Tesla Entry App Malfunction Locks Out Car Owners

Some Tesla owners reported being locked out of their vehicles on Monday evening because the electric car’s app was down. The problem is, app connectivity shouldn’t have any effect on unlocking a Tesla.

Downdetector, a tracker for users to report technical difficulties with web-based services, also showed that many users were having trouble with Tesla’s app.

On Monday, numerous drivers found their apps were down “for maintenance” and they were locked out of their vehicles, some for several hours. Tesla allows owners to unlock their cars both using a physical key card or fob, and virtually through their smartphones and the Tesla app. Even with the Tesla app down, the user’s smartphone itself is designed to act as a key as long as it’s in Bluetooth range of the vehicle.

The caveat here is that this phone-as-key function is only available for the Tesla Model 3, not the Tesla Model X or Model S. So even if Model 3 drivers left their key fobs and keycards at home, and their Tesla apps weren’t fully functional, Tesla vehicles should still unlock once a driver’s Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE)-paired smartphone is in range of the car.

A Tesla spokesperson confirmed to Gizmodo that Tesla’s app was temporarily unavailable on Monday but full functionality was soon restored. Tweets suggest the app was down for around three hours at least.

The company clarified that Tesla owners were still able to access their Model 3 with their physical key fob or key cards, which the company encourages owners to carry in the event that they lose their phone or it dies. Owners were also able to gain access to and start their cars through their mobile devices if they had activated the phone-as-key function, which uses Bluetooth Low Energy to connect with the car and doesn’t rely on the app.

However, Model 3 owners who don’t carry a key fob or key card, and don’t use the phone-as-key feature, and who only use the Tesla in-app lock and unlock feature that requires cell signals will be temporarily screwed when the app fails.

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