When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
A mobile hotspot in your car is a great way to stream music without interruptions. When you connect your Tesla to a mobile hotspot, you can also expect better GPS monitoring.
Despite rumors of Tesla testing Premium Connectivity as a Wi-Fi hotspot, there is no way to tether other devices to your car’s Wi-Fi. Premium Connectivity is limited to Tesla applications that require an internet connection.
How to Connect the Tesla to a Wi-Fi Hotspot
Tesla Premium Connectivity is an optional service that allows drivers to use Wi-Fi-enabled features as they drive. The Tesla internet service currently costs $10 a month or $99 a year.
If you decide not to opt for Premium Connectivity, you can connect your Tesla to most Wi-Fi networks in range.
But while you’re driving, the only way to ensure a stable internet connection without Premium Connectivity is to use your phone as a hotspot.
- Enable your mobile device’s hotspot.
- Select “Controls” on your Tesla’s touch screen, then tap the Wi-Fi icon.
- Select your phone’s Wi-Fi network and enter your password.
Once connected, your Tesla will remain connected to your Wi-Fi network whenever it’s available.
Wi-Fi Hotspot vs Tesla Premium Connectivity
I like convenience. If you can offer me the ability to get into the car, put my phone away, and still have access to the internet, I’m throwing my money at you.
However, as we move towards faster data speeds on our mobile devices, I can see the inconvenience of paying for a subscription that essentially does the same thing as a hotspot.
Tesla’s Premium Connectivity does make it easier to get in your car, plan your journey, pop on a Spotify playlist, and get moving without the need to troubleshoot connections between the car and your phone.
But without improved speeds or connectivity for devices within the car, that’s really all it does. You can still access all the internet-connected apps on your Tesla when connected to your phone’s hotspot.
Dig into the details, and you’ll see that some traffic live view functionality isn’t available when your car is tethered to a mobile hotspot, but that’s all.
It’s also worth noting that there is a manual process required to update your Tesla for Premium Connectivity, which may not be worth the headache to some.
Tesla Standard Connectivity vs Premium Connectivity
As with most electric vehicles, your Tesla gives you some wireless connectivity without a subscription.
EVs are more dependent on their on board operating systems than ever before. As a result, most manufacturers have opted for over-the-air updates — which require what Tesla calls “Standard Connectivity.”
|Feature||Tesla Standard Connectivity||Tesla Premium Connectivity|
|Live Traffic Visualization||✔️|
|Sentry Mode – Live Camera Viewing||✔️|
Like most modern cars, you can still access your Tesla’s navigation feature without a subscription. But if you want any other internet-connected feature, you’ll need to use a Wi-Fi hotspot or sign up for Premium Connectivity.
Troubleshooting: Tesla Won’t Connect to Wi-Fi Hotspot
Connecting your Tesla to a Wi-Fi hotspot is just like connecting any other device to the internet. So if your car won’t connect, keeps dropping the connection, or is just slow overall, you should:
- Ensure your hotspot is enabled in your phone’s settings.
- Make sure you’re entering the password correctly.
- Check if you have service. Since hotspots depend on a cellular signal, they won’t work if you’re in a dead zone.
- Verify that you haven’t removed your car from your hotspot.
- Check your available cellular data for the month. If you’ve gone over your data plan’s limit, you may not be able to use your hotspot.
If you still can’t connect, you may need to reboot the software:
- Safely park your car.
- Press and hold the scroll buttons on either side of the steering wheel for about 10 seconds.
- The screen should restart to indicate a reboot.
If that doesn’t work, you might need to reboot your entire car:
- Select the “Service” menu on your Tesla’s touch screen.
- Tap “Power Off.”
- Wait until all the lights go out and the car stops making sounds. This can take up to 5 minutes.
- Press the brake pedal to wake the car.
Whatever problem that was preventing you from connecting should solve itself from here.
FAQ: Tesla’s Wi-Fi Capabilities
What is a Wi-Fi Hotspot?
A Wi-Fi hotspot uses your phone’s mobile data to connect devices to the internet when traditional Wi-Fi isn’t available.
You can connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot the same way you would connect to a standard Wi-Fi network through your device.
Does Tesla’s Premium Connectivity Have a Data Cap?
Tesla doesn’t have a data cap on Premium Connectivity per se, but they do have language in their terms and conditions pertaining to “excessive use,” and they reserve the right to reduce bandwidth to customers using large amounts of data.
Can I Use Premium Connectivity While Driving?
You can use Caraoke or Spotify while driving, and of course, your live navigation will continue to function during your journey.
But if you’re hoping for a futuristic scenario where you sit back browsing the web while autopilot safely delivers you to your destination, you’ll be disappointed. Tesla disables video streaming and gaming while driving.
However, the newest Model 3 is on the horizon, which features a rear passenger screen. Whether or not Tesla will enable in-car entertainment for those passengers remains to be seen.
What Data Provider Does Tesla Use?
Internet access with Tesla’s Premium Connectivity is provided by AT&T. If you live in an area where AT&T’s coverage isn’t the best, you shouldn’t expect it to be any better in your Tesla.