Tesla Model 3 Key Fob Review: Should You Pony Up $150?


Since the Tesla Model 3 key fob isn’t free, should you bother spending the money on it?

When people first heard that the Tesla Model 3 would use a key card instead of a traditional key and/or key fob, it was exciting. And, when it works, it really is pretty neat. You can also access the vehicle using your smartphone. Again, this is awesome, when it works as expected. Needless to say, while this futuristic tech is cool, it’s finicky and has caused problems for many owners. So, Tesla has come up with a solution. The automaker now offers a traditional key fob.

The bad news is, we were under the impression that existing owners would get the key fob for free. In addition, we thought new owners would get the key fob along with the purchase of their Model 3. Sadly, neither is true. Instead, if you want a Model 3 key fob, you have to order one, and it will set you back $150. To make matters worse, the fob doesn’t offer passive entry. This means you can’t just approach the car for unlocking. Instead, you have to physically push the button on the device.

Our friend Ben Sullins has purchased the key fob and says he just can’t recommend spending $150 for this device. Honestly, he doesn’t even use it. He gave it to his son to play with on his Hot Wheels set. However, he does note that the reason the Model 3 key fob may not have passive entry could be related to the PIN to drive security feature. We hope that Tesla can update the fob to offer passive entry in the near future.

Video Description via Teslanomics with Ben Sullins on YouTube:

Tesla Model 3 Key Fob Review – Worth the Money?

I’ve been wanting a key fob for my Model 3 since I took delivery. Unfortunately, what I got wasn’t much better than the basic key card option.


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40 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 Key Fob Review: Should You Pony Up $150?"

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My biggest issue is that it doesn’t have a connector for a key ring.

But I think that it is a perfect thing for a valet.
It’s also great for someone that doesn’t carry a phone or has connectivity issues. It does provide a much more positive lock/unlock functionality than the normal solution.

Rasmus Birkegaard Christensen

I agree that it should have a hole for a proper key ring. But nice aluminum housings can be bought cheap on sites like aliexpress. So it’s not really an issue.

But you shouldn’t have to pay more to fix a design flaw on a brand new “luxury” car.

The design flaw in your phone. Buy a decent phone and it’ll work flawlessly. Manny phones especially android has bluetooth issues.

there is absolutely no reason why you should even need a phone to drive a car. Totally ridiculous.

There is no need for a touch screen on a phone either. Buttons work just fine said nokia.
Doors on my house is unlocked when I approach them with my phone in my pocket. Keys are old school.

Obviously it doesn’t work flawlessly, if it did Tesla wouldn’t have seen such high demand amongst owners to even start producing a Model 3 fob.

Its their choice of phone. Bluetooth protocols are very much different.

I should not have to pay $1000 for a new phone just to drive my car.

Wait a minute, a model 3 is not luxury lol a P100d is luxury.

And it’s small and feels very slippery if there’s low humidity and your fingers are dry.

Here are instructions to put the key fob on a key chain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWU5M90Gv8Y

Tesla provides a key ring with a lanyard loop, with the Model X’s keys. I still have my Model X key box, there’s the insert that holds the first key, and a ribbon tab to lift out the insert, revealing the second key, two lanyard/rings, and a little tool to open the fob. Didn’t they do that for the Model 3?

My biggest issue with the car is how inconvenient opening the frunk is. Either you have to get into the car and pop it from the screen, or you have to open the phone app and wait 30 seconds for the app to establish a connection.

Given it seems like something that a software update could fix (make the app connect faster, and maybe make an official Apple Watch app… I have the unofficial Remote S app on my watch, but it works less than 10% of the time. Total waste of $10) I won’t be spending $150 on a fob that for the few times a week I want to open the frunk….

Rasmus Birkegaard Christensen

Use automate for Apple watch works better and is much faster. 30 seconds is a lot I get like 5-10 sec tops. Might be bad latency from your provider?

If the car is asleep it takes a while to connect. I have found that waking the car up by opening a door (or just pulling on the handle if it is locked) will allow the app to connect much quicker.

I just use the button on the hatch of my Leaf. Fast, easy and always works.

IMHO, the fob should have been included in the price of the car from day one. Having to pay $150 makes as much sense as having to pay $1500-2500 for metallic paint. You get a free fob and metallic paint on most sub $20K econoboxes – why the extra cost/gouging?

And then you have to get on Amazon to buy a key fob accessory just to put it on a key ring.

I would pay $20 each for a couple of them but $150 each is out of control, especially given that they don’t allow passive entry.

you paid $50K for the car. what will $150 more do to your checking account?

They should charge $150 for the Tesla app then too.

Send me $150 and I will tell you all about it.

I can’t remember going to a car dealership and paying just $20 bucks for anything. Literally nothing. Not even a logo t-shirt.

The last replacement keyless remote I bought was $219 dollars. The one before that was $280 for a different brand. And that was after shopping around for the best prices.

Those were replacements. The first 2 came with the car.

In a world where all carmakers competed to sell you an EV that we long for by making lots so prices were affordable…… Yes. Tesla is going it alone. A new heavy industrial company trying to disrupt the old ways of century-old companies with a lock on your dollar.Tesla will get there to your ideal of stellar customer service 95% of the time, all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted. How many new car companies have survived here in the last 50 years? How many sought to overturn the entire industry’s outdated, antiquated ways? How many had to build out an entire international fueling infrastructure for their cars from scratch? I’m happy with my phone app and card. I adjusted to tbe latency by openjng tbe frunk, preheating tbe interior or unlocking tbe car while I’m inside before my hands are full. I asked the wife for a Tesla key fob for Christmas because it would come in handy, especially if it had a proximity sensor. I agree that Tesla is a fledgling company and a couple fobs should come with each car. Yet I’m usually the perfectionist and detail fussbot in tbe group. With this marvel of a car,… Read more »

Rocket fuel for SpaceX mission to Mars…

Well they now offer a key fob for the Model 3, which brings with it a new issue, Tesla’s key fob design is crap. Who the heck designs a key, that can’t go on a key ring? Yet another small detail that all automotive manufacturers do, and Tesla completely missed. And one other issue I had with my Model X, the buttons aren’t recessed, which lead several times to me accidentally pressing the buttons. Which might not be a big deal in a Model 3, but it is in a Model X when the doors start to close on top of you. So I had to disable the “one click to close” feature so no big deal, but still….

Just take the back cover off. There is a built in hook designed to hold a lanyard.

Yes my Model X had those key rings on a lanyard loop that Tesla provides, it made them a bit long on my key ring though. And it’s Tesla adding complexity again to something that should have been simple. If you think about it, the Tesla key fob needs to have a second part, just to go on a key ring. Whereas most key fobs from all other manufacturers can go on a lanyard or a ring, and don’t need to be opened up.

I had trouble using the phone key initially last July when I got my Model 3. My Samsung Galaxy S4 died (good riddance). My new phone Motorola Z2 has worked perfectly.

I want to trim the excess plastic off my key card so the important part fits on my key ring. Has anyone tried to do such a thing? I don’t know if I imagined it or if I read somewhere that someone cut and reconfigured their key card into a ring (that you wear on your finger).

I will not be getting a key fob. I absolutely love using my phone as the car key. So far, I haven’t experienced any issues.

A pet peeve I have is the long wait to connect to the car to open the charging port. There has to be a better solution that allows to open/close the charging port almost instantly. I hope Tesla fixes this with an OTA update in the near future.

A pet peeve I have is people who don’t read the manual. This is already available via an OTE (Over The Eyes) update… also known as, “Read the manual”.

If at a Supercharger, or other Tesla station with an “open charge port” button on the charge handle, just press the button (on the handle) while standing near your charge port. The door will open. No waiting.

Or, if at a non-Tesla station, just gently push on the Model 3 charge port door itself, like it was a “big button”. It will open.

(Both assuming the car has recognized the phone, or/and is already unlocked — which is usually the case when you’ve just pulled up to a station.)

Using the phone app or car screen to open the charge port door is for suckers.

Generalizing a solution without considering the problem from more than one angle is for morons.

I use a non-Tesla charger at home almost all the time. When I plug in my car to charge overnight, the car is “asleep”. Gently pushing on the charger door does not do a thing in this situation.

My Leaf key fob does that in a second, every time.

Why can’t tesla owners have normal comfort access like all other cars with convenience pkg?
Keyfob or keycard stays in your pocket and you touch the door knob to unlock.
That is the proven way for most convenient access to your car.
NFC via smartphone is cool but if that isn’t reliable or practical…

Seems to always work for me (using iPhone and Model 3).

I hope that Tesla can release a software update for passive entry support,atleast then it might make a little bit more sense

The key fob doesn’t support passive entry, and likely never will, because it’s using a bluetooth radio. The Model 3 doesn’t have an energy-efficient way to signal challenge-response to a listening fob. It only has bluetooth, which would quickly kill the battery in the fob if it were constantly listening for a passive entry challenge from the car.

This falls into the same bucket as the poor automatic wipers and time-based mirror dimming. Telsa through they would save money by not providing common features using dedicated hardware, like passive entry transceivers, rain sensors, and rear headlight sensors.