Can Tesla Disable Your Car? (Surprising Answer)

Can Tesla disable your car? Teslas are becoming an increasingly popular electric vehicle option for people, but some say they’re not to be trusted because the company has the ability to disable your car. 

Fast Facts: Tesla can disable your car by accessing the remote settings, however, this is something that seems to be rarely done.  Tesla seems to only disable cars in special circumstances, such as when certain features aren’t paid for or when they deem a car unsafe.

Still, wondering if and how a Tesla can be disabled?  This article will explore the different scenarios in which Tesla has reportedly disabled cars and why they do it.

When Has Tesla Disabled Vehicles in the Past?

Tesla has been known to disable vehicles when drivers manipulate the seat settings too often

Some drivers have reported seeing a warning displayed on their dashboard after 90 seconds of seat adjusting. 

It has been said that if drivers continue to change their seat settings for more than five minutes, Tesla removes their ability to adjust the seat altogether.  

Another reported instance of Tesla disabling vehicles is when a driver had his vehicle serviced at a Tesla-certified mechanic while it was still under warranty. 

The shop had looked up the client’s information and deemed the car unregistered for the warranty, charging the man full price for the service.  When he drove off not paying, they shut the vehicle down.

Tesla has also had incidents of disabling vehicles unknowingly.  Some drivers report having their vehicle randomly shut down while driving and later being presented on their dash a series of options to click through to report what had happened. 

One driver even claimed her dash had the option for her to click on “Car shut down while driving”. 

In some very tragic circumstances, Tesla vehicles have disabled settings that make it impossible for drivers to escape during an emergency. 

For example, there have been reports that a driver was the victim of a Tesla’s faulty suspension, making the car crash into a palm tree and set fire
When this happened, the doors became disabled, killing Omar.

Resold Tesla vehicles are also at risk of being disabled.  When these cars are resold, Tesla stands by the perception that since the new owner of the vehicle did not pay in full for the car and its features, they don’t deserve to use it the way it was intended to be used when sold originally (with all the features).   

Why Does Tesla Disable Vehicles? 

Safety Concerns And Preventative Measures

There are different reasons Tesla may disable a driver’s vehicle, but most of the reasons are due to safety concerns. 

Tesla’s concern with drivers changing seat settings too frequently and in a short amount of time put the motors inside the power seat in jeopardy, raising the risk of a fire hazard.

Additionally, Tesla vehicles now have a feature disabled that used to allow drivers to play video games while driving. 

Tesla disabling this feature was an attempt to increase driver awareness while using autopilot mode.   

Strict Company Policies

Tesla has been known for its unique vision and company policies which include not providing support to those who own rebuilt Tesla models. 

That being said, Tesla can and will disable any rebuilt vehicle that comes into a shop and claims to be under warranty (due to their strict rebuilding policy). 

Another policy Tesla has in place revolves around models that have been resold to people besides the original owner. 

Tesla stands firmly by the policy that once a vehicle is resold by the first owner, all the features that originally came with the car should be revoked. 

To have features reestablished, customers must pay a fee starting around $12,000.  

Mechanical Malfunction

Some Tesla vehicles disable randomly, most likely due to errors within the computer system or the communication between the computer and engine. 

In these cases, Tesla usually works with the customer to make sure they’re reimbursed for rideshare fees or provide a loaner vehicle.

In certain scenarios such as unfortunate mechanical malfunctions, Tesla vehicles may wreck or perform below average. 

In these cases, the Tesla company may not be aware of any mechanical issues and fail to assist the driver when necessary, such as not opening doors during crucial moments due to a collision causing damage to the computer system.  

How Does Tesla Disable Vehicles?

Tesla can disable their customer’s vehicles in many different ways, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. 

For example, there are instances in which the vehicle can become damaged and certain features will become disabled due to the damage.  

Another instance in which Tesla can disable a vehicle is by shutting down its ability to function whatsoever. 

This is done remotely via a Tesla employee using a computer program that has been installed onto company computers. 

Finally, Tesla will remotely deactivate driver’s cars if they find that the driver is behaving in an unsafe manner (such as manipulating seat settings too frequently). 

Tesla has even disabled drivers from playing previously accessible games on the dashboard while driving.


Although Tesla has the ability to remotely shut down customer cars at any given moment, this only seems to happen when there are policy violations, safety concerns or mechanical malfunctions. 

Generally, neither Tesla employees nor Tesla software programs engage in haphazardly disabling driver’s vehicles.  

In certain cases such as drivers engaging in unsafe behaviors (over-adjusting settings or attempting to game while driving) in-cabin cameras and sensors are utilized to monitor and prevent possible harm to both the driver and the vehicle. 

Tesla also has specific policies in place that require it to disable a car’s features if it is rebuilt or resold.  

Finally, as with all things, accidents do happen.  Although Tesla cars are said to be very reliable and efficient,  sometimes car parts can become damaged without sensors properly picking up this information. 

This can lead to key features becoming disabled in the vehicle, such as doors not opening/shutting, the wheel not turning properly, etc.