Over the years I have experienced various minor problems with the bluetooth connection between my Tesla Model S and my IPhone 5.
The problems were very intermittent and at some point after being connected, the two stopped speaking to each other. The difficulty with the problem was that there was no easy solution while driving. I would reboot the touchscreen (holding both scroll steering wheel buttons down), reboot the center dash (holding both top steering wheel buttons down), and reboot (power down) the iPhone or clear the memory (power down button and home button) on the Iphone. About 50% of the time, rebooting everything allowed the connection to restore immediately but sometimes I had to wait and run through the process again when it was more convenient.
It can be a little strange to drive while rebooting these screens. They both go blank and you have no indication of your speed while driving. For a short period of time the climate control is off and you will notice the minor difference in sound. The car still functions just fine, and I have rebooted the screens many times now and it feels normal.
When I went in for service for other issues, I would often mention my bluetooth issue, and the service department would look at it but could not reproduce my problem. At one point in my career I had to reproduce intermittent problems. Intermittent problems are always hard to reproduce, and software issues can rarely be fixed before they are reproduced.
I was told to not leave the phone in the pocket below the touchscreen or in the lower pockets in my cargo pants where I frequently keep my phone. These locations below the touchscreen have a fair amount of interference. After these instructions, I drove either with the phone in the door pocket, in the back of my center console, or on the passenger seat. But the problem still cropped up from time to time. Since the problem was infrequent enough, I let it go until I started to get some warnings. One error was on the dash (sorry the photo is so blurry) that said “Touchscreen Needs Service”.
The second message occurred a few weeks later on the touch screen “Bluetooth Not Functioning Correctly – Needs Service”.
I have learned over the years that the first thing I do with an unusual warning before rebooting the screens is to call or email Tesla. They call pull the logs on the car and hopefully find the cause of my problems.
Since the car was now acknowledging its issues, the service department decided to look at my bluetooth issues again.(Other than the bluetooth, they checked the seatbelt pre-tensioners on the voluntary recall and they were fine)
In the vehicle and diagnostic logs, they did find an internal fault in the touchscreen.
“We’ve reopened your concern with our engineers and we will be replacing your touchscreen. With this replacement unit, you should have better connectivity with your bluetooth. The updated touchscreen has a built-in extended bluetooth antenna that your old touchscreen did not have. “
I’ve driven a couple of thousand miles since this service with no bluetooth problems. I have been using my phone a lot more than I normally do as I need to answer calls for a volunteer gig this winter. I also drove down to San Diego and listened an entire audiobook from the Iphone.
I was lucky my car was still under a warranty program as this touchscreen is a $5,000 part. Very few owners have reported bluetooth issues on the forums so I don’t think this problem is widespread.
I think my car has had more problems than average, but I have an early VIN. But I have also have gotten full valet service and the opportunity to test drive a lot of fabulous loaner cars!