Hard vs Soft Reset: How to Reboot Your Tesla or its Screen.

Teslas are electric cars that offer many benefits, but sometimes they experience issues that might need immediate solving. Most Tesla issues involve their operating systems, displaying unusual behavior like general glitches, error messages, or the touchscreen display starting to flicker. In these cases, you need to reset your operating system using a soft or a hard reset.

A Tesla soft reset means rebooting the operating system or, in some cases, the Tesla touchscreen. A hard reset means cutting the power supply to reboot the hardware as well as the Tesla software. Generally, a soft reset is easier and takes less time, so it should be attempted before the hard reset, especially for new Tesla owners.

In the rest of this article, I will explain what constitutes a hard and soft reset and explain all the differences between them. Additionally, I will show you how to do both types of resets on different Tesla models. Let’s get started!

tesla soft vs hard reset 2

Main Differences Between Soft and Hard Reset

There are different reset methods, depending on the specific issue that you are experiencing with your Tesla EV. Sometimes you may need to perform a soft reset, which is a relatively simpler process that doesn’t take much effort; other times, a hard reset might be necessary. In some cases, as a last option, you may need to perform a factory reset of your Tesla electric vehicle, which is an even harder reset.

Let’s examine the differences between soft and hard resets, summarized below:

Soft ResetHard Reset
PurposeTo reboot the softwareTo reboot hardware
MethodPowering on and off manuallyPowering off and disconnecting the battery
TimeAround five minutes at most Total time depends on your skills, and waiting time is around five minutes
Level of Effort Low Moderate  


The general purpose of reset processes is to reboot a device, making sure that any bugs or glitches are removed. However, different types of resets have different purposes, which should help you decide which method you should use in particular cases.

For instance, the purpose of a soft reset is to reboot the operating system without disrupting the power in the vehicle. It is essentially a reboot of the car’s software, and the hardware remains undisturbed. You can perform a soft reboot on a specific part, which allows you to keep using the car while the reboot proceeds.

On the other hand, a hard reset’s purpose is to initiate a full reboot by disconnecting your vehicle from power and then connecting it again. A hard reset can be considered a hardware reset since it involves taking out physical parts of your car to interrupt the power supply.

Resetting Method

The main difference between a soft and hard reset is the actual process. To perform either, you need to follow several steps in a particular order. Different Τesla models have different processes of resetting, so you should keep the steps for each case in mind.

Soft Reset for Models X/Y/3/S

There are a few different ways in which you can soft reset your Tesla. If your Tesla screen is frozen or glitching, you can try to only reset the touchscreen without rebooting the whole operating system. 

To reset the touch screen, you can press both scroll wheels on the steering wheel and hold them until the screen goes black; the screen should restart in less than a minute, displaying the tesla logo. Resetting the touch screen is easy and can be done even while you’re driving, but it’s not ideal.

Before doing a full soft reset, you can also try logging out of the Tesla app and then logging in again. Some users claim that this method can help you get rid of glitches without rebooting the whole system.

To do a full soft reset of the whole system when your screen is functional, you can follow these steps:

  1. Park your vehicle and shut the doors.
  2. Navigate to Controls and then go to Safety and Security.
  3. Find and select Power Off.
  4. Your vehicle will power off. Make sure you don’t touch any part that will recognize contact for the next few minutes.
  5. After a few minutes have passed, open the door to restart your vehicle. 

If your screen is not responsive, you can soft reset it using the four steps of the following procedure:

  1. Park your car and make sure the doors are shut.
  2. Press the brake pedal and hold it in position.
  3. Simultaneously, press and hold both scroll wheels on your steering wheel.
  4. Wait until the screen turns on.

Hard Reset for Model Y or 3

If your vehicle is experiencing issues that you are not able to solve using a partial or full soft reboot, you should try the hard reset method. As mentioned above, a hard reset will cut electricity from your vehicle completely. Proceed with extreme caution and make sure you know exactly all the steps you need to follow; otherwise, let a specialist do the hard reset.

To perform a hard reset, follow the steps below: 

  1. Make sure the Climate Control System is off.
  2. Lower the driver’s window; this will ensure you have a way out if something goes wrong.
  3. Go to Controls and then go to Safety and Security.
  4. Select Power Off.
  5. Open the frunk.
  6. Remove the top panel of the frunk.
  7. Disconnect the battery terminals using a wrench.
  8. Open the back door on the right.
  9. Make sure all the seatbelts are fastened
  10. Find the clips that hold the seats down and release them.
  11. Find the foam covers of the wire harness and remove them.
  12. Unplug the harness by rotating the lock. 
  13. Wait for four or five minutes.
  14. Put everything back.

If you’re not confident that you can follow all the steps above with precision, you should ask for help from an expert or visit a Tesla service center.

Hard Reset for Model S or X

The hard reset for models S and X is slightly different from the above steps. However, the principle and purpose are the same; you are essentially cutting off power to your vehicle. To hard reset your Tesla Model S or X, follow these instructions:

  1. Switch off the Climate Control System.
  2. Lower the driver’s window to make sure you have a way out if you get locked inside the vehicle.
  3. Open the frunk.
  4. Remove the storage unit under the hood if you have an S model produced before 2016; take out the top panels if you have a post-2016 Tesla S model. 
  5. Find the battery and disconnect the ground.
  6. Detach the first responder loop and wait for a few minutes.
  7. Reattach the battery and the responder loop.
  8. Put everything back and close the frunk.

Time and Effort

As you can tell from the methods described above, a soft reset doesn’t take much time or effort. This process is easy and takes only a few minutes because it is made to be used as a first resort when you encounter software issues or glitches. Any of the soft reset methods that I have described above require only some basic actions and can take up to five minutes to complete the reset process.

On the other hand, a hard reset can take more time, especially if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Typically, performing a hard reset is not recommended since it can cause additional issues in your car if you’re not careful. If you know precisely what to do, you can complete a hard reset by yourself, but it will take more time and effort.

Sometimes a Tesla hard reset is necessary due to battery damage caused by trying to jump a gas-powered car. If you want to avoid problems, don’t attempt to jump-start a gas-powered car with your Tesla electric vehicle.

Tesla Soft Reset vs. Hard Reset: Which One Should I Use?

The soft and hard resets are not interchangeable processes. The method you choose will depend on the type of problem you have, but also your level of knowledge. You should try a soft reboot first since it’s easier and can’t cause any problems to your vehicle. Try a soft reboot if you are experiencing common issues like:

  • Stalling software update
  • Frozen touch screen
  • Touch screen flickering or flashing
  • Screen being slow to respond 

If none of the methods above works and your vehicle is still experiencing issues, you should ideally take your car to a specialist, or it might be a good idea to speak to Tesla support. However, if you can’t find an expert and have the knowledge and the abilities, you can try performing a hard reset. 

Final Thoughts

Teslas often experience issues with their software, so if you own one, you need to be prepared to reset them to eliminate any glitches or bugs. There are two main ways to reset your Tesla: a soft reset and a hard reset.

A soft reset reboots the operating system, but it can also be performed on individual parts, like the touch screen. A soft reset is the easiest way to get out of technical difficulties. On the other hand, a hard reboot involves resetting the hardware by cutting off the power supply. If you’re experiencing issues, always try a soft reboot first.

Jonathan Rice

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