Tesla Won’t Go Into Gear – Easy Fix Below!


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.

Top reasons your Tesla won’t go into gear include:

  • Frunk is Open
  • Update currently in progress
  • Software update fail
  • Full reboot required

In this article, we’ll look at why your Tesla won’t go into gear and how we can fix the problem.

Tesla-digital-dash-hood-open-warning

Frunk is Open

The very first thing you need to check is 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.

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 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, selection can still be hampered because of software issues.

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 Wifi that is strong enough to complete an update.

This could mean that you have to install a booster near where you regularly park and charge your car. This will enhance the strength of your Wifi connection, which will enable 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, either in your App or onscreen.

If you feel that your Tesla is glitching, then 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 do a reboot of 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, go through the process again and return the wheel size to your actual wheel 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.

Other posts you might find useful:

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

E John Cunningham

Hey, I’m John and I'm a technical writer here at EVjuicedup.com. I’m a Red Seal qualified Auto Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience working on Classic and Modern Cars. I've worked for GM, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Audi, and VW main dealers. Yep, I’ve skint my knuckles on them all!

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