What is the Purpose of Tesla Sentry Mode?

A Tesla battery, body, and other electric components contribute to its steep market price. Hence, a Tesla owner can suffer a tremendous financial loss and mental stress if their electric car gets stolen.

However, this is where sentry mode comes in.

What is the Sentry Mode in Tesla?

The United States of America has one the highest automobile theft rates globally. According to 2017’s federal statistics, one automobile, including electric vehicles, is expected to get stolen every 41 seconds in the country.

Tesla is a brand that focuses on designing user-friendly electric vehicles that consumers can enjoy for a long time.

The company is aware of its high-priced electric vehicles and has designed built-in systems to prevent theft. One of the best EV security systems designed by Tesla so far is sentry mode.

Sentry mode is a built-in system that comes built into Tesla electric cars. Its primary purpose is to discourage thieves and protect the vehicle from theft or break-ins.

Tesla Sentry Mode
Tesla Car

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How Does the Tesla Sentry Mode Work?

This built-in software feature starts examining the environment around the Tesla right after the owner leaves the car. This means that the car has non-stop monitoring and protection.

Sentry mode has three states:

  • Standby
  • Alert
  • Alarm

It activates automatically when the Tesla is left unattended. Like home alarms, sentry mode first goes in a standby state.

Tesla cameras continue to work even after the car is turned off. This feature allows sentry mode to use the electric vehicle’s external cameras to examine its surroundings.

If the camera detects any form of threat or potential danger, sentry mode kicks into action. It immediately shifts from the standby state to a state of ‘Alert.’

As a result, the Tesla touchscreen automatically activates to display a warning message. The displayed message warns the ‘threat’ that they are being recorded.

At times, sentry mode shifts to an ‘Alert’ state even when a person is simply leaning against the car.

The Tesla Sentry system elevates to an ‘Alarm’ state if the threat if the car thinks it’s in danger. This happens when someone is attempting to break into the car or is damaging the car’s exterior.

In sentry mode’s Alarm state, the Tesla’s audio car alarm is activated. Moreover, the display screen brightens to make the warning message more visible to the threat.

Furthermore, sentry mode activates the car’s audio system to play music at the maximum volume. It sends an alert to the owner’s Tesla mobile application to inform them of the threat.

By inserting a USB drive into the Tesla, the owner can record and download the footage of the incident. Usually, the video contains 10 minutes of pre-incident footage.

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How to Enable the Tesla Sentry Mode

Sentry mode does not start operating automatically when the owner leaves the Tesla. Instead, the owner has to enable the Tesla Sentry mode manually. To do this, the owner must do the following:

  • Start the electric car to turn on the Tesla touchscreen display
  • On the touch screen, click on the ‘Controls’ button
  • Click the ‘Safety and Security’ button in the Controls tab
  • Click on the sentry Mode button. The touchscreen display will notify the driver when sentry mode is enabled

Which Tesla Models Have Sentry Mode?

Sentry Mode was introduced in 2019 and is a recently designed technology and EV addition. Hence, Tesla electric vehicles older than 2017 will not have this security feature.

For now, the Sentry Mode is available in the Tesla Model 3, Model Y, and the newer variations of the Tesla Model S and X. it is not available in the Tesla Roadster and Cybertruck.

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Tesla Sentry Mode Live Streaming

In 2021, Tesla successfully upgraded sentry mode to its new and updated 2021.36.8 version. Unlike the previous sentry mode system that allowed owners to download the recorded camera footage, the new version gives owners access to the camera’s live stream.

Moreover, Tesla has stated that it will not access the footage and that sentry mode’s live streams would be end-to-end encrypted.

This feature allows Tesla owners to view real-time camera footage wherever they are. The owner can also activate/enable the Tesla Sentry mode remotely.

This removes the need for the owner to enable the system manually through the touchscreen display.

Furthermore, apart from just viewing, the Tesla mobile application user can record and save the live footage. However, the Livestream duration that the application user can use is limited.

As of now, the new sentry mode feature is only available in the Model 3, Model Y, and the newer variations of Model S and X.

Only Tesla electric vehicles manufactured after 2020 have this built-in live streaming sentry mode.

The main reason for the older versions of Model S and X not having this security feature is the absence of an interior camera.

However, Tesla plans to add this advanced security software to older cars in the future.

For a Tesla owner to use the upgraded sentry mode version, they will have to purchase Tesla’s Premium Connectivity package.

For now, this package is available at a monthly charge of 10 USD. However, this rate could change in the future.

Apart from purchasing the connectivity package, the Tesla model needs to have hardware 2.5 or higher for the feature to work. Moreover, the feature will only be used when the Tesla is connected to WIFI.

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Tesla Sentry Mode

Sentry mode is a protective security feature that is one of a kind. The feature is just as innovative and futuristic as its manufacturing company.

As of now, many Tesla owners have had nothing but glowing reviews for the new feature, and sales have been going up. However, like all software features, sentry mode also has its limitations.

Advantages of Tesla Sentry Mode

  • Sentry mode significantly reduces the chances of theft, break-ins, and deliberate car damage
  • Once enabled, sentry mode can keep functioning for many hours
  • Having the built-in sentry mode saves the owner from the additional costs of hiring garage security for their Tesla EVs
  • Knowing that a Tesla vehicle has a built-in security system that will protect the car from external threats and robbery can give the owner peace of mind
  • Sentry mode can record hours of camera footage. This is extremely useful when trying to identify the thief or when filing for insurance claims
  • Sentry mode is linked to the owner’s mobile application. As a result, the owner can immediately get notified by the sentry mode Alarm. This allows the owner to take action in a timely fashion
  • The upgraded version of sentry mode allows application users to view the camera’s live stream in real-time.
  • Knowing that vehicle has an extremely sensitive security system with camera surveillance discourages carjackers
  • Sentry mode comes with the purchase of all the main new Tesla models
  • The camera footage helps Tesla owners and national security agencies identify high-crime areas. As a result, Tesla owners know which routes and areas to avoid to keep their cars safer

Disadvantages of Tesla Sentry Mode

  • Older versions of Tesla Model S and X do not have the internal camera and hardware capacity to support sentry mode
  • Tesla electric vehicles older than 2017 do not have sentry mode
  • Sentry mode depends on the Tesla electric vehicle’s external cameras. These cameras are fixed and do not move around to capture 360-degree footage. As a result, professional thieves know exactly where the camera blind spots are and can plan accordingly
  • Enabling sentry mode uses up the Tesla electric vehicle’s battery. If sentry mode remains enabled for the whole day, it will drain 7% of the total EV battery charge

As a result, the battery’s range, the Tesla EV’s speed, and the distance covered decrease. Moreover, it is estimated that keeping sentry mode every day will increase the battery charging cost by 930 USD per year. (This figure has been calculated according to the supercharging price rate)

  • With the older sentry mode version, Tesla owners cannot access the incident footage remotely. Instead, they have to plug a USB drive into the Tesla to download the video
  • Apart from this, the USB hard drive has to be inserted before the incident takes place. If the owner forgets to do so, they will not be able to download any camera footage
  • The older sentry mode version cannot be enabled remotely from the Tesla mobile application. Instead, the owner must enable it manually from the display touchscreen before leaving the car. If the owner forgets to do so, sentry mode cannot protect the Tesla EV
  • Unfortunately, a Tesla’s exterior cameras can also be hacked like other surveillance cameras. Hackers can disable the sentry mode system and carry out the theft without much difficulty
What Is the Sentry Mode in Tesla
What Is the Sentry Mode in Tesla

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Other Ways to Protect the Tesla from Getting Damaged or Stolen

Tesla electric vehicles are an expensive purchase. Their owners try hard to prevent damage to their cars due to the high repair and maintenance costs.

Although sentry mode is an excellent security system, it is not available for all Tesla models.

Fortunately, there are other ways for Tesla owners to protect their Tesla from thieves and people with bad intentions.

Faraday Tin or Pouch

The most common way a Tesla is stolen is when hackers hack the EV’s key fob and gain access to the vehicle. By doing so, they can turn on the Tesla and drive it without the owner finding out.

Moreover, hacking can also disable Tesla’s sentry mode. Hence, one should use a Faraday cage to block out RFID signals. Doing so will reduce the chances of hacking and give Tesla greater protection.

Change the Tesla Mobile Application Password Frequently

The Tesla mobile application allows Tesla owners to remotely control many aspects of their car. They can turn the car on and off, put the car on auto-pilot, view real-time camera footage, and regulate the car’s temperature.

However, if the mobile phone application is accessed by the wrong person, the Tesla alarms could easily be turned off, leaving their car vulnerable. Hence, the owner should use a strong password and change it at least once every month. 

Park The Tesla Electric Car in Safer Areas

One effective way of reducing the chance of theft is by parking the Tesla in safer areas. One can browse the internet to learn about the high crime rate areas in their city to avoid them.

Moreover, Tesla owners should refrain from parking their cars outside the house and should always park in the garage. Security cameras in the garage could make the EV even safer.

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Final Thoughts

A Tesla electric vehicle could be the dream purchase of every automobile enthusiast who wishes to reduce their carbon footprint.

The steep purchase price and high running costs mean that a Tesla owner should try everything to avoid car theft or damage to their vehicle.

The newer versions of the highest-selling Tesla EVs have built-in sentry mode that allows heightened protection.

One can record and save the camera footage to identify the thieves and file for insurance claims, which is incredibly handy if the worst were to happen.