How To Turn Off Tesla Model 3: Owner’s Basic Guide

By Nicki Schill •  Updated: 12/10/21 •  6 min read

Before we dive into this topic, it’s worth noting that you don’t actually have to turn off your Tesla Model 3.

This might seem like a no-brainer for some of you, but for new EV drivers, it’s still a super weird feeling to just get out of the car while it’s still technically on.

But with all Teslas—and all EVs actually—there’s no engine to start or stop. So there’s no need to physically shut off the vehicle.

I mean there are still some HVAC and electric systems inside that need to power down, but in the traditional sense, you don’t have to turn off the car.

This can explain why “how to turn off my car” is such a popular question from new Tesla drivers that Tesla even covered it in their FAQs.

In reality, there’s no way to power down your Tesla. There would be no way to open the door from the outside if the car was actually all the way off.

But as we’ll discover, there are a couple of different ways to technically turn off your Model 3. Just don’t expect to feel the same sense of satisfaction like cutting the engine.

3 Methods For Turning Off Your Tesla

As pointed out by Twiglett on Tesla Motors Club, “Your Tesla is actually never really off. It’s always doing something.”

I think he notes something important here—it’s not that the vehicle is off; it’s more in standby mode.

There aren’t really different methods to turn off the Tesla. Rather, there’s a difference in how much of the car gets powered off, like a percentage, and varying levels of when it turns off as discussed in this forum thread.

1. Walking Away

Generally speaking, there’s really no simpler feature in the Tesla than the simple turn off method of just walking away.

To turn off the screens and HVAC systems inside, all you have to do is put your car into park, get out, and close the door behind you.

If there’s no one else in the vehicle, the screen and HVAC system will shut down immediately while the other electrical systems will power down after 15 minutes of inactivity.

This can seem strange to traditional engine drivers who are used to hearing the engine shut off, removing the keys, and knowing that you’ve turned off the car. But trust us, the car isn’t going anywhere.

2. Deeper Sleep Mode

Now the second method is more of a deep sleep where you’ll let the vehicle rest for longer than 15 minutes.

If you leave the car inactive for a longer period of time, it does go to sleep.

This is what most drivers will experience daily when you bring your vehicle home for the night for its charge.

Not really the same as totally powered off, but you’ll notice that if you want to access things on your Tesla app hours after you’ve parked it, it will show that it’s “waking up” your Tesla.

3. Power Off Button

This video from Nukem384 goes into the varying levels of powering down your Tesla and notes the third option of a harder power-down method.

A really comprehensive video in just 2 minutes!


  1. From the Controls Menu, go to Safety & Security
  2. Here, there’s a Power Off button that you can activate

This method is similar to doing a soft reset (covered in this article on rebooting), but the only difference is that the car won’t turn back on when it’s done powering down.

Instead, you’ll see a warning note that you’ll have to place your foot on the brake to turn the power back on or you can touch the screen.

Now for new drivers, it can still feel weird to just walk away from the vehicle even after you’ve powered down.

With any of these methods, rest assured the Tesla will go to sleep after inactivity, but there are some further configurations you can do to feel safe walking away from it.

Locking The Tesla

As we noted, the easiest method to turn off your Tesla is to just walk away.

But you’ll want to make sure you’ve set up the right locking method before you leave the vehicle.

This is called Walk-Away Door Lock, and it’s super easy to set up.

How To Lock Your Tesla

Here’s a quick tutorial video on how to put on Walk-Away Door Lock.

Quick and straight to the point!


  1. Tap the Controls icon from your main screen
  2. Tap Locks on the left panel
  3. Enable the Walk-Away Door Lock option

When you’re done, the exterior lights will flash to let you know the car is secure.

Also, according to the Tesla manual, doors and trunks automatically lock when you walk away using this feature.

Important Note

You should not leave your phone or Tesla key card inside the vehicle. 

Conclusion: How To Turn Off a Tesla Model 3

These are Tesla account–enabled pieces that your vehicle thinks are you, so it will be activated and ready to drive.

This is also why you need to consider how close you stay to your vehicle once you’ve left it.

You’ll want to be careful if you’re staying really close to the vehicle, like if you’re parked right beside the restaurant table or your phone is left inside really close to the garage. 

This can trick the car into thinking you’re in it, so having the Walk-Away Door Lock option turned on is key in these scenarios to make sure your car is locked and secured.

Don’t be fooled again into thinking that your Tesla isn’t actually off the next time you walk away from it. 

It’s a highly intelligent machine and one that more often than not knows how to take care of itself without you interfering as long as you double-check it’s locked.

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.