How to Reboot Your Tesla Model 3 (Soft vs. Hard Reset Explained)

By Nicki Schill •  Updated: 02/10/22 •  6 min read

Phantom touch. Vampire draw. Matrix glitch. No, these are not the names of new rock bands. 

They’re the slang terms for a few, very common issues and bugs that Tesla Model 3 owners might have had to face. 

Whether it’s your vehicle never going to sleep or your screen having a mind of its own, read on to find out some simple solutions for fixing those pesky problems.

Matrix glitch is probably the most common. It might have some of you thinking that Tesla was unveiling the new ‘Disco Mode’ but sadly those crazy flickering lines on your screen are not meant to boogie down to. 

They’re actually a sign that your vehicle is probably in need of a restart or a reboot.

The Golden Rule for Electronics

It happens to the best of us.

We get frustrated when an app on our iPhone isn’t running well or our laptop is acting up. 

How to Reboot Tesla Model 3 before getting all raged up
Don’t kill it just yet!

After a few minutes of pure rage, you remember the golden rule — turning it off and on again.

Don’t really know why, but suddenly everything is working properly. 

It seems those IT guys from your office and all those internet memes were really onto something.

A restart more often than not fixes a ton of issues for your everyday electronics. Your Tesla Model 3 is no different.

Soft Reboot vs Hard Reboot: When and How to Use Each

Tesla offers two types of power cycling methods when something on your screen doesn’t seem right: the soft reboot and the hard reboot. There is another reboot called “factory reset,” but we will not cover it in this article as it’s rarely needed.

The soft reboot is simply restarting the software or device. Doing this gives your car’s computer systems the chance to refresh its software or download the incoming updates without discharging and recharging its electronic clusters.

There are two types of soft reboot: the touch screen reboot and the full vehicle reboot. Both are called “power cycling” in the Model 3 owner’s manual.

The hard reboot involves disconnecting the battery and discharging all electronic clusters. We will discuss this further below.

Soft Rebooting Your Model 3 Screen On The Go

Here are some of the symptoms that will let you know your Model 3 screen needs to be rebooted:

If you’re experiencing one or more of the issues above, simply do the following:

In your steering wheel, hold down both scroll wheels at the same time and wait for the screen to turn off (about 4 to 5 seconds).

The screen will turn black, and a Tesla logo will appear, and it will restart on its own within 10 to 30 seconds.

how to reboot tesla model 3
Screenshot from How to Restart the Tesla Model 3

Going One Small Step Beyond a Soft Reboot

If you’re still experiencing issues after rebooting the screen, it’s time to fully soft reboot your vehicle. 

There are two methods to fully reboot your Model 3 depending on the availability of your time. 

Method 1: On your screen, go to the “Controls” menu, then “Safety and Security,” and then “Power Off.” The screen will stay off until you hit the screen or brake pedal, and then the car will turn back on.

Method 2: If you are not in a hurry, just get out of your car with all doors closed and leave it parked for at least 15 minutes. 

The main systems will shut off because your car is not in motion, but things like Sentry Mode may still wake up your car. Make sure no one is inside or near the car.

If the car sits for a longer time, it will go into deeper sleep mode. When you return, you can just turn it on using your phone or your key card.

The following video explains further how the above steps are done.

Important: There is an ongoing myth circulating online about rebooting your Model 3 by holding down both scroll wheels and the brake. This is totally untrue and is not included in the Model 3 owner’s manual.

When & How to Hard Reboot Your Model 3 (Step by Step)

If you’ve exhausted all of the above procedures and your screen still isn’t behaving properly, a hard reboot is needed. 

Important: If you don’t have the stomach to hard reboot the vehicle by yourself, we recommend that you schedule a mobile service appointment or bring your car to the Tesla service center.

Hard reboot in the Model 3 is often performed by Tesla mobile service technicians, but if they’re not available or you’re far from the service center, you can perform this process by yourself. 

Make sure to take care and follow exactly what we outline below. Always remember that a mistake could void your warranty.

  1. Lower the driver’s window. This is to ensure that you will not be accidentally locked out when you need to re-enter your car with disconnected power.
  1. Switch off the Climate Control System.
  1. Turn off the car (through Controls > Safety & Security > Power Off).
  1. Open the frunk.
  1. Remove the top panel of the frunk. 
Screenshot from How To Remove The Tesla Model 3 Frunk
  1. Disconnect the battery using a 10 mm socket wrench. Place the terminals away from the battery terminals.
how to reboot tesla model 3
Screenshot from Tesla Model 3 12V battery swap
  1. Open the right side of the back door.
  1. Secure all back seat belts by fastening them.
  1. Look for the clip under the seat and release it.
Screenshot from Tesla Model 3 12V battery swap
  1.  Lift the seat and remove the foam block covering the harness.
how to reboot tesla model 3
Screenshot from Tesla Model 3 12V battery swap
  1. Rotate down the connected lock and unplug the harness connected header.
Screenshot from Tesla Model 3 12V battery swap
  1.  Wait for 2 to 5 minutes.
  1.  Return everything back by following the above steps in reverse (starting at step 11).

How to Reboot the Tesla Model 3: Final Thoughts

Tesla forums are filled with drivers experiencing all sorts of weird software bugs and issues with their vehicles, particularly with their touch screens. 

The good news is that the majority are reporting that a quick reboot, software update, or full power cycle is enough to stop those bugs in their tracks.

So the next time your screen flares up or you encounter some technical difficulties, you’ll know how to fix those software bugs—and you’ll be able to do so in under 5 minutes!

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.