Tesla Model 3 Interface Walkthru

One of the things that makes Tesla vehicles unique compared to other cars on the market is that every sub-system of the car is designed/created by Tesla themselves. As such, just about every aspect of a Tesla is controlled through the touchscreen where everything is centrally integrated and controlled. Compare this to other cars on the market and you’ll find that since each subsystem created by separate sub-contractors, it’s nearly impossible to tie them all together in the way Tesla has. Therefore, we have created this short walk-thru of all the different menus and the options on each menu that might need to be adjusted during your rental. We will not cover every option, but just remember you can always reference the on-screen manual for anything not covered.

Navigation Bar



This is an image of the main screen/interface that you’ll find in the Model 3. We will start first by focusing on the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen in the red box. From left to right, you’ll find the following controls:

Controls – The button that looks like a car will pull up the controls screen, which we will detail below.

Music – This button will toggle on and off the music screen, which appears at the bottom of the map view, just above the navigation pane.

Phone – When you have your phone connected via bluetooth, this button will pull up a screen to reveal your recent calls, contacts, and a dialer screen.

Driver Seat Heater – Touch this button to turn on the driver’s seat heater. The first touch will set it on high (3), touching again will set it to medium (2), again to set it to low (1), and a 4th time to turn it off.

Driver Climate Zone – This is the temperature control for the driver’s side climate zone.

Temperature Settings – Touching the fan icon will launch the temperature control screen, which we’ll detail below.

Passenger Climate Zone – Same as above, but for the passenger climate zone.

Passenger Seat Heater – Same as above, but for the passenger seat.

Front Defrost – Touch this once to turn on the front windshield defrost with cold air, touch it again to defrost with hot air, and a third time to turn it off.

Rear Defrost – Touch this once to turn on the rear windshield defrost with heat and again to turn it off.

Speaker Volume Control – This will turn the speaker volume up or down, which can also be controlled by the steering wheel.

Main Screen

Let’s now focus on the rest of the main screen.

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On the main part of the screen, you will see two distinct panes. The left-hand pane, circled in red, will be your car status screen. When parked, you’ll see a 360-degree view of the car so you can see door open status as well as have “open” buttons for the front and rear trunks. Then, below the car status, you will see buttons. The left button in turquoise will launch a window that shows a live view of the rear camera. The middle button in green will launch the charging window. The right button in purple will activate the voice recognition to do things like find music or place a phone call. Then below that, in this screenshot, you’ll see wiper controls. This part of the screen can be swiped left or right for some additional quick-access buttons. Images of those extra screens are below.

Now, this left side of the screen will change when the vehicle is driving as evidenced in the screen below.

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Again, in the red box on the left, we’ll find several useful buttons and driving information. At the top of the screen in brown is your current speed. On the left in grey, you’ll find the current gear you’re in, Park, Reverse, Neutral, or Drive. On the right in green, you’ll find your battery icon with your current charge level or range. In the next row down, in blue, you’ll find this screen when cruise control is activated. In this case, it’s set to 70 MPH, and you’ll have “+” and “-” buttons on either side to manually increase or decrease the speed. On the right in yellow, you’ll find what the car thinks the speed limit is. This isn’t always accurate as speed zones can change from time to time, so be aware that you’ll still need to pay attention to speed limit signs on the road. If the speed limit increases or decreases and the car detects this change in the yellow box, you can just tap the speed limit sign to tell cruise control to set the speed to the new speed limit. In the box on the left in orange, you’ll see this icon illuminated when autopilot is engaged. Below that, in the black box, you’ll see an image of the car on the road with lane markers and a view of the cars in front of you in your lane. The lanes will normally be grey, unless you have autopilot activated, in which case they turn to blue.

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On the right-hand of the screen, you’ll see that the main view is the map/navigation. At the bottom of this screen in red you’ll find the music view toggled on, which we’ll address later. Starting at the top of the screen in the green box on the left, you’ll find the lock status of the car. Tap this to lock or unlock the doors. Next to the right, is the homelink settings button, but this won’t be needed for a rental. In the light blue box, you’ll find the bluetooth symbol. It will be lit up blue when a device is attached via bluetooth. Tap this icon to launch the bluetooth settings screen where you can pair your device to the vehicle. Next, in the brown box, you’ll find the LTE data connection strength that the car uses for the navigation and streaming media. In the orange box, you’ll find the Tesla “T”. Tap this to access general information about the car, such as the odometer, firmware version, and various “easter egg’s”, which we’ll cover later. In the blue box in the center, you’ll find the currently activated driver profile. Feel free to create your own profile for the duration of the rental. A driver profile can store your seat, mirror, and steering wheel positions for easy access and recall. Tap this to change the driver profile or set up a new one. On the far right in the purple box, you’ll find the current outside temperature as well as the time.

Moving down the screen, in the black box, you’ll find a navigation button. Tap this and you’ll get a pop-up screen where you can type in your destination for GPS navigation. In the green box, you’ll find buttons to zoom the map in or out. This can also be achieved by “pinch to zoom” on the main map, just like on your mobile device. In the pink box, you’ll find three icons. The top icon of a globe will toggle the map between map view and satellite view. The middle button of a traffic light will toggle on or off the traffic view within the map. The bottom button of a lightning bolt will toggle on a view to see all Tesla charging stations in the area. Most of these will most likely be destination chargers, commonly found at hotels and restaurants, which are detailed more in the charging FAQ. The yellow box at the bottom will launch a pop-up menu of settings related to the navigation screen.

Music Screen

As discussed previously, the music screen can be toggled on or off with the music icon in the navigation bar. This will pop up a small window at the bottom of the navigation pane with some basic information and controls.

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Most of the buttons are self explanatory, but if you’ll find the arrow button in the yellow box on the far right, you can tap this once or twice to expand the screen size of the music screen. When the screen is maximized, you’ll find 4 tabs for audio: Radio (FM), Streaming, TuneIn, and Phone (streaming from bluetooth connected phone). Under the streaming section, you can select from several pre-defined stations or use the search icon to find any specific music you may be looking for. Under the covers, this is powered by Slacker Internet Radio, so it may not have all songs that you may want to listen to, but the library is quite vast.


Controls Screen

When you launch the controls screen (car icon in the navigation bar), you’ll be presented with this pop-up screen, which starts on the Quick Controls tab.


On this screen, you’ll find several convenient controls for lights, display brightness (auto by default), and a window lock. You’ll also find adjustment screens for the mirrors and steering wheel. These are both controlled from the touchscreen as there are no physical buttons or lever’s for this like there is in the Model S and X.


Clicking on the mirrors button will launch this screen, where you can adjust the mirror positions with the two scroll wheels on the steering wheel. The left wheel controls the left mirror and the right wheel the right mirror. Remember to create a driver profile as mentioned above and you can store these changes once complete by clicking on the driver profile button and hitting save.


Similarly, clicking on the steering wheel button will launch this pop-up screen, where you’ll also use the two scroll wheels on the steering wheel to adjust the steering wheel height as well as telescoping. Again, these can be saved to your driver profile when complete.


Moving down the list to the next tab, you have the lights screen. In addition to the lights you can control from the quick controls screen, you can also adjust the dome and ambient lights on this screen.


The next tab is the locks tab. you most likely won’t need to use this screen during your rental except to turn on the child lock for the rear doors.


The next tab is the display tab. There’s one additional setting on this tab that isn’t on the quick controls tab, however, you’ll probably be best served by leaving both of these settings on auto.


The next tab, Driving, gives you some controls for the steering mode (how stiff the steering wheel is) and the regenerative braking. Tesla’s, among other EV’s, are equipped with regenerative braking. With regenerative braking, as soon as you lift your foot off of the accelerator, the car will start to slow down dramatically as it starts to shift all of the energy back into the battery. If this level of regenerative braking is too aggressive for you, you can change the setting to low, but just be aware that this will impact your range as less energy will be recaptured back into the battery. This screen also has the creep setting, which is off by default. The creep setting allows the car to creep forward when your foot is off the brake, but not pressing the accelerator.


The next tab is the Autopilot screen. Autopilot is enabled by default, but you can use this screen to change the follow distance if desired (number of car lengths it will keep between you and the car in front of you).


The safety and security tab likely won’t be needed during your rental period.


Similarly, the Service tab shouldn’t be needed during your rental either except if you need to access the on-screen Owner’s Manual for any additional information you may need. You’ll notice this is the last tab in the controls menu, however, there is one last button on the left side of this menu, at the bottom, which is how you open the Glovebox if needed.

Climate Controls

While covered briefly above, in this section, we’ll discuss the full suite of climate controls.


When you tap the fan icon on the screen, you’ll be presented with this pop-up. Perhaps one of the most innovative features of the Model 3 is the climate control. You’ll notice that with Tesla’s minimalist interior, there are no visible air vents in the front, but just a long continuous strip along the dash where the air comes out. This screen is how you direct the airflow. On both the left and right sides of the screen, you’ll see a solid black line that represents the horizontal air vent and you’ll see a dim profile of a person in each screen. If you’ll notice the dot in the red box, this is how you focus the airflow. Drag that dot anywhere on the screen to direct the airflow. You’ll notice there’s two dots in this screen that allows you to split the airflow into two separate locations (such as either side of the face). If you’d rather just have a single focal point, press the button in the blue box and that will give you a single, larger dot that you can drag around as needed.

In the central part of the climate control screen, you’ll see more standard options that you’re probably used to. In the purple box, you can decide whether you want air at the floor, face, or ceiling. The yellow box will allow you to re-circulate the air. And the button in the green box turns on the air for the back seat passengers. The rest of the buttons are self-explanatory with the power switch, fan speed, and auto setting.


The other tab of the climate control screen, Seats, will bring you to this view where you can enable the seat heaters for all 5 seats. While the two front seats are available to control in the navigation pane, this screen will let you control the rear seats as well.

Other Controls

Other than the touchscreen, there are very few controls left. Below, you’ll see the steering wheel with the two scroll wheels previously mentioned. When not in use for any other pop-up menus, the left scroll wheel can be moved up and down to control audio volume, or pressed left or right to control next-track or previous track functionality of the audio system. The scroll wheel on the right can be pressed to activate the voice recognition.


On the left side of the steering wheel, you’ll notice a stalk for the windshield wipers to activate the mist or washing function. All other windshield wiper functions are controlled from the touchscreen.


On the right-hand side of the steering wheel, you’ll see another stalk, which is your gear shift. Up for Reverse, down for Drive, and you can press the button on the end for park. Should you need to put the car into neutral for any reason, hold the gear shift up for 1 second and it should shift to neutral. The last setting here is cruise control. While driving, you can press the stalk down once to activate cruise control. Pressing it down twice will activate Autopilot, which we’ll cover in the Autopilot FAQ.


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