Tesla’s Valet Mode

Believe it or not, a Valet Mode option for the Model S has been near the top of owner’s wish lists ever since the Model S was released — its just too tempting to launch yourself in the Model S.

With the release of the 6.2 update of Tesla’s firmware, Tesla finally provided a Valet Mode for the Model S. After the usual random wait time for getting it on my own car I finally got it and wanted to do a detailed write up of the feature.

The Need

Valet Mode sounds like something you’d only need when valet parking your car, but the concept is actually larger than that. While I have no plans on letting a valet park my car, I think the functionality will come in useful for my own needs.

The changes for Valet Mode falls into two major categories:

  1. Limits access to personal information
  2. Limits performance

We’ll explore how both were achieved in the 6.2 below, and both can apply to valets, family members and more.

Accessing Valet Mode

Enable Valet ModeValet Mode is accessible from the Driver Profiles drop down from the main display.

When first enabling Valet Mode you’ll be asked for a 4 digit PIN. You will need that PIN to disable Valet Model later. After enabling the first time, you will not be prompted for a PIN again when enabling Valet Mode — it will use the same PIN each time.

Your PIN once set does not need to be set again.

If you forget or want to change the PIN Tesla allows you to reset the PIN using your Teslamotors.com (My Tesla) login information.

When Valet Mode is enabled you’ll see the user profile set to “Valet” at the top of the 17″ display indicating you’re in Valet Mode. There are other indications like limited power and speed options on the driver’s display as well as some disabled functionality like the navigation places.

Also important to note is that you can only enter and exit Valet Mode in park. If put it in Valet Mode and start driving, you’re stuck in that miserably slow mode until you can find a place to stop.

Valet Mode can only be enabled and disabled when in Park.

Limited Access

Valet ModeTesla already limits access to your calendar and phone contacts when you’re not in the car as it requires the phone to be connected via bluetooth for it to show your information.

With Valet Mode Tesla did nothing new in this area. If you leave your phone in the car and enable Valet Mode, anyone using the car will be able to see your contacts and calendar.

Don’t leave your phone in the car after enabling Valet Mode.

Tesla disables certain functions when Valet Mode is enabled:

  • The ability to disable mobile app access.
  • Homelink access is disabled.
  • Bluetooth and Wifi settings are disabled.
  • The “Places” function is disabled to hide your favorites, home and work addresses, etc.

What isn’t hidden, but probably should be, are the following:

  • Charge locations (click on lightning bolt) — They can find your home address and perhaps other important family and other locations this way.
  • Web favorites — all your saved websites are still accessible to the valet. If you have logged into sites like webmail then they can also read your mail. This one is the most concerning omission I saw.

Tesla didn’t hide everything it should have with Valet Mode like Web favorites.

Limited Performance

Valet Mode PerformanceIn addition to limiting access in Valet Mode, Tesla also limits the performance of the Model S in two ways:

  1. Maximum speed is limited to 70 MPH (113 kmh)
  2. Maximum performance is limited to 80kW.

The limited speed and power can be seen on the driver’s display with the higher limits greyed out.

Its possible to exceed the maximum speed in Valet Mode, but this should not be a major concern.

When driving in this mode (its no fun!) I was able to get past the 70 MPH limit by accelerating (slowly) to 70MPH and then heading down a hill. Given the relatively high limit already, I don’t think this is a major concern. The main thing is your Valet Mode driver will not be doing 155 unless they find a large mountain to careen down.

If you’ve gotten used to the Model S and its performance, Valet Mode can be hard to adjust to with the limited power and speed, but the mode wasn’t created for owners.

Summary

Valet Mode was created to provide some security and safety for unknown, less responsible or less experienced drivers. I think in many ways it meets the goals in this first version. For the types of drivers Valet Mode is intended for it will take some of the urge and fun out of the driving experience and will hopefully lead to more responsible decisions and driving. My daughter is still working on her driver’s license and needs more experience behind the wheel, but I think its good for every driving family member to be able to drive every car for emergency reasons. Some day i’ll let her drive the Tesla, but it will be in Valet Mode so the performance will be less frightening — I dont have insane mode but a regular Model S 85 is still scary fast, especially for new drivers.

With the few gaps I saw I expect there will be updates to the feature over time to further refine the security and performance limitations, but as a whole I think it is a great initial take on the overall need expressed by owners and it will certainly meet my limited needs in this area.

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