Why Is My Tesla Key Card Not Working?

Ah yes, the rage-inducing scenario where you’re late for work or caught in the rain, and to top things off, you find that your Tesla key card is not working!

Sound familiar? Well, whether you’re hastily looking for answers because you’re currently stuck or want to know what to do if you fall victim to this situation in the future, we have just the key solutions for you!

From bad weather to software glitches, this article explores why your Tesla key card is not working and what you can do about it.

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Why Is My Tesla Key Card Not Working?

Before delving into problems associated with Tesla Key cards, it’s essential to understand how the card works.

Why? You may wonderWell, knowledge is power, and a brief overview may help you better understand what you’re dealing with.

A Tesla key card is made up of the following components:

  • Outer casing; 
  • Copper wiring; and 
  • RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip.

These components work together to enable communication between your key card and car.

The basic concept of short-range radio-frequency identification technology.
The basic concept of short-range radio-frequency identification technology.
Source: SparkFun Electronics

Although encased, these components can still fall victim to damage and interference.

Now that you understand the materials, it’s time to accelerate your learning and look at what may happen to your card.

1. External Interference

Keeping your key card in your wallet is not ideal. Other cards in your wallet — or even the wallet itself — will rub against your key card and cause material interference.

So take the proactive approach and store your card in its own holder.

Where can you find these?

They are readily available from Amazon and come in soft silicon or carbon fiber material if you want ultimate protection!

2. Pairing

Let’s face it; modern-day life is quite busy. A fair percentage of your mornings probably involve a grab-the-key-and-go routine.

Because Tesla key cards come in pairs, the risk of grabbing the wrong key when you rush off in the morning is relatively high. Using this unpaired key will leave you scratching your head, wondering why your Tesla key card is not working! To avoid this scenario, ensure you pair both key cards with your EV.

3. Configuration Issues

No system or device is without its flaws, including your slim key card. These flaws often require software updates in the form of patches.

Unfortunately, some updates have been known to cause issues. So, if you find that your Tesla key card suddenly stops working, it could be a patch-related issue.

A simple “remove and reload” should solve this problem.

4. Incorrect Placement

The exact key card placement along the pillar of your car door is critical. Do this incorrectly, and your car won’t open!

Here is a short video showing you how particular placement is and how this may lead to a situation where your Tesla key card is not working when done inaccurately.

5. A Damaged Card

Unfortunately, accidents do happen!

If your key card is severely chipped, cracked, or even cut, it may no longer work properly. So, please keep your card safe and inspect it regularly for wear and tear. Doing so may help you avoid this frustrating situation.

6. Temperature Influence

As you’ll recall, key cards are comprised of several components. Naturally, these components will come into contact with different temperatures.

In extreme conditions, they may stop working (at least briefly). This often happens in icy cold weather and may require you to rub your card between your hands for a few seconds.

Related Reading: How Does Tesla Valet Mode Work?

How Can I Fix My Tesla Key Card?

General issues are pretty straightforward to fix.

Card too cold? Simply warm it between your hands.

Unprogrammed card? Oops! Just grab the other one.

However, some problems require more than a 20-second quick-fix. In these tricky scenarios, you need a little more troubleshooting knowledge. So here are five methods that will help you tackle these troubles a little more extensively.

1. Wait A While And Try Again

This may seem like the electric car equivalent of “putting a wet object in rice for 20 minutes and trying again”, but hey, it’s a tip that’s worth trying.

Sometimes systems experience software glitches, like when Tesla’s phone key system failed due to immense network traffic.

If your card fails, try waiting about 20 minutes and check to see if the problem sorts itself out before resorting to other measures.

2. Try The Driver Door Pillar

A Tesla key card held up against the driver door pillar.
A Tesla key card held up against the driver’s door pillar.
Source: Not a Tesla App

Some pre-2021 Tesla models allow you to unlock your car from the passenger side.
However, the newer models no longer allow this, and a correct placement on the driver door pillar is essential to successfully open your Tesla (as shown in the earlier video).

3. Resetting the Car

You may need to reset your car if you find your card isn’t working.

To do this, use the two-button method as follows:

  1. Ensure your car is in park mode.
  2. Hold down the scroll buttons on the steering wheel and wait for the screen to go black.
  3. Once reset, the Tesla icon will pop up,, and the screen will power up.

You can now try your key again.

4. Alternative Keys

So you’ve reached a point where your key card is no longer an option.

Frustrating, we know!

But thankfully, you have the option of using a phone key or key fob.

A Tesla key fob.
A Tesla key fob.
Source: Teslarati

A key fob and phone key both provide relief when locked out. Here is what each device entails:

AspectKey FobPhone Key
Product DescriptionA small button in the shape of your TeslaA mobile application
AccessibilityMust be separately boughtFree
FunctioningDoesn’t require a charged battery and can be used on the driver’s door pillarNeeds a charged phone
Susceptibility To InterferenceRadio frequencies can impact its functioning capabilityUnaffected by external radio interference

5. Use The Tesla Service Call Option

If you’ve made it this far, your problem is a little more serious, and contacting the Tesla service center is your best option.

Tesla provides numerous contact options, including emergency roadside assistance. You can access these numbers from their website.

How Do I Reset My Tesla Key Card?

You can reset your Tesla key card by uninstalling and reinstalling it.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Open the “controls” section on your screen and go to “locks.”
  2. Find the key you wish to remove and delete it with the trash button and place an already paired fob or card over the sensor to confirm the action.
  3. Exit, go back in, and select the sign in the keys section to reinstall.
  4. Scan your card over the sensor and verify it by placing an already paired fob or card over the sensor.

Related Reading: Tesla Destination Charger Vs. Supercharger (Key Differences)

Cost To Replace A Tesla Key Card

So you’ve exhausted all options and have no choice but to replace your key card. Don’t worry, these things happen!

Luckily, a replacement key card is easily accessible for purchase from the Tesla store and will cost you $35.

You can expect two key cards and a wallet when purchasing a replacement card from Tesla.
When purchasing a replacement card from Tesla, you can expect two key cards and a wallet.
Source: Electricwheels

You can expect the Tesla Model S, 3, X, and Y car replacement cards to come with two key cards and a foldable wallet.

It is important to note that the cards are compatible with S and X models from 2021 onwards and 3 and Y models from any year. Moreover, these cards only work from the driver’s side.

Related Reading: Tesla Full-Self Driving Vs. Autopilot (Capabilities compared)

Final Thoughts

Troubleshooting key card issues are frustrating and can seem quite daunting!

The best way to tackle your troubles is to start with the card. Look for damage and be aware of surrounding temperatures.

You may find that the problem runs deeper, and rebooting or resetting is required. This will take a little longer but often swiftly solves the situation.

When facing deeper waters, use an alternative key in the interim and call a Tesla service center for assistance. You’ll be back on the road in no time!

If you want to share your thoughts or ask us a question, please feel free to reach out to us in the comments section below! Alternatively, visit our forum or follow us on Twitter!

Charissa Worthmann
Charissa Worthmann

Charissa has a Master’s in Environmental Management (Environmental Science). Her research area of interest and expertise is in the interaction between energy and the environment. She practices as an environmental consultant and has extensive experience working on renewable energy projects.