Lost Tesla Key Card? Take These 8 Steps Right Now

By Zac Ludicrous •  Updated: 02/26/21 •  6 min read

Lost your Tesla Model 3/Y key card? Sh*t happens.

I compile the best advice from 13 forum threads and community posts, as well as Tesla’s manual — so you don’t have to guess what to do next.

By the end of the article, you’ll know:

Let’s dive into it.

A Lost Tesla Key Card is OK. A Stolen Tesla? Not So Much

No matter where, when, or with whom you were at the time you lost your key.

Your key may be in someone’s else hands; someone who may NOT have the best intentions.

Just to be safe, first make sure no one but you and your family can drive your Tesla.

Prevent your car from being driven by requiring a 4-digit PIN entry.

On your screen, go to Controls > Safety & Security > PIN to Drive and follow the steps shown to enable this safety setting.

Then, deactivate the lost Tesla key card from your screen as follows:

– On the touchscreen, touch Controls > Locks.

– Find the key that you would like to delete in the key list, then touch the key’s associated trash icon. [Comment: Be careful NOT to delete the card you have. See how below.]

– When prompted, scan an already-authenticated key card on the key reader behind the cup holders on the top of the center console to confirm the deletion. When complete, the key list no longer includes the deleted key.

From Tesla Model 3 Owner’s Manual

If you have multiple key cards programmed and don’t know which one you lost, display the list of keys (touch Controls > Locks).

Your Tesla will present the active and most recently used keys.

Open your vehicle with your available key card so that it tops the list, allowing you to know the lost Tesla key card in question.

You can also tap your card by the cup holder and your car will highlight it on the screen.

Stranded With No Tesla Key Card or Phone?

If you lost your card and your phone died on you, try these few alternatives to start and drive your Tesla:

  1. Borrow a phone to call a partner or family member who has access to your vehicle via the Tesla app. Then ask them to unlock the car remotely.
  2. If option #1 isn’t possible, ask a trustworthy person to download the Tesla app so you can log in and unlock/start the car.
  3. Consider the iOS app Remote S, which allows you to manage your vehicle from an Apple Watch.
  4. Get a Tesla key ring — or a key lanyard. These are much harder to leave stray than a slim card on its own.

Getting and Programming a New Key Card

A new pair of key cards can be purchased directly from Tesla’s website. Single units aren’t sold separately.

Update: Model S and X vehicles produced in or after 2021 are now compatible with these exact key cards.

As of this writing, a pair cost $35 USD — although pricing may vary by region.

If you’re not in the U.S., click on Menu and “United States” to change your region — and use the search bar to find the key card product again.

Once you receive the cards, simply follow the instructions below to add them as new keys.

This 2-min video walks you through the key adding process.

– On the touchscreen, touch Controls > Locks then
touch + in the Keys section.

– Scan your new key card on the key reader behind the cup holders on the top of the center console. After the new key card is recognized, remove it from the key reader.

– Scan an already-authenticated (i.e. already has access to the vehicle) key card on the key reader behind the cup holders on the top of the center console.

– When complete, the key list on the touchscreen displays the newly-authenticated key.

From Tesla Model 3 Owner’s Manual

If you have further questions, consider scheduling an appointment through the Tesla app to discuss with a rep once they reach out.

Do This If You Lost Both Tesla Key Cards

Lose your wallet or purse with BOTH cards and you’re screwed…

Kind of.

You can’t simply program the new key cards yourself as we explained in the previous section.

Listen to a conversation with a Tesla rep regarding this issue. Starts at 0:28.

For security purposes, Tesla will require you to verify your identity to program new key cards for you.

(After all, a thief could buy a set of key cards to drive a stolen Tesla.)

Either take your car to your nearest service center or schedule a mobile appointment — and rely on your phone for now.

How to Prevent This From Happening Again

As Mark suggested, get enough key cards so you can have an emergency card at home — just in case.

Label each key card (e.g. john-card, wife-card, son-card, etc.) by touching the pencil icon next to each key —

And even consider identifying the cards physically so you can recognized which one you have and/or which one you lose.

More importantly, have a place for your key card when you’re at home and on the go.

Carry only ONE key card with you at all times.

That’ll minimize the possibility of losing both key cards at once — and the hassle that goes along with losing both.

Final Thoughts

A lost Tesla key card is painful to deal with but not the end of the world.

Prevent access to the key immediately, order a pair of key cards from Tesla’s website —

And while you wait, consider a Tesla key lanyard to have a way to protect and keep your key card near you at all times.

Take the steps above as soon as possible and you’ll be on your feet again in no time — for as little as $35 bucks.

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.

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