Tesla Sentry Mode - Everything You Need to Know

Tesla Sentry Mode - Everything You Need to Know


The Tesla Sentry Mode is both one of the best and most controversial features of Tesla Model 3 and Model Y. In this article, we'll clarify what it is exactly and how you can use it to your advantage. You'll learn everything about how it works, its application, and legal considerations surrounding the topic.

We are Tesla Outfitters. As experts in high-quality Tesla accessories, we have been immersed in every detail of Tesla Model 3 and Model Y for years. We use the Tesla Sentry Mode ourselves constantly and can therefore speak from experience.

Key Points at a Glance

  • Tesla Sentry Mode is a security feature that monitors and records movements around the vehicle to gather evidence in case of damage. You can activate it via the app, voice commands, or directly in the car.

  • This feature allows recording and storing incidents around the car, which is especially helpful in cases of hit-and-run. For instance, if someone hits your Tesla with their door and drives away, you'll have everything recorded on video, and the police can identify the license plate and find the perpetrator.

  • A downside of Sentry Mode is its increased power consumption, which can affect the vehicle's range.

  • Sentry Mode raises important privacy concerns, particularly in Germany, where strict privacy laws exist that could restrict its use. Tesla has made software adjustments to comply with these requirements.

What is Tesla Sentry Mode?

Tesla App Sentry Mode

Tesla Sentry Mode monitors your Tesla Model 3 or Model Y through the 8 cameras around the vehicle. If someone gets too close to your car, it activates, the Tesla flashes its headlights and displays a message on the screen that recording is in progress.

The video is then saved on a USB stick in the glove compartment. So, if someone scratches your Tesla, causes a dent, and then commits a hit-and-run, Sentry Mode secures the evidence video. This makes it easier for the police and insurance to identify the perpetrator, and you won't be left with the repair costs.

But Tesla Sentry Mode has another function. As long as your vehicle has an internet connection, you can view a live image of the Tesla cameras through the Tesla App on your smartphone.

Activating and Deactivating Sentry Mode

To use Sentry Mode, the battery must be charged over 20% and a USB stick must be present in the USB port in the glove compartment, where the recordings are stored. If the Tesla's battery level falls below 20%, Sentry Mode is automatically deactivated to save power.

You can turn on Sentry Mode directly in the car via the menu Vehicle -> Security -> Sentry Mode. The same can be done by voice command or through the Tesla App.

Recording and Storing Videos

Tesla Sentry Mode

Normally, every Tesla Model 3 or Model Y comes with a USB stick already inserted in the USB port in the glove compartment. This is where dashcam and other camera recordings are stored. However, another USB stick or hard drive can also be connected for more storage capacity. It's important to use a USB stick with high write and read speed to ensure that videos are saved correctly.

If the storage is full, the oldest video is automatically overwritten by the new recording. Therefore, if you have important recordings on the USB stick, we advise you to save them on a computer.

Advantages of Sentry Mode

Sentry Mode offers a range of benefits. One of the most important is the ability to identify perpetrators in hit-and-run incidents. Since the mode continuously monitors the surroundings of the vehicle and records suspicious activities, video recordings can help in identifying perpetrators.

This results in the major advantage of not having to pay for repair costs yourself if they were caused by someone else. However, this only works if the person or their license plate was also correctly captured by the cameras.

Tips for Effective Use of Sentry Mode

Using Tesla Sentry Mode, or Sentry Mode, is always a balance between security and cost. While Sentry Mode definitely increases the security of your Model Y or Model 3, it also significantly increases battery consumption when stationary.

To find a good balance here, Tesla gives you the option to exclude certain locations, like your own garage. Tesla vehicles automatically recognize where they are and can then automatically turn off Sentry Mode at these locations.

Especially at public parking lots, supermarkets, or shopping centers, we can only recommend always having Sentry Mode active. Cars are often parked very closely together there, and a dent from a carelessly opened door can happen quickly. Such damages are often not noticed by the drivers of the other vehicles, leading them to commit negligent hit-and-run. The 8 dashcam cameras are invaluable in such situations.

Power Consumption of Sentry Mode

The power consumption of Sentry Mode is an important aspect to consider when using this feature. Consumption varies depending on the number of recorded events. For example, if you access the cameras via the Tesla App, all systems are booted up and the car is activated, consuming power.

If your Tesla is parked at a location where only 1 or 2 events are recorded per night, the power consumption is very low. In contrast, a Tesla parked for 24 hours in a busy parking lot can consume about 3-5 kWh of electricity per day.

Legal Aspects and Privacy Concerns of Sentry Mode

Tesla Sentry Mode Privacy

Especially in Europe, Tesla Sentry Mode raises privacy concerns. There are worries that the mode could invade the privacy of passersby who are recorded without their knowledge. Therefore, there are legal regulations in some countries, like Germany, that limit the use of the mode.

International privacy agreements also affect Sentry Mode, and certain privacy authorities advise deactivating Sentry Mode for privacy reasons.

German Privacy Regulations

Germany probably has the strictest privacy regulations for Sentry Mode. Tesla has already made several software updates with adjustments to meet the requirements of the German privacy authorities.

To date, however, there is no final clarified legal situation. It seems that privacy advocates are trying to ban the mode, but so far without success. While some Tesla drivers do not use the mode because they believe they could incur a fine, others report that authorities are happy to use the recordings.

For example, a Tesla driver reported that the police wanted to solve several thefts in a parking garage and contacted the Tesla drivers parked there to ask if they could provide evidence videos.

International Perspective

The legal treatment of Sentry Mode varies worldwide due to different privacy laws and policies in various regions. In Europe, opinions on privacy for Tesla's Sentry Mode are quite mixed.

But even in the USA, there are ongoing discussions and lawsuits in both directions.

Conclusion on Tesla Sentry Mode

Tesla Sentry Mode is a useful security feature of Tesla Model Y and Model 3, but it is constantly the subject of privacy discussions and lawsuits. The great advantage of the mode is the ability to identify perpetrators in hit-and-run incidents, thus avoiding having to pay for repair costs yourself.

Although there are concerns regarding privacy, it is important to note that Tesla continuously makes changes to comply with privacy regulations while ensuring a high level of security.

Whether or not you want to use Sentry Mode in your Tesla is up to you. We hope we were able to show you all the pros and cons of using it. Now you can weigh whether vehicle security, privacy, or power consumption are more important to you and use the mode responsibly.

If you want to protect your Tesla in everyday use, we recommend using all-weather floor mats. This way, you won't have to worry about wear and tear inside the car.


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