Join The Community

Minimalist Documentation

We have a MS and our other car is an Audi A8 and I noted the difference between the documentation for the Tesla (~30 pages, if I recall) and the combined user manuals for the Audi (~600 pages: ridiculous!!!).

Now I understand the rationale behind the minimalist approach to documentation by Tesla, given the soft nature of many of the controls and of course the desire to reduce cost, but we did have an issue a few days ago:

For the first time, we tried to use a ChargePoint charger and by the time we'd freed the charge cable, applied the adapter etc, unbeknownst to us, the car had locked. So when we tried to plug the cable into the charge port, it wouldn't go in. Didn't realize that it was due to the fact that the car was locked. Would have been really nice if that had been documented somewhere. I guess I should have thought to volkerize the problem... perhaps I would have found a post!

Anyone else out there who reads user manuals from cover to cover and would have benefitted from just a bit more info?

Happened to me too! I knew that the charger could not be removed when the car was locked, so I just guessed that was the problem and unlocked the car and it worked.

I've never read a car manual, except to figure out something like programming homelink.

I also have Tesla's number programmed into my phone and figure I'll let them look it up for me. Called only once so far; they told me how to reboot and it resolved the problem.

+1 @jjb The user manual is sorely lacking. I inadvertently removed the energy graph from the right side of dash display and after several hours of trying to restore it I gave up and deleted my driver profile and created a new one. I know that new software/firmware releases can change the way most everything can function so keeping the printed hard copy current is not practical.

An on line version by release should be available for owners.

If a detailed online version is available I have not been able to find it.

I am a manual reader too. The best part of Christmas Day was devouring the manual of the new "toy" I just received. I frequently learn about features that I didn't realize existed by just thumbing through a manual.

There was a comment by JeromeG at Teslive that he was in favor of going without paper manuals at altogether. But, what would you do if you had a problem in a location where there was no connectivity or if you had a screen go buggy on you? I'm uncomfortable about going paperless for such applications.

A downloadable PDF document from the web can be stored and read on a smartphone or tablet too, in case the car's screen goes buggy or loses power. Those who are uncomfortable going completely paperless can print it out themselves. Not producing a big paper manual just makes too much economic sense for the company. However the manual of course should include critical tips, and it should be available on the web (IMHO).

Also note that the Europe Manual (available on the manuals page) is MUCH more comprehensive than the US manual, and with a few exceptions is completely applicable to the US car.

I suspect the reason why the manual for the MS is so small, compared to that of your typical ICE vehicle, is due to the fact that nothing is permanent (i.e. continues future firmware upgrades can change many things).

I guess the MS somewhat more similar to that of owning a computer or smartphone, in that most computers and smartphones only come with a very basic instructional manual, based on it's most basic fixed hardware.

I know it's hard having to always re-learning the functionality of your car, however, that is also part of the joy of owning the MS, as it is constantly improving, and evolving.

If it doesn't work like you remember, just make a quick call to customer care, and they usually can explain it fairly quick.

You can find the Europe manual at Scroll down to "Model S Owners Manual Europe", the file is called This manual is 145 pages vs. the 40 of the US version. Hope that helps.

The best manual to me is the 28 min video on the Tesla website or YouTube called Tesla Model S - Official Walkthrough HD. I've watched it over and over while waiting for my late December delivery.

It's just Dan Adams head current Sr. Mgr. Systems and Integration and former Sr. Mechanical Engineer at Tesla. I've watched him explain everything about the car, key fob, charging port, home link, dash and 17" screen so many times that I've developed a man crush.


Thanks for posting the link to the EU version of the Owners Manual. Very interesting and useful.

FYI my S85 which I picked up on the 25th included the "thick" 125 page manual as a book in the glove compartment. It is the American version of the one posted here. Very big improvement over the little brochure manual from before. Actually seems to cover everything in decent detail.

The last thing covered in the Official Walkthrough video is the contents of the Glove Compartment which is all of the documents listed at the bottom of the My Dashboard page printed.

I hate thick manuals. So much easier and convenient to access a digital document on an iPad than haul around ten pounds of dead trees. My BMW had so many pages of paper data I stored it under my spare tire to get it out of the way. Haven't run in to any questions on the car that were hard to figure out or get the info. I did watch the videos before delivery and found them to be much more effective than having a person explain things.

Copied from page 16 of the owners manual;

" To prevent unauthorized unplugging of the charging cable, Model S must be unlocked or able to recognize a key before you can disconnect the charging cable".

Probably should say ...before you can connect or disconnect the charging cable....

The manual also says this on page 16;

"With your key nearby, press and hold the button on a Tesla charging cable and the charge port door opens.
If the cable you are using doesn’t
have this button, touch CONTROLS
> CHARGE PORT on the
touchscreen (located in the DOORS
& LOCKS area as shown on pages
8 and 10). You can also open
it by touching the battery icon on
the top of the touchscreen, then touching OPEN CHARGE PORT"

If you follow the directions and your key is nearby the port will be unlocked.

Thanks for the link to the European manual. I've downloaded it and will make it my next Xmas present :-)

X Deutschland Site Besuchen