Teslas are amazing. Full of technology and drive like a dream. But no use to anyone if it won’t go into gear. Don’t panic! I’ve been a mechanic for 25-plus years. Read on to find out how to fix the problem.
The top reasons your Tesla won’t go into gear include the following:
- Frunk is Open
- Update currently in progress
- Software update fail
- Full reboot required
This article will examine why your Tesla won’t go into gear and how we can fix the problem.
Frunk is Open
First, you need to check if the Frunk is open. If the frunk is open, then your Tesla will not be able to shift gears. It is a safety issue, and shifting is disabled if the frunk is not completely secure. Some funks can be problematic and refuse to close; if that sounds like it might be your problem, I wrote a post all about the fix – Tesla funk won’t close
You will have a notification that the frunk is open. To fully close the frunk, you must use two hands on either side of the Tesla logo. Press firmly down, and the latches will engage.
Using only one hand can damage the hood. It is made of aluminum, and too much pressure in the wrong place can dent the hood.
Update Currently in Progress
If your car won’t select a gear, the next thing to check is whether the car currently updating. If an update is in progress, then you can’t drive or select a gear.
If you have Auto Update enabled, the car may have become disabled for the moment.
You can’t drive your Tesla while an update is being carried out for safety reasons. The screen and other onboard computers may not be available. Once an update has begun, you can’t pause it.
For this reason, I’m not sure that Auto Update is a good choice, especially if your Tesla is your primary driver. You can alter the Update preferences to a time that suits your schedule better.
You can do this by:
- Selecting Controls
- Select Software
- Select Software Update Preferences
- Here Select either Advanced or Standard
Advanced selection will update as soon as the update becomes available. Standard allows you to select a time that suits you better.
If a current update is not causing the issue, you could have a connection problem. Let’s look at that next.
Software Update Fail
Tesla gear selection is dependent on the Model and year of your Tesla. Newer Model S and X (mid-2021) no longer have the PRND stick. Gear selection is now made on the touchscreen with the suggested directions.
Regardless of the gear application, software issues can still hamper selection.
Tesla regularly completes OTA (over-the-air) software updates. Some are major and noticeable, but many happen, and we can’t identify any difference at all.
On rare occasions, an OTA will begin but not complete. Let’s look at the reasons why:
- Wifi not strong enough
- Connection lost mid update
Wifi Not Strong Enough
Wifi connection can be hit-and-miss for many. There’s always part of the house where the Wifi is strongest, but unfortunately, that’s usually not our garage or our driveway.
Wherever we park, we must have strong enough Wifi to complete an update.
This could mean installing a booster near where you regularly park and charge your car. This will enhance your Wifi connection’s strength, enabling OTA to happen without it failing halfway through.
Connection Lost Mid Update
Your Wifi needs a strong connection, but it also needs to be reliable, which in fairness, most connections are nowadays.
You will have received a notification that an update is on the way or has been completed in your App or onscreen.
If you feel your Tesla is glitching, the update may have failed halfway through because the connection was lost. You can check at any time for an updated status.
- Select Controls
- Select Software
- Your Tesla will check for any updates
You can then see if one is available or whether everything is up to date. There will be a ‘Yellow’ download icon if one is ready to activate.
You can decide to update now or at a scheduled time. If you start it immediately, the icon will change color to ‘Green’ or ‘White’ if a schedule has been set.
How Does this Affect My Gears?
If a software update has failed, then the onboard computers can get a bit glitchy. They might be unsure as to whether it is safe for you to drive your Tesla and so shut it down.
To overcome this, you can do a couple of things.
Check for an update and install immediately or reboot the system.
It’s always worth checking, especially if you’re unsure of your connection.
Once you have finished updating, it’s good to do a Hard Reboot. This will realign all the computers and get everything back on track. We’ll look at how to do that now if you are unsure.
Full Hard Reboot of Tesla Required
Complete the following steps to do a Hard Reboot of your Tesla:
- Put your Tesla in Park
- Remove any auxiliary items that are plugged in, i.e., phones, USB drives
- Press and hold the Brake
- Hold both scroll wheels on your steering wheel for 10-15 seconds
- The touchscreen will go black
- Tesla Logo will appear
- When everything is back, your system will be fully up to date
The difference between a hard and soft reboot is the holding of the Brake.
Tesla Override Trick
If you are having gear problems and can’t seem to get to the bottom of it, Tesla has an override trick that customer service seems to be recommended. And when our gears are not cooperating, we’ll try anything, right?
To shift gear, we press the brake pedal and move the stick up or down for Drive and Reverse.
But if nothing is responding, we have a problem.
Surprisingly, almost tricking your Tesla into thinking you have switched out your wheel size for an alternative size will, in fact, get your gears working.
To do this, follow these steps:
- Select Controls
- Select Service
- Select Wheel Configuration
- Warnings will appear – this is ok as it’s only temporary
- Select an Alternative Size
- Select Confirm
The screen will then turn off and begin to reboot. When the screen is back up and running, repeat the process and return the wheel size to your actual size.
Again click Confirm. Once again, the screen will Reboot, but this time your Gear Shifter will return to normal.
Tesla explains it as a firmware issue more than likely caused by a connection problem during an OTA. But whatever gets the job done, right?
If the problem continues, it’s always worth a check-in with Tesla Service Center. Most of the time, they can do a remote check to alert them to any update problems.
I’ve written a ton on common Tesla issues, which hopefully you won’t ever experience, but if you do, we have you covered with these posts:
- Tesla frunk won’t close
- What to do if Tesla screen is black
- Tesla Model S won’t forget Bluetooth
- Tesla won’t go into reverse
Check out the Tesla troubleshooting page for problem Teslas.
Check out the Tesla charging page for common Tesla charging problems.
Check out the Tesla category page for a list of popular Tesla posts.
If you are curious about other EV models, check out the EV FAQ category.
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