How to Put a Tesla in Neutral: Stalks and Touchscreens

A driver shifting gears to place the Telsa in Neutral

How Put Shift a Tesla in Neutral:
Stalks and Touchscreens

Shift into Neutral with ease on your Tesla EV! Move the stalk on Models 3 and Y half way up or down until the your screen displays ‘Neutral’. Sleek Models S and X don’t have a stalk and require a simple touch and hold, or swipe of your touchscreen. 

New Tesla owners frequently ask how to shift gears. And if you’re already driving a Tesla, you may have noticed that shifting gears is pleasantly unconventional! Unlike traditional cars that use a gear stick, Tesla models utilize a stalk or a touchscreen (depending on the model) to shift gears. Regardless, shifting into neutral is smooth and seamless, making it easy for drivers to navigate their driving experience.

Shifting into Neutral: Tesla Models 3 and Y

Tesla Models 3 and Y come equipped with a convenient stalk on the right side of the steering wheel, designed to help you control driving modes and shift gears effortlessly. 

Tesla right steering wheel stalk. move this to Shift a Tesla in Neutral

How to put your Tesla into Neutral from Drive or Reverse:

  1. Press and hold the right stalk halfway up or down, depending on whether you’re in Drive or Reverse mode.
  2. Wait for one second for the “N” symbol to appear on the top left of the screen.

How to put your Tesla into Neutral from Park:

  1. Press and hold the right stalk halfway up or down, based on whether you prefer Reverse or Drive mode.
  2. Wait for one second for the “N” symbol to emerge on the top left of the screen.
The Tesla touchscreen showing shifting gears and placing the Tesla in neutral

EVPro Tip: When in Neutral, your vehicle will be free to roll if the brake isn’t applied. If you open the driver’s door while in Neutral, the vehicle will automatically shift into Park. To keep your Tesla in Neutral while leaving the car, activate Transport Mode.

Shifting into Neutral: Tesla Model S and X

In 2021, Tesla bid farewell to the stalk in Models S and X, opting for touchscreen or center console options to shift gears, giving the interior a cleaner, more polished look. Both options can be used to shift into Neutral from any other gear.

How to put your Model S or X into Neutral using the Touchscreen:

  • Select Controls, then press and hold the Neutral icon on the drive mode strip until Neutral mode is engaged.

How to put your Model S or X into Neutral using the Center Console:

  • Choose Neutral from the drive mode selector.

EVPro Tips: 

  • If you’re traveling over 5 mph (8 km/h), simply swipe up or down on the touchscreen, and a Neutral icon will appear at the top of the gear strip on the left side of the screen.
  • Just like in Models 3 and Y, if the driver’s door is opened while in Neutral, your Model S or X will automatically shift into Park. To keep your vehicle in Neutral while exiting, activate Transport Mode.

Tesla’s Car Wash Mode: Free Roll instead of Neutral 

When it’s time to wash your Tesla, you don’t want to worry about potential damage from an automatic car wash. Tesla’s Car Wash Mode not only preps your car for a thorough cleaning but also enables Free Roll (Neutral) during the wash.

To use Car Wash Mode, follow these steps:

  1. Select Controls > Service > Car Wash Mode on your vehicle’s touchscreen.
  2. Car Wash Mode will automatically close all windows, lock the charging port, disable Sentry Mode, park chimes, and windshield wipers, and enable Free Roll.
showing free roll in car wash mode so that the driver can place the tesla in neutral

Free Roll ensures that your vehicle remains in Neutral during the wash, allowing it to roll freely on the tracks and preventing it from engaging the Parking Brake if the driver exits the car.

To enable Free Roll after activating Car Wash Mode:

  1. Shift your vehicle into Park
  2. Select Enable Free Roll on the touchscreen. Alternatively, simply shift into Neutral.

Once the wash is complete, disable Free Roll by:

  • Selecting Exit on the touchscreen or by simply driving away from the car wash. 

Using Transport Mode to Keep Your Tesla in Neutral

In the rare case that you need to leave your Tesla in neutral (e.g. winching your vehicle onto a flatbed for towing), activate Transport Mode with these steps:

  1. Park your vehicle and turn it off.
  2. Ensure all doors are closed.
  3. Select Controls > Service > Transport Mode > On.
  4. When prompted, enter your Tesla account credentials.
  5. A message will appear indicating that Transport Mode is enabled.

EVProTip: Transport Mode disables many of your Tesla’s features, including its keyless entry system, so use it only when necessary.

How to Park Your Tesla with Ease

To place your Tesla Model 3 or Y into Park:

  • Stop the vehicle 
  • Press the button on the end of the right stalk (Model 3 or Y)

To place your Tesla Model S or X into Park:

  • Tap the “P” at the top left of the screen

EVPro Tips: 

  • Shifting into Park while traveling below 5 mph (8 km/h) in Drive or Reverse will bring your vehicle to a rapid stop. 
  • In Models 3 and Y, the vehicle will automatically shift into Park when stopped or traveling under 1.5 mph (2 km/h) while the driver’s seatbelt is unbuckled or the driver’s door is opened.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I tow my Tesla while it’s in Neutral?

You cannot tow your Tesla while it’s in Neutral. Towing your Tesla with its wheels on the ground can cause severe damage to the vehicle. Instead, use a flatbed trailer or truck to transport your Tesla. If you need to tow it a short distance, place the vehicle in Transport Mode to disengage the parking brake.

How can I prevent my Tesla from rolling while in Neutral on a slope or incline?

To prevent your Tesla from rolling while in Neutral on a slope or incline, engage the parking brake by placing the vehicle in Park mode. You can also use wheel chocks as an additional safety measure to keep the vehicle stationary.

Can I push-start my Tesla if the battery is dead while the vehicle is in Neutral?

You cannot push-start a Tesla, as it’s an electric vehicle without a traditional internal combustion engine. If your Tesla’s battery is dead, you will need to charge it using an appropriate charging station or a portable charging cable. If your battery is critically low, try these emergency tips for extending your range.

What precautions should I take when leaving my Tesla in Neutral?

When leaving your Tesla in Neutral, ensure that the parking brake is engaged to prevent the vehicle from rolling. In the rare case you need to leave the vehicle in neutral while exiting (such as transporting on a flatbed), activate Transport Mode. Keep in mind that Transport disables keyless entry and other features, so use it only when necessary.

Can I use the mobile app to place my Tesla in Neutral remotely?

You cannot use the Tesla mobile app to place your vehicle in Neutral remotely. The app allows you to control various functions like climate control, charging, location tracking, and unlocking or locking the vehicle. However, placing the car in Neutral requires manual intervention via the gear stalk (Model 3 and Y) or the touchscreen/console (Model S and X).

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Darren Globe

Darren is a Tesla EV owner, Professional Firefighter and former Paramedic. His experience and passion for EVs inspired him to create, where he works as CEO and Chief Editor. Darren is a recognized Tesla expert featured in and referenced by MSN, Yahoo and in numerous forums, websites and social media.

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