We’ve been purely ecstatic with our Tesla since the moment we decided to go forward with it. It really is the car that everyone boasts about. But like any new car, I was still somewhat worried when it has a bad day. That bad day came last Monday when we parked at the local airport and tried to drive it home. The car would not recognize the keys and would not turn on. It just sat there with the AC on and Stereo going, “Key Not Inside”.
We called Tesla’s support line and ran over a bunch of options to engage the keys again – none worked. The car was just stuck where we parked it. They spoke with their engineers and decided the car needed a “cluster reboot”. They issued the reboot remotely to the console cluster. Apparently the “cluster” is the gauges behind the steering wheel controlled by a dedicated computer. That computer apparently also controls the key system.
After a few hours of fooling around and being on the phone, the keys were finally working again. However, this begs the question: How the hell did that happen?
This is where Tesla got a little vague and promised it would never happen again. I got into a semantic disagreement with them over the words “glitch” and “software” bug. They finally gave up and said, “We don’t know why this happened, it’s only happened to 3 other people I have spoken with.” This means that this has happened to more people than just us.
Finally, they escalated the issue to an engineer and the answer was, “The keys are highly sensitive to radio frequencies, and at airports there are a lot of different things going on with radio frequencies.”
This answer did not really help and I could not stop thinking about a situation where someone could figure out how to deactivate keys to Teslas with a simple radio device – and could then disable all of the cars parked at a super charger station.
It also made me think hard about what a botched software update or decent software hack could do to thousands of cars.
Anyhow, we were told it shouldn’t happen again, but if it does, we can simply “reboot the cluster” and it would be fine.
My answer to them was, “Isn’t that how Microsoft told people to deal with their bugs?”
PS: I still love the car and yes… they were able to remotely fix it. :)