How to Connect Tesla Model 3 to Wi-Fi (Troubleshooting Tips Included)

By Nicki Schill •  Updated: 06/23/22 •  7 min read

Know that feeling when your phone suddenly doesn’t have Wi-Fi connection anymore?

Yeah, it sucks. You feel totally disconnected, untethered from the internet and all its glory.

Well, let’s make sure you don’t feel that same pain with your Tesla Model 3.

A whole world of handy applications and knowledge is at your fingertips with your Tesla Model 3 as it comes with available Wi-Fi as a data connection method.

The biggest advantage? Keeping your vehicle connected to Wi-Fi while it’s parked will make sure your vehicle is running through all the software updates during its downtime. 

This way, your vehicle is updated and ready to go.

We’ll walk you through how to get setup on Wi-Fi to unlock the several cool features on your Model 3 like those automatic software and map updates. Plus, we’ll help troubleshoot any connectivity issues you might face.

Connect Your Model 3 to Wi-Fi in 3 Easy Steps

Not only is Wi-Fi often faster than cellular data networks, but also you have to consider those areas with limited or no cellular connectivity.

Remember that disconnected feeling? Let’s not repeat that.

Tesla themselves recommends leaving your Model 3 connected to a Wi-Fi network whenever possible.

So now that you’ve realized you want to take advantage of what Wi-Fi has to offer in your Tesla Model 3, here’s how you’re going to set it up (taken right out of the owner’s manual):

  1. Touch Controls > Wi-Fi icon at the top of the Controls screen. The Model 3 will begin to scan and display detected Wi-Fi networks that are within range.
  2. Select the Wi-Fi network you want to use, enter the password (if necessary), and then touch Confirm. NOTE: Sometimes it can take up to 30 seconds for the network to validate, so if it seems like nothing is happening, wait a little longer to see if the connection was successful.
  3. Then the Model 3 successfully connects to the Wi-Fi network. Whenever the network is within range, the vehicle will connect to it automatically.

That’s it. That’s all. Your Model 3 is now up and running on Wi-Fi.

Want a demonstration? Check out this short clip from CfTesla.

You’ll know it worked when the Wi-Fi icon displays at the top of the touch screen.

how to connect tesla model 3 to wifi
Image courtesy of TeslaTap

If you’ve got more than one connected network in range like in the image above, then the Model 3 will connect to the one most recently used.

Tesla Model 3 Not Connecting to Wi-Fi? Try These 4 Solutions

Just like any other piece of technology we use in our daily lives, you’re likely to run into some hiccups. 

Here are some helpful tips on how to stay connected when the Wi-Fi is giving you the gears.

Issue #1: Known Wi-Fi does not appear in the list


It could be that you’re out of range, so you’ll want to move your vehicle closer to the access point. If it’s your own personal Wi-Fi, maybe consider using a range extender or booster to spread your Wi-Fi further out.

Issue #2: Previous connection lost 


The age-old practice of turning on and off again might apply here. As noted in this Tesla Motors Club thread, users recommend performing a reboot on the touch screen.

Others had success by removing the pre-existing network connection entirely and adding it back in from scratch so that the vehicle recognizes it again.

Issue #3: Really weak connection


Other than the range booster we talked about earlier or physically moving the location of your Wi-Fi router, users have found that if you’re constantly seeing a weak connection, there might be a problem with the antenna.

The Wi-Fi antenna is located in the right-side mirror, so try to park accordingly where the antenna is closest to the Wi-Fi access point.

Still no luck? Either the antenna is not plugged into the board or it’s broken. This might be a good time to schedule a service call.

Issue #4: Tried everything I can inside the vehicle and still can’t get connected


Sounds like there might be an issue with your Wi-Fi router itself. Again, unplugging and replugging the router might be a quick fix.

Other Things to Look Out for In Your Router:

Can I Connect My Tesla Model 3 to My Phone’s Hotspot?

Short answer, yes, you can.

Hotspotting is a good option for those who are not willing to pay for the Premium Connectivity package offered by Tesla for $9.99/month. Check out this earlier post for a complete breakdown of the Premium Connectivity package.

If you’ve tried Premium Connectivity and now can’t live without streaming YouTube or Netflix in the vehicle or maybe you fell in love with the karaoke features, hotspotting will allow you to use your own mobile phone data plan to keep the good times rolling in your Model 3.

How to Hotspot:

  1. Navigate to your hotspot settings on your mobile device and turn it on. Usually, this is in your general settings or under connectivity.
  2. You’ll see the name of your hotspot network, along with the password to use.
  3. Enter that information into your Tesla Wi-Fi setting the same as you would any other network. Now you’re connected to your hotspot.

Watch YouTuber Grumpy Old Man and his EV as he connects to his hotspot.

Can I Make My Tesla a Wi-Fi Hotspot?

If you’re looking to turn the tables a bit and make your vehicle the hotspot, currently, Tesla is not offering that option.

As Tesla continues to add more internet-based entertainment features in their vehicle like streaming and live navigation apps, it makes sense they’ll need to look into improving their connectivity.

But if you can hold out a bit longer, it does appear they are testing the possibility of in-car Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity with several major internet providers.

Using Phone Hotspot vs. Premium Connectivity: Which One Is Cheaper?

At $9.99 a month or $99 a year, the Premium Connectivity option from Tesla comes in at a reasonable price for the amount of applications it unlocks.

There are some cheap mobile Wi-Fi hotspot plans that come in similarly priced, but big internet providers are going to be quite a bit more monthly, anywhere from $25 a month for AT&T or $45 from Verizon for unlimited plans. 

Users noted the added inconvenience of having to establish the mobile hotspot each time you get into your Model 3 as the vehicle won’t automatically look for it.

Heavy users of Netflix, Youtube, Spotify, or Slacker will praise the Premium Connectivity package, along with the real-time traffic views it provides.

If you’re looking for a fast, seamless, reliable connection at a decent price, the Premium Connectivity package seems to be the ticket.

You can always try it out and then opt out later if you don’t think it’s worth it.

Final Thoughts

Setting up Wi-Fi for the first time in the Model 3 is as simple as 1, 2, 3 once you’ve located your network. No worries there.

And when the inevitable happens and the connection gets interrupted, you’ve got some helpful tips on hand about rebooting or reconfiguring the router to get you back and running in no time.

Wi-Fi is necessary in so many aspects of our lives, and your Model 3 is no different. 

Enhance your driving experience with easy access to live traffic visualization and then entertain yourself while you’re at it by streaming some music and media. Best of both worlds.

Nicki Schill

Nicki Schill is a writer and content marketer out of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. As the former Geotab Marketing Manager, she’s got loads of experience in electric vehicles and fleet electrification. She’s a tech blogger and marketing guru who enjoys all things Canadian like hockey and poutine.

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