How to Lock and Unlock a Tesla Model 3: A Beginner’s Guide

By Zac Ludicrous •  Updated: 08/15/22 •  8 min read

Tesla can make the simplest of things quite confusing. I mean, just locking and unlocking the car can have the owners scratching their heads.

You can do it with the key fob or from the app, or Tesla does it itself… Every new owner has to look it up at least once. 

But not anymore as I’ll solve this mystery for you once and for all. Explained below are the several ways you can lock or unlock your Tesla Model 3. 

Let’s hop into the details.

How to Lock/Unlock Tesla Model 3

#1: Using a Key Card


  1. First thing first, hold the key card such that the side with the sensor is toward the vehicle.
  2. Place the sensor on the center pillar for 1–2 seconds until the car picks up the signal.
  3. When your side mirrors close, know that your Model 3 has been locked.
  4. The procedure is the same for unlocking the vehicle. Just wait until your side mirrors unfold, which means your car has been unlocked.

#2: Using a Key Fob

Key fob looking as sleek as the Tesla itself!


  1. Make sure your key fob is added to your Tesla system.
  2. Press the key fob’s front to open the frunk.
  3. Press the key fob’s middle once to lock the doors and twice to unlock the doors.
  4. Press the key fob’s back to open the trunk.

#3: Using the Tesla App


  1. Open your phone app.
  2. Locate the lock button as shown in the video.
  3. Just tap it to lock or unlock the vehicle.

#4: Using the Touchscreen


  1. Locate the lock icon on the Tesla Model 3 touchscreen as shown in the video.
  2. Tap it to lock or unlock the doors from inside the vehicle.

#5: Using the Walk-Away Door Lock


  1. First, you need to make sure that your phone, key fob, or at least one of them is paired with your Tesla and you’re carrying it in your pocket.
  2. Then enable the walk-away mode by tapping Control > Locks > Enable “Walk-Away Door Lock” as shown in the video.
  3. Now get out of your car and walk six feet away from the car, and you’ll see that your Tesla’s exterior lights will flash and side mirrors will fold. This indicates that your car has been locked.
  4. Similarly, if you walk toward your locked Tesla carrying your authenticated phone or key fob, your car will automatically get unlocked when you press the door handle.

#6: Using the Drive-Away Lock

Here’s what the Model 3 manual says:

“Model 3 automatically locks all doors (including the trunks) when your driving speed exceeds 8 km/h.”

It seems to be the default setting of the Model 3.

#7: Using the Manual Door Release

lock tesla model 3
Manual door release button. Credit to Tesla.

#8: Using the Park Gear

This is another method to unlock the Model 3 from the interior. If this feature is on, your car will unlock when put into “park.”

To turn it on, go to Controls > Locks > Unlock on Park.

In case this feature is set to off, you can just engage your park gear twice, and this will unlock all four doors of the Tesla Model 3.

Troubleshooting a Few Model 3 Lock/Unlock Problems

My Model 3 won’t lock when I walk away. What should I do?

I felt the need to start a new thread for this because it is a huge problem and it is not working for me at all. 3 times in the past 3 days when leaving the car and then checking via the app, it reported as still unlocked.

What can I do to try to fix this? I’m at the point where I may need to abandon the phone key and start using the card to lock/unlock every time. I can’t keep walking away and leaving my car unlocked, and I can’t trust that it will work at this point ..


A handful of Tesla owners reported such issues. Some of them even got robbed and had thousands of dollars worth of stuff stolen.

Having said that, it’s of paramount importance that you make sure your walk-away door lock is working properly. If it isn’t, here are some of the probable reasons that might be causing the issue:

And in some rare cases as reported by Tesla owners:

I had this issue and I finally diagnosed it when I got out of the car and saw that on the screen the seat belt warning light was still on. It was a bad seat sensor that had to be replaced by Tesla (under warranty). If it thinks you are still sitting in the car it doesn’t lock the doors when you walk away. See if this is the cause of your issues.


I turned the radio/stereo on before exiting the car. I opened the door. Closed it properly. Walk away lock did not work. I manually locked the car. I manually turned off the climate. Interestingly radio still stayed on. That means it’s sensing someone is inside.


If this is happening to you too, make sure you aren’t making any mistakes that these owners made. There is a 95% chance that this issue is being caused by one of the reasons stated above.

Key Card Sensor Bug

Tapping the Key Card on the center of the pillar or on the cup holders works sometimes, but not every time. And it seems to be getting worse.

Does anyone else have this problem? Anyone need a replacement card?

Is there a trick to make the RFID card more effective? I feel dumb trying to tap my car open for 5 minutes. Anything else I can try? I park under solar panels at work. Could the noise cause the car’s reader to malfunction, or is my card becoming defective?

Luckily the phone key has been working well.


In a situation similar to this owner? Well, you need to learn how to properly unlock your Tesla using a key card. Learn from the expert from the Every Amp YouTube channel:

Key Takeaways:

✅ Find the correct spot.
✅ Don’t just tap. Hold for a second or two.
✅ Keycard is meant to be used in portrait direction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Tesla Model 3 lock automatically?

Your Tesla Model 3 will lock automatically if the walk-away door lock is enabled. Just get out of the car and walk away with your phone key or key fob in your pocket. Once you go out of the range, your Model 3 will get locked.

How do I lock my Tesla Model 3 without the app?

You can lock your Tesla Model 3 without the app if you have got an authenticated key card or key fob. Just touch the key card to the center pillar or press the middle of the key fob once. Your Model 3 will get locked.

How do I lock my Tesla Model 3 from the outside?

You can lock your Tesla Model 3 from the outside using your key card, key fob, or phone key or just enable the walk-away door lock.

Final Thoughts: How to Lock and Unlock a Tesla Model 3

Ah… Tesla… What if a countryman buys you? He won’t be able to even lock/unlock you!

Tesla’s deep desire to be tech-savvy does confuse a lot of people, but that’s what Tesla is all about. You need to learn even the simplest things about it.

I hope after going through this article, you can now lock/unlock your Tesla Model 3 through eight different methods (might even flex a bit between your ICE-owning friends).

I’d encourage you to just keep it simple. The key fob is your safest and easiest bet in my opinion. The walk-away door lock, while a very convenient feature, can betray you sometimes.

Why take the risk, right?

Zac Ludicrous

Mechanical engineer by profession. TSLA shareholder before the hype. EV enthusiast all day long. Zac enjoys learning about the future of battery technology, autonomy, and EVs. He considers Tesla Model 3 the most important vehicle of the 21st century -- and is in a quest to improve the ownership experience of every Model 3 owner he possibly can.

Keep Reading