How To Drive Tesla

How To Drive Tesla

Driving a Tesla for the first time can be an exhilarating experience, but it may also seem daunting if you are unfamiliar with the unique features and operations of an electric vehicle. While many driving aspects are simplified compared to traditional cars, understanding the more intricate changes can be confusing. To help you navigate through this, here is a comprehensive guide to getting into your Tesla, operating the vehicle, and adjusting its various settings.

Getting into the Car

When it comes to accessing your Tesla, there are no traditional keys or ignitions. You can use the key card, fob, or the Tesla app to unlock the vehicle and start it. The door handles should automatically open when you have the key fob or key card with you. If not, you can manually unlock it using the key fob or card. Once inside, simply press the brake pedal to start the vehicle, as there is no traditional ignition system. If you encounter any issues with the key card or fob, place it behind the cup holders in the middle console to register with the vehicle.

Starting the Car

Starting a Tesla is different from starting a traditional car. There is no need to crank the engine with a key. Instead, simply press the brake pedal, and the vehicle will start up silently. If the Tesla has custom profile settings for different drivers, they will display on the screen when you enter the car. Additionally, depending on the model and trim of your Tesla, you may be able to charge your iPhone wirelessly in the middle console.

Putting the Car into Gear

Shifting gears in a Tesla is done using a stick, known as a stalk, located behind the steering wheel. To put the car into gear, push the stalk up to reverse, down to drive, and all the way up to the highest setting for reverse. There is also a “creep” setting that can be adjusted on the touchscreen, which controls the slow, forward idle that traditional cars have when the foot is off the brake. Teslas will not idle forward, so you must tap the gas pedal. Additionally, Teslas have regenerative brakes that use the vehicle’s forward momentum to charge the battery on the go. You can adjust the regenerative braking system and its sensitivity on the touchscreen.


While driving a Tesla, you will find that many systems resemble those of a traditional gas vehicle, such as the turn signal, steering wheel, and horn. However, the method of shifting gears and the regenerative braking system are unique to Teslas. You can also subscribe to various autopilot options, such as autosteering and auto lane changing, which can be activated through the driving and steering menu. When using cruise control, you can lock your speed in by tapping the stalk down twice, and it will automatically shut off when you press the brake pedal.

Turning the Vehicle Off and Getting Out

When you are ready to turn off the vehicle, shift it into park and press the button at the end of the stalk. If you are driving a Model Y, it will also power off automatically when you walk out of the car with the fob or key card. To exit the vehicle, simply press the small button on the hand grip and gently apply pressure to the door to open it. Additionally, you can make adjustments to the seating angle, mirrors, and other settings using the profile settings on the main screen.

Additional Components Unique to Teslas

There are several additional components unique to Teslas, such as the regenerative braking system, autopilot options, and the absence of traditional gas-related features. Understanding these components and how to operate them is essential for a smooth driving experience.


Remember that there are no gas stations for a Tesla, so you will need to find a supercharger to charge your vehicle on the go. You can locate superchargers near you by pressing the lightning bolt logo on the control screen. Also, don’t forget to plug your vehicle into the charger when you’re done driving it to ensure it is ready for your next journey.


1. Can I keep the key card in my wallet?

Yes, you can keep the key card in your wallet, and it is a common practice among Tesla owners.

2. How do I unlock the car if the door handles do not open automatically?

If the door handles do not open automatically, you can press the unlock button on your key fob or tap the key card against the handle. As a last resort, you can manually open the door by gently pushing on the right side of the handle.

3. How do I start the Tesla if it does not register the presence of the key card or fob?

If the Tesla does not register the key card or fob, you can place it right behind the cup holders in the middle console, where the RFID transmitter is located. This should allow the card or fob to register with the vehicle.

4. How do I adjust the regenerative braking system in a Tesla?

You can adjust the regenerative braking system and its sensitivity, or turn it off entirely, by accessing the “control,” “pedals & steering,” and “regenerative brakes” settings on the touchscreen.

5. How do I activate autopilot settings in a Tesla?

You must enable autopilot settings in the “driving & steering” menu before it will work. Autosteering specifically helps you stay in your lane, while auto lane change will safely switch lanes for you when you turn on your turn signal.

6. What should I do if my Tesla feels buggy or laggy?

If your Tesla feels buggy or laggy, you can run a power cycle by shifting to park, selecting “controls,” followed by “safety” and “power off” on the touchscreen. After powering off, wait for at least 2 minutes before pressing the brake to turn the car back on. This process is similar to rebooting your Tesla and can help resolve any issues.

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