HELP: I Lost My Tesla Key Card! What Should I Do Next?

By Zac Ludicrous •  Updated: 02/26/21 •  7 min read

Lost your Tesla key card? Don’t worry. Sh*t happens!

lost tesla key card
Credit to Tesla

But before this lost key turns into something much worse, let’s address it:

  1. First, track your key. If you’re able to find it, cool!
  2. If not, deactivate it immediately. 
  3. Then ask Tesla to give you a replacement key card, program it with your car, and you’re good to go.

How to do all that, though? I discuss it all in the article below. 

Let’s get into it.

How to Track Your Lost Tesla Key Card

It isn’t impossible, but it only works when the card is in your close proximity.

So if you know for sure that you might have lost your Tesla key card at home or in office, then you can track it through GPS. This feature is in your Tesla mobile app.

But if you lost it at a random place, you won’t be able to track it down. The signals aren’t powerful enough.

The solution then will be to deactivate it immediately.

How to Deactivate Your Lost Tesla Key Card

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.

That’s why you must deactivate your Tesla key card as soon as possible. 

You might be facing one of two scenarios described below. Follow the instructions that are applicable to your case.

1. If You Have a Spare Tesla Key Card

Deactivate the lost Tesla key card using a spare 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.

Source: 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.

2. If You Don’t Have a Spare Tesla Key Card

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.

How to Replace Your Lost Tesla Key Card (And How Much It Costs)

Again, we’re dealing with two scenarios here. If you wish to replace your lost Tesla key card, follow the instructions below that suit your scenario.

1. In Case You’ve Got a Spare at Home

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 US$35 — although pricing may vary by region and your Tesla Model (a pair for Model S/X/Y will cost $18 extra as of this writing).

If you’re not in the United States, 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 two-minute 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.

Source: 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.

2. In Case You Don’t Have a Spare at Home

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.

Tips & Tricks to Minimize the Headache of Losing Your Tesla Key Card

Losing your Tesla key card is as risky as losing a bank credit or debit card. And if you don’t have precautions in place, handling this issue will become pretty exhausting.

Let’s discuss a few precautions you must take to minimize the effects of losing your Tesla key card.

1. Always Keep a Spare Tesla Key Card

Always keep an emergency key card at home. As you read above, you can’t deactivate or program a new card without a spare. 

That’s why keeping a spare at hand is a must!

2. Add a Pin Code for Extra Security

Tesla’s system lets you setup a pin code on every key without which you can’t start the car. This is important in case your key card gets stolen. Thief will be able to enter your car but won’t be able to drive it. 

Top setup a pin code, go to Controls > Safety & Security > PIN to Drive and follow the steps shown to enable this safety setting.

3. Get a Tesla Key Ring

Get a Tesla key ring or a key lanyard. These are much harder to leave stray than a slim card on its own. 

And they look cool!

4. Label Your Tesla Key Cards

Label each key card (e.g., john-card, wife-card, son-card, etc.) by touching the pencil icon next to each key and consider identifying the cards physically so you can recognize which one you have and/or which one you lose.

5. Get the “Remote S” App

Consider the iOS app Remote S, which allows you to manage your vehicle from an Apple Watch.

Final Thoughts

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

All you need to remember is my three-step solution:

  1. Track
  2. Deactivate
  3. Replace

Moreover, you must keep a spare key card at home, get a Tesla key ring or lanyard, and if you have an Apple watch, get the “Remote S” app.

Do all of this and you’ll never have to worry about losing a Tesla key card again!

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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