The unofficial getting started guide to Tesla’s Model 3

You’ve just taken delivery of your brand new Tesla Model 3. You already know it’s the best car you’ve ever owned. But you can’t figure out how the hell to make it do all the cool stuff you’ve heard about. That’s what this post is for.

I’m going to try to run through the stuff that my friends/colleagues didn’t find obvious, and hopefully it’ll help you appreciate the car even more.

Note: This was written before software v9.0 came out. I’ll be updating the post soon, but everything below is pre-9.0. The biggest change is in Autopilot settings.

In this post, I’ll be covering:

  • Setting up your phone to act as your key
  • Autopilot (including cruise control, Autosteer, and Auto Lane Change)
  • Navigation
  • Blind spot detection
  • Rebooting the console
  • Autopark
  • Charging
  • Smoother ride

Let’s get started.

Setup your magical Phone Key

Let’s start with something simple: the “key”. Instead of a traditional key or key fob, the car will unlock and turn on via Bluetooth when you walk up with your phone. It’s honestly magic, similar to the August Lock’s auto-unlock feature (which is a game changer for home access).

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To turn this on, open the Tesla app, and tap Phone Key. It’ll walk you through the process. Note: This is a different process (and different Bluetooth antenna) than connecting your phone to make calls or listen to music.

From this point forward, you just walk up to the car and open the door. The car won’t look like it’s unlocked until you actually try to open the door. Then it’ll open up and welcome you into the future.

The auto-lock feature is also great. When you get home, just put the car in park, get out, and walk away. Once you’re about 10 feet away, the mirrors will fold in and it’ll take a nap.


Within 2 minutes of getting in my Model 3, I wanted to try Enhanced Autopilot. If you’re like me, prepare for an avalanche of disappointment. The cameras in the car need to calibrate for the first 20ish miles. But when the time does come, here’s a quick primer.

Warnings to avoid death to you or others

Tesla doesn’t do much to warn users about what Autopilot doesn’t do, so I want to start with a quick, very important, list:

  • Autopilot will not stop for pedestrians, red lights, stop signs, etc… Large vehicles are the only thing it will sense / stop for. I have no idea why there aren’t big red warning screens when you turn on the setting, but alas. Because of this…
  • Only use it on highways at first. When you’re super comfortable, it will be a bit more obvious what local roads you can use it on. Until then, HIGHWAYS ONLY. And until you’re comfortable…
  • Don’t start off using it in heavy fast-moving traffic. Your first few times will be terrifying. You don’t want to be getting comfortable with this technology going 70 MPH with other cars buzzing all around you.

Now please read the above points again. Then we can move on.


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