Car Key Shows Signs of Wear - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test
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2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Car Key Shows Signs of Wear

December 27, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Car keys have a tough life. They spend the bulk of their time rustling around in pockets and purses. They rattle up against adjacent house keys on the same ring. And they sometimes get dropped.

Modern push-start smart-entry key systems have evolved away from serrated teeth. As a result they stay firmly planted in one's pocket or purse more of the time. But they still endure a lot of handling and jostling.

The "key" to our 2013 Model S is of this basic type, but like everything else on the Tesla it's a bit different. It's smooth and seamless. You can't see the three embedded buttons for the frunk, doors and hatch.

That's how it started, anyway. With use, circumferential seams began to emerge. The one for the doors split all the way around and fell off, revealing the actual button below.

At first, some in the office thought it was a new, improved key with a visible unlock button. They said they disliked not knowing exactly where to squeeze the "old" one to achieve the desired result. They even went so far as to say the red ring was a cool touch.

It didn't take long for the little black disk to fracture and fall off, especially considering that the doors automatically unlock and extend their handles with no need for a button press. Most staffers limit their button use to making sure the car is locked as they walk away. Or maybe they'll press the button to find the car in a crowded parking lot now and again.

I still have the black plastic dot. It fell off in my pocket and I saved it. I thought about super-gluing it back on, but quickly dismissed the idea because I figured I'd dribble some into the works or get it on crooked. It'd never look as good as the pristine spare pictured above on the right, the one that's been kept unused in a lock box for safekeeping.

Even knowing what really happened, few are bothered by this development. They kind of prefer it this way. Do you care? Or would you put the spare into circulation?

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 14,901 miles (but it happened at 10,000 miles or thereabouts)

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