Everything—recent phone calls, streaming logins, trip information, and more—could be visible to the next driver of your Tesla. Whether you are trading-in, returning a loaner, or selling your Tesla, wiping the car’s data before that happens should take a top spot on your to-do list.
In today’s post, we’ll walk you through the process for wiping your Tesla with a factory reset and removing or transferring the car on the Tesla app. We’ll also talk a bit about what to do in a loaner or rental Tesla if you don’t have access to the factory reset option through the Tesla app.
Why Would You Factory Reset a Tesla?
A Tesla factory reset is necessary to clear out your personal data and return a Tesla to its original factory settings. Factory resetting your Tesla is important for at least four different scenarios:
- Trading-in your Tesla
- Selling your Tesla
- Returning a loaner
- Fixing a software or hardware glitch
We separate out this last reason—fixing a glitch—because it doesn’t really have anything to do with protecting your personal information. However, clearing out your Tesla’s memory and restoring the factory settings can be a helpful step in the troubleshooting process if you are experiencing recurring issues with your Tesla.
Note: Before you factory reset your Tesla to try to fix a glitch, make sure you have tried the other Tesla reset options available.
How to Clear Your Data and Factory Reset Your Tesla
To fully remove your data when selling or returning your car, you’ll have to make changes through both your car’s touchscreen and on your Tesla account.
Tesla Factory Reset: Touchscreen Menu
To do a full factory reset on your Tesla, use the main touchscreen menu inside the car to navigate to:
Service > Factory Reset
At this point, you should be prompted to log in to your Tesla account with your email and password. The screen will prompt you one more time (“Are you sure?”) to confirm the action, because you can’t undo a factory reset once it’s complete.
Once you confirm the reset, your Tesla will power down, then restart/reboot. This may happen more than once; sometimes the car will have to reboot a few times before the reset process has finished.
The factory reset will wipe all data from the car, and your driver profile should no longer be visible on the touchscreen. If you are now going to transfer your Tesla to someone else (whether to a buyer, 3rd party, or back to Tesla), you’ll need to remove the Tesla from your account.
Note: If you don’t have a Tesla account associated with this car (a possible scenario in the case of a loaner vehicle), check the section on loaner cars below to remove information manually.
Remove a Tesla from Your Account: Tesla App
Warning: Removing a Tesla from your app is typically NOT part of fixing a software glitch unless you are told by a Tesla service center to do so. If you remove a Tesla from your account, you may need to re-submit ownership documentation to Tesla to get your car added to your account again. Confirming ownership and re-adding a Tesla to your account can take several days.
Here are two things to consider before you remove/transfer a Tesla from your account:
- You won’t be able to use a Tesla Supercharger if your vehicle has already been removed from your Tesla account. Removing a Tesla from your account will wipe the Tesla’s access to your payment information.
- Another effect of removing a Tesla from your account is that you won’t be able to use your phone as the key to your Tesla. Make sure you have located the key cards for your Tesla and have them on hand before you remove or transfer a Tesla.
You shouldn’t remove a Tesla from your account until the moment you are handing the car off to the next owner or third party buyer. Don’t remove/transfer a Tesla that you still legally own.
To remove a Tesla from your account, you’ll need to open your Tesla app.
Navigate to: Account > Add / Remove Product > Remove
Select the Tesla you want to remove, and follow the on-screen prompts to select the option to transfer the vehicle or to skip the transfer step. You’ll be prompted to confirm your login information before finalizing the removal of the Tesla.
Once you’ve removed your Tesla from your account, any Tesla subscriptions you have associated with that car will be canceled.
Removing a Tesla from your app severs the link between it and your personal and financial information. You should still be able to see documentation and information related to the removed car in your history as long as you have a Tesla account, but the next user of the Tesla won’t have access to that info.
How to Manually Remove Data from a Loaner Tesla (or Any Tesla)
Tesla loaner vehicles also store a decent amount of your data and should be wiped before you return them. With loaner access added to your Tesla account, you should be able to do a factory reset on the loaner before handing it off. However, unless you accept the invite to add the loaner to your profile, you may not have access to wipe the loaner as easily as a Tesla that you own.
Fortunately, a lot of your data can be wiped manually by going through the Tesla menu and deleting sensitive information. This won’t remove the data from the deep memory of the car, but most people won’t be able to retrieve your deleted data.
Let’s walk through some of the sensitive data that you should remove:
If you’ve added your phone as a key in the Tesla app, you should remove it. Navigate to Locks > Remove Phone Keys to take your phone off the list of approved keys for this Tesla.
If you’ve used HomeLink to keep garage device information stored on your Tesla, go to Controls > HomeLink Settings, select the device(s) you want to remove, and choose Delete.
Streaming Services (and Other 3rd Party Services)
Log out of any streaming service accounts (Netflix, Spotify, etc) you may have used in your Tesla by opening each app in the Infotainment center and navigating to each logout option. Some of these log out options are reportedly hard to find, so you could try using a Log Out of All Devices option on your main account for each app. If you use other 3rd party apps like TeslaFi, make sure to log out of those as well.
While you can’t clear out all travel information manually (this requires a factory reset), you can go to Navigation > Recent Destinations to select the destination list and delete more recent trips. You can accomplish this manually by either swiping right on each destination card or holding down the destination until an x appears to delete the entry. You can also delete Favorite Destinations, Charging, Home, and Work this way.
Contacts and Call history
To remove access to your contacts and call history, go to the Tesla’s Controls menu and click on the Bluetooth icon. Select your phone, then change your access permission settings. Afterwards, make sure to unpair your phone by selecting Forget This Device.
And that’s it! Whether you want to reset your Tesla Model 3 before handing it off to a new owner or have a Model X that’s just glitchy enough to give a factory reset a try, we hope you follow some of these steps to keep your Tesla running smoothly and your personal data safe.
Selling Your Tesla? Here Are Two Ways to Make the Sale
Ready to sell a used Tesla and wondering where to start? We’re here to help!
Your listing can go live within just a few minutes, right in front of buyers who are looking for exactly what you’re selling: a used Tesla!
So what’s better than getting a listing up with just a few clicks? Requesting an EV Cash Offer at the same time, with the same account!
Our EV Cash Offer system puts your Tesla in front of dealerships who are ready to make you a real, no-obligation cash offer. We’ve vetted and verified every dealer in our network; each one has extensive EV knowledge and can accurately judge what your Tesla is worth and how to value its special features.
Give yourself the gift of selling options. See how much you can get for your Tesla by registering for an account today!