Unrivaled Guide to the Tesla Model 3 Screen

By Muhammad Hassan •  Updated: 02/18/22 •  15 min read

This is your one-stop shop to learn everything about the Tesla Model 3 screen.

After extensive research (reading 10+ articles and 30+ forum posts and watching more than 62 lengthy YouTube videos), here I am with an ultimate guide on the subject matter.

Strong dedication, isn’t it?

So without further ado, let’s get straight to it.

A Single Touch Screen on the Dashboard—Worth It or an Overkill Minimalist Strategy?

Model 3 dashboard. Credit to cars.usnews.com

An overkill minimalist strategy? Certainly not!

On the contrary, I believe the Model 3 screen is the most practical touch screen any car could have.

Not just from the aesthetics perspective, but also from the usability perspective.

Most functionalities are there, including the odometer — which many owners struggle to find.

We know Tesla is a technologically advanced car, and it receives technological updates quite often.

Let’s say Tesla innovates a new way to take advantage of existing controls and sensors (say, Sentry Mode), then the new controls can simply be programmed into the display.

Lack of usability in certain areas of UI can also be repaired easily over an air update requiring barely any input from the owner.

Had it been manual buttons like most of the other cars, these kinds of updates wouldn’t be possible.

Also, producing a single touch screen is way more feasible than producing a fiddly wiring loom, resulting in a plethora of individual switches, knobs, and dials.

So again, is it an overkill minimalist strategy? I think you know the answer to it. Don’t you?

Physical Aspects of the Tesla Model 3 Screen 

High-budget Tesla vehicles like the Model S and Model Y come with a display screen of 17″ and 15″, respectively. 

The Model 3, despite being the most affordable vehicle in the Tesla line, comes with a sleekly designed 15″ screen, making it no less exquisite than any expensive Tesla vehicle. 

The Model 3 screen is mounted right in front of the dashboard in the landscape, with the longest horizontal length of 13.812″ and the longest vertical length of 9.125″. 

Let’s take a look at some more details of the Tesla Model 3 screen per the teardown analysis conducted by IHS Technology Teardown Services:

The main component of a Tesla screen is the map area, but let’s have a more in-depth look at other major components of the Tesla Model 3 screen:

Credit to Tesla

10 Main Tesla Model 3 Screen Components

  1. Status Bar
  2. Navigation
  3. Car Status
  4. Controls
  5. Climate Control (Driver)
  6. My Apps
  7. App Launcher
  8. Recent App
  9. Climate Control (Passenger)
  10. Volume Control

Tesla Model 3 Screen Durability

The Model 3 screen has extensive usage, so a bit of wear and tear is, of course, inevitable.

Your Model 3 screen might be subjected to certain cracks, glare, fingerprints, and scratches, etc. as time passes. 

But you need not worry!

These petty Tesla screen issues can be resolved by using a quality Tesla screen protector

A famous tech YouTuber Taras Maksimuk gave the Tesla Model 3 screen a real check by giving it multiple hard hammer strokes while driving a brand-new Model 3 to check its durability.

Watch this video to know what happens:

 Can a Tesla Model 3 screen endure multiple hard hammer strokes? Find out in this video! 

How the Tesla Model 3 Screen Works

The Tesla Model 3 screen works no different than any ordinary Android tablet or an iPad. 

However, controlling your vehicle via touch screen while driving can be quite intimidating, especially if you’re not used to it.

Famous EV enthusiast Alex Sibila provided the Tesla community an exciting tutorial on how to operate the Tesla Model 3 screen from scratch on his YouTube channel:

A well-elaborated video on how to use the Tesla Model 3 screen 

Tesla Model 3 Screen Features

Here’s an overview of the different features offered in the Tesla Model 3 screen:

Driver Controls Overview

From adjusting acceleration and steering to locks and lights, all driving controls are on your Model 3 screen.

Per the Tesla Model 3 owner’s manual, tap Controls on the bottom corner of the touch screen to control various features and customize the Model 3 to suit your preferences. 

If you find adjusting settings every time you drive hectic, you can also opt for several 

shortcuts after you set up your driver profile.

Screen controls overview. Credit to Tesla
Model 3 navigation. Credit to aikisteve

The navigation system provided in the Tesla Model 3 screen is not ordinary. 

From navigating to a destination that you selected manually on the map to automatic navigation to your destination based on your synced phone’s calendar, the Tesla navigation is an absolute stunner. 

With the help of settings like “I’m feeling hungry/lucky,” your Tesla Model 3 screen suggests nearby places according to your mood.

Plenty of exciting navigation options like trip planner, online routing, and energy prediction depending on the route are available on the Tesla Model 3 screen.

Media and Entertainment 

Model 3’s media center. Credit to Hsuester

A diverse range of media apps is available on the Tesla Model 3 screen that allow drivers and passengers to vibe along the route, streaming their favorite songs and movies.

You can even kill idle time by playing games or browsing anything when parked or charging at the station.

Media options on the Tesla Model 3 screen. Credit to Tesla

Other Entertainment Options Offered:

Entertainment options available on the Tesla Model 3 infotainment system. Credit To Tesla


An owner driving an Audi in his Tesla. Credit to ranova

You can play games on your 15″ touch screen using Tesla Arcade when your car is parked or plugged in.

Tesla Arcade includes nine games if you don’t have the recently refreshed version of the Model S and Model X. 

None of these games are very demanding, so Tesla Arcade handles them really well. 

You can play Tempest, Asteroids, Fallout Shelter, Beach Buggy Racing 2, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, Cuphead, Centipede, and Super Breakout.

Early in 2021, Tesla uploaded this video on their official YouTube channel about the Arcade Mode:

That’s how you play games using your steering wheel, touch screen, or a controller while parked.


Dashcam and Sentry Mode

Per the Tesla website, when the Model 3 is powered on, the dashcam records a video of anything roaming around your vehicle. 

A dashcam is unable to capture any footage when your Tesla is powered off. This is very helpful in recording driving incidents, such as a collision.

This is how you control the dashcam on your Model 3 screen: 

A snippet showing dashcam icons on the Tesla Model 3 screen. Credit to Tesla

Per the Tesla website, when Sentry Mode is turned on, even when your car is locked or in park, the cameras and sensors remain powered on and ready to record suspicious activity around your vehicle.

To turn Sentry Mode on or off, tap Controls > Sentry on your Model 3 screen.

Pin to Drive

Tesla came up with this really cool idea to increase the security of the Model 3 by adding a PIN (personal identification number) to operate your vehicle just like your phone, tablets, or other gadgets.

According to the Tesla website, you can prevent the Model 3 from being driven until a 4-digit PIN is entered.

To enable this setting, touch Controls > Safety > PIN to Drive and follow the on-screen prompts to create a driving PIN. 

In addition to that, you can protect the contents of your glovebox by adding a 4-digit PIN to it.

How-To Guide to Different Model 3 Screen Features

Climate Settings

You can adjust the climate settings of your vehicle by tapping on these few options on your Tesla Model 3 screen (source: Tesla):

  1. Climate controls are provided on the bottom of your Tesla Model 3 screen. 
  2. Tap on the temperature icon to turn on the climate control system.
  3. To turn it off, touch and hold the temperature icon to display the climate control pop-up and then touch the power button.

By default, climate control is set to Auto, which maintains optimum comfort in all but the most severe weather conditions. 

Touch and hold the temperature to customize settings in the climate control screen. You can revert back to Auto at any time by touching Auto.


  1. Tap on Controls > Lights on the touch screen to control the lights.
  2. The Model 3 also has convenience lights that operate automatically based on what you are doing.

Exterior Lights

  1. Exterior lights (headlights, tail lights, position lights, and license plate lights) are set to Auto each time you start the Model 3. 
  1. When set to Auto, exterior lights automatically turn on when driving in low-lighting conditions.
  1.  If you change to a different setting, lights always revert to auto on your next drive.

Tap these options to alter the exterior light settings temporarily:

Credit to Tesla

Interior Lights

  1. Turn the interior dome (map) lights on or off. 
  2. If set to Auto, all interior dome lights turn on when you unlock the Model 3, open a door upon exiting, or shift into Park.
Two buttons on either side of the rear view mirror
Interior dome lights of the Model 3. Credit to Tesla
  1. You can also manually turn individual dome lights on or off by pressing their lens. 
  2. If you manually turn a dome light on, it turns off when the car powers off.
  3. If the Model 3 was already powered off when you manually turned the light on, it turns off after 60 minutes.


According to the Tesla website, you can control the different locks from your Model 3 screen:

Keys: You can see all the keys used for the Model 3 and their associated driver profiles on your screen. You can add, delete, and change the driver profile associated with each key.

Window Lock: Locks the rear window switches.

Child Lock: If on, safety locks prevent the rear doors from being opened from inside the vehicle.

Walk-Away Door Lock: If on, doors automatically lock when you walk away from the vehicle carrying your key fob or phone key.

Driver Door Unlock Mode: Unlocks the driver’s door when you shift into Park. If off, all doors unlock.

Unlock on Park: If on, doors automatically unlock when you engage Park. If Driver Door Unlock Mode is on, only the driver’s door unlocks.


How To Adjust Exterior Mirrors

Per the Tesla website:

  1. Adjust the exterior mirrors by tapping Controls > Mirrors. 
  2. Press the left scroll button on the steering wheel to choose whether you are adjusting the left or right mirror. 
  3. Then use the left scroll button to adjust the selected mirror to its desired position.
  4. To move the mirror up or down, roll the left scroll button up or down.
  5. To move the mirror inward or outward, press the left scroll button to the left or right.
  6. You can fold the mirrors inward for parking in tight spaces by touching Controls > Fold Mirrors. 

Model 3 can automatically fold and unfold the side mirrors based on location, which saves you from having to manually position them each time you need to fold or unfold the mirrors when at a frequented place (such as narrow garages, tight parking spaces, etc.).


Per Tesla:

To perform a single wipe with the windshield wipers, press and immediately release the button on the end of the turn signal stalk.

Doing this also displays a wiper pop-up on the touch screen where you can adjust the wiper settings:

  1. Intermittent, slow
  2. Intermittent, fast
  3. Continuous, slow
  4. Continuous, fast

When wipers are set to Auto and liquid is detected on the windshield, the Model 3 determines the optimal frequency at which they should wipe. 

You can also access wiper settings from the main “Controls” screen.


Per the Tesla Model 3 owner’s manual:

  1. To access settings for Autopilot, tap on Controls > Autopilot.
  2. These Autopilot convenience features (mentioned below) are designed to reduce the driver’s workload:
  1. You can enable/disable some of these features and, in some cases, control how they work.

Powering Off

Per the Tesla website:

When you finish driving, shift into Park by pressing the button on the end of the drive stalk. When you leave your car with the phone key and key fob, the Model 3 powers off automatically, turning off the touch screen.

The Model 3 also powers off automatically after being in Park for 15 minutes, even if you are sitting in the driver’s seat.

Although usually not needed, you can power off the Model 3 while sitting in the driver’s seat, provided the vehicle is not moving.

Touch Controls > Safety > Power Off

The Model 3 automatically powers back on again if you press the brake pedal or touch the touch screen.

The Pros & Cons About the Tesla Model 3 Screen


Per the Tesla community, here are some major pros of the Tesla Model 3 screen:

  1. A very responsive touch screen just like an iPad
  1. The screen has very good color gradation and offers a very bright display with high contrast, high resolution, and minimal glare/reflections. 
  1. The UI is well designed, and the buttons are far enough apart that you won’t accidentally press the wrong button and large enough to be easy to press.
  1. Proper labeling and sectioning on the touch screen makes it easier to find what you’re looking for on screen.


Meanwhile, some major cons of the Tesla Model 3 screen are:

  1. The Model 3 screen lacks haptic feedback, which makes it somehow difficult to invoke controls without looking at the screen.
  1.  A good proportion of people in the Tesla community think that it is situated awkwardly, forcing the driver to take their eyes off the road. 

These objections about the Tesla Model 3 screen can be resolved if a more robust vocal assistant is provided in Teslas, though—something Elon Musk should think about.

4 Common Screen Issues Model 3 Owners Faced (And Their Solutions)

1. Frozen Display

Seeing a frozen Tesla Model 3 screen while driving on the road is an absolute bummer, isn’t it? 

Here are a few reasons that could be causing this issue:

  1. More common in Teslas with the MCU1. Older computer modules like MCU1 lack good processing power which causes them to freeze.
  2. Changing USB ports while you’re driving the car could also cause the screen to freeze.
  3. Embedded multimedia cards can also cause your Tesla Model 3 screen to freeze. As older Teslas didn’t have enough memory on them, these embedded cards can cause the touch screen to crash frequently.

Unfreezing your Tesla Model 3 screen is not a big deal. All you have to do is follow these easy steps and you’ll be good to go:

  1. Set park mode on your Tesla.
  2. Press and hold the scroll wheel buttons.
  3. After almost 30 seconds, the screen will turn off.
  4. Usually, between 10 and 30 seconds, a Tesla logo will appear on the screen.
  5. Boom! Your Tesla Model 3 screen has unfrozen.

2. Blank Screen Display

Just do a little soft reset of the computer:

>> Set park mode > Press and hold scroll wheels for 30 seconds > Done!

But still, if your issue is not fixed then you are recommended to connect to your local repair center.

3. Slow Loading of the Screen

This happens due to the memory failure that even Tesla has accepted responsibility for.

The main indications that show slow loading are: 

  1. The lag between touch inputs and button response
  2. Buttons take a while to cause actions on screen (though not as severe as a completely blank screen).

A few tricks like resetting the car or car reboot can help you fix the issue. But unfortunately, these are short-term fixes since it occurs due to faulty integrated memory on the processor responsible for the MCU.

4. Yellow Bands Around the Screen

Yellow band on the sides. Credit to Kevin Bohacz

A prominent yellow band appears around the Model 3 screen, especially more noticeable on menu screens where the display is mainly white. 

Tesla has acknowledged this issue, and it is mainly caused by sunlight or heat disrupting the bonding between the display and the outer glass. 

This issue might even get worse for users in hotter or sunnier climates and might reoccur once fixed if subjected to the same conditions. 

Tesla began to offer replacement screens for this in 2017, but after some time, it became clear that even new screens were not able to dodge this issue either.

Although you can fix this yourself, the most appropriate way would be to seek help from the Tesla repair shop.


The Model 3 screen can do wonders; I think this article has established that quite clearly. 

New owners always face a difficult time figuring all the functions out, but once they do, their Model 3 experience becomes more interactive and fun.

I have laid down every piece of information about the Tesla Model 3 screen in this ultimate guide. I hope it helps you understand all the features better.

Still, if anything is unclear to you or you’d like to give some suggestions, feel free to comment down below. 

Muhammad Hassan

Engineer by trade and writer by passion, Hassan is an automotive enthusiast who thinks EVs are the future. At TTU, he discusses the coolest features and products Model 3 owners look for -- so they can better experience their cars. In his free time, he enjoys tea, reading, and listening to podcasts.

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