill

Routing wire along sill

End of cable under seat

End of our cable under the seat through existing carpet cutout

Back in the frunk area, I applied some silicone around the grommet to seal out water and noise. Route the rest of the wire around to the front.  I use a couple of tie wraps and adhesive pads to keep it all neat. Tip: first clean the area with alcohol when you plan to attach an adhesive pad.  We’ll install the Tshow assembly next and attach its connector.

grommet sealed

Wire through the grommet and sealed

Installing the T-Badge LED assembly

Remove the two 10mm bolts that hold the bumper and the T-Badge assembly. If you lift up on the flanges, where the bolts held down the assembly, about ¼” you can unscrew the T25 bolt using a long shaft. This is tricky, as it is clearly not the way Tesla intended!

Now for the worst screw. In the center, there is one more T25 screw, which is easily visible, but a huge pain to get to.  It needs to be removed, but the frunk latch assembly is in the way.  I removed the electrical connector from one side and removed the pull cable from the other side to get a tiny bit of additional access. I used a low-profile hex bit ratchet with my T25 bit.

Reaching in with the ratchet, I could unscrew it. I needed to use my other hand from the other side to push on the back of the ratchet to keep it from falling out. It took me about 30 minutes to do this – as there was only room to move the ratchet one click at a time. The screw was never loose enough to undo by hand.

With the 3 screws removed, there are four snaps holding it to the chrome part of the bumper. Push the assembly towards the windshield to release these snaps. You may need a plastic pry tool to help (don’t use a metal tool).  Once released, it should come right out.

T-badge assembly removed

T-badge assembly removed (top) and ready for our Tshow version (center)

Installing the new assembly with the LEDs is a bit easier. Move it into place and push onto the four light-blue snaps. Luckily the extra thickness of the 0.062 thick polycarbonate doesn’t cause a problem.  I installed the two side T25 screws in the inverse of the removal process. You do need to lift all the tabs up so the screws go into the hole properly. Not hard, but easy to drop a screw.

For the center screw, the new electronics’ box is somewhat in the way. My trick to getting the screw back in was to use a bare T25 bit, held in place with a finger on the end of the bit from the left. I used long-nose plyers, to turn the bit and screw it back in. This only took 5 minutes!

Connect the 4-pin connector to the cable and confirm that it works!

Important! – Reattach the frunk latch cable and the electrical connector.  Complete the rest of the reassembly, including attaching the electrical connections in the tub and the two drain hoses to the air intake assembly.

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Tshow Part 6 – Testing

by Moderator

While not necessary, it is smart to test the system before installation, in case there are any issues. To do this, you’ll need to make several test cables and have a 12 VDC power supply.  Parts can be substituted as desired.

Testing Parts (optional, but highly recommended)

1 – Power Supply, 12 VDC, 3 amps
1 – RJ12, Phone cord, 6 wire (length unimportant)
1 – Molex mating 12-pin Female connector #34729-0121*
6 – Molex female crimp terminals #34803-3212 (sold in a string of 100)*
1 – 6” of 2 conductor wire, 20-22 gauge
4 – 1 Wire, 22 gauge stranded, 1-2” long each
4 – Shrink wrap tubing, 1/8” diameter, ½” long
1 – Easy Connector female/DC power adapter jack (to attach to the power supply)
1 – Waterproof 4-pin connector female end, with ~7” long cable

* available from Mouser Electronics

Making the Test Cable Assembly

It is almost impossible to stick an 18-gauge wire into the Molex connector, so you need to add pigtails to the 4 wires. On the open end of the 4-conductor cable, solder the 22-gauge pigtail wires and cover with the heat shrink tubing, and shrink.  Crimp a terminal to each of the pigtails and optionally solder the wire to the terminal.

The Molex connector has slot numbers labeled as the top row 1 to 6, and the bottom row 7 to 12. Look carefully so you use the right slots. It is almost impossible to remove a terminal once clicked in place.  The terminals only go in at a single orientation, with the bottom row terminals 180 degrees from the top row.  You can use unused slot 6 or 12 as a test with scrap wire and terminal. The picture below from Molex may help too.

Molex terminal orientation

Example orientation of female terminal into a Molex 20-pin housing (we use a 12-pin housing)

For the 4-wire cable stub, insert the terminals into the following slots: Red to pin 1, Blue to pin 2, Green to pin 7, and Yellow to pin 9.

Take the 2-conductor wire and crimp a terminal to each lead.  On the other end, strip ¼” of insulation and tin the exposed wire. Attach the two power wires to the Easy Connector. Insert the plus lead terminal (as marked on the Easy Connector) into pin 3 slot, and the minus terminal into pin 8.

Important! Carefully inspect your work when done to make sure the right slots are used and the polarity is correct. On the Molex connector, seat the white locking cover in place.

test cables

Power supply and test cable and short 6-wire phone cable


RECOMMENDED: If you used headers to attach the Teensy CPU, Bluetooth module, etc., you may want to power it up without these attached and without any NeoPixels attached. With a meter, verify the +5v is working at the DC/DC module output when you supply 12v power.  Note that the NeoPixel 5v power will be off until the Teensy is connected and powered up.  Power down, and insert all the modules. Test again and see the orange LED lights on the Teensy and the red Bluetooth light flashes.

With power off, connect the T badge light assembly to the 4-pin connector, and power up the 12v. If the software is not loaded, connect a PC to the USB connector and load the software from the Arduino IDE. It is safe to have both the 12v and 5v via USB at the same time. It is also safe to connect the USB only (no 12v) and the Teensy will be powered up (but little else).

With the software loaded, it should start and cycle through the startup where all LEDs are lit in white, then red, green and blue and then switches to the last state (typically off).  Remove the 12v power.

Connect the remote control using the RJ12 cable. Confirm the cable is not “twisted” in that pin 1 on one end of the cable must connect to pin 1 on the other end. This is the standard way the cable should be built, but sometimes they get it wrong. It may not matter for phone use, but it matters for this project.

Apply 12v power. Confirm the remote’s NeoPixels match the main display during the power-up sequence. Use the button to rotate through the different states.  The Remote shows a mini-view of the main display.


If the A-Diff and B-Diff connections are swapped, the NeoPixels will stay off or perhaps light up in yellow or all white. This causes no harm, but it indicates the two diff wires are backward.

After the power-up sequence (about 5 seconds) The LED on the Teensy Processor should be a dim orange, showing the clock being sent to the Bluetooth module. The Bluetooth module has two LEDs. The blue LED is on when connected to the App.  The red LED will blink three times every second indicating it is in command mode (normal).  Occasionally it may blink twice, indicating data mode.

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Our Tesla WiFi guide shows you the why and how of WiFi along with troubleshooting tips and tricks. (Oct-2019 update).


Why Connect to WiFi?

Tesla recommends connecting to WiFi while at home if you have a network connection available. In some cases, updates through WiFi get priority over those Tesla sends over the cellular connection.  You can also use WiFi to tether the vehicle to the internet through your phone. This can save you money after the 4 years of free cellular connection expires, or if you have a poor cellular connection in your normal travel area and have a better connection via your phone.

  • 2.4 GHz WiFi (All Model 3 and S/X cars built after Feb-2018 have 5 GHz support as well).
  • Must use WPA or WPA2 security, or no security (The obsolete WEP standard no longer works with 8.0 software and later)
  • Allows a VPN with UDP without a short timeout (see technical below for explanation)
  • WiFi must have an internet connection

Making a Connection (S/X)

At the top of the main display, tap on the signal strength indicator. A list of available and previously set WiFi connections will appear.

WiFi drop-down

Tap the one you want and if never accessed before, enter the password for your WiFi router. It will remember the connection and automatically connect when in range.  If you travel to another location and it has WiFi, you can use the same process to add additional connections.

To add a new WiFi connection you can also go into settings and tap Add Network.

WiFi Settings

When you add a network via the dialog, there are a few quirks to be aware of. After you enter the password and press “Enter” on the keyboard nothing will happen. You have to tap “CONNECT”. It usually takes about 30 seconds to validate and connect. If it fails, it usually does within about 1 minute.  In either case, it doesn’t directly tell you if it succeeded or failed. If succeeded, the security and password and a button “FORGET NETWORK” will be grayed out and cannot be selected. If it failed, These options will be available and the “CONNECT” button also remains. You can then try another password.

We’ve also identified a Tesla bug that if your password has a single quote symbol, the password will be rejected. This should be an allowable password character and we’ve laboriously confirmed all other symbols on a US keyboard work fine in a password.

Most Tesla sales offices and service centers have free WiFi. It will connect automatically without needing any entry. If your vehicle is in for service and has an open service order, and the vehicle needs a new update, the update will be downloaded automatically while at service.


The vehicle’s WiFi antenna is in the right side mirror housing on both LHD and RHD vehicles. The best signal strength occurs with a minimum of walls and objects between the antenna and your WiFi router. The image below shows the mirror with the back removed. The smaller rectangular antenna on the left is the WiFi antenna. The larger antenna is for cellular.

WiFi Antenna

Model S/X mirror housing  (prior to March 2018)


The vehicle’s WiFi hardware is located behind the main display. When a connection is made, Tesla uses a VPN (Virtual Private Network) with UDP (User Datagram Protocol). What this means is the data passed through the connection will be secure and low-latency.

Testing in Your Vehicle

When the vehicle is connected via WiFi, at the top of the main display the five-bar cellular signal strength indicator changes to the WiFi icon with arcs for signal strength indication.

You can try any of these three easy tests:

  • Maps – Move the map to a new location or zoom out. The gray areas should fill in quickly.
  • Music – Select Streaming and select a category to play. Confirm the music plays.
  • Web – Select the browser and enter a site like Teslatap.com.  The home page should display.

Testing WiFi

We wrote a WiFi Meter app for Android phones and tablets. While we don’t think you need it (and it costs all of $0.99), it may be helpful to some.  It gives you a far more precise indication of signal levels at different locations, a speed test and a number of other WiFi details and helps to explain what it all means.

WiFi Meter


When the vehicle is using WiFi and you drive away outside its range, the vehicle automatically switches to the cellular connection. This switchover can take a few seconds, and if you’re listening to Streaming music, it may force the next song to start playing, even if the prior one was not completed.  It seems more transparent when switching from cellular to WiFi.


Weak signal

Many owners find they get a weak signal in the Tesla from a home router. Typically, the router is far away from the garage and the signal must penetrate many walls, greatly reducing the signal level. If the tests above are slow or erratic, you may want to improve the signal to your vehicle. Solutions to consider include:

  • Move the location of your WiFi Router
    If you can move the WiFi router closer to the vehicle, it should increase the signal strength. Often hard to do, so one of the other solutions may be required.
  • Get a new WiFi router
    If your router is more than a few years old and/or a bottom end cheap router, it likely performs poorly in general.  Most routers that are provided by your Internet provider are also usually bottom end devices that will contribute to the problem. Look for a premium WiFi router that connects to your internet connection. Note that there are different connection types – DSL, cable modem or Ethernet to your internet equipment. See below for our recommendations.
  • Get a WiFi Extender (also called repeater or booster)
    These devices are located halfway between the router and your Tesla. It picks up your WiFi signal and then re-transmits it – extending the range of your WiFi. The device only needs a power plug – no other wires are necessary, although most also provide one or more router ethernet ports. See below for our recommendations.
  • Move your vehicle to a better position
    You may get some improvement by just moving the vehicle.  Position the vehicle so that the right side mirror is closer to your router.

Doesn’t work or you never get updates

Here’s our list of possible fixes:

  • Reboot
    If WiFi had been working fine, but just stops working, try a reboot in the Tesla. Press in both scroll wheels for about 15 seconds, until the main display goes black. A reboot takes less than 60 seconds, but WiFi may take some additional time to get reestablished – less than 2 minutes.
  • Remove and Reconnect
    Go into the vehicle and select the antenna icon at the top of the display and go into WiFi. Remove your current connection, reconnect and enter the password.
  • Use 2.4 GHz WiFi (S/X built prior to March-2018)
    Most WiFi routers use 2.4 GHz or a mix of 2.4 and 5 GHz. If your router is set to only accept 5 GHz or perhaps a setting of “N only”, the vehicle will not connect. Change the router’s settings to allow 2.4 GHz. Newer high-end routers allow both 2.4 and 5 GHz communications at the same time, which may be beneficial for your situation.  Model S and X built after February 2018 include hardware and software to support 5 GHz, as does all Model 3s.
  • Change Router Band
    On your router, check if the router is set to a congested or non-supported band. The Tesla hardware support bands 1-11, the standard in the USA. Some countries allow additional bands that Tesla cannot use, so if you’re outside the USA, be sure to use bands 1-11.  Due to reduced interchannel interference, channels 1, 6 and 11 can often be a bit more reliable than other channels.
  • Use WPA/WPA2
    On your router, confirm your WiFi is set up for WPA or better WPA2.  If you are using the obsolete and insecure WEP standard, the vehicle will not connect.  It will connect if you have no security, but we don’t recommend anyone leave a WiFi router set to No security. It’s not an issue for your vehicle, as all communications are encrypted.
  • Unblock VPN connections
    While most routers have no problems with VPNs, some may have an option to block/allow VPNs or it has a firewall that blocks a VPN. Check your router to see if there is a VPN blocking option and set it so it does not block VPNs.  VPNs use port 1194. Some routers have a firewall that blocks everything other than ports 21, 80 and 443. Allow port 1194 as outgoing. Note this is not the PC’s firewall, which doesn’t matter. This is a setting within the router itself and does not affect the security of your network.
  • Change UDP timeouts
    Some routers have a short UDP timeout that can screw up Tesla updates and downloads. If you can find UDP timeouts (not all routers have this option), for Unreplied and Assured, set the values to 60 seconds.
  • Switch to a Guest Network
    Most routers today offer a guest network option with a separate SSID WiFi Name.  Some complex home systems that have a DLNA server in the network (even if wired), seem to cause connection problems with the Tesla and/or make the Tesla keep connecting and disconnecting. A guest network connection on a separate IP, without any DLNA servers, often makes it all work.

Auto connects at one place, but not another place

For example, it works at home, but will not auto-connect at your summer cabin.  Check if both locations use the same WiFi SSID name. Only the details from one SSID name can be saved. If this is the case, change one of the WiFi SSID names so that they are not the same.

Recommended WiFi Routers

There are hundreds of WiFi routers, but like most products, there is considerable variance in the quality of WiFi supported, features and price. We’ve compiled a list of highly-rated WiFi routers over a range of prices that could enhance your Wifi to your Tesla and other devices in your home.  All support dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, have Gigabit Ethernet ports, and support the standards – 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.  Cost is the street price as of Jul-2019 and may change.​

Linksys TRENDnet TP-Link ASUS NetGear
Model EA6350 TEW-827DRU Touch P5 RT-AC88U X10–AD7200
Photo Netgear X10 AD7200
Cost $79 $100 $74 $222 $379
Released May-2014 Jan-2015 Apr-2016 Oct-2015 Sep-2016
Ports 4 4 4 8 6 + 1-10GB
USBs 1 2 2 2 2 – 3.0
MU-MIMO No Yes No Yes Yes
Other Touch-screen Tri-band;
Plex Server

MU-MIMO – allows multiple simultaneous communications on different channels. Especially desirable with 4K video and other devices on the WiFi network.

Recommended Extenders

Use an extender to provide more quality WiFi coverage in your house or garage. There are quite a few low-cost extenders in the $30-50 range, but most lack power and/or feature that you may want for other devices in your house. All those below support dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, have one or more Ethernet ports, and support the standards – 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.  Cost is the street price as of Jul-2019 and may change.

TP-Link Linksys Amped NETGEAR TP-Link
Model RE350 RE6500 TAP-EX2 EX7000 RE590T
Cost $46 $70 $46 $110 $55
Released Aug-2016 Jun-2014 Apr-2015 Jan-2015 Feb-2016
Ports 1 4 3 5 4
Other Strength LEDs Audio Jack Touch screen,
Touch Screen

This guide helps you understand the need for a dashcam and how to get one that best fits your requirements.  Primarily for Model S/X made before March 2018 that does not include the built-in dashcam. You can install it yourself with our guide or use a third-party installer.  (Feb-2021 Update)

Five Reasons to get a Dashcam

  1. Security – you’d like to record anyone messing with your car, keying it, or general vandalism.
  2. Accident Recording – If you’re a good driver and get into an accident, it’s more likely the other party caused it. Having a video record of the event can help confirm what happened.
  3. Parking lot bumps – Another driver bumps or scratches your car while you are away, and fails to leave a note. Having a video may show the event, the perpetrator, and their vehicle’s license plate.
  4. Third-party events – crashes or problems you’re not involved in, but would love to have recorded. This might be red-light runners or accidents between other cars in front or behind you.
  5. Video log of a trip – Record your travels to show your family, friends, or put your video on YouTube.

Comparison Guide

There are dozens of dashcams available today, but we’ve narrowed the list to a few popular dashcams that are good fits for the Tesla. There are a lot of budget dashcams. We don’t recommend them, as they usually suffer from poor build quality and low visual quality.  Our editors select and review products independently. We may earn affiliate commissions from buying links, which help support our testing.

Manufacturer BlackVue Thinkware Viofo
Model (links to Dashcam Store) DR590W-2CH, DR750S-2CH, DR900S-2CH, DR900X-2CH F800 Pro Bundle, Q800PRO, U1000 A129 PRO Duo
Product  BlackVue Dashcam  Thinkware Dashcam  Viofo Dashcam
Resolution Front 1080p 30 fps (590W), 1080p 60 fps (750S), 2160p 30 fps (900) 1080p 30 fps (F), 1440p 30 fps (Q), 2160p 30 fps (U) 2160p 30 fps
Resolution Rear 1080p 1080p 1080p
Price High High Medium
Included SD Card 16-128 GB 32 GB None
Max bit rate Mbps F=Front, R=Rear F: 10, R: 10 (590S), F: 12, R:10 (750S), F: 25, R 10 (900) F: 9.5, R: 8 (F) Unknown (Q, U) Not specified
Wide Dynamic Range Yes Yes Yes
Video Format MP4 MP4 MP4
In-Unit Video Playback No No Yes
WiFi 2.4 GHz (all) 2.4 & 5 GHz (900) 2.4 GHz 2.4 & 5 GHz
Bluetooth No No Yes
App Win/Mac BlackVue Viewer PC Viewer Dashcam Viewer
App Tablet/Phone Android and iOS Android and iOS Android and iOS
Audio Record Yes Yes Yes
GPS Yes Yes Yes
Backup Power Capacitor Capacitor Capacitor
Lens (Front) 139° (590W, 750S), 162° (900) 140° 130° f1.8
Lens Adjust Vertical only Vertical only Vertical only
LCD display No No 2” Color
Shock Sensor Yes Yes Yes
Motion Detection Yes Yes Yes
Max SD Card 256 GB 128 GB 256 GB
Function buttons 2 5 (F, Q), 4 (U) 5
Size (Front) 119 mm wide, 36 mm diameter 110 mm wide, 32 mm x 41 mm (F,Q), 64 mm x 111 mm x 32 mm (U) 56 mm wide, 83 mm x 40 mm
Volts/Current 12-24v, 400 mA 12-24v, 290 mA 5v, 3100 mA
Power, typical 5.6 W 4.1 W (F, Q), 5.1 W (U) 15.5 W
Manual User Manual 590W, User Manual 750S, User Manual 900S, User Manual 900X F800 Pro User Manual, Q800PRO Manual, U1000 Manual A129 manual
Released Feb-2018 (590W), Sep-2017 (750S), Apr-2018 (900S), Oct-2020 (900X) Sep-2017 (F800), Feb-2019 (Q800), Sep-2019 (U1000) May-2019

Each dashcam has several additional features, some unique to a specific brand. You’re unlikely to need or want to use those features in a Tesla, and we didn’t include them here. All three dashcams can be removed from the attached mount, have loop recording modes, have parking modes that only records when the image changes and shock detection to prevent overwrite of that video segment. They all do a good job at recording video in harsh conditions such as direct sun and nighttime.

Other Options

These are dashcams that other Tesla owners have purchased are worth consideration:

Azdome M06

Larger than most, it offers 4K 24 fps recording. It has a 170 degrees wide angle, f1.8 lens, GPS, and a 2.4″ LCD screen. The suction mount allows easy attachment/removal, but it not discreet when attached. Released December-2018.

BlackVue DR490-2H

The 2 channel model looks similar to the DR650 and upgrades the rear camera to 1080p recording. Do not confuse the very similar model name DR490L-2H which is physically quite different, but also offers front and back 1080p resolution. No WiFi in either model. No internal GPS, but external GPS is an option. Announced in July 2017.

Note that there are gray market sellers, where BlackVue will not honor the warranty. Buy only from BlackVue or authorized resellers. USA resellers include The Dashcam Store and HDVD.

Vantrue X4

The X4 has 4K 30fps recording with an f1.8 160-degree wide-angle lens. It includes a larger 3″ LCD screen. The suction mount allows for easy attachment/removal. GPS is an option. Released March-2019.

BlackVue DR590S/750S/900S/900X Summary

BlackVue dashcams have been very popular with Tesla owners in the past and I own an older model and the 900S. The 900S  and very similar 900X provides 4K recording, which we consider well worth it. Note that while BlackVue recommends buying PowerMagic, this is really for ICE cars and is unnecessary and should NOT be used in the Tesla S/X, but may be needed in the 3. Use of PowerMagic may actually stop recordings while parked on the S/X.


Includes rear camera (with 2-CH versions)
The smallest size of the choices
Single SD card to record both front and back cameras
Cloud option to access remotely over WiFi
WiFi to phones and tablets
Best looking dashcam
4K Recording (900S/900X)
Wider camera angle (900S/900X only) captures more useful video
LTE cloud option (900X only)


Low-resolution 720p rear camera (650S only)
No Wide Dynamic Range feature (although still quite good)
App required to change settings other than WiFi on/off

Thinkware F800/Q800/U1000 Summary

It offers a full 1080p rear camera and all the key features.  Thinkware has two very similar products, the newer F800, and the F800 Pro. The F800 non-pro and pro have really minor differences that may not matter to most Tesla owners. The Q800 improves the front camera resolution to 1440p and the U1000 ups the front resolution to 2160p.


Includes 1080p rear camera
Single SD card to record both front and back cameras
Cloud option to access remotely over WiFi
Optional hardwire kit available
WiFi to view on phones and tablets


When parked, always turns off in 48 hours with no disable option
App required to change most settings
F800 requires a 3-wire power (always on and switched power) making installation more complex. The Q800 can avoid this, but will not capture a bump when parked, only 20 seconds after the bump). U1000 does not have these issues.

Viofo A129 Pro Duo Summary

This is the bargain of the bunch while offering different features and high video quality.  The UI is lackluster, but at least it has one – others require the use of an app to change settings.  For the price, it is a good value, but the quirks diminish the shine and could be annoying to some users.


Includes 1080p rear camera
2160p High resolution
Single SD card to record both front and back cameras
Can take Jpg snapshots while video recording with a button push
On-screen display – can playback video and audio in the unit, confirm date/time, recording modes, etc.
Can be powered by USB
WiFi to view on phones and tablets
Good price


In settings mode, button choices can be confusing
Optional 12v to 5v hardwire kit required for Tesla ($11)
SD card not included (Class 10 SD cards are cheap nowadays)
Third-party app required for viewing on PC/Mac

Resolution Comparison

Here are two samples comparing a 1080p frame with a 1440p frame.  These were taken in the same location at the same time in my Tesla. The dashcams were about 5 inches apart.

Dashcam Resolution

Next, we look at the car on the far right at full resolution. Both are the same portion of the image, only cropped at 344×343 pixels. No image manipulation was done.  The portion from 1080p on the left makes it very hard to even tell what brand of car it is and it appears to be a black car. With the portion from the 1440p image on the right, you get enough detail to clearly make out the license plate, that the car is a grey Toyota Camry. If you know license plates, you can also tell it is a California plate.

Compare Resolution

The 1080p image came from a BlackVue DR500GW-HD, while the Viofo A119 was used for the 1440p image. Settings on each device for maximum quality were used, and the frames were extracted from video while the car was in motion. The latest firmware in each as of Jan-2017 was used. We didn’t cherry-pick these images – we compared multiple frames in different situations and saw similar results. We really wish more vendors would boost the video quality as it makes a huge difference.

We created a new resolution test with the BlackVue DR900S-2CH and the Viofo A119 in June 2018 in my Tesla. For this test we used the latest firmware for both, and used the highest quality options – 2160p extreme for the front DR900, 1440p for the Viofo, and 1080p using the DR900’s rear unit pointed forward. All three camera lens was within 3 inches of each other, running at the same time.

You can click on the image above to see a larger view (but 50% of actual size due to how large the image is).  We did brighten the A119 image slightly to give all three images a similar brightness but otherwise did no other modifications. We also carefully picked the images from each camera to be matched within one video frame time-wise.

The colors in the DR900 appear a bit more natural to us. The clarity of the A119 1440p image is very close to the DR900 2160p front camera, but the DR900 is capturing a wider view requiring more pixels. The manufacturer’s specs claim they cover the same wide-angle, which does not appear to be true.

We get some vehicle glare, which is typical of all dashcams. We normally use a polarizing filter to reduce glare but removed them for these tests. See below for more about polarizing filters. This last set of images were taken while the car was moving at 25 mph.  In other tests, even at 70 mph, the dashcam pictures hold up quite well. Ok, did you identify the silver car as a new Model 3 without a license plate?

Field of View

Another important issue is how much of the area does the dashcam cover. While no dashcam can show 180 degrees, several now offer a 160-degree view.  The wider the view, the more you capture of any events occurring. In this next image, we compare the Tesla built-in dashcam at 60 degrees vs. the 162-degree coverage of the BlackVue at the same spot, although not at the same time. We’ve also dramatically reduced the resolution of the BlackVue images to match the same height as the Tesla dashcam image.

Field of view

In this example, the Tesla dashcam image on the left was also adjusted for brightness and color.  The BlackVue image on the right is so wide, that parts of the car’s cream-colored A-pillar appear.

How Many Cameras?

The prime need is a front camera and covers much of what you’ll want to record. A rear camera is a bonus and gives you far more coverage.  Many owners are opting for a dual-camera solution today.

A few owners go all the way and install 4 cameras, getting full 360-degree coverage.  For example, using two BlackVue 900S-2CH cameras, you would mount one primary at the front, and its rear camera on one side. Mount the 2nd BlackVue on the rear to get full 2160p rear coverage, and use its second camera on the other side.  The lower resolution 1080p side cameras would be mounted in the front door’s small triangle window area.

If you have the built-in Tesla dashcam which has three cameras, the sides are fairly well covered, and a 4 camera third-party setup seems like overkill. Adding a front/rear for a wider field of view, higher resolution, and other features can still be of value and is what I did for my car.

What about Tesla’s Dashcam Feature?

Tesla provides some basic dashcam like abilities for vehicles with HW2.5 or later (vehicles built after July 31, 2017). Older vehicles do not get the dashcam feature, due to hardware limitations of the MCU and AP processor.  Those with MCU1 and have upgraded to the HW3.0 AP processor get 3 channels of the dashcam, but the quality is poor, as MCU1 does not have the needed power to provide good video.

With newer cars, four cameras are used for recording. This is at 1280 x 960 pixels, a fairly low resolution when compared with most dashcam alternatives. At this resolution, a license plate can only be read when the car in front is about 8 feet or less in front of you. Tesla also uses an odd frame rate of 36 fps. This makes it somewhat jittery when viewed on most video devices that require conversion to 30 or 60 fps.  Most third party dashcams start at 1920×1080 resolution at 60 fps (1080p).

Looking at the Tesla dashcam video, the side and rear cameras look good, but the front camera is quite dim with a greenish cast. This is likely the optical effects of the light going through the windshield glass. It can be compensated after the fact with increased brightness and contrast, along with some color correction in video editing software.  Here’s a frame in the full summer sun at noon, before and after correction using Photoshop.

tesla dashcam images

The recording is done to your own USB flash drive, up to 1 hour in 1-minute segments while driving. An option is available to save the last 10 minutes by tapping the dashcam icon on the display. This moves 40 1-minute files from the RecentClips folder to the SavedClips folder (i.e. they are not copied).

Sentry mode keeps the cameras and AP processor powered up to record events. This consumes about 250W costing about 1 mile of range per hour. Sentry events are stored in the SentryClips folder.

While this integrated option from Tesla is a welcome addition, the best quality will come from the installation of your own dashcam cameras. Features currently lacking in the Tesla dashcam that are available in high-end dashcams like the BlackVue 900X-2CH:

  • 4K resolution (front: 3840×2160 at 30 fps)
  • Front and rear recording (Tesla covers the front and both sides and rear)
  • Many hours of recording (depending on memory size)
  • Choice while parked of motion detection recording or time-lapse recording
  • Shock sensor to lock recordings and warning of shock event while parked
  • WiFi connectivity to view on tablets or phones
  • Automatic upload of view via WiFi to the Cloud when within WiFi range
  • Security indicators
  • Voice announcement of status
  • GPS tagging of location and vehicle speed into video
  • Player to seamlessly view the video, locate segments, and map tracking of location
  • Many settings to customize the operation
  • No effect to the range when parked or driving

It’s hard to beat the price (free), but not nearly as good as using a dedicated dashcam.

You may find our companion site CamMem to be helpful in understanding the Tesla dashcam, memory recommendations, preparing your drive, and troubleshooting.

Front Dashcam Location

Ideally, you want it out of the driver’s sight with the camera up high and centered on the windshield. For pre-AP cars and all cars with a very wide-angle dashcam like the DR900S, a good location is below the rearview mirror housing. On AP cars another option is to place the dashcam on the right side of the housing up higher if the mirror mounting doesn’t obscure part of the image. The right side may also be a better place so the dashcam gets the best signal for GPS. This location should have a ‘clear’ area that does not have the metallic IR shield and it may help to be near the glass edge. I’ve tested the GPS both on the right and also below the AP2 housing and GPS works fine.

Another consideration is if the dashcam’s function buttons are in reach or if that is even important to you. Rarely is there a need to change dashcam functions while driving. During installation, be sure the lens is not obstructed by the black area of the windshield or the mirrors/AP housing. Confirm the lens is in the area cleared by the wipers. Confirm the unit and power connector will not bump into the headliner or mirror housing. Leave room to make the unit removable too, which varies by dashcam selected.

Rear Dashcam Location

Position the dashcam at the top of the hatch glass, so the dashcam lens is centered in the hatch. Ideally, you want the camera lens to be unobstructed by a defroster line, but that may be difficult. If you ever expect to remove the rear mount, you may want to avoid placing any adhesive on the defroster line. When removing the mount, it will likely damage the defroster wire.

Always-On Power

You really want to keep your dashcam powered on all the time. The power use is minuscule in comparison with the battery capacity and you’ll be able to record events while parked and you’re away from your vehicle.

Keeping the power on is a problem on ICE cars, and various solutions designed for ICE cars works poorly on the Tesla S/X.  For example, the BlackVue recommends using the PowerMagic add-on. Do not use it in the S or X, but it may be necessary for the 3.  In the case of the Thinkware F770/F800, the 3 wire hardwire kit must be used to get around the power sensing limitation of its design.  For the A119, we’ve selected a hardware kit that works great in the Tesla. Be aware some other kits will power down when the 12v battery is low. Trust me, you do not want this to happen!  The Tesla 12v battery may appear “low” to a dashcam multiple times each day even while driving as the Tesla 12v battery is recharged automatically as needed from the main battery.

We’ve seen a number of reports that the Model 3 12V battery system does not play well with a dashcam that remains on while parked. It may show a 12V fault message and/or the 12V battery may need to be replaced.  One solution if you wish to maintain recording while parked in the Model 3 – BlackVue has a second battery backup option called PowerMagic Ultra ($299). Owners who have used this have reported no problems. Be aware it turns off the dashcam when this auxiliary battery gets too low. It should run the dashcam for about 24 hours when parked.

All dashcams come with a 12v cigarette lighter type power adapter. We recommend you try out your new dashcam before mounting using this connection. Get the hang of how the dashcam works and verify the video produced looks fine. Try out your planned mounting location before actually attaching it to ensure there are no visual obstructions. Since Tesla’s 12v power plug turns off when the car is off, it is a poor choice for day-to-day use.

Front Camera Installation

Before you begin, clean the windshield in the area you plan to install the dashcam. I’d even perform a quick test to confirm your planned location does not have any viewing obstructions. The dashcams have a very wide-angle, and some positions may have visual obstructions. For example, the A119 fits very well up high, about 1″ away from the passenger’s side of the AP/mirror housing, while the BlackVue may be better placed below the AP/mirror housing with the lens on the vehicle’s centerline. Don’t block the light sensor on the back of the mirror, on the driver’s side. On a pre-AP car, you may prefer to be up on the passenger side of the mirror mount.

On the BlackVue it has “PITTASOFT” in white letters on the bottom of the mount facing outside. We’d rather go more incognito so we used a black Sharpie pen to blackout this logo before mounting.


It may depend on the tools you have available, but we used a fish tape, a screwdriver with a T15 bit, a small flat screwdriver, a black sharpie pen, scissors, and several feet of string. Wire strippers and diagonals are useful for the wiring. Soldering iron and solder may be required depending on which power method you choose.


Microphone Panel Power (Model S)

Most Model S cars include an always-on power source in the headliner, behind the microphone panel.  To open this panel, pull down using your fingers, at the back edge. Two snaps will release and it will hinge down.


There should be a 4-pin, 3-wire connector taped to the panel, or in Europe, cars with the pano roof option may be connected to the intrusion module (part of the EU security package).

headliner connection

During a small period in late 2013 to early 2014, some owners were unable to find the connector and it may be missing or tapped up in the wire bundle. If missing, you’ll need to route the wires to another point, such as the ODB II connector in the driver’s footwell.

Intrusion Module Connector Pinout

Pin 1: 12v, wire color: Red/Dark Blue (older cars and AP2 cars), Tan/Black (after Oct-2014, before AP2). We’ve also heard one unidentified car had a gray wire!

Pin 2: LIN bus (do not use this wire), wire color: Light Green/Red

Pin 3: Ground, wire color: Black

Pin 4: Unused


Power Connection

You DO NOT want to install or use PowerMagic (BlackVue) on the S or X. It will only cause problems, but maybe needed in the 3. There are two microphones with 3 wires each. Do not connect to either of these, as there is no power on these connections. If you have the 4-pin intrusion module connector, this is the best source for always-on power. All cars made after September 16, 2015, have this connector, as do most 2012-2013 cars.

For a BlackVue installation, you’ll need the BlackVue Hard Wiring Power Cable. It may have been included with your package, but it not, you’ll need to get one.

We made a dashcam cable project that provides power without any cuts or modifications to your car using the same connectors as Tesla uses. It also works if you have the intrusion module or plan to buy one in the future.

Other power options (for all Dashcams) include:

  1. You can tap into the wires with 20-24 gauge red Posi-Taps.
  2. If the connector is not attached to an intrusion module:
    • You can use a male header strip. Cut off 3-pins of the strip and solder the red wire to pin 1 and ground to pin 3 (pin 2 is unused). Use heat shrink tubing to prevent shorts and clearly mark pin 1. I used a silver marker, but better to use red shrink-wrap on the +12v lead.  On my header, I pulled out the header center pin 2, which made it easy to tie wrap the header to the Tesla connector (to avoid coming apart under vibration).
      header connection
    • You can buy the mating connector – TE part 3-968696-2 along with two crimp pins 1-928918-1 (sold in a strip of 100).

For the Thinkware dashcams, you need to buy the 3-wire hardwire kit. The red and black power leads can be connected to power as shown above. The ACC yellow wire must be connected to a switched power source, so the Thnikware parking mode works.  While we didn’t install this dashcam, others have found the Tesla rearview mirror uses switched power and you may want to tap into this connection.

The mirror switched power wire color has changed over time. For older cars, you need to Yellow/Dark Green wire. For cars built after Oct-2014, the wire color is just Yellow. We have not confirmed the color in AP2 cars, likely still Yellow.

The mirror cable may be accessible from the microphone opening on pre-AP cars. It’s a separate bundle of wires, wrapped in black. With AP1 or AP2, you may need to disassemble the camera housing and locate the rear-view mirror connector and tap into the correct wire using a Posi-Tap. We recommend you first confirm it is a switched 12v power wire with a voltmeter. Otherwise, you may need to pull out a part of the headliner (quite difficult) to access the bundle of wires with the switched power.

Model X Power

We’ve not done a Model X install but can describe the power connections.

For always-on power, you’ll need to run wires up from the rearview mirror area up to the intrusion module’s 8 pin connector near the dome light.  Use the black wire, pin 1 for ground, and the red-blue wire, pin 4 for power.  Do not use the green data wire on pin 2.

For the Thinkware F800, you’ll also need switched power. You can tap into the 4-pin mirror power connector. Use the black wire, pin 1 for ground and use the red-blue wire, pin 3 for switched power. Do not use the green data wire on pin 2.

Model 3 Power

Model 3 uses an electronic fuse system, that if tapped into the wrong place, your dashcam will generate errors and problems!  Tesla was nice enough to provide a separate 10 amp circuit that is electronically fused for 15 amps. It is not used for anything else, but it is switched power – meaning the power turns off when the car turns off. Use Video1 and  Video 2 from Ingineerix to help connect to this power source in the cabin at the left footwell module.

Video Installation
Here’s how we installed a BlackVue DR900S front camera in our Model S in less than 4 minutes (ok, we made a few edits to cut out long pauses).

Routing Power to the Microphone Panel from your Dashcam

We want to remove the small visor receiver to make running the wire through the headliner easier. First, push the visor to the side. Using a small screwdriver, pop the plastic tab on the visor receiver. Be aware it is hard to snap open. Using a Torx T15 bit, unscrew the screw and remove the receiver.

Visor screw

Pull back the fish tape so the string is now hanging out both sides. Remove the string from the fish tape. At the microphone panel opening side, we tied the string to the power connector side of the dashcam power cable and pulled the string from the windshield side to get the cable through the headliner. Adjust the length and position of the cable to connect to the dashcam without a lot of slack. Remove the pry tool.

Other Power Sources

If you are unable to get always-on power in the headliner area, you can run the wires across the header and down driver’s or passenger’s A-pillar.

IMPORTANT: Do not push the wire into the side of the pillar! It houses part of the side curtain airbag. On the Model S, remove the pillar by first removing the small rectangular plastic tab that hides a screw.

A pillar

Remove the T25 screw and snap out the pillar cover from the top. The bottom may be tightly secured and has a connection to the tweeter. You can work with it still attached at the bottom and save some aggravation.  You’ll see a track in the pillar that is designed to feed wire without interfering with the airbag. Be sure to use this channel!

A pillar channel

The black side panel of the dash is held on with three snaps. Just pull towards the door to remove, and disconnect the FOB bar antenna. The lower under-dash panel is held with one screw and snaps downward. Be careful not to pull or damage the knee airbag behind the panel.

Feed the wire down to the ODB II port. You can use an ODB II port connector to get always-on power without having to tap into any Tesla wires. If you use a bare ODB connector, pin 16 is 12v, and pins 4 and 5 are ground.

Rear Camera Installation

A dual dashcam requires a wire that is routed between the cameras. Single cameras, such as using the A119 or any other single-channel dashcam for the rear only require power, although you can run power from the front dashcam area to the rear.  Most of our installation advice is for a Model S (all roof types), and portions will apply to a Model X.  The Model 3 has a unique problem of where to mount the rear camera with an all-glass roof.

Our example installation is for the BlackVue DR900S-2CH but is very applicable to other dual dashcams. We expect once you have the parts and tools at hand, the installation should take less than 2 hours, and perhaps under an hour if you are very skilled.  That said, it took us about 4 days, with camera setups, trying out different ways that might work, and reshooting segments that were not clear or needed a better angle.


You will absolutely need a Fish Tape. You’ll also need a 7mm socket wrench, a T25 screwdriver or bit to remove some screws, Pry tools, and other assorted items. We also used some string, electrical tape, and clear silicone sealant.


IMPORTANT: When routing the wire to the rear dashcam, it very important to do it in a way that does not interfere with the side curtain airbag deployment. In addition, you don’t want to accidentally puncture the airbag while routing the wire!

Connecting between the front and rear dashcams

We found a good way to route the rear dashcam wire is along the headliner, around the A-pillar, along the right side front door rubber seal, around the B pillar, along the right side rear door rubber seal, down around the rear cabin corner cover, through the liftgate rubber harness grommet, and through the liftgate.

Top view wiring

For the Model S, you will need about 19.5 feet (6 m) of cable. The BlackVue includes this length of cable. For our installation, we had less than 2 inches to spare!  This is partly because of careful routing to avoid the side curtain airbag and complex routing within the liftgate.

As an alternative (or on the Model X), you can go down the A-pillar and go along the sills. This approach will take more wire, often more than is included with the dashcam. You would be wise to buy a longer cable for your dashcam if you choose running along the sills such as a 10, 15, or 20 m BlackVue cable. We also explored some shortcuts, but each had problems or complexities, and we didn’t want to drill holes or risk interference with the curtain airbag operation.

Tips for a successful install

Do not route on the left side of the car (even on RHD vehicles). On the liftgate, there is a left and right rubber harness grommets. The one on the left is packed tightly with antenna wires and it will be difficult if not impossible to add your dashcam wire.  The right side has a group of somewhat thinner wires, that allows for the dashcam wire and connector to be pulled through.

On the current generation of cameras, we don’t recommend cutting and patching the cable. Beyond power, it supplies two-way data at very high speeds. While a splice may work, it could degrade the signal to a point where video becomes unreliable.

When attaching the rear dashcam, avoid placement where the adhesive is on a defroster wire. We don’t think the heat will release the adhesive (but who knows?). Our concern is if you ever remove the dashcam mount, it may rip off a portion of the defrost wire.

Cable Cover (optional)

You’ll see in the video we installed a cable cover to better hide the two wires that go to the front dashcam. This is not really necessary but makes for a more professional looking installation.

cable cover

Some owners have routed the wires through the AP camera housing, but we’re reluctant to do this, as there might be a small chance of knocking the AP camera out of calibration and it may require cutting exit points for the wires.

Our cover was made using HD Glass PETG filament in black, using 200 µm layer height, with support. Due to high cabin heat, while parked, you should avoid PLA as it will likely warp. Here is our STL design file that you can use to make the part:

Video Installation

Here’s a step-by-step actual rear camera installation in less than 18 minutes, although we trimmed some of the longer parts!

Rear Power Only

If the rear dashcam is stand-alone, you only need power, and the installation becomes easier.  While the power could be routed to the ODB II port near the driver’s footwell, there is a closer spot if your car has the power liftgate. In this case, you connect to the always-on power lead on the Hatch Control Module.

To get to the module, it is located on the passenger side, behind the trunk’s right-side panel.

There are two connectors going to the Hatch Control module, a 20-pin and a 10-pin. You’ll tap into the 10-pin connector.

Pin 8: Red/Gray (thick wire), +12v
Pin 7: Black (thick wire), Ground

You can use two 16-18 gauge blue Posi-Taps to make these connections.

Use the last portion of the installation video above to route the wires into the liftgate.


General Tips for All Dashcams

When you first apply power to any dashcam, it often takes 10-30 seconds to boot up and come online. The delay is not important in normal operation, as it remains on all the time.

To remove the SD card, first, remove dashcam power. Wait 5-10 seconds until it powers down. There is a backup capacitor to allow time to stop recording and properly stop writing to the SD card. Once powered down, you can remove the SD card.

When removing the micro SD card, press in to release. Keep a finger close behind it as it is spring-loaded and can pop out and easily get lost!

BlackVue – All Models

You must either install the BlackVue to your phone or tablet or install an app to your PC (Windows or Mac).  You should also download and install the latest dashcam firmware. Full instructions for BlackVue’s apps or installer here. For a PC, you must also decide if you want to use BlackVue’s innovative cloud service or move the SC card between the dashcam and your PC.

Use the BlackVue on a phone or tablet and connect via WiFi to the dashcam. Download the Android app from GooglePlay or iOS app from the Apple App Store.

Thinkware F800/Q800

You can get the latest Thinkware firmware at Downloads.  First, choose your Dashcam at the top (F800/Q800), and then select the Firmware. To upgrade to the new firmware:

  1. Unzip the downloaded firmware zip file
  2. Format your Micro SD card in your computer to FAT32
  3. Copy the unzipped firmware folder onto the root of the SD card
  4. Insert the SD card into your camera and turn on the power
  5. Wait for the camera to announce “Upgrade is now complete, continuous recording will now start.” Thinkware recommends not turning off the dashcam power until it begins continuous recording as it can cause permanent damage to the dashcam.

On the same downloads page, you can get the PC Viewer for both Windows and a Mac.  After downloading, run the downloaded file to being the installation.  You use this app with the SC card temporally removed from the dashcam.

Alternatively, you can use the Thinkware Dash Cam Mobile Viewer on a phone or tablet and connect via WiFi to the dashcam. Download the Android app from GooglePlay or iOS app from the Apple App Store.

Either method allows you to change various settings in the dashcam to suit your needs, and view videos.

Viofo/SpyTec A119

Download the latest A119 firmware and unzip the file (v4.0 as of this writing)

  1. Format the SD card by camera or on a computer as FAT32 (note Windows cannot format FAT32 greater than 32 GB – use an alternative utility or format within the dashcam).
  2. Insert the card in the camera and connect it to your PC using a USB cable.
  3. Copy only the LDBA119.bin on the root of the SD card.
  4. After LDBA119.bin is copied to the SD card disconnect the dashcam from your computer.
  5. Reconnect the dashcam to your computer and wait a few seconds until you see Mass Storage on the LCD screen.
  6. Delete the LDBA119.bin file from the SD card using your PC and copy the FWBA119.bin file to the root of the SD card. Disconnect the dashcam from your computer.
  7. Reconnect the dashcam to your computer and wait until you see Mass Storage, the front LED blinks while the upgrade is in progress. After the upgrade completes successfully, the FWBA119.bin file is automatically deleted by the dashcam.
  8. Now you can disconnect the camera from the PC and connect it to the vehicle’s power connection or if you want to experiment with it, power it from any AC to USB adapter (i.e. not the PC).

To change settings, if the Rec button is red (i.e. recording) press it once to stop recording – it takes a second, but should switch to flashing. Then press Menu. Ignore the bottom line of the display- the choices do not relate to button positions!

Use the < Rec and Mic > buttons to scroll through the setting choices and the center Warning button to view or change a setting.

When viewing a setting, the < Rec and Mic > buttons shift through the choices for that setting. To save a setting press the center Warning button. To exit without saving press the Menu button.

Here are our recommendations as a starting point for the settings:

Resolution: 1560 x 1440P 30 fps (default)
Loop recording (each file duration): 3 minutes (default)
EV (Exposure Value): 0 (default) or if using CFL filter: +1
WDR (Wide Dynamic Range): On
Time-lapse: Off (default)
Motion Detection: On
GPS: On (only works when connected to GPS mount)
G-sensor: (shock recording): Middle Sensitivity (default)
Time Zone: GMT-8 (for Pacific Standard Time)
others – leave at defaults

Enhancing your Dashcam

One simple enhancement is the installation of a circular polarizing filter (CPF) for your dashcam. This greatly reduces glare from windows and other cars. These are snap-on filters, so are easy to add.  The filter will reduce the brightness slightly, so you may want to increase the exposure a few stops in the settings.

BlackVue – Filter for the 900S/900X FrontFilter for the 750S/750X Front The cost is about $35.

Thinkware – F800/Q800 Filter is about $25.

Viofo/SpyTec – A119 CFL is available for $15

Viofo Snap-on CPL Filter

Micro SD Cards

Most dashcams use a micro SD card to record the video. Since video is continuously recorded to the SD card, it’s important to get a high-quality card designed for continuous HD video recording. A card rated for Class 10 is a minimum speed threshold and UHS-I is even better (and required for 4K video).  You may also want to get a card with high capacity, 64 to 128 GB to increase the storage time before the video is overwritten.

Typical recording time at maximum quality, 30 fps

Micro SC Card Size 1-channel 1080P 1-channel 1440p 2-channels 1080p 2-channels 2160p*
16 GB 3 hours 20 minutes 1 hour 49 minutes 1 hour 25 minutes 55 minutes
32 GB 6 hours 40 minutes 3 hours 39 minutes 2 hours 50 minutes 1 hour 50 minutes
64 GB 13 hours 20 minutes 7 hours 18 minutes 5 hours 40 minutes 3 hours 40 minutes
128 GB 26 hours 40 minutes 14 hours 36 minutes 11 hours 20 minutes 7 hours 20 minutes
* 2160p 30 fps front camera, 1080p 30 fps rear camera

Fake Drives

Be aware there are a lot of fake and damaged SD cards sold on-line. If the price is too good to be true, it’s a fake drive. Scammers have figured out how to remark a cheap slow drive as a larger capacity and override internal values to make it look like a larger drive. For example, a 2 GB drive is sold as a fake 64 GB drive. It will appear as 64 GB from your PC/Mac, even if you reformat it. After writing more than the real capacity, the data is either lost or overwrites earlier data, but no errors occur. When attempting to read the data, most of it will be corrupted.

To avoid a fake drive, purchase only a name brand and buy from retail or a trusted online retailer like Amazon, BestBuy, or Newegg. Avoid open packages and auction sites like eBay,  as many drives from these sources are fakes.  The scammer hopes you’ll not discover the drive is crap until the return period expires.

Limited Life

There are two types of flash memory – low-cost TLC, which can be overwritten about 500 times before failure, and the more expensive, but more durable MLC, which are at least 3 times as durable and can be overwritten about 1500 to 3000 times.  MLC cards usually have better error correction and wear leveling to further increase the lifespan. The larger the drive, the longer it will last, as the data is not overwritten as frequently.

Our Recommendations (all are long-life MLC types)
All of these drives are suitable for HD Dashcams. High-resolution 4K recording requires 25 MB/s write speed, and dual camera dashcams, like the BlackVue DR900S-2CH, requires 35 MB/s write speed in the highest quality mode. 

Micro SD Card Category Read Write
Samsung PRO Endurance 32 GB UHS-I U1 100 MB/s 30 MB/s
Samsung PRO Endurance 64 GB UHS-I U1 100 MB/s 30 MB/s
Samsung PRO Endurance 128 GB UHS-I U1 100 MB/s 30 MB/s
SanDisk High Endurance 32 GB Class 10 20 MB/s 20 MB/s
SanDisk High Endurance 64 GB Class 10 20 MB/s 20 MB/s
Transcend High Endurance 16 GB Class 10 12 MB/s 20 MB/s
Transcend High Endurance 32 GB Class 10 12 MB/s 20 MB/s
Transcend High Endurance 64 GB Class 10 12 MB/s 20 MB/s
Transcend Ultimate 128 GB UHS-I U3 95 MB/s 60 MB/s
SanDisk, other than High Endurance, is not recommended for BlackVue due to reported boot problems on some models.

We’ve identified most of the visible changes made between the 2012 and 2019 Model S. We know there are thousands of additional small and not-so small changes out of sight. Not shown are the extensive software updates and new features, since these changes are mostly included in all cars regardless of age. (Jul-2019 update)

General Changes
  • Adaptive air suspension (April 2019)
  • All-Wheel-Drive, with front motor
  • AM radio removed in Mar-2018 with new MCU2
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Autopilot hardware with 8 cameras, radar and 12 long range sonar sensors
  • Autopilot processor upgraded to HW3 with additional redundancies (March 2019)
  • Battery (12v) moved for easier replacement
  • Brake hold
  • Center console with options for additional cup holders
  • Charge port door auto-closes
  • Charge port lock/unlock quieter
  • Charger current boosted from 40 amps to 48 amps
  • Charger on single phase S/X 100 changed from 72 amps to 48 amps in Nov-2018
  • Collision avoidance
  • DRL LEDs are now wider and are very evenly illuminated
  • Efficiency improved, new front motor, bearings, and tires – LR version now 370 miles range (April 2019)
  • Electric steering upgraded with redundant power connections
  • FOB now has rubber surround with key chain ring
  • FOB operation changes – roll-down windows function removed, open charge port door added
  • FOB security improved (June-2018)
  • Front bumper style changed, eliminated nose cone.
  • Front carpets are held in place with Velcro tabs
  • Front cup holders no longer have cup grippers
  • Front defroster area now a screen (like original 2012-2013 cars, but ~2014-2015 cars had plastic vents that poked through the screen that didn’t look quite as nice)
  • Front door sills have a metal “Model S” insert instead of just black plastic
  • Frunk hatch is a single hook rather than two separate hooks
  • Frunk no longer has seal in hood with insulating membrane (just different, not better/worse)
  • Frunk smaller (to make room for AWD and HEPA filters)
  • Glove box a little smaller, no longer has a cavity for J1772
  • Headliner and side pillars in Alcantara rather than a fabric, black, tan or cream
  • Improved sound insulation
  • Instrument Cluster display has higher resolution (ok, very hard to tell visually)
  • LED Headlights
  • Left side stalks changed places (turn signal now upper stalk)
  • Lower outside panels are now body colored
  • LTE cellular (can be retrofitted to non-LTE cars)
  • Mobile connector button has no cut-lines
  • Mobile connector limited to 32 amps (Gen 1 could handle 40 amps)
  • MCU2 – new faster processor, improved Bluetooth (Mar-2018)
  • Models 40, 60, 60D, 70, 70D, 75, 75D, 85, 85D, P85, P85D, P85+, 90D, P90D discontinued, 75D returned with raven refresh
  • Model designation changed from battery size to terms like Standard Range or Long Range
  • No kangaroo pockets in front seats
  • Now shows tire pressures for each tire
  • Outside bottom rear facia no longer has a chrome strip
  • Placement of stitching on armrests moved from top to sides (should show less dirt over time)
  • Power folding side mirrors
  • Reading lights are now warm-white 2700K rather than the very blue-white 6000K in older cars
  • Rear doors open wider
  • Rear hatch’s rear chrome strip with “TESLA” now has a much stronger embossing
  • Rear license plate illumination is now LEDs
  • Rear electric brakes now do dual duty – braking and as the parking brake
  • Rear seats have “ISO FIX” buttons to indicate hidden child seat latches (all cars have the latches)
  • Rear seat higher headrests (for reduced whiplash risk)
  • Rear trunk well lid is stronger and better designed
  • Rear USB charge ports and rear cup holders in center console
  • Rearview mirror is narrower (which doesn’t matter much)
  • Right Drive stalk no longer illuminated at night
  • Shape of the trunk well is slightly different and perhaps slightly larger
  • Side parking lights are now LEDs
  • Slipstream wheels
  • Supercharger free for life changed to free 400 kW per year (on cars ordered after 2016, and in 2018, no longer free.
  • Supercharger locations greatly expanded from original 6
  • Supercharger power increased to 200 kW (April 2019)
  • Titanium battery shield
  • The 3-camera housing behind the rearview mirror is thinner than the single camera AP1 housing, and only slightly wider than the original rain sensor housing
  • Tire types changed several times over the years. Newest tires have sound deadening foam
  • Visors are taller
  • Windshield surrounding black paint no longer has the round dots transition from black to clear
Options – New and Changes
  • Air filters – dual activated carbon, optional in 2016, now standard in 2018
  • All-wheel drive, optional in 2014, now standard in 2018
  • Autopilot (AP1, AP2, etc.)
  • Carbon Fibre rear spoiler now standard on P100D
  • Enhanced autopilot (discontinued Feb-2019)
  • Fog lights, improved, optional and now standard in 2018
  • Full-self driving capability
  • Full-self driving pre-order unavailable
  • Glass roof, optional in 2016, now standard in 2018
  • HEPA Cabin Filtering, optional in 2016, now standard
  • High Amperage Charger upgrade (to 72 amps), discontinued in 2018
  • Longer range and higher performance with the 90D and P100D
  • Ludicrous on performance versions
  • Non-leather steering wheel (by verbal request only)
  • Pano roof, was optional, but now discontinued Nov-2018
  • Parking assist
  • Performance options for Insane and Ludicrous modes
  • Premium seats have adjustable front headrests
  • Quick connection phone dock
  • Rear facing kids seats – option discontinued Nov-2018
  • Sub-zero weather package with heated rear seats, heating steering wheel, wiper blade defrosters, washer nozzle heaters, was optional, now standard in 2018
  • Three position dynamic turning lights, optional now standard in 2018
  • Ultra High Performance Sound is now standard in 2018
  • XM radio now standard in 2018
Exterior Color Changes
  • Signature Red option only on Signature cars in 2012 in USA
  • Solid White discontinued, then returned July 2019
  • Metallic brown, grey, deep green and dark blue discontinued
  • Titanium Silver Metallic discontinued (introduced in 2015)
  • Deep blue added
  • Midnight silver metallic added
  • Obsidian black added, and discontinued
  • 2019 colors: Black, Midnight silver metallic, Deep Blue, Pearl White, Red
Interior Color/Surface Changes
  • Grey and Tan interior colors discontinued
  • Added Cream interior
  • Added Ultra-white interior
  • Leather seating option replaced with synthetic leather
  • Premium black seating surfaces now standard
  • Ventilated seat option added, removed, and now standard in 100D
  • Fabric seats a free hidden option (by verbal request only)
  • Ultra suede partial dash surface optional, now standard
  • Lacewood, piano black, obeche matte, obeche gloss decor discontinued
  • Figured ash and dark ash decor added
  • Carbon fibre decor standard on 100D, not available on other models
  • Interior colors and surfaces now set as a fixed package and cannot be mixed and matched
  • Interior brushed silver trim color changed to metallic graphite

This very useful article for owners and enthusiasts of Tesla’s vehicles was created by the long-time poster and relatively long-time owner, @J.T. We owe him a debt of gratitude for the last four years. It is currently maintained by @NKYTA, @JeffreyR, and @TeslaTap. We hope you find it useful as it decreases new posts on the Tesla forum for questions that have been already asked and answered.  🙂

If you can’t find what you want to know in the Owner’s Manual you’ll probably find it here. (Jul-2021 update)




Where is it?

Helpful advice before posting

  1. As of March 15, 2021, the Tesla forums became read-only.
  2. Search in the Tesla forum using the Search bar. Chances are it’s been talked about dozens of times. Also, TeslaTap’s Assistant Pro (TTAP) can filter spam, and improve the navigation & style of the Tesla forum.
  3. Please note that members of the Tesla forum are not privy to ANY time frames of ANY changes to ANY part of Tesla’s production.
  4. Tesla employees are generally not allowed to respond to posts. If you have a question you want Tesla to respond to, use the Contact form (not TeslaTap).

Quick Access

Including Pictures in the Tesla Forum

Image and video links in posts are not displayed but you can use TeslaTap’s Assistant Pro to make most images and video links automatically appear in-line.


Forum example where the video appears when using TTAP


In addition to the built-in forum search, you can use Google search supports the ability to limit search results to a particular site, so you can search for content on this forum using the following syntax in the search field:

site:forums.tesla.com  search terms

For example:

site:forums.tesla.com  autopilot

Here’s perhaps an easier method that eliminates the need to use the “site:” qualifier — just click the link below and enter the search terms:


Note the following:

  1. Search results might specify a different browser language than the one you’re using. The text will most likely be English, but dates and other keywords displayed by the forum software might be in a different language. If this bothers you, you can edit the URL of the search result and remove the language encoding.
  2. If you click on a search result and get a 404 Not Found error, it means the thread was either deleted, renamed (which changes the thread URL), or moved to a different forum. It takes time for the Google indexes to get updated to reflect those changes.


Tesla is a thinking person’s car. Some are ill-equipped for ownership.

  • The options, prices, standard equipment, and design can change at any time which makes it difficult to decide whether you want to wait for the next iteration or place your order and start driving the best car in the world sooner. Be aware that gallery and service center staff have no advanced knowledge of any upcoming/unannounced features so don’t blame them should something come along that makes you feel you should have waited.


What State of Charge (SOC) is best to promote peak battery health?

It seems like a really basic question, but our understanding of Lithium-Ion battery chemistry does not yield a “one size fits all” kind of answer. And Tesla’s position on this is “it depends.” One thing we do know for sure is that you want to keep your SOC above 20% and below 80%. That seems like a fairly big target, easy to achieve, but even that guideline has its detractors.

“My Service Center says to keep it charged to 90%!”

“The Set Charge screen shows 90% as the top end of Daily Use. Why would Tesla use 90% if it wasn’t good for the battery?”

The answer, unfortunately, is marketing. Range anxiety is the number one concern of new owners and prospective owners. So, if it was widely reported that Tesla boasts a 402-mile range on the Model S LR but only recommends charging the battery to 80% reducing the range to 322 miles people might start to lose confidence. Go into a gallery and look at the Dashboard of the cars on display. You’ll see most are kept at 100% SOC to demonstrate to shoppers the full range of the car. Now, we know keeping the car at 100% may be harmful for long periods of time, so it’s obvious that Tesla cares more about making the sale than the battery health of that car on display. Your Delivery Experience Specialist (DES) and your Service Center (SC) personnel will suggest charging the car at 90% to stay consistent with the marketing.

Many owners latch on to this “90%” rule for these reasons and add one of their own. “What if you need to make an unexpected errand and your car is only charged 70%?” My answer is, you drive to a Supercharger on the way add more electrons when you get low. Most people live within 150 miles of a Supercharger, or will soon, so it’s really not a huge concern for most people. “What if” adds a lot to the range anxiety of the uninitiated.

The only thing that cures range anxiety is owning the car for a few months and realizing that 95% of the time you might not even look at your rated range. You pack it in for the day, plug your car in, go to sleep and wake up to a car ready with more range than you need for almost all of your errands. Pretty nifty.

To add just a little more confusion to this topic you should be aware that when asked, Elon Musk and JB Straubel said that the “most comfortable” SOC for the Tesla battery is between 50% and 62%. So, if you need to keep your car plugged in for a couple of months at a time for vacation or travel set the charge level to 60%. This way Vampire Loss might take it down to 55% before recharging.

For a lot more on range see our Range University.

This brings us to the next highly debated section:

How often should I charge and should I keep the car plugged in even if it isn’t charging?

Tesla has made it clear as clear can be that it recommends keeping the car plugged in whenever possible. They even used to include in the glove box a card that said, “A Plugged in Tesla is a Happy Tesla.” Of course, people have asked why they should keep it plugged in all the time and Tesla came back with a very technical answer: “Because we said so.”

Of course, there are times when you can’t keep your car plugged in. But, there are times when Tesla can’t keep all of the cars at the factory plugged in so just how important can it be? Think of it this way. If you have your SOC set to 80%, and you keep the car plugged in all the time, a car that has 402 miles range or more at 100% SOC will always have at least 300+ miles of range whenever you get in the car. The chances of you running out of charge are pretty slim. A good habit to get into. However, if you thought you were going back out for the day and then didn’t, you might go to sleep and wake up to a car with only enough miles to get you stuck on the freeway. Not a good situation for Tesla should the local news get a hold of it. “Tesla Dies on Freeway Causing Massive Jam.” The story won’t affect Tesla owners, but range anxiety is the number one concern of non-owners, so it’s not going to help the cause.

Admittedly we do not all plugin our cars all of the time. But, most of the time we do. There’s really no good reason not to, and there might be some ancillary benefit, other than waking up to an adequate charge car, that we are not privy to. So, like Tesla and Nike say, “Just do it.”

Understanding Charging 

What’s Going On In My Battery? by @Anthony J. Parisio

Lithium batteries are very stable at receiving and giving power between 20% and 80% of charge. The curve is a straight line between these two points. That means it is like you are plugged into a wall outlet getting constant even power. In the period before 0% and 20%, they are very unpredictable. The 7000 cells in the MS pack can discharge at different rates that can lead to some cells having reduced capacity or even die over time.

The opposite end (80% to 100%) is also true. The 7000 cells in the MS pack can charge at different rates this might cause some cells to end up with reduced capacity or even die over time. The safest place to be is in the 20% to 80% range. I’m sure Tesla has some hidden space at the top and bottom of the range to keep you away from 0% and 100% but not all that much. They wanted to give us more range.

The reason this is true is that the lithium and graphite compounds used in the batteries are crystals. They grow and contract as the electrons populate and depopulate the crystalline structure. Crystals crack if you push them too far too fast! Cracked crystals are dead batteries. The electrons coming in and going out so fast and unpredictably at the top and bottom of the charge curve increase the chance of cracking. There is no known way to change this; it is the physics of the structure. See why the top and bottom are dangerous.

You will notice when using a Supercharger it will charge really fast at the beginning of charge time. As it gets closer to the top it will slow down. This ensures “not too much too fast.” This minimizes the chance of crystalline structure damage.

All this means is, stay below 80% and above 20% and your batteries will last many, many years. Occasionally going to 100% (which I will bet is not really 100%) is only okay if you are afraid you might not reach the next charge station.

Note To get a Supercharger where you want one

Note A great resource on home charging, plugs, and adapters

The EPA ratings of the Model S vary from 412 miles on the latest LR, to 390 miles for Plaid. The Model 3 LR has 353 miles of range. Most drivers won’t achieve these numbers on a regular basis due to the following factors:

  1. Elevation: Large elevation change is the biggest factor in Tesla’s range. When traveling up a steep incline, the battery will deplete much more rapidly than at the same speed on level terrain. Elevation drops are your friend, regen will add energy back into the battery.
  2. Weather: Batteries are less efficient in colder weather. Also, a lot of battery power is diverted to battery maintenance and cabin warming which affects reduces range. Wet pavement and snowy roads also reduce range.
  3. Speed: The faster you go the more energy it takes to overcome wind resistance.
  4. Acceleration: Just like in conventional cars jackrabbit starts wreak havoc on mileage. If you combine launching with driving fast, you will deplete the battery extremely fast.
  5. Tires: Summer tires are stickier than winter tires and reduce range. New tires need to be broken in and some owners have reported reduced range until they’ve put over 1000 miles on new tires.
  6. HVAC: AC does affect range a bit but not nearly as much as heat does.

It all comes down to Wh/m, Watt-hours per mile. An 85-kWh battery has 75.9 kWh of energy available to use. The remaining 9.1 kWh is reserved as a battery buffer to prevent bricking. So, we have 75,900 Wh of energy to go 265 miles in an S85 which means you’d need to average 287 Wh/mile to attain that mileage. JT’s lifetime Wh/m average is 346, therefore his rated range on a full charge gets me 219 miles. I live in the Northeast and naturally do much better in the warmer months (@307 Wh/m).

On the early S without the self-closing port door, if the charge port door is stuck closed and all the buttons are no help try the “karate chop”. Hit the right-most edge of the door with authority and it should pop open. Moisture on magnets or misaligned magnets is usually the culprit.

If your UMC is plugged in properly and there’s no green light try pressing the reset button on the back of the unit.

If your UMC doesn’t unlock, open the trunk, find a little door on the driver’s side, and pop it off. There is a small lever, which when moved, releases the Charging Plug. This was only on some cars – perhaps the 2014-2015 Model S and then all newer cars. (@drrob).


For the fastest response from Tesla about anything using the contact form on the Tesla website. Tesla wants you to be completely satisfied, but they are often slow to respond to contact information.

Operating Safely

This section goes over some important safety tips, including making the car safe and comfortable for pets and passengers while parked.

  1. Error! Water Damage & Safety
    1. Contrary to Elon’s joke about the Model S is like a boat, DO NOT drive through standing water. Tesla Technical Support warned, “This can permanently damage your vehicle.”
    2. Plus if the water is deep enough and moving fast enough you could be trapped and drown; be careful, be sensible.

To keep the accessories on for pets or passengers when you leave the car do one of these things:

    1. Have a passenger touch the screen and the accessories will come on; or
    2. Leave the door ajar and the accessories will not go off; or
    3. Use the E-Brake on the Control Panel and leave the car in Neutral and the accessories won’t go off; or
    4. You can also manage the climate from your phone in 30-minute intervals; or
    5. When parked, tap climate and select the option “Keep Climate On”. HVAC will remain on until the SOC goes below 20%.
    6. Error! ALERT:   If you leave by the passenger door everything will stay on until you turn it off from the MCU or reenter the car and open the driver’s door. This is by design, not a bug.
  1.  Lightning Information
    1. It is safe to sit in a Tesla vehicle and ride out a thunderstorm. Even if lightning strikes the car, you will not be injured nor will the car be damaged with the possible exception of a paint blemish where the spark contacts the car.
    2. Don’t try to Supercharge during a thunderstorm. A nearby lightning strike to a power line will find its way into the car where the resultant transient energy can damage sensitive electronic circuits throughout the car.


This section goes over some instructions and tips for getting and operating your Tesla. It also includes some enhancements to improve the whole experience.

  • Have a problem after delivery? In North America, call ownership at  +1-877-798-3752. You can also email ServiceHelpNA@tesla.com. You may find it’s easier and faster to just set up a service appointment from the Tesla phone app.
  • Door handles will NOT auto present after 48 hours of inactivity on the Model S.
  • Important! IMPORTANT: CELL PHONE INTERFERENCE. Cell phones can interfere with the key fob to car communication. Don’t keep them in the same pocket. A cell phone near your fob in your bag or purse may lock you out. The car does not “see” the fob and locks the car.
  • Yellow dotted lines on the energy graph are due to limited charging capability (regen) or limited power output (go). This can be because of a cold or full battery for the former, and cold, hot, or a low battery for the latter.
  • Important! IMPORTANT: COLD WEATHER OPERATION. We strongly suggest that any owner whose ambient temperature drops below 40°F prepare for the changes in vehicle range and operations.
  • You can attach a USB mouse to your car Some USB game controllers also work for the built-in games!
  • To change your Valet mode PIN do this: Press where it says you forgot the code and sign in using your Tesla account. Once you log in that way, the next time you enter valet mode you get to enter a new PIN. (proven)


This section goes over some instructions and tips for resolving common and not-so-common issues.

  • Rebooting solves many problems. If gremlins appear, press and hold both scroll wheels for 10 seconds to reboot MCU (Can be safely done while driving).
  • Warning REMOVE EVERYTHING FROM USB PORTS BEFORE REBOOTING.  (A bootable USB drive can cause boot problems)
  • For S/X prior to March-2018, to reboot the instrument cluster (IC) on your car hold both buttons above the scroll wheel. CAUTION: rebooting the IC in motion can be hazardous. Steering Mode may change, alert sounds will mute, the speedometer will be blank. Not used in newer cars or the Model 3 or Y.
  • To reboot both screens at the same time hold scroll wheels in for 40 seconds. (by @Amped Realtor)
  • To hard reboot the MCU (which takes longer to restart), press the brake pedal and hold the scroll wheels in for about 10 seconds until the center screen goes black.
  • After any software installation, some owners do a scroll wheel reboot.
  • Stuck Charge Cable?!! Remember if the doors are locked the charger cable is locked too.
    1. Hold down the cable connector button for more than 10 seconds; or
    2. Hold down the trunk button on the fob for more than 2 seconds (Model S or X); or
    3. Open the trunk, find a little door on the driver’s side, and pop it off. There is a small lever (available on some 2014-2015 Model S cars and most newer cars), which when moved, releases the Charging Plug. (@drrob)
  • Slacker problems? Try this
  • If the car won’t wake up press on the brake, hard, and do the scroll wheel reboot.
  • Important! CLUNK SQUEAL WHINE KNOCK THUMP CHIRP If your car is doing any of this checkout Tesla Tap’s Museum of Tesla Sounds and see if your sound is explained.
  • Is your calendar not Syncing? Try this tip from @KL: The calendar only updates when the Tesla app is on. So turn on the Tesla app every day that you want your calendar synced. It will only sync for today’s events and tomorrow’s.
  • If your Panoramic Roof doesn’t close after a software update here is a workaround until there is a bug fix: Just hold the pano roof close button on the screen for about 5 seconds. The bug is a false hand sensor trip. Holding the button overrides the hand sensor.
  • If you’re not getting the same rated miles on a charge as you had previously don’t fret; your battery is not dying. There is no accurate way to determine how many miles of range you will actually get out of a charge except to drive the car until it stops. What you see on your speedometer is a calculation based on an algorithm based on calculations of the state of charge of the battery: it’s a guesstimate. So, if a 90% charge got you 360 miles yesterday and today it only got you 355 just fuhgettaboutit and enjoy the drive. And if you tend to obsess about the number on your dash, a little electrical tape over the number will help. Or, change your readout to percentage and you’ll always see that exact percentage every morning. See our Range University for more details.

Contacting via Tesla Website

There are several ways to contact Tesla. If you have an idea or suggestion and are an owner, use the Contact link at the bottom of every Tesla page (not TeslaTap.com).  Select a topic like “Ordering a Tesla Vehicle”.

  • OTA updates take about 2-4 weeks to reach the entire fleet. We don’t know how it’s done.
  • Every new version is closely followed by sub-versions. which tweak the update. These are bug fixes. They usually don’t come with updated release notes. Go to Controls -> Software for your version number.
  • When the update is available for your car, an update notification will appear on your screen, and perhaps on your mobile device. You can initiate installation immediately or program the install to start at a later time. If you close the screen and did not set a time to install you can always touch the alarm clock icon at the top of the MCU to access the options.
  • An install can take from 45 minutes to as long as 2.5 hours depending on the scope of the update. While the car is installing the update it will appear dead at times, sometimes it will appear possessed. Regardless, you won’t be able to operate anything in the car until the install is finished. So, plan accordingly.
  • If you have a bootable USB drive attached, remove it before doing the update (ideally, USB flash drives for music or dashcam recording should not be bootable, but it could be if infected with a virus).

  • The Supercharger Superguide explains which stall is fastest to use when others are occupied.
  • Read this thread on advice compiled by @sbeggs for taking your Model S cross country
  • Experiment with travel conditions and range at evtripplanner.com
  • Here is @Blueshift’s excellent Supercharge Info which has very up-to-date status reports about new chargers.
  • Camper Mode When camping out in your car you can keep the Climate System ON by selecting camper mode from the HVAC panel by tapping the fan icon.
  • When staying at a hotel/motel where there isn’t a good cell signal, connect your vehicle to the WiFi if possible. This way your app will still work. (@mireille&conan)
  • For those with back issues or who get a stiff back after long rides, consider this suggestion: Increase the lumbar “out” and turn your seat heater on 3, whether or not you have a cold A/C in your face. Also, on a cross-country trip, my masseuse suggested using a tennis ball placed on the seat beneath my right glute, where the IT band travels. I also found it useful to place another between my lower right back and the seat. Apparently, long-haul truckers have been using this for decades. It helps! (@NKYTA)



The Owner’s Manual! You can read the owner’s manual pdf on any device by going to Tesla Account, selecting Manage on your car, and then Glovebox. The manual is also available in your car by going to Controls -> Software.


The Basics on Autopilot today:

  • Note Keep your hands on the wheel.
  • Note Keep your eyes on the road.
  • Note Keep your butt in the seat.
  • Note Keep the sensors clean.

Thanks to George Hawley for the information below.

  1. Autopilot is a catch-all term that includes a number of driver assistance features. It is not the automotive equivalent of autopilot in aircraft.
  2. Autopilot (AP1) features are only available in Tesla cars produced after September of 2014 that are equipped with a forward-facing radar transducer in the middle of the front of the car, a forward-facing HD camera in the front of the rearview mirror housing, and 12 ultrasonic sonar transducers, arrayed around the periphery of the car.  AP2 changed the design in cars made after October 2016 with 8 cameras, radar, and doubling the range of the sonar sensors.
  3. Basic Autopilot features are included with all Tesla cars today. For new purchases, there is also a Full Self-Driving (FSD) option you can buy with your initial order, or as an after-delivery addition. FSD is a set of features, many of which are still being developed.  In 2021 Tesla plans to offer a subscription service for FSD as an alternative to outright purchase.
  4. Autopilot with FSD currently includes Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC), Auto-lane change, Auto steering, Auto parking, and Summoning (operable both using the fob and using the updated iPhone app.) The Autoparking feature is parallel parking and perpendicular parking (the car backs into the space.)  Additional features are planned for the future.
  5. TACC enables the car to cruise up to a top speed of X mph set by the driver and to follow a vehicle, maintaining a distance that corresponds to the time it would take to reach that vehicle’s current position. The distance is also set by the driver. The control stalk is the small stalk located under the directional signal/windshield wiper stalk. The following distance basically sets the distance based on time to get to the location of the car in front of you. 1=.5 seconds and 7=3.5 seconds (i.e. 0.5 second intervals).
  6. TACC locks onto vehicles as small as a motorcycle.
  7. Autopilot functions are recommended for use in good weather on well-marked roadways, especially limited access highways. Functions depending on the camera are disabled when driving directly into bright sunlight.
  8. Autosteering requires hands on the wheel. It is disabled if there is no slight tug on the steering wheel by the driver is detected after about 30 seconds. The driver will receive a warning if the car senses that the driver’s hands are not on the steering wheel. After three warnings, AP is disabled until the car is stopped.
  9. Autopark is initiated by touching a prompting icon on the main screen. The icon appears after the car passes a candidate space. Autoparking requires the car to perform some internal calibration calculations and may not work when first tried.
  10. The ultrasonic sensors have a maximum range of about 16 feet in AP1 (first version) and about 30 feet in AP2 and AP3.
  11. Multiple software downloads have been delivered since the first availability of initial Autopilot features adding functionality and refining performance.
  12. Autopilot features require the driver to be constantly vigilant and prepared to take over control of the vehicle at any moment. It is a driver assistant feature, not full self-driving.
  13. Autopilot does not stop for a stopped object or vehicle that has not been previously tracked. FSD offers limited stopping with stop signs and traffic lights today.
  14. It is recommended to not use Autopilot in areas of road work or maintenance where there could be lane closures, mismarked lanes, or stopped vehicles in a lane.

  • Low profile performance tires wear quickly and provide a bit harsher ride.  Use non-low-profile tires for longer life and more ride comfort, at the sacrifice of some handling.

Tesla cars are activated through the use of a radio transmitter/receiver device in the shape of a miniature Model S or X, as appropriate. Model 3 and Y do not have a fob included with the vehicle purchase, but FOB can be bought afterward. This device is referred to in the owner’s manual as a key. It is referred to in Tesla’s FCC registration as a fob key. Most owners just call it a fob.

Its primary function is to act as a key to unlock and lock your car, to enable the car to operate, and to open/close the rear hatch, to open the front “frunk”, and in the case of the Model X, to open and close the side doors.

It contains a radio transmitter/receiver that emits and receives signals. For the Model S, Tesla uses 315 MHz in North America, and 433.93 MHz in the rest of the world. For the Model X, the fob only uses 2.4 GHz in the USA and may additionally use 315/433 MHz depending on the country. Each fob is uniquely encoded to operate a car with a designated VIN with an encrypted rolling code. The software in the car is able to recognize individual fobs and link them to the Driver profile of the person with that fob.

If the fob is not working, you can unlock the car and turn it on using the phone app.  In addition:

Model S: If the fob battery is low but not working there is a failsafe. For most 2013 and later cars, place the fob at the end of the passenger wiper that is closest to the center. For 2012 and early 2013 cars, place the fob on the passenger side fender.  In both cases, next press and hold a door handle for a few seconds and it should unlock.

Model X: Hold the fob on the driver’s side between the front and rear doors below the door opening and press the door handle for a few seconds. If this fails, remove the fob battery and try again.

The fob has a button-style battery to provide power, CR2032 in the case of the Model S, 3, and Y.  The Model X fob uses a CR2354 battery. It’s smart to keep a spare fob battery in the glove compartment.

The Model X fob batteries may not be commonly available. Order CR2354 online or at any Tesla service center. Battery life depends on usage, but 2-3 years is typical.

Fobs are not waterproof, and may not survive a washing machine. If this occurs, you can disassemble a Model S fob and try to dry it out.

More on Fobs:

Thanks to George H for the original contribution


Got an Idea?

  • All are coming “soon” (A four-letter word if there ever was one)
    soon adverb that time in the future about a minute after eventually but a second before pigs start flying.
  • Normally, no one in the Tesla forums knows when a car will arrive, new features will be released, or when that new update will get to your car.
  • Disclaimer: Tesla built a car, not a perpetual motion machine. Solar panels, wind turbines, wheel generators, and super magnets are not going to change that.


Fun bonus ‘easter eggs’ have been hidden by the clever programmers at Tesla.  Check out our list of easter eggs.

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Android Auto on Tesla?

by Moderator

Tesla does not currently offer Android Auto. We delve into what it is, what it might provide and issues that may slow or prevent implementation. Tesla has never stated if Android Auto will be available in the future and none of this article is based on any internal knowledge of Tesla’s plans.  CarPlay, a similar system for Apple devices is covered in another article. (updates Oct-2019)


Google’s Android Auto was launched in March 2014 and is available on one Hyundai car in 2015, and a few more in 2016, and quite a few more today. The design allows car-specific apps to appear on the car’s infotainment screen, with touch operations passed back to the phone.  Android Auto works through a standard USB connector. Only devices with Android 5.0 or later are supported with Android Auto.

Implementations are mostly done by a small number of third-party OEMs that sell the infotainment systems to major vehicle manufactures. We are not aware of any vehicle manufacture actually implementing Android Auto in-house.

Primary Features
  • Phone – take and make calls
  • Maps and Turn-by-turn directions
  • Music player
  • Text messaging
  • Google Voice commands
  • Web Search
  • Select apps are written specifically for Android Auto, such as Spotify, Overcast, etc.
  • Use of the device’s data plan
Possible Issues to Implementation
  1. Legal – there could be risks to the automaker if an app does something bad. Examples include flashing a distracting red/black screen, showing porn, or advertisements. This could be distracting enough to cause a crash. We don’t think this is a huge issue and may be dealt with a warning that using apps is the responsibility of the owner and Tesla does not validate applications.
  2. Licensing – Google offers a free license. Various patent licenses may also be required but may be part of Google’s license.
  3. Duplication – Quite a few features are duplicate of Tesla’s existing features. It is unclear if these can be removed or must be included. Some are clearly better than Tesla, while some are considered inferior.  If duplicates are included, it offers a confusing set of different interfaces and makes documentation that more difficult. Still, having more choices is often better – users can choose what they prefer.
  4. Advertising – It is unclear if the long-term goal is to include on-screen advertising to the user. This would seem to go against a premium product design such as Tesla’s vehicles. It’s also unclear who controls this and who gets the financial benefits. Overall, likely not a big issue if Tesla is allowed to prevent ads.
  5. Control – Implementing Android Auto is ceding control and style to an outside vendor. Future features and designs are outside Tesla’s control. This could benefit or harm Tesla’s direction. For example, if a gas MPG app were to be a “required” app that makes no sense on an EV, it just looks bad on the Tesla. On the other side, some new currently unknown app might be very beneficial to Tesla’s owners. One poster indicated vendors do have some control over what apps appear.
  6. Performance – Tesla uses a fairly high-powered quad-core computer for the infotainment system, so we don’t expect this is a limiting factor. Less known is the memory available to support Android Auto. We do know memory RAM and Flash memory are limited and adding Android Auto might require Tesla to remove or limit existing features. This could be solved in future cars with increased memory. A retrofit is also likely possible for older cars but could be expensive.
  7. Software – It’s unclear how much work is required to implement Android Auto. Our guess is it’s not trivial, but not huge either. Perhaps 2-4 man-years of software development. Some continuing engineering is also required to support future changes in Android Auto.
  8. Memory – With current software in MCU1, Tesla is really at the limits and has little room for additional applications. Tesla has shrunk streaming music buffers and may need to force a USB to reindex if higher priority memory needs occur. MCU2 has additional memory and has room for additional apps.
  9. Cost – There are no direct costs for use of the Android Auto software.
  10. Harm – We suppose it might be possible for a hacker to use an Android Auto app to hack into the Tesla and cause mischief. The implementation must isolate Android Auto so it can’t do any harm to other vehicle systems. Depending on Tesla’s current design, this might require a significant redesign of the base software, but we suspect it can handle safe isolation fairly easily.
  11. Competitor – With Google producing test autonomous vehicles, Google could be a future direct Tesla competitor. Tesla may not want to give up any part of the control of Tesla’s vehicles to Google. At the same time, Tesla already uses Google maps.
Android Auto Concept

Generally, Android Auto takes over the entire screen in landscape mode on small-screen cars. We presume that Tesla would provide an icon and pane for Android Auto. This is a mockup on how it may look. Perhaps Tesla can modify icon styles, text style and sizing to be consistent with the rest of the UI.

Android Auto on Tesla


Currently, Android-based devices can be controlled by Tesla’s vehicles over Bluetooth for phone calls, contacts, calendar, and music.

MirrorLink replicates the phone on the infotainment screen providing full access to the phone’s entire set of applications (not a limited Android Auto set). Tesla has stated some mirroring capability may be coming to the software. Until we see Tesla’s implementation, it is unclear if this will be better or worse than Android Auto.

Competitive Notes

Some automakers include Android Auto for free when the premium display/navigation is purchased. Others charge an extra fee. For example, BMW charges $300 on the select vehicles that have an Android Auto option.

Many major automakers are on-board with Android Auto, with many newer models with displays including Android Auto as a premium option.

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CarPlay on Tesla?

by Moderator

Tesla does not currently offer CarPlay. We delve into what it is, what it might provide and issues that may slow or prevent implementation. Tesla has never stated if CarPlay will be available in the future and none of this article is based on any internal knowledge of Tesla’s plans.  Google’s Android Auto is a similar system for Android devices is covered in a similar article. (updated Oct-2019)


Apple’s CarPlay was launched in March 2014 and is available on one car in late 2014 and a few more in 2015. Today a number of cars have CarPlay when a display option is offered. The design allows car-specific apps to appear on the car’s infotainment screen, with touch operations passed back to the phone.  CarPlay works through a proprietary Lightning connector. In the future, CarPlay may work over WiFi as well.  Only iPhone 5 variants and later are supported with CarPlay.

Implementations are mostly done by a small number of third-party OEMs that sell the infotainment systems to major vehicle manufactures. We are not aware of any vehicle manufacture actually implementing CarPlay in-house.

Primary Features
  • Phone – take and make calls
  • Maps and Turn-by-turn directions
  • Music player
  • Podcasts
  • AudioBooks and iBooks
  • Text messaging
  • Siri Voice commands
  • Select apps are written specifically for CarPlay, such as Spotify, Overcast, etc.
  • Use of the iPhone’s data plan
Possible Issues to Implementation
  1. Legal – there could be risks to the automaker if an app does something bad. Examples include flashing a distracting red/black screen, showing porn, or advertisements. This could be distracting enough to cause a crash. We don’t think this is a huge issue and may be dealt with a warning that using apps is the responsibility of the owner and Tesla does not validate applications.
  2. Licensing – Apple requires manufacturers to pay for and license CarPlay technology. The terms are not publicly available, so we don’t know if the terms are trivial or significant. Various patent licenses may also be required, but likely would be part of Apple’s license.
  3. Duplication – many of the features are duplicate of Tesla’s existing features. It is unclear if these can be removed or must be included. Some are clearly better than Tesla, while some are considered inferior.  If duplicates are included, it offers a confusing set of different interfaces and makes documentation that more difficult. Still, having more choices is often better – users can choose what they prefer.
  4. Advertising – It is unclear if the long-term goal is to include on-screen advertising to the user. This would seem to go against a premium product design such as Tesla’s vehicles. It’s also unclear who controls this and who gets the financial benefits. Overall, likely not a big issue if Tesla is allowed to prevent ads.
  5. Control – Implementing CarPlay is ceding control and style to an outside vendor. Future features and designs are outside Tesla’s control. This could benefit or harm Tesla’s direction. For example, if a gas MPG app were to be a “required” app that makes no sense on an EV, it just looks bad on the Tesla. On the other side, some new currently unknown app might be very beneficial to Tesla’s owners. One poster indicated vendors do have some control over what apps appear.
  6. Performance – Tesla uses a fairly high-powered quad-core computer for the infotainment system, so we don’t expect this is a limiting factor. Less known is the memory available to support CarPlay. We do know memory RAM and Flash memory is limited and adding CarPlay might require Tesla to remove or limit existing features. This could be solved in future cars with increased memory. A retrofit is also likely possible for older cars but could be expensive.
  7. Software – It’s unclear how much work is required to implement CarPlay as the interfaces are not public. Our guess is it’s not trivial, but not huge either. Perhaps 2-4 man-years of software development. Some continuing engineering is also required to support changes Apple will produce in the future.
  8. Memory – With MCU1 Tesla is really at the limits and has little room for additional applications. Tesla is already shrinking streaming music buffers and has to force a USB to reindex if higher priority memory needs occur. MCU2 has additional memory and should have room for additional apps.
  9. Cost – We don’t think the licensing fees are huge, but they could be based on a percent of the device (the car?) or require annual fees. It may be considerably cheaper for other automakers that buy an OEM head unit rather than Tesla’s integrated infotainment system. One poster who knows the costs indicated the fees are minimal.
  10. Harm – We suppose it might be possible for a hacker to use a CarPlay app to hack into the Tesla and cause mischief. The implementation must isolate CarPlay so it can’t do any harm to other vehicle systems. Depending on Tesla’s current design, this might require a significant redesign of the base software, but we suspect it can handle safe isolation fairly easily.
  11. Competitor – With Apple rumored to be a future direct Tesla competitor with Apple’s own EV, Tesla may not want to give up any part of the control of Tesla’s vehicles to Apple.
CarPlay Concept

Generally, CarPlay takes over the entire screen in landscape mode on small-screen cars. We presume that Tesla would provide an icon and pane for CarPlay. This is a mockup on how it may look. Tesla is not likely to get control of icon styles, text style or sizing other than a frame to display CarPlay.

Carplay Concept on Tesla


Currently, the iPhone can be controlled by Tesla’s vehicles over Bluetooth for phone calls, contacts, calendar, and music. Siri can also be used today with the iPhone’s own microphone.

Apple’s MirrorLink replicates the phone on the infotainment screen providing full access to the phone’s entire set of applications (not a limited CarPlay set). Tesla has stated some mirroring capability may be coming to the software.  Some Apple owners seem to feel this is an inadequate solution and would prefer to be limited to CarPlay applications. Until we see Tesla’s implementation, it is unclear if this will be better or worse than CarPlay.

Some users also add an iPhone dash mount, so they have full iPhone access today. While functional, it is not as nice as an integrated solution and uses the main Tesla screen.

Competitive Notes

Some automakers include CarPlay for free when the premium display/navigation is purchased. Others charge an extra fee. For example, BMW charges $300 on the select vehicles that have a CarPlay option.


Our analysis includes all Model S and Model X audio systems.  We’ll continue to update this analysis as Tesla makes further changes. As of mid-2018 and later, all Model S and X vehicles include Premium/Ultra High Fidelity System (UHFS).  The new Palladium 2021 LR and Plaid S/X have a new 22 speaker sound system. We’ll update this when more details are known.  (May-2021 Update)

System Features
Feature Model S
Model S
Model S Palladium Model X
Model X
Model X Palladium
Internet Streaming Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
USB Ports for music 2 2 2 2 2 2
USB Ports charging only 2**** 2**** 2- fast 3 3 3-fast
XM Radio** n/a Yes ? n/a Yes ?
Discrete Channels 2 5 ? 2 5 ?
Midrange and Tweeters 6 11 20 9 11 20
Subwoofer No Yes, 8” Yes, 8” No Yes, 8” Yes, 8”
Door/Hatch Chime 1 1 1 5 5 1
Speaker Magnets Standard Neodymium ? Standard Neodymium ?
Total Amplifier Power*** 200 W 560 W 960 W 200 W 560 W 960 W
Surround Sound No Yes Immersive No Yes Immersive
Active Noise Cancelling No No Yes No No Yes

*Originally called Sound Studio, then UHFS (Ultra High Fidelity Sound), and now Premium.  Prior to March-2018, included AM radio.
** In mid-2018, XM is included in all vehicle configurations. Prior to mid-2018, it required a Pano roof, as the XM antenna needs to go through roof glass. Cars in 2012/2013 without pano roof could have XM, as the antenna was mounted in the hatch glass on these older vehicles. North America Only.
*** Not stated as RMS, so presumed to be peak power, typical of vehicle audio specifications.
**** Refreshed Model S only, manufactured April 2016 and later

Speaker Components
Type Part Number Size Impedance
Subwoofer Bassbox 1004833-05-C 25 liters
Woofer Assembly 1004833-11-A
(speaker 1004833-03-A)*
8” (200 mm) 1 ohm
Mid-woofer 1004933-02-A 6” (160mm) 2 ohm
Mid-range 1004833-01-A 3” (80 mm) 2 ohm
Tweeter 1004833-00-A 1” (30 mm) 2 ohm

* It’s not clear the UHFS/Premium sound door speakers can be purchased from Tesla by itself. Only the assembly which includes the speaker is listed in the parts catalog.

Speaker Locations
Location Model S
Model S
Model X
Model X
Front Dash 2 – 1” tweeters
1 – 3” mid-range
2 – 1” tweeters
3 – 3” mid-range
2 – 1” tweeters
1 – 3” mid-range
2 – 1” tweeters
3 – 3” mid-range
Front Doors 2 – 6” mid-woofer 2 – 8” mid-woofer 2 – 6” mid-woofer 2 – 8” mid-woofer
2nd Row Doors 2 – 6” mid-woofer 2 – 6” mid-woofer 2 – 6” mid-woofer 2 – 6” mid-woofer
3rd Row, Rear Hatch 2 – 3” mid-range
1 – 8” Subwoofer
 2 – 3” mid-range 2 – 3” mid-range
1 – 8” Subwoofer
Amplifier and Speakers

Amplifier and 7 Speaker placement for Model S with Standard Sound

Amplifier and 12 Speaker Placement

Amplifier and 12 Speaker Placement for Model S with Ultra High Fidelity Sound

Amplifier and 17 Speaker Placement for Model X with Ultra High Fidelity Sound

Amplifier and 12 Speaker Placement for Model X with Premium Sound and 5 Chime speakers

Inside Tesla’s Audio System

The audio systems for both the Model S and Model X were originally designed by s1nn. Harman International Group acquired s1nn in early 2015. Harman owns major brands such as Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon, and Mark Levinson. They also produce high-end vehicle audio systems for a number of vendors including Audi, Bentley, Porsche, and now Tesla.

The audio system is integrated into the MCU by Tesla and manufactured by Tesla. The primary amplification module in all cars resides as the back part of the main display and provides 200 watts of power.

Rear of main display module with amplifier heat sink

The rear of the main display module (MCU1) with amplifier heat sink

In the standard system, each of the four 6” door mid-woofers and the 3” center mid-range get a separate 40-watt A/B amplifier (5 total). The tweeters are passive on the standard system and are likely powered by the two front door speaker amplifiers.

Ultra gets an additional 7 channel 360-watt class A/B amplifier that resides below and behind the instrument display. The Ultra configuration moves two of the 40W channels from the primary amplifier’s front doors to the two additional 3” dashboard mid-range speakers. The added amplifier provides 20 watts to each of the tweeters, 80 watts to each of the larger 8” front door speakers, 40 watts to each of the 3” rear hatch speakers, and 80 watts to the rear 8” sub-woofer.

The sub-woofer is mounted in the right rear corner and is not directly visible. Tesla uses a custom-designed 6.6 gallon (25-liter) enclosure for an improved low-end response. This enclosure is considerably larger than most other sub-woofer-equipped luxury vehicles.

Delving deeper into the design, the audio path uses a DSP (Digital Signal Processor) to better control the sound dispersion in the car for all occupants. This DSP is software controlled allowing the designers a great amount of flexibility to tune each speaker to the car.

It was reported by s1nn that the Tesla system includes Volume Management. This automatically changes the volume and bass level based on the vehicle’s speed (i.e. noise from outside) and the climate control’s fan setting (inside noise) to maintain clarity as these noise sources get louder or softer. My own analysis with a spectrum analyzer did not see any volume changes at different frequencies with fan speed changes, so s1nn may not have actually included this feature on our cars. This test was done with 7.0 software and an MS with the standard audio package for 800 Hz to 8 kHz.

Signal sources include Internet streaming via WiFi/Cellular, FM and FM HD Radio, XM Radio (in the North American Premium package), Bluetooth (compressed), and via the USB ports (MP3, FLAC, AAC, WAV, etc.).  S/X vehicles with MCU1 (made before March 2018) also include AM radio. Tesla includes a DAB/DAB+ radio in most cars outside North America as standard. Prior to mid-2015, DAB/DAB+ only came with the Premium package.

The early audio amplifiers are made in Hungary, while the speakers are made for Tesla in China. Most of the equipment appears to be created specifically for Tesla and is not a rebranded product. Tesla logo appears not only on labels, but molded into plastic parts such as the polycarbonate speaker baskets.

The tuner module for FM, FM HD, and AM radio for MCU1 cars was built by Panasonic Automotive in China and provides analog audio to MCU1. It is located under the dash on the far left. Premium systems have a different module that adds in XM radio. Outside North America, the module includes the DAB/DAB+ radio. MCU2 switched to a digital FM/XM tuner made by Harmon in Mexico.

Audio Optimization

Tesla offers a Dolby ProLogic Surround option with the Ultra system to convert stereo source maternal into surround sound on MCU1 equipped cars. The general opinion is this distorts music more than it helps, and should be left off. A software improvement was made in late 2017 that improved the quality, such that some owners now like the option. The system only supports stereo source material. For example, FLAC files support up to 8 channels, but only 1-2 channel mono/stereo files can be used from USB files.

With MCU2, Dolby Surround was dropped and a new Immersive Sound option became available. In listening to it off and active, we liked how it sounded. Worth trying out. All Model 3/Y cars and S/X vehicles made after February 2018 include Immersive Sound.

Tone and Balance Controls

Use the tone and balance controls to adjust the system to your personal preferences. For example, if you have some hearing loss in the upper frequencies you might increase the treble. If you listen to books or talk shows, you might increase the mid-range to improve vocal clarity. Be aware that other passengers may not have the same hearing desires as you so sometimes a compromise will be necessary.

equalizerWhile you can jack all the tone controls up to increase the volume, unless you really need that extra volume, it may add distortion between the bands. It’s is best to have a least one tone control set to zero and adjust the others to get the overall effect you want.

Depending on if you have any passengers, you may want to adjust the balance to the center or favor the front or rear soundstage. A standard system has weaker rear speakers, so you may shift the fade further back than those that have the Ultra system.


More on Audio

USB Flash Drives for Music
Streaming Audio
MCU2 Upgrade and the AM/FM/XM Radio Issues

Audio Enhancements
Project: Adding a Subwoofer (Model S)
Project: Upgrading Rear door speakers (Model S)

Press Release: S1nn (archived, scroll down below German version for English)



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Acronyms and Abbreviations

by Moderator

Here are many of the acronyms and abbreviations you’ll see on our site and commonly used at Tesla and on various forums (Jun-2020 update)

AC Air Conditioning (HVAC is the preferred acronym)
AC Alternating Current
ACC Adaptive Cruise Control
Ah Amperage for an hour at a specific voltage
Amps Amperage/Current
Ant Antenna
AP AutoPilot (software option in cars after 28-Feb-2019)
AP1 Autopilot 1 (software and hardware prior to AP2)
AP2 Autopilot 2 (software and hardware after AP1)
APP AutoPilot (Tesla Internal)
AWD All-Wheel Drive
BCM Body Control Module
BEV Battery Electric Vehicle
BMB Battery Management Board
BMS Battery Management System
CAFE Corporate Average Fuel Economy
CAN Controller Area Network (a data bus within a vehicle)
CARB California Air Resources Board
CC Cruise Control
CCC Courage, Clarity, and Confidence (opposite of FUD)
CCS Combined Charging System – An alternative clunky charging connection system forced on users in Europe and Korea, but only useable by about 10% of the EV market in the USA. Not compatible with Tesla vehicles in North America
CD Coefficient of Drag, and occasionally the Center Display (MCU)
CH Cup Holder
CHAdeMO CHArge de MOve, a trade name of a DC charger standard
CID Center Instrument Display
CMP Compressor
CO2 Carbon Dioxide Gas
CP Charge Port
CPU Central Processing Unit
CTM Come To Me (Smart Summon feature)
D Dual Motor (AWD)
DA Driver Assistance
DAS Driver Assistance System (i.e. Autopilot)
DC Direct Current
DES Delivery Experience Specialist – A Tesla employee who reviews the car’s operation with a new owner
DI Drive Inverter
DM Dog Mode, where the climate control stays on when the car is locked
DRL Daytime Running Lights
DS Delivery Specialist
EAP Enhanced Autopilot, discontinued for new orders after 28-Feb-2019; Rarer, EAP = Early Access Program
ECU Electronic Control Unit
EM Elon Musk
eMMC embedded Multi Media Card (Flash memory)
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
EPAS Electrically Powered Assisted Steering
EPB Electric Parking Brake
EPBL Electric Parking Brake Left
EPBR Electric Parking Brake Right
ESA Extended Service Agreement – Similar to an extended warranty, it provides parts/labor coverage beyond the first 4 years/50K miles
ESP Electronic Stability Program (sometimes called ASC – Active Stability Control)
EU European Union
EV Electric Vehicle
EVSE Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment – A unit between the AC supply and an EV for charging
FC Fast Charge (i.e DC charging via Supercharger)
FBOTD First Bump Of The Day (A comment in the forum to bump a topic back to the top of the page)
FD Falcon Doors (Model X)
FOB Electronic Key (not really an acronym)
FSD Full-Self Driving
FUD Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – often evoked intentionally in order to confuse.
FWD Front-Wheel Drive; often also used for Falcon Wing Doors on Model X
GF GigaFactory (for battery production)
GPS Global Positioning System
GPU Graphics Processing Unit
GTW Gateway
hp Horse Power
HPC High Power Charger (for Roadster)
HPWC High Power Wall Connector, now just called Wall Connector
HQ Headquarters (as in Tesla’s HQ)
HSPA+ Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (for wireless broadband)
HV High Voltage
HVP High Voltage Protect
HW1 Hardware 1 (referring to Autopilot S/X hardware prior to HW2)
HW2 Hardware 2 (referring to Autopilot S/X hardware after Oct-2016)
HW2.5 Hardware 2.5 (referring to Autopilot S/X/3 hardware after ~Jul-2017)
HW3.0 Hardware 3.0 (referring to Autopilot S/X/3 hardware released in April 2019 on new cars with a retrofit avaialble on older AP2 cars)
HVAC Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
HVB High Voltage Battery
IBST iBoost electromechanical brake booster system by Bosch
IC Instrument Cluster (display module and electronics)
ICE Internal Combustion Engine
ICEd When an ICE vehicle is parked in an EV charging stall
IEC International Electrotechnical Commission (for European plugs)
IIHS Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (for safety ratings)
IMHO In My Humble Opinion (often used in forums)
IMU Inertial Measurement Unit – used to help maintain  location info when GPS is lost (i.e. tunnels, etc.)
J/K Just Kidding (humor)
J1772 AC power charging connection standard by SAE
JIT Just-In-Time delivery, an inventory control system
kW Kilowatt (1000 watts, a unit of electric power)
kWh A kilowatt of electric power in an hour
LCD Liquid Crystal Display
LDW Lane Departure Warning
LED Light Emitting Diode
LHD Left-Hand Drive
LIN Local Interconnect Network
LR Long Range (Applies to M3, S, and X)
LTE Long-Term Evolution (referred to as 4G data)
MC Mobile Connector, previously called Universal Mobile Connector (UMC)
MCU Media Control Unit (17″/15″ center screen unit)
MCU1 Media Control Unit, Version 1 (S/X until March 2018)
MCU2 Media Control Unit, Version 2 (all 3/Y, and S/X starting in March 2018), with a retrofit option on older S/X cars
M3 Model 3 (but also commonly used for BMW’s M3 model)
mi miles
Model ☰ Model 3 (used unofficially by forum members, no longer used)
MR Medium Range (Model 3, now discontinued)
MS Model S
MX Model X
MY Model Y – The SUV version of the Model 3
NADA National Automobile Dealers Association
NEC National Electrical Code – A common US standard for building wiring and electrical work
NEDRA National Electric Drag Racing Association
NEMA National Electrical Manufacturers Association (for plugs)
NEMA 14-50 NEMA 50 amp AC power connection (for charging at 240 VAC, 40 amps)
NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (for safety ratings)
NN Neural Net (relating to part of the AutoPilot software)
OA Owner Advisor, Tesla employee
OCS Occupant Classification System – used to detect the weight of persons in front seats for airbag deployment
ODIN Diagnostics IN service
OEM Original Equipment Manufacturer
OMC Owner’s Manual Companion
OTA Over-The-Air – usually in reference to software updates via wireless links
P Performance, as a prefix to the model name
P3 Performance Model 3 with 75 kWh battery
P3D Performance Model 3 Dual Motor with 75 kWh battery
P3D+ Performance Model 3 Plus Dual Motor with 75 kWh battery.  Currently, the P3D has the plus features and the “+” is no longer used.
P3D- Performance Model 3 Dual Motor with 75 kWh battery, without Plus features (not an official designation)
P85 Performance Model S with 85 kWh battery, now discontinued
P85+ Performance Plus Model S with 85 kWh battery, now discontinued
P85D Performance Model S with 85 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, now discontinued
P90D Performance Model S with 90 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, now discontinued
P100D Performance Model S with 100 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, now called “Performance Long Range” in 2019
PCS Power Conversion System (i.e. charger)
PHEV Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (ICE/EV combo)
PM Pedal Monitor (supervision of the pedal operation)
PPU Pay Per Use, for charging either at Superchargers or other public chargers
PS Product Specialist – Tesla employee at galleries and stores
PT Pickup Truck
PTC Positive Temperature Coefficient
RADC Radar Center
RC Remote Control
RCM Restraint Control Module to control the airbags
RLSH Rain/Light/Solar/Humidity sensor (pre-HW2 vehicles)
RHD Right-Hand Drive (for Australia, England, Japan, etc.)
RKE Remote Keyless Entry
RPM Revolutions Per Minute
RR Rated Range (instead of Ideal mode)
RTFM Read the Fu.king Manual – For those who refuse to read the manual where items are clearly stated in the manual.
RWD Rear Wheel Drive
S40 Model S with 60 kWh battery, software limited to 40 kWh, now discontinued
S60 Model S with 60 kWh battery, discontinued, but revived June-2016, and discontinued again in March 2016
S60D Model S with 60 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, discontinued in March 2016
S70 Model S with 70 kWh battery, discontinued in June 2016
S70D Model S with 70 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, discontinued in June 2016
S75 Model S with 75 kWh battery, discontinued in September 2017
S75D Model S with 75 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, now discontinued
S85 Model S with 85 kWh battery, now discontinued
S85D Model S with 85 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, now discontinued
S90D Model S with 90 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, now discontinued
S100D Model S with 100 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, renamed as “Long Range Model S/X” in 2019
SA Service Advisor – Tesla employee contact for service
SAE Society of Automotive Engineers
SAE Combo Combo AC/DC charging standard by SAE
SC SuperCharger (usually)
SC Service Center (sometimes, use TSC as a better acronym)
SCCM Steering wheel Column Control Module
Semi Semi Truck introduced by Tesla in November 2017
SOC State of Charge
Soon Commonly issued by Tesla to state a timing from months to years
SR Standard Range – Model 3, 220 miles range
SR+ Standard Range Plus – Model 3, 240 miles range
SRB Standard Range Battery – Model 3
SvC Service Center (to avoid confusion with SuperChargers)
SWP Subzero Weather Package
TACC Traffic-Aware Cruise Control
TAS Tesla Air Suspension
TEA Score Troll Evaluation Alarm – indicates the likelihood of a troll providing fake news or fake information (i.e. 100% = All BS/Fake news; 50% = uncertain if true or not, 0% = not a troll).
TPMS Tire Pressure Monitoring System
TM Tesla Motors (not often used, as TM is confused with Trademark and Toyota’s stock symbol. Tesla Motors, Inc. name has been officially changed to Tesla Inc.)
TMC Tesla Motors Club
TMI Tesla Motors Inc.  (old name, now Tesla, Inc.)
TSC Tesla Service Center
TSLA Tesla’s Stock Symbol
TT TeslaTap
UDS Universal Diagnostics System (Tesla Internal)
UHFS Ultra-High Fidelity Sound (now called Premium Sound)
UI User Interface
UMC Universal Mobile Charger, now called Mobile Connector (MC)
USB Universal Serial Bus (Connector for flash drives)
V Volts, an electrical potential
VCFRONT Vehicle Controller Front on Model 3, front lights, HVAC, sensors, etc.
VCLEFT Vehicle Controller Left on Model 3, steering column, left seat, left windows, left mirror, locks, etc.
VCRIGHT Vehicle Controller Right on Model 3, right seat, right windows, right mirror, etc.
VCSEC Vehicle Controller Secondary on Model 3, security, alarm, charge port, trunk, frunk, etc.
VIN Vehicle Identification Number (see our VIN decoder)
W Watts, a unit of power
WC Wall Connector – previously known as HPWC
Wh Watt-hour, a measure of electrical energy equivalent to the power consumption of one watt for one hour.
WiFi Wireless local area network
WTF What The Fu.k- an expression of disbelief
X Model X
X60D Model X with 60 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, now discontinued
X75D Model X with 75 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, now discontinued
X90D Model X with 90 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, now discontinued
X100D Model X with 100 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors
XP90D Performance Model X with 90 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, now discontinued
XP100D Performance Model X with 100 kWh battery and AWD/Dual motors, now called “Performance Long Range” in 2019
Y Model Y SUV, expected in late 2020
YFFC Yacht Floor Front Console, now discontinued
YMMV Your Mileage May Vary
ZEV Zero Emission Vehicle

Thanks go to 2Cybers and Tesla Forum members for various additions to this list.


Before installing the amp in its final spot, it was relatively easy to test, adjust and confirm proper operation with the amp sitting on the floor.  Keep the amp’s plastic terminal block cover removed so you can see the status LEDs

System Testing on Floor


For testing and making adjustments, ideally, you’ll need audio test sounds. I used recorded sounds from the Alan Parsons Professional Audio Test CD.  This disk has many sound test tracks that are ideal for setting up the system.  Unfortunately, it appears this CD is out of print, although I’m sure there are others available that will work. Precision Test Signals CD on Amazon that appears to have most of the needed tests. The audio tracks you’ll need include:

  • A range of fixed frequencies from 20 Hz to 200 Hz
  • Frequency sweep from 200 Hz to 20 Hz or similar
  • Music track you like with deep bass

You’ll need to transfer the needed sounds or the entire test CD to a USB stick. I strongly recommend you use a lossless format such as WAV, FLAC or AIFF.  We really don’t care about the space used by the files as it is only for testing. You can simply copy the files from the CD to your USB stick using a PC or Mac – there is no need to convert them.

If you don’t have audio test sounds, it’s still possible to get a rough adjustment using just a music track with heavy bass. With an external level control, you can also tweak the level later on.

If you’re using a speaker in the trunk well, close up the well as you expect it to be when the project is complete. Close the liftgate, all windows, doors, and the sunroof.

If using a wired remote level control, set the control to the center position. Set the Tesla volume level to 8. On the Tesla audio screen, open the Tone screen and set all the settings to the center zero mark.  On the Fade/Balance screen, shift the levels to the center front (no rear speaker volume).

Setting the tone and balance

Depending on the amplifier, there are various adjustments. On the NVPA1 amp, we set the phase to 0 degrees, level to Min, Boost to 0 dB, and center the Frequency cutoff control.

NVX MVPA1 Adjustments


With the car audio first turned on (i.e. you’re in the driver’s seat), the NVX amplifier will show a red LED next to the switched power lead. After about five seconds, this LED goes out, and a green LED appears next to the always-on power side.  If this doesn’t occur, you may have a wiring error or one of the power leads is not providing 12v. Check the voltage and ground with a meter to identify which line might be at fault.  For always-on power, you might confirm you connected the add-a-fuse to the right fuse location.  For switched power with a basic audio system, it is possible that Tesla did not include the F8 fuse for this circuit, although it was present in my car. Unfortunately, fuse box 1 is very hard to get to where F8 resides.

If using the JL line converter, a green LED on the top of the box should be illuminated.  If not, check that the yellow lead is connected to always-on power, the red lead to switched power, and the black ground wire is connected to the ground.

Now we’ll test that the audio paths are working. Play a 50 Hz test signal (or music with known very low bass).  On the amp, adjust the level control to a point where you can confirm the sub-woofer is getting the audio signal.  If you are not getting a signal, you need to figure out where the signal may be blocked or failing. Never leave the amp’s level control at maximum to avoid blowing the speaker and your eardrums when you suddenly fix it!  Some of the things to check for:

  • Remove the RCA connectors from the amp. Use a secondary music source such as an iPod, CD player or any device that can produce some sounds through RCA line outputs. Connect the outputs to the amp and check if you can hear anything from the sub-woofer. If so, it will confirm the amplifier and speaker are working.  If this fails, check the speaker connections on both ends.  Note that the amp has four speaker terminals, but only the outside two are used (+ connection near the ground terminal, and the – connection next to the switch 12V power terminal).
  • With the amp and speaker confirmed working, from the JL line converter, switch from the variable line outputs to the fixed-line outputs.  Using the test tone, see if you now have audio. If the variable line output is dead, confirm it is securely connected (via the phone jacks) and the level control is set to the half-way position and try it again. My first line converter had a dead variable line output and I had to replace the unit.
  • If still no sound, remove all the RCA connections from the JL line converter.  Connect one RCA jack from the Tesla audio connector directly to the amp. See if that works.  If so, the line converter may be a problem.
  • If it still doesn’t work, switch to the other RCA connector as a test.  Check the wiring and confirm you’ve wired the RCA plugs to the correct Tesla wires or connector pins.


The Ultra High Fidelity sound system’s Sub-woofer line out provides the best source for your sub-woofer amp.  On basic systems, the left/right line-level and speaker outputs have an electrical peak at 100 Hz and drop off as you go to lower frequencies. There is almost no audio below 30 Hz. This is a good design by Tesla to not overload the existing speakers at frequencies they can’t handle but leaves us without a perfect source on basic sound systems for the sub-woofer. Still, quite a bit of low-end bass is available to significantly improve the overall sound.

    1. I adjusted the amp’s frequency cut-off and level controls using the 63 Hz, 80 Hz, and 100 Hz test tones to get an even sounding level and confirmed the sub’s sound at lower frequencies.  If you have a sound meter, this can be calibrated accurately. Cars with Ultra High Fidelity sound using the sub-line level output will handle the lowest frequencies without a problem. With basic audio, the line outputs and left/right speaker outputs have a sharper roll-off below 50 Hz, so you may want to compensate the level slightly to counteract this effect.  An audio purist might want to include a bass equalizer to obtain a flatter bottom end frequency response, although I don’t think this is really necessary.
    2. The amp I used also has a phase adjustment. Its purpose is to improve the crossover between the sub-woofer and the existing speakers.  To check and adjust, use a 250 Hz to 20 Hz sweep (Alan Parson test track 42, has four sweeps, where the 3rd sweep is 250 to 125 Hz, and the 4th sweep is the more important 125 to 20 Hz range).  Adjust the phase to reduce or eliminate any frequency dropouts and peaks for the cleanest sounding sweep, especially around 80 Hz. This is easier said than done, as you’ll likely find a few resonances at specific low frequencies that can’t be eliminated with the phase adjustment. If using a music source only, you may find it very hard to detect any difference at any phase setting and may elect to just leave it at 0 degrees.

If you have no audio test tones available and want a really rough way to set the controls, the following provides a guideline. The positions are with the base of the amplifier down (i.e. the mid-point of the control will be pointing to 12 o’clock.

  • Phase: 0 degrees, the 7 o’clock position
  • Level: With no wired remote level control, 12 o’clock.  If you have a remote level, set this to a bit beyond the half-way point, 1-2 o’clock.
  • Frequency: the 10 o’clock position

Final Assembly

With the adjustments complete, we can install the amp and wrap up the car!

  1. Attach the plastic cover over the amp’s terminals. Optional – attach a service label to the side of the amp where the RCA jacks are connected to make it easy for Tesla servicing to access the area if needed.
  2. Wrap felt around each set of RCA connectors and the level adjust connectors, using a tie wrap to hold the felt in place.
  3. Remote Level Control option – The line converter uses a 4-wire phone style connector and includes a very long cord so the level control can be mounted a long way from the line converter. Since we only need to span a very short distance, I replaced the included cord with a short 24″ cord. I fed it around the back of the bottom dash plastic plate and attached it with some Velcro to the bottom of this plate so I can reach it while in the driver’s seat. Make sure the control and wires do not interfere with the rectangular knee air-bag below the steering wheel. Optional: The level knob is round, so it is very hard to tell the position by feel. I elected to replace it with a knob that you can easily feel the knob’s rotational position. I used a Philmore Part 3060 knob, but there are plenty of other choices if you want this option.
  4. If using the Tesla audio connector, mate it with our connector and set the pink lever to its locked position. Fasten it to the right using a long tie wrap. This holds it in place similar to the original mounting.
  5. Looking into the rectangular hole, on the left is a flat surface where you can attach the JL converter with Velcro. I used some of the Velcro included with the NVX amp.
  6. Push any excess wires into the hole and install the amp with the bracket using the two T-25 Torx screws. Don’t forget to use a dab of threadlocker on the screws. You’ll need a fairly long shaft to tighten the screws.

    Dash showing the amplifier mounted

  7. Run one more quick test to confirm the sub-woofer is working and the remote control adjusts the volume over a suitable range.  While all the controls are easily accessible make any final adjustments on the amp.  You might even want to drive around for a day to feel comfortable with the settings and system before closing it up.
  8. Attach the lower-front padded panel. I start on the right side snaps first. On the left side, insert the lower two snaps and lock them into place as these are hard to do if the top snaps are already in.  Snap-in the two remaining top-left snaps. Insert the T-20 screw in the bottom panel that goes into the padded panel we just installed.
  9. On the side dash plate, attach the FOB connector. Before snapping it into place, be sure no wires will be pinched. Starting at the bottom, snap it into place.

Continued in Part 5: Results and Conclusions

or return to Part 3: Amplifier Installation

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Fun Videos, Cartoons, and Blogs

Easter Eggs

Easter eggs are hidden fun items that Tesla programmers have added over the years. Some of the more popular easter eggs were moved to the Apps menu -> Toybox. (Dec-2020 update)

Hidden Easter Eggs

  • Multicolor Charge Port – With the charger connected and a white ring (not charging, unlocked), on the handle, press the port release button 10 times in a row.  The port goes multicolor for about 10 seconds and then locks the handle. 
  • Ludicrous Mode Warp Speed – Switch from Sport to Ludicrous mode and hold the Ludicrous button for about 5 seconds – the screen will go into warp speed! (Performance S/X only)
  • Ludicrous Plus – gains about 35 hp and boosts 0-60 to under 2.4 seconds on a Model S! To activate, you need a Ludicrous equipped P100D vehicle.  Switch from Sport to Ludicrous mode and hold the Ludicrous button for about 5 seconds – the screen will go into warp speed and a new dialog appears “Are you sure you want to push the limits?”. Select “Yes, bring it on!”. Wait for battery heat, and activate Launch mode. As a bonus, the right side power meter adds a magenta arc for battery temperature. On the left, a new scroll-wheel selection is available “Readouts”.  It shows the instantaneous and max values for battery power, each motor’s power, and the longitudinal acceleration. (Performance S/X only)
  • Driving Rainbows – For autopilot equipped vehicles, and when autopilot allowed, pull the autopilot engage lever towards you (S/X) or down (3/Y) quickly 4 times in a row. The instrument panel will show a cool rainbow graphic as you drive and you may hear the audio from an SNL skit by Christopher Walken “I Got a Fever…” if nothing is playing.
  • Tap the center Tesla logo “T” at the top center of the main display prior to v2020.48.26 OR for v48.26 or later, press Controls -> Software.  Tap your vehicle name in right side of the dialog.
    • Enter one of these Monty Python references for the car’s name “Patsy”, “Rabbit of Caerbannog”, “Mr. Creosote”, “Mr Creosote”, “Biggus Dickus” or “Unladen Swallow” and press Save. A large foot squashes the dialog along with a short fart sound. On the MCU2 S/X and all 3/Y, if you enter Theater Mode, you’ll get a new Monty Python option that goes to the Monty Python YouTube channel.
    • Enter “42” to activate the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe” easter egg that changes the vehicle’s name.
  • Playing the Backgammon game – When a player’s game score matches a number 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, or 42, the value turns green instead of grey.  These are numbers used in the TV show Lost that tie characters together.

Access Code Easter Eggs

For each of these, prior to v2020.48.26 press and hold the Tesla logo “T” at the top center main display for about 8 seconds until the logo flickers. With 48.26 or later, Press Controls -> Software.  Below the vehicle image, tap the Model name.

The access code screen will appear. Enter the text to activate each easter egg.
Access Code

  • Enter “007” for cars with air suspension. Go to Controls, Suspension, and the vehicle is replaced with the 007 Lotus Esprit submarine from the James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me”. Heights are in fathoms! To restore normal graphics, repeat the process.
    007 suspension
  • Enter “performance”.  On some high-end models, you will get the choice to reduce performance to simulate other versions of the car. This only works in some versions like the 100D and was intended for sales demonstrations.  We are unsure if this easter egg is still available.
  • Enter “mars”. You can now navigate on mars!  Press the Earth icon to return to normal.  This is now available from the Apps menu -> Toybox.
  • Enter “holiday” or “ModelXmas” on a Model X and press Ok. Have your X parked out in the open as the FWDs will open as part of the fun. Exit the car and tap the top of the FOB once. This starts the coordinated holiday show with sound, door movements and lights!  It does require the X to be on level ground and nothing within about 6 feet as detected by the ultrasonic sensors. 

Voice Controlled Easter Eggs

Press the voice button and say:

  • “Ho Ho Ho” – for the Santa Sleigh with music. Say it again to turn it off.
  • “Ho Ho Ho Not Funny” – for a different song!
  • Keep Tesla Safe or Keep Summer Safe – Turns on/off Sentry mode

Phone App Easter Egg

  • When your vehicle range shows 121 miles left, in the mobile app, touch the battery icon.  Various app changes occur as a homage to the Back to the Future movie.  It starts with a pop-up message displays “Time Circuits Off” along with other changes such as the Charging Tab now labeled “Fuel Chamber”.  The vehicle location changes to “1600 S Azusa Ave Rowland Heights” a filming location.  A service appointment appears for “November 5, 1955”.

Discontinued Easter Eggs

  • Sketchpad – Tap the “T” at the top center three times quickly. The drawing app appears. (Now accessed from the Apps menu -> Toybox).
  • Team members – Tap the Tesla logo “T” at the top center main display, then press and hold the model signifier graphic for 15 seconds. The display changes to show Tesla’s team members back in 2012. 
  • Press and hold the phone button (not the one for music, but the old-time phone button to make a call). The words “ahoy-hoy” appear under the phone. This was Alexander Graham Bell’s preferred salutation when answering the phone. It is derived from the nautical “ahoy”. Thanks go to Jordan Richard for reporting this one.

Other Items

Joke: My Wife is Missing–

A husband went to the police station to report his missing wife:

Husband – I’ve lost my wife, she went shopping yesterday and has still not come home.

Sergeant – What is her height?
Husband – I really never noticed.

Sergeant – Build?
Husband – Not slim, not really fat.

Sergeant – Color of eyes?
Husband – Never noticed.

Sergeant – Color of hair?
Husband – Changes according to season.

Sergeant – What was she wearing?
Husband – Dress/suit/ I don’t remember exactly.

Sergeant – Did she go in a car?
Husband – yes.

Sergeant – What kind of car was it?
Husband – Arrest-Me Red Tesla Model S rear-wheel drive electric vehicle with a liquid-cooled powertrain with 100 kWh microprocessor controlled, lithium-ion battery, dual motors, drive inverter, and gearbox, three-phase, four pole AC induction motor with the copper rotor, drive inverter with variable frequency drive, and regenerative braking system and single speed fixed gear with 9.73:1 reduction ratio and has a very thin scratch on the right front door.… at this point, the husband started crying.

Sergeant – don’t worry sir…….We will find your car.


Center Console Retrofit

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The Tesla center console was offered as a retrofit for older Model S cars. Originally the cost varied depending on the wood and carbon fiber accent choices, ranging from $800 to $1,000, but it was later changed to piano-black only. Since about 2016, both the Model S and X have included the center console as standard. A retrofit used to be available through service for older cars.  The price was listed at $1250 for the console and installation.  The retrofit option was removed from the Tesla store in the Summer of 2020.

The Tesla center console has a closable storage area and several movable dividers that can be used to provide two additional cup-holders. It also has a small bin to hold a cellphone and power the phone (for select Apple and Android devices).  The installation will consume one of the two USB ports for the phone connection.

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