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Poor radio reception

Within a day of getting my Model S, I noticed that FM radio reception is significantly worse than my previous car and my wife's car. There is usually noticeable static and sometimes a lot of it. It fluctuates between one and two bars (out of three). Only occasionally is the signal good enough to play HD radio. When this happens, I hear the sound fade in and out and sometimes an echo or "dual voice" that lasts a few seconds as the transition from regular to HD occurs (or vice versa). I usually listen to one station (KPCC 89.3) but I've noticed these problems on other FM stations. I haven't tried AM yet.

I was sufficiently annoyed with this today that I tried listening to my station on "Tune In" Internet radio. For a couple minutes I was happy with the static-free sound quality, but then it started cutting out for a second or more. It seems the 3G reception is also spotty, which may explain why map tiles load slowly, and sometimes not all (nav system was nonresponsive earlier tonight). Web browser is sluggish too. This has all been while driving in West LA. I have a 3G phone and it's not nearly so slow. I also noticed a slight buzzing sound when I had the radio off, not sure if that's related.

Have others had similar problems with radio reception? Is this likely are problem with the physical antenna, or software? And where is the antenna on this car?

But I love the car and Tesla is wonderful blah blah blah :)

For the buzzing, try turning off ambient lights inside the car, it's a known issue and Tesla will be working on it.

I also notice the issues with poor reception on the radio, but for me these are also spots that have terrible phone reception as well through hill's so I would expect that. I play most of my tunes from a 32GB USB thumb drive that stays in the car at all times.

Yes, the radio reception sucks.

I had a test drive today and one of the things I did was tune in an FM station to compare it with the audio and the reception in my current car. To my great surprise and disappointment, a station that was crystal clear in my car wouldn't even come in in the Model S! I was 20 miles out on Long Island and purposely picked a CT station that in my car comes in reasonably well all the way into New York City.
To be fair I suppose the Model S could have been in a dead spot just as we tuned in...but I have no reason other than the lack of reception to believe so. Driving home in my car the reception was fine.
(Oh, for those wondering in every other respect the test drive was completely wonderful.)

Wow, I have 4 different FM stations pre-programmed and have great reception on all of them. On the other hand, Slacker Radio drops out on the same stretch of road for about half a mile, but nowhere else up til now. (after 2900 miles of driving)

My reception is similar though not quite as good as prior car. Slacker seldom cuts out except in poor reception areas or near the mall. (heavy data use there is causing intermittent reception.)

Overall happy with the sound.

After reading all the comments in this thread and others, I'm thinking either the antenna is poorly designed, or because of the location of its internal placement, just doesn't capture signals very well. Something we may just have to live with.

Anybody have any problems with AM radio? I think it might be a problem.

Radio Reception comparison:

Other cars: Lexus ES300 = excellent radio reception, pulls in stations from "south of the border"
Prius Ver 4.0 = Less than the Lexus. Significant drop off in sensitivity, but still good.
Model S = On par or WORSE than the Prius. Marginal stations just don't "catch". In other words, using "auto tune" and skipping from station to station only stops at the strongest of signals. My other cars catch nearly twice as many signals. The Model S is just "deaf" to them.

Conclusion, Strong signals sound fine, but the "S" definitely has sensitivity issues!

Yes, I have noticed that FM reception is significantly worse than my Prius.

I attribute this to the unreasonable priority given to styling over functionality. By not having a shark fin radio antenna or some other form of visible antenna, the designers got a slicker looking vehicle. However, for the first time since the 1980s, I have had trouble listening to local radio stations in my car.

This is similar to my complaint about the "console": in order to further the design goals of "open space and no tunnel", the designers neglected to provide cup holders as good as those in my $18,000 Honda Civic. Designers should not be given power to impede the owner's experience, IMHO. But, hey - I'm just a customer, so I why should my opinion count?


I believe the shark antenna in my LS is only for XM - not for terrestrial radio.

Has anyone been able to get acknowledgement from Tesla that this is a problem they plan to correct?

If all else fails, I'm sure there is an aftermarket fix for poor reception ...

I agree that the reception is not great, but for the stations I listen to - those tend to have weak signals - jazz, classical, public - I do a lot better with TuneIn anyway.

I'd rather have poor FM reception plus TuneIn than great FM.

Joyrider, I have had a similar issue with a car I used to own that had the antenna embedded in the windshield. Driving one direction I could barely pick up certain stations after 10 miles or so but driving back I could pick them up from my starting point over 60 miles away. So it is possible the location of the antenna in the S is what the issue is.

I also wonder if there is a difference for those that have a solid roof vs. the pano and reception quality?

Yeah, if you are experiencing poor radio reception, can you tell us whether or not you have the pano roof?

I have pano roof and poor FM reception.

By the way, if you are prompted to enter a username and password for Slacker, ask Tesla for this info. They have created premium accounts for us (not sure if this applies only to Signature owners).

I think I have used the radio once in a year in my LEAF :). I just stream Google Music over Bluetooth from my phone, and I listen to exactly what I want when I want it.

Unfortunately, I have heard that Bluetooth has frequent dropouts when streaming audio, but maybe it will be fixed by the time I get my car in a few weeks.

I have had my car for about 5 days and my first complaint was the very poor radio is terrible. I submitted my complaint to Tesla comparing my Leaf which has a superior radio signal. A bit disconcerting. Blue Performance with pano roof and all options except kiddy seats.

Is this similar to Iphone's poor reception problem that required a revision of its antenna?

I notice that both Prius and Leaf have external antennae. Could that be an option?

AM radio reception is poor at best, and FM is so-so. My previous car (Honda Civic Hybrid) had great AM reception (except when driving by light rail or overhead phone lines).

Elon has decreed: no antenna shall mar the beautiful exterior lines and slippery surfaces of the Model S! So most of the radio signal just slides on by ...


I've had other cars without an external antenna - with reasonable radio reception.

I primarily listen to AM for local sports broadcasts (NBA, NFL, MLB, ...) - live broadcasts may not be available on XM or the Internet (which might require a plug-in, that may not work with Tesla's browser).

bp, That is the same reason that I wanted AM to work well for me. A workaround is that a fair number of stations are using I-heart or TuneIn which works well for me.

This is not good. Is poor reception a universal problem? I intentionally left the FM and/or internet radio on the entire time I last test drove for about 35 minutes earlier this month. Did not notice problem, but was distracted by enjoying the drive and talking. Can other people who have the car comment if this is inherent in the car design?

In regards to the Bluetooth connectivity, I have had my iPhone connect seamlessly every time for both call's and to stream music. I couldn't be happier with how well that aspect works (at least for me) on my Model S. I think when I initially paired it, it disconnected once about a month ago, never have since.

I have a Signature S delivered in Early November. I've had problems with FM reception as well in the NY Metro area, where reception is never really an issue in the past with any of my other vehicles.
I've also had two recent issues where I have NO FM reception at all unless I turn off the car, power down and restart. Again, NO FM RECEPTION on any stations. Very disconcerting, considering the amount of tech stuff in the car. When these issues occurred, I was still able to connect my phone through bluetooth and play music that way, so it was a radio module issue.
As for the Bluetooth connectivity, I've lost my Bluetooth connection to my I-phone 5 at least 5 or 6 times in the past two weeks, with no phone contacts or recent calls displayed either on the phone App. Confirmed with Tesla Service that this is a software issue with the new iPhone 5.


What did Tesla Service say about lousy FM reception? Can that be a software fix? Are you taking the car in for service on this? I cannot believe Tesla delivered all these cars with poor radio reception! Makes me wonder what else may be wrong that is not apparent yet.... I am to sign my MVPA by next week and I do not think I would want to deal with all these issues. I am going to ask many questions before I sign.

Interestingly, our service advisor asked me if I was having problems with AM reception, which is not something I listen too frequently. As for the FM reception, the standard answer is that the new 4.0 software upgrade, which we're all waiting for again, may address these issues.

It's one of two things. Either poor receiver sensitivity, or poor antenna design and placement within the vehicle. I vote for the latter. If either of those can be fixed with a software update, I will be pleasantly surprised, but not counting on it. I may have my S by the end of the month. If the receiver module is user accessable, I will plug in an external antenna and see if it makes a difference.