The Tesla Dashcam is a fantastic feature that enhances your safety while driving. It uses the car’s built-in cameras to record the vehicle’s surroundings continuously. This way, you can keep an eye on what’s happening around your Tesla and have evidence in case of an accident or a dispute.
Occasionally, you might see the error message “Dashcam unavailable check USB drive” on your Tesla, which can be quite frustrating and disappointing.
In this guide, I am going to show you some of the common causes of Tesla Dashcam unavailable error message, as well as some quick and proven ways to fix it.
Without any further ado, let’s dive right in!
Below are some of the common causes of Dashcam unavailable error message on Tesla.
- Software glitches: Although not very common, software glitches can cause the Dashcam to become unavailable.
- Insufficient storage space: Your Tesla Dashcam recordings are stored on a USB drive. If the storage is full, the Dashcam might become unavailable. You can either delete some old recordings (maybe after copying them to a different location), format the flash drive or upgrade to a larger USB drive to solve this problem.
- Unsupported USB drive: High-quality video recording requires a reliable and fast USB drive. If you have a flash drive with low read and write speeds, it can cause the Dashcam to become unavailable. Furthermore, you need to make sure you’re using a USB drive with the proper format (FAT32, ext4, or NTFS). If the drive is in the wrong format or has any errors, the Dashcam may not work.
- Firmware updates: Having an outdated firmware on your Tesla may also affect the function of the Dashcam. Sometimes, a firmware update may also temporarily disable the Dashcam.
With these in mind, let’s look at some of the proven ways to fix the issue.
Follow the step-by-step guide below to fix the issue and get your Tesla Dashcam available and working again.
1. Reboot Your Tesla
The first thing you need to do if your Tesla Dashcam is unavailable is to reboot the car system. This can often resolve any software issues that may be causing the issue.
To reboot your Tesla, simply press and hold down both scroll wheels on your steering wheel until the touchscreen turns off and the Tesla logo appears. This is called a soft reboot.
If the issue persists, you can try a hard reboot. Here’s how to do that:
- First, shift into park
- On the center screen, tap on “Controls” > “Safety & Security” > “Power Off”
- The screen will turn off and the car will also power off. Then, wait for at least two minutes without interacting with the vehicle (i.e don’t open the door, press any of the pedals or touch the screen while waiting). This is to ensure that the car fully shuts down and that the hard reset is successful.
- After two minutes, press the brake pedal or open the door to wake the vehicle.
Once the reset it done, go ahead and check that the Dashcam is turned on. Here’s how to do that:
- Tap the car icon on the bottom left of your touchscreen.
- Select “Safety & Security” from the settings menu.
- Find the option for Dashcam and ensure it’s set to “Auto”. Also, turn on “On Honk” (i.e make sure it’s blue) to automatically save a footage when you honk the horn.
Once done, the Dashcam icon will appear on your car’s touchscreen, indicating that the feature is operational.
2. Check the Flash Drive
The next thing you need to check if your Tesla Dashcam is unavailable is the flash drive.
If the USB stick is faulty, is not formatted properly, is not powerful enough or does not have enough storage, it can cause the your Tesla to show “Dashcam unavailable check USB drive” error message.
You may also see a red X appearing on the Dashcam icon indicates that the system is unable to save the recordings.
There are four things you need to do.
A. Check the USB Drive Capacity
The USB drive’s capacity is very important. If the USB flash drive is almost full or does not have enough space, you need to free up some space on it.
To maintain sufficient space on your USB drive, it’s a good idea to routinely delete or move older Dashcam footage that you no longer need.
Therefore, you need to first delete old recordings saved on the flash drive (you can also copy some of the old recordings you will like to retain onto a different storage device or your PC before deleting them on the flash).
B. Format the USB Drive
Tesla requires a properly formatted USB drive to record and store videos with the Dashcam. If the USB drive is not properly formatted, it will not work and you will see the Tesla Dashcam unavailable error.
You can format your USB drive in two ways: using your vehicle’s touchscreen or using a computer.
To use your vehicle’s touchscreen, follow the steps below:
- Insert the USB drive into a front USB port
- Go to the “Safety & Security” tab, scroll down and click on “FORMAT USB DEVICE” button. Click on “FORMAT”.
If your Tesla is unable to format the USB drive, you can format it using a computer to the FAT32 file system or MS-DOS FAT (for Mac).
- Once formatted, create a folder named “TeslaCam” (without the quotes) directly on the flash using your PC.
- Then, insert the USB drive into a front USB port. It may take a few seconds for Model 3 to recognize the USB drive.
- Now, the Tesla Dashcam should start working when you click on the icon.
NOTE: Do not use a rear USB port because they can be used only to charge devices.
C. Eject and Plug the USB Flash Drive Back In
Unplugging and replugging the USB flash drive is another proven way to fix the Tesla Dashcam unavailable error. To unplug it, you need to open the Glovebox.
Here’s how to do that:
- From the control menu, click on “Glovebox” to open the Glovebox.
- Then, remove the flash drive from the USB port. Wait about 5 seconds, then plug it back in.
- The Dashcam should now work without issue.
NOTE: If your Dashcam works after ejecting and plugging it back it only for the issue to come back after a few hours, then you have a faulty flash drive. In fact, this is even common with the Tesla-branded flash drive that comes with some newer Teslas. In that case, you need to replace it with a more reliable option.
D. Get a Reliable USB Drive
Low quality or faulty USB drives are some of the most common causes of Tesla Dashcam unavailable error.
If your Tesla vehicle was manufactured after November 2021, it is likely to have come with a USB device inserted in the USB port located inside the glove compartment. However, even these Tesla-branded flash drives are known to be very buggy.
In fact, unplugging and replugging these Tesla flash drive often fixes the issue for a few hours, only for the issue to come back. Therefore, you need to get a more reliable flash drive or SSD.
Tesla recommends using a USB drive that is at least 32GB and has a write speed of at least 4MB/s.
I will recommend you get a SanDisk or Samsung flash drive.
Once done, go back to the Safety tab on your Tesla center screen and enable Dashcam, and you should be good to go.
3. Check for Software Update
The next thing you need to do is check for any available software update on your Tesla. These updates come with bug fixes for many features on Tesla.
Here’s one thing to keep in mind: If your Tesla Dashcam becomes unavailable after a software update, the update could be the culprit. In this case, it’s best to contact Tesla Support to see if they can help resolve the issue or reverse the update. Alternatively, you can wait for a bug fix to be released.
Other than that, updating to any available software will most likely fix the issue.
To check for updates, go to the Software tab on your touchscreen and tap “Check for Updates”.
If there’s an update available, follow the on-screen instructions to install it. Also, make sure you maintain a strong internet connection during update to prevent it from getting stuck.
It’s essential to keep your vehicle’s software version up-to-date, as updates often include critical bug fixes and improvements. However, sometimes a software update may unintentionally cause an issue, like your Tesla Dashcam becoming unavailable.
A software bug could lead to a temporary unavailability of the Dashcam, affecting your ability to record while driving. But don’t worry, Tesla usually quickly addresses such issues and releases another software update to resolve the bug.
4. Defragment USB Drive
Memory fragmentation can also be a culprit behind an unavailable Dashcam on Tesla. Here’s how you can fix it:
- Safely remove your USB drive from the Tesla.
- Connect the drive to a computer.
- Defragment the drive using your computer’s disk utility.
- Safely disconnect the drive from the computer.
- Reinsert the USB drive into your Tesla.
Now, go to the Security tab on your Tesla center screen and turn on Dashcam. The feature should now work without any issue.
5. Contact Tesla Service
If none of the above solutions work, it may be time to contact Tesla Service. They can help diagnose and fix any hardware issues that may be causing your Tesla Dashcam to be unavailable.
You can contact Tesla Service through your Tesla app or by calling their customer service line.
You can also book a service appointment to get the Sentry Mode issue fixed on your Tesla.
The Dashcam in your Tesla is also essential in keeping your car safe. It helps you record the driving experience using the car’s built-in cameras.
To activate the Dashcam, you simply have to insert a USB drive into the required port and enable the feature in the car’s settings. The Dashcam will then record while you drive, which can be useful in case of an accident or just to document an interesting moment on the road.
If your Tesla shows “Dashcam unavailable check USB drive”, then you need to reset your Tesla first. If that fix the issue, eject and replug the flash drive, format it or get a more reliable replacement. Also, ensure that a folder named TeslaCam is created at the root of the flash drive.
A similar feature to the Dashcam feature is the Sentry mode, which helps to protect your car from potential threats while it is parked. When enabled, the system uses the vehicle’s cameras and sensors to monitor its surroundings for potential threats.
If it detects movement, such as someone trying to break in, Sentry Mode will automatically record the incident and notify you via the Tesla app on your smartphone.