Electric Tech Explored

Why Tesla Owners Tap The Cars Tail Light? (Before Charging)

by James Bartlett | Published: April 22nd, 2022
Gray Tesla S

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Have you seen people tapping the tail light of Teslas and wondered what they were doing? Do you tap the tail light of your Tesla and wonder why you do it? Do you think it is superstition or is there are genuine technical reasons for doing it?

Tapping the tail light of a Tesla has been spotted on various social media platforms and forums. The reasons for this tail-lighting tapping seem to stem from various sources. The reasons for tapping the tail light of a Tesla are a mixture of nonsensical reasons and actual car technology.

Reason 1. Improving Charging

Charging Tesla

Some say that tapping the tail light of a Tesla before charging helps to line up the electrons so that they can feed into the car in the most efficient manner possible when the car starts charging. Without tapping the tail light, the electrons can bunch up at the charge port which increases charging time. It can be thought of as getting rid of any static electricity sitting at the charge port before inserting the charger.

There is some evidence to suggest that this is based on in-car technical function. Some Tesla owners invest in an inline matching module to improve charging times. Tapping the tail light is a way of improving charging characteristics for free. This bears some resemblance to tapping the bottom of a tomato ketchup bottle to get things flowing.

Reason 2. Avoid Static Electricity Shocks

People also tap the car before charging to prevent any minor electrical shocks from the possible differential in static electricity between you and the vehicle. However, this does not really serve any purpose. Tesla cars are metallically shielded so have net-zero charges both under and over the body of the vehicle.

Reason 3: Good luck

Photo by Shal Farley licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Some Tesla drivers believe that not tapping the tail light of the car 3 times before charging leads to bad luck. This is obviously just superstition and a bit of nonsense. Some say that this is just a gesture that resembles smacking a person’s bottom as a term of affection. This seems a bit stupid but it might be the case that some people feel so attached to the new purchase that they feel compelled to smack its bottom before they get it in.

With the risk which comes with buying an expensive vehicle such as a Tesla, tapping the tail light might be a means of allaying anxiety over possible car failure. Teslas can only be repaired by the company itself, and car failure can be expensive and worrisome. Tapping the tail light is perhaps the owners’ way of hoping that the car doesn’t break down.

Reason 4: Getting Rid of Debris

There have been reports of charging stations being fouled up by use by careless people. The chargers would get clogged with debris such as rocks or sand. This would prevent Tesla owners from charging their vehicles when out of range. Some say that tapping the charger on the tail light is one way of clearing the debris. This was a common thing at the start and lead to the phenomenon of Tesla owners tapping the tail light as a sort of routine legacy thing.

Reason 5: Opening The Charging Port

Photo by Steve Jurvetson licensed under CC BY 2.0

Perhaps the most obvious reason for tapping the tail light of a Tesla is to open the charging port before opening. Pushing and releasing the charge port door on the tail light will open the port and allow you to charge. You may also see Tesla owners tap the driver’s door handle before opening the charge port. The doors on a Tesla must be open before the charge port can be opened. On the Tesla S and X, tapping the door handle with the fob or with your phone will open the doors and therefore allow you to open the charge port.

Tapping the charging port or car handle before charging is only necessary when using non-Tesla cables. The use of a Tesla cable or Tesla supercharger will send an NFC signal directly to the charge port to open it automatically before charging. You can of course open the charge port from the dashboard or via the Tesla app.

Reason 6: Tesla Easter Eggs

Tesla has included an array of different “Easter Eggs” into the designs of their cars. These range from funny sounds to actual extra car functions such as added performance. The Easter Eggs are activated in a number of different ways, mainly through the control panel. However, there are rumors that other Easter Eggs exist elsewhere on the cars. Some say that tapping the tail light three times activates a secret Easter Egg, such as playing a song from the car audio system. To date, there is no reliable source to say that this is actually the case.