Tesla Side Camera Not Working

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If your Tesla side camera isn’t working, it can cause some issues. Getting in and out of tight parking spots can be much more difficult. 

I’ve identified many different ways the Tesla side camera can malfunction. And I’m here to share the ways you can fix these issues to get your camera back.

Table of Contents

    Reason Why Tesla Side Camera Not Working and Ways to Fix

    Let’s review the many ways the side camera might malfunction along with the method to fix each one.

    Side Camera Is Broken

    One of the straightforward answers is that your side camera is broken. While it might not be what you want to hear, these are physical devices and they don’t last forever. These cameras can break from:

    • Physical impact: If something hits your camera too hard or it gets crushed in an accident. In rare cases, even just driving over rough roads or bumps can cause problems.
    • Moisture penetration: Rain or condensation sneaks into the camera housing. Icy and snowy conditions can cause freezing water to expand in areas it shouldn’t get into.
    • Manufacturing defect: Even though Tesla tries to create perfect products, some are bound to have issues from the factory and may break due to a small problem with the manufacturing.

    Many times this isn’t the cause behind a side camera not working. So let’s keep going through the list. But if yours still doesn’t work after these fixes, you may need a new camera.

    Dust Inside the Side Camera Compartment

    If dust gets trapped inside the side camera compartment, it might result in all sorts of problems. It can get into the connection or other critical areas and cause the side camera to stop working.

    You can sometimes fix this by cleaning the camera. Tesla recommends spraying the cameras with water only. Never wipe the exposed lens with a cloth. An electronics air compressor cleaner might also be helpful to blast dust out. 

    Faulty PCB

    Many Tesla Model S, X, and 3 cars had some of their cameras and other self-driving sensors replaced due to bad PCBs. While this specific issue is to front sensors, it could happen on side cameras.

    A problem with the PCB can be hard to diagnose yourself. And the symptoms could vary from car to car since it’s hard to know how a faulty circuit board might behave. If you suspect this problem, you should make a service appointment to fix it.

    Weak Connection on the Camera Panel

    The Tesla side cameras also have a problem with some of the connections in the camera panel. The automaker has mentioned this as the root cause behind many side camera issues. So if your Tesla side camera is not working, it may be that the connection is not working well.

    Unfortunately, this is another one that’s hard to diagnose and repair on your own. In most cases, Tesla says that it needs to replace the entire side camera unit. Make a service appointment to fix the problem.

    You can schedule a Service Appointment through the Tesla app. Depending on your location and the available technicians, you may get a Mobile Service Appointment or Service Center visit.

    Fault With the USB

    If you are using a USB device for recording videos, it might be a fault with the USB. Tesla has some specific requirements for USB devices.

    If your device meets these requirements but still has issues, then you can try to reformat it again. Sometimes wiping it clean and starting fresh can help. 

    But other times it might be the USB device isn’t working like new. You can test it on other computers to see if you notice any performance issues. Or you can try another USB device in your Tesla.


    If your side camera screen is black, you might try to recalibrate.

    Follow this procedure for the best and quickest results:

    • Clearing the existing calibration through your touchscreen by navigating to Controls, then Service
    • Select Camera Calibration, then Clean Calibration
    • Your vehicle will begin to self-recalibrate as you drive

    But the best driving situation for a fast and accurate calibration is when driving on a straight road with multiple lanes with highly visible markings. Many major US highways or interstates are ideal.

    If the process is not done after driving 100 miles in those conditions, then it is having problems. You may need to schedule a Service Appointment.

    Power Off at Least 5 Mins or Hard Reset

    There are other repair methods that involve resetting or powering off your Tesla. These are simple procedures that can overcome a wide variety of problems.

    You can do a soft reset by holding both scroll wheels for ten seconds while parked. Hold them until the touchscreen goes dark. The screen should come back on within about 30 seconds, completing this quick reset.

    If that doesn’t help, you can move on to completing a Power Cycle. This is essentially turning your vehicle off and back on. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Park the vehicle then on your touchscreen, go to Controls, then Safety, and select Power Off
    2. Wait for at least five minutes
    3. Do not touch the door, brake pedal, or screen during this time
    4. After the time has passed, press the brake pedal or open the door to start the system again
    5. Check to see if your Tesla side cameras are working again

    There is a third type of reset known as a hard reset. This involves unplugging the 12V and high voltage connection. Many people opt to call in a Service Appointment. But if you have the knowledge, it is possible to complete it yourself. 

    For more visual details on these reset methods, see this YouTube video.

    Our Verdict

    When your Tesla side camera isn’t working, it may be a simple software issue. But it’s also possible that there is a hardware problem with the camera or connected systems. If all else fails, you might need to make a Service Appointment through the Tesla app to get it working again.

    Want to learn more about how your Tesla works? Head over to our article on Tesla Sentry Mode and Dash Cam Depth Guide.

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