Can You Drive a Tesla Without a Key? Options Explained

We all find ourselves in a silly pickle from time to time. I don’t know how many times I’ve accidentally locked my keys in my car (when that was still possible). But what are the options these days when you’ve lost your Tesla key? Can you actually start your Tesla without a key?

It is possible to unlock, start and drive your Tesla if don’t have your key card, key fob, or other linked NFC key device. You can log into the Tesla app on your phone to unlock your car. You can even use your friends’ phone to log into the Tesla to open your Tesla. This can be done on any Tesla.

If you want to find out exactly how all this is done, check out the rest of this article.

How To Drive a Tesla With a Phone Instead of a Key

Here is how to drive your Tesla using your phone as a key:

  1. On your Tesla’s screen press the car icon, then select Locks.
  2. Press the plus button and select Add Phone Key.
  3. Download and open the Tesla Mobile App.
  4. Press the Phone Key button in the Tesla app and press Start to begin searching.
  5. Once your phone and car are connected you can confirm the pairing by presenting a key card.

Did you know you can use your smartwatch as a Tesla key too? It’s true! Check out Life Wire’s article on controlling a Tesla using a smartwatch for more info.


Tesla has implemented more and more layers of security over the years, and it has paid off. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, Teslas are almost 90% less likely to get stolen than other car brands.

Pros and Cons of Using Your Phone as a Tesla Key

Here are the pros and cons I’ve experienced from using a phone as a Tesla key:

Pros of Using a Phone as a Tesla KeyCons of Using a Phone as a Tesla Key
More convenient. You always have your phone on you, so it’s easy to use your phone as a key.You lose access to your car if your phone dies.
Passive entry. If you have your phone in your pocket, your car will automatically unlock when you touch a door handle.Tesla users online have noted bugs, like inconsistent passive unlocking.
You can use the above chart to weigh the pros and cons of using your phone as a Tesla key and help you decide the best option for your lifestyle.

If you’re still on the fence about how you should unlock your Tesla, I recommend checking out Kobra ToldYa’s YouTube video on the different ways to unlock a Tesla.

Kobra ToldYa does a great job weighing the pros and cons of key card vs. phone unlocking. Kobra ToldYa also compares a couple of other unlocking methods, like using a fob and ring.

Would you like to find out all the ways to lock your Tesla? Check out this related article that I wrote. I explained 6 different techniques with the pros and cons of all of them.

Protect Your Tesla After Losing Your Key Card

Don’t worry if you lost your Tesla key card! There’s nothing to worry about as long as you perform a couple of preventive measures. 

If you lose your Tesla’s key card, you should stop any finders of your key card from accessing your Tesla by requiring a pin and disabling your missing key card.

On a somewhat related note, I wrote a similar article that will give you further insights on What To Do if You Lost Your Tesla Key. Check it out!

How To Enable a 4-Digit Pin on Your Tesla

Here is how to enable a 4-digit pin on your Tesla:

  1. Open the controls on your Tesla’s screen and navigate to Safety & Security.
  2. In Safety & Security, select the Pin to Drive option.
  3. Follow the instructions on the screen to set up a 4-digit pin.

Once your 4-digit pin is set, you won’t have to worry about any lucky keycard finders driving off with your Tesla. However, to ensure any keycard finders can’t access your car, you must take another precautionary step.

Did you know?

Teslas have a Sentry Mode—a security feature that monitors activity around the car and activates visual and sound alarms in case of a break-in attempt.

How To Disable a Tesla Key Card

Here are three easy steps to disable a Tesla key card, taken from the Tesla Model 3 Owner Manual:

  1. On your Tesla’s screen, open the Controls and find your way to Locks.
  2. Select the key you’d like to delete by pressing the trash can icon in the Locks menu. The Locks menu will display your keys in order of recent uses. To easily identify which key is missing, use the key you have to unlock and start the car, and your not lost key will be at the top of the Locks menu.
  3. Confirm your choice by presenting an active key card.

Now that your vehicle requires a pin and your missing key card is disabled, you can rest easy knowing your Tesla is secure from any kind of theft.

Fun fact:

It’s nice to be cautious, but a fun fact about Tesla is they’re among the least stolen cars. This means you don’t have to worry about car theft too much, even if you lose your key.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Let Someone Drive Your Tesla Without the Key?

You can let someone drive your Tesla without the key. On the Tesla website select “Add driver”, “Car access”. Follow the instructions. You can also log in with your credentials on another person’s phone.

Can You Drive Your Tesla Without Key or Phone?

You can’t drive your Tesla without a key or access to the Tesla app. If you’re stranded without a key and you can’t use your phone. You can borrow someone else’s phone and sign in to start the car.

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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

Thanks for visiting The goal of this site is to be a helpful resource for Tesla and EV owners as this is where my passion lies. I was a TSLA shareholder before the hype and still am. I also believe in Tesla’s speedy mission to accelerate the world to a sustainable future.