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Radio Reception

I picked up my Model S two weeks ago today. The reception for the AM/FM radio is significantly worse than the reception for my other cars (I had seen a suggestion on another forum that you should disable the HD feature to improve the reception. While this limited the distortion, it did not improve the reception). I called Tesla and was told by one person I spoke with that they were aware of the issue and that there is a booster antenna available that the service department could install. When I called back to set up an appointment, I was told that the booster antenna was only for the Roadster and not the Model S. Has anyone experienced a similar issue and found a solution?

It is a common problem. Mine has not been solved but many report having the antenna wire grounded properly helped their reception.

I have the problem. As soon as I hear someone has had service fix it, I will bring it in for a fix. I have hear about the grounding, but nothing difinitive.

My MS is in the service center now and the reception issues is on the list. I am hoping they can fix it, but my loaner has the same problem, maybe even worse, and it is much newer (VIN +5000 compared to mine) so I am not optimistic. On the positive side, I only use the FM for talk radio so the static and fading in/out is easier to tolerate than it would be for music.

You can use TuneIn to listen to any radio station you want. As long as you have a decent 3G connection, your "reception" will be crystal clear.

My MS has been in service 3 times for the FM reception, still is worthless.
I am never told what they did or do, I drive off and it sounds like crap!

Reception for my FM/AM are both poor. I have a P85 and 5.0, less than a month old.

How many people like me have had no problem with radio reception FM/AM or XM?
Maybe they just can't figure out what they did right in my car and then replicate it?

My radio, XM, 3G & GPS reception has been perfect, no complaints from me. July delivery.

Nov delivery. Worst radio reception of any car I have ever owned!

August delivery. Terrible radio, but I have not been to the service center for it yet.

I received mine last April. Radio reception is good.

It is high time that Tesla takes care of this problem. The number of complaints is now considerable.

@bish "You can use TuneIn to listen to any radio station you want."

Sorry, but no. TuneIn does offer an impressive selection of radio stations, and allows access to stations that are geographically inaccessible. However, it does not offer all stations. My favorite station for my commute is not available.
In addition, some stations sound better than others. Many I have tried sound great but many do not sound as good as they would on XM or a proper signal with terrestrial radio.

I'm in Phoenix, took delivery 2 weeks ago and my FM works excellent on HD. I don't know if it's due to the antenna ground being done at the factory or that we have stronger signals here.

Tesla chose form over function by not putting an external AM/FM antenna on the car, which accounts for most of the crappy reception.

Drill a hole in the fender and wire a whip antenna into the receiver.

No external antenna. Elon vetoed the idea.

There are many discussions on MS radio reception issue in this Forums since the first MS in June 2012. One can search them via

FM/HD reception is fine, AM reception sucks eggs and service center says no fix that they know of but they'll keep investigating. I knew this was probably going to be an issue, so I can't say that I'm shocked or upset in any way, but it's a shame that a car of this caliber cannot get good radio reception.

A couple weeks ago I took the car to Fremont Service solely to have them improve AM/FM reception. The service manager said that only 20% of the cars they have modified with better grounding have seen any significant improvement, and there is nothing more they can do at this time. The AM reception and motor whine "is what it is."

I ended up cancelling the service because they had no loaner cars available, and Enteprise rent-a-car didn't open until 9 am (and I was there at 7:30 am on a Tuesday). I'll try one more time when my annual service comes up.

In the mean time, I'm quite happy with Tune-In, so I'm not missing much as long as I have a 3G connection.

Doesn't anyone concentrate on driving anymore?

If I could find out how to turn off the radio, then I might be able to concentrate. Can someone tell me where the off button is? I did find the volume and mute.

Mute is all you get, I think.

Elon refused to let the designers put any external antennas on the car, even 'shark fin' type.

Elon is a forward-thinking guy. He probably thought with 3G who in their right mind would ever use AM and FM anymore.

Just like a transmission, it's backward.

@ ramtaz - any time work is performed on your vehicle, they should provide you with a service order showing you exactly what was done. Ask for copies for your prior service visits, they should be able to email them to you.

@ tes-s - as far as I can tell, there is no "off" switch other than pushing the left thumbwheel/volume to mute the audio. That's what I use to "turn off" whatever audio is playing.

I've driven a couple of loaners all over Phoenix the last week, and I think I've figured out why this issue (at least with AM) is so variable. Whether your hear interference has to do with several factors:

  • Strength of signal
  • Frequency band
  • Proximity to external sources of interference (i.e., high tension power lines, motors, lightning, etc.)

If your AM station lies on the extreme ends of the AM band, or the signal is weak, or you are in the vicinity of external interference sources, or a combination of all or some of these will cause a whining noise when accelerating or decelerating (regen). At constant freeway speed, interference is minimal and appears related to acceleration and deceleration only.

This would also explain why some of us hear it and others don't. It seems to depend a lot on the above variables, which may be due to nothing more than bad antenna placement. This is most likely why there is no fix, but I've learned to get most of my syndicated programming from TuneIn (local station is not listed there).

An external antenna may also be hidden in the form of a thin wire in the frame of the upper wind shield. Nobody would see it.

I love my Tesla. But the radio is the crappiest radio i've ever had. And It's a hundred thousand dollars car!


Thank you AmpedRealtor, I have yet to receive any service paperwork copies or emails.
Ill call TESLA ownership and see if I can have them emailed, for future reference.

AM whining - AFAIK, there are no alternators in ModS that would cause whining in the AM radio. However, solid state regulators that use a pulse-width-modulated field control system can also create a whine. The intensity and pitch of regulator induced noise changes with changing current load. That would be consistent with the observation in AmpedRealtor's last post relating to acceleration and deceleration.

I am in Southern California and my AM and FM is fine.

I am in Maine, and the FM reception is very bad in weak signal areas but just fine when the signal is strong. Never had problems in any areas here with my previous car (MB SL500) or with my wife's car (MB E-Class). Haven't checked AM yet. XM is bad around big groups of trees, just fine in other areas.

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