How to improve Tesla WiFi signal reception
Tesla provides regular software updates for its vehicles. This means that even older vehicles will still have new functions and improvements after years. These updates are automatically downloaded via the mobile network of the SIM card installed on the vehicle. Alternatively, if the vehicle is connected to a Wi-Fi Network (WLAN), it can also obtain updates from Tesla over this network connection. For this to work well, a good Wi-Fi connection to the Tesla is necessary.
But transferring data over the SIM card costs Tesla money. That’s the reason why updates are preferably distributed to the vehicles via WLAN. So if you can connect your Tesla to your WLAN at home, you will usually receive updates faster. Map updates for built-in navigation in the left instrument screen of Model S and Model X are even distributed exclusively via WLAN, as these packages are huge.
WLAN / Wi-Fi Home Installations for your Tesla
In the best case, your WLAN from your home reaches to the parked vehicle. If this is not the case in terms of range, the simplest solution is to provide an additional WLAN signal near the vehicle. This can be achieved, for example, via a “WLAN repeater” device. The repeater amplifies the in-house WLAN signal and thus “extends” it into the garage.
Depending on the structural conditions, even that is not enough. As an alternative, an additional WLAN “access point” can be installed in the garage if a power source is available in the garage. The access point provides its WLAN for the Tesla and is connected to the existing Internet router in the house via a network cable (LAN) or the power line:
Even in this case, however, it is possible that the WLAN reception is not strong enough at the Tesla and you need to improve it. Objects made of metal reflect the WLAN signals and thus reduce their signal strength. An underground car park with cars is unfortunately inevitably full of metal…
In my case, besides several cars, I also have some metal grids of the storage rooms in my garage. These are about the worst conditions for a Wi-Fi Network.
Improve Tesla Wi-Fi reception signal strength
With the following trick, I managed to install a stable WLAN signal in my garage anyway. Fortunately, there is a power socket directly at the parking lot in my storage room. So, I chose the variant with the additional Internet Access Point in the garage. The access point is connected to my internet router in the apartment via power line. As an access point I use the Edimax AC1200 RE11S (Amazon.com* / Amazon.co.uk*) because it has removable antennas (more about this feature later). This access point is sold separately or in a double pack. In my case, I only need one device for the garage. So, a new WLAN is now available in the garage and also works with the Internet Browser and Spotify in the car. Nevertheless, the signal seems to be somehow not stable enough. Even after more than two months and several new software versions no updates have been downloaded to my Tesla.
I contacted Tesla Support to find out why my vehicle has not received any updates over WLAN for months. The support could find out that my Tesla connects himself to the WLAN successfully to download updates, but these downloads are always aborted due to the bad WLAN signal reception. So, the vehicle starts the download every time from the beginning and never finishes with an update. A bad WLAN signal strength like this can even prevent updates completely. If a WLAN is available, the car obviously doesn’t even try to download via the SIM card anymore.
With this knowledge, I had an idea: Instead of the original antennas I use the router now with a WLAN directional antenna. TL-ANT2409A from TP-Link (Amazon.com* / Amazon.co.uk*). With the corresponding extension cable (Amazon.com* / Amazon.co.uk*) I could place the antenna ideally in front of the car and the signal was not shielded by the metal grid anymore. With this I can direct the WLAN signal of the router directly to the WLAN antenna in the Tesla and thus I always have maximum signal strength and a stable WLAN in the car (the WLAN antenna is located on the right side mirror on the Model S and X. On the Model 3 the antenna is in the connection between the two B columns).
This whole installation looks like this with my Model S now:
Since then, the updates always work perfectly and arrive quickly in my vehicle.
It can be worthwhile to improve the Tesla WLAN reception if you are interested in quickly available updates. However, depending on the situation, it is also not easy to bring a stable and strong signal to the vehicle. The directional beam antenna from TP-Link works with all Internet access points with removable antennas according to the RP-SMA standard. Caution: When choosing another access point, make sure to use the correct antenna connector type (Male/Female). The TP-Link antenna has the RP-SMA female connector, so at the access point it must be the RP-SMA male connector.
But there are other brands of directional antennas available.
My USB Flash Drive recommendations for Sentry Mode and Dashcam: