First Drive in a Tesla

What's it like to drive a Tesla?

Driving a Tesla is an exhilarating experience. While the basic driving principles remain the same as in a gas-powered car, the available torque, technology and braking methods are driving features which distinguish Tesla and other EVs. Learn more about how to operate your Tesla before you get behind the wheel of this sleek vehicles.

Tesla Model 3 keycard

Locking / Unlocking the car

Place the key card near the circle by the driver’s window to lock/unlock while outside the car. Once inside the vehicle, select the lock image on the touchscreen or wait for the doors to automatically lock within 15 seconds of driving. Doors unlock automatically when you shift into park.

How do I enter and exit Tesla vehicles?

To enter, eject the door handle by pushing on the tallest part with your thumb. Grab the ejected handle and pull to open. To exit, press the button on top of the armrest handle. After exiting, push doors firmly to close.

How do I turn on the car?

Place the key card on the console (behind or in the cup holders), press the brake and shift the car into gear. The key card can be moved once the car is on.

How do I put the car into gear?

The gear selector stalk is located behind the right-hand side of the steering wheel. Push the stalk up for reverse and down for drive. For park, press the button on the end of the gear stalk. The touchscreen will reflect your gear selection.

Driving the Tesla Models

As you begin driving, the first thing you may notice is the instant availability of full torque when you press the accelerator; EVs effectively only have one gear. When you need to slow or stop the Tesla, the brakes are automatically applied when your foot is removed from the accelerator in a process called regenerative braking. Most drivers adjust to the feel of these driving aspects after just a few miles, but the braking mode can be adjusted if preferred.

How does Regenerative Braking work?

Tesla vehicles use regenerative (regen) braking, a braking mode that increases battery charge and available drive time by automatically applying the brakes when you take your foot off the gas. Rather than rolling to a stop, the car will rapidly slow down. While this will feel different than traditional braking methods, most people adjust after just a few miles.

Tesla Model 3 Pedals

Operating Autopilot (cruise control)

While in drive, push and hold the gear stalk all the way down until you reach your desired speed, then release the stalk. Adjust your speed via the touchscreen or right-hand scroll on the steering wheel. Push the stalk up once to cancel Autopilot.

Learn more about Autopilot

How do I turn off the car?

The car turns off automatically when you exit the vehicle, remove all key cards and close all doors. If you do not remove all key cards, the car will remain accessible and drivable. The touchscreen can also power down the car.

More things to know on your first drive

The speedometer is located in the top left-hand corner of the touchscreen and will turn red when you are speeding. Below the speedometer is the driving graphic. This graphic displays your car and all its surroundings, including traffic and bicycle lanes, stop lights and signs, pedestrians, other vehicles and more.

Operating as the brain of a Tesla electric vehicle, the touchscreen is where all driver-relevant information is displayed and where nearly all features can be controlled. Search the internet, stream media, view your backup/rear camera, adjust your air conditioning and much more.

The backup/rear camera is automatically displayed while in reverse. To view while in another gear, select the camera button on the touchscreen or ask voice command to show the backup/rear camera.

Yes. Select the car icon on the touchscreen to display Quick Controls, then select Driving. To mimic a gas-powered car, select Creep (creep forward) or Roll (roll freely). These actions occur when your foot is removed from the pedals. To maintain regen braking, select Hold. Each mode provides ultimate safety.

The lights and wipers are set to automatically react to environmental cues, such as overcast or rainy conditions. If desired, settings for both items can be manually adjusted using the touchscreen.

The turn signal stalk is located behind the left-hand side of the steering wheel. Push the stalk up for right and down for left. A light push will signal three times and a firm push will signal until the turn is completed.

The navigation is the backdrop for most of the touchscreen. Use your hands to type in a location; drag, pinch or rotate the map; select street or satellite view; and toggle settings such as automatic rerouting and avoiding ferries and tolls. Voice command can also be used to control most navigation functions.

The hazard lights button is located on the ceiling near the front of the car. Simply press the button once to turn hazards on and once more to turn hazards off. The hazard symbol is the same as in a gas-powered car.


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touchscreen video
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Touchscreen | Driving Information

Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

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Regenerative Braking

Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

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Plugging In

Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.


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