How to Fix Sentry Mode Not Recording

How to Fix Sentry Mode Not Recording

If you encounter unexpected instances where Sentry Mode fails to record, a few key steps can help you resolve the issue. These include updating Tesla’s software, verifying the USB drive is set up correctly, reformatting the drive if necessary, and contacting support if problems persist.

I recently experienced this firsthand. After charging my Tesla at the local supercharger, I discovered a significant dent in the rear bumper. Suspecting someone had hit my car, I checked Sentry Mode footage for the license plate number and found it blank for the past hour. I updated my Tesla to the latest software version to resolve this issue. With everything confirmed operational, I can park with peace of mind again.

This article explores common reasons why Sentry Mode may fail to record, including software issues, USB drive problems, and Sentry Mode settings. We will provide step-by-step instructions to troubleshoot errors and ensure your Tesla’s security feature functions flawlessly, providing you with peace of mind.

Potential Causes for Sentry Mode Not Recording

When my Sentry Mode first stopped working, I was stumped. The feature had been great for months with no problems, but suddenly it wasn’t triggering at all. After digging in, here are the main reasons I uncovered for why it might not be recording:

  • There could have been a software bug controlling Sentry Mode activation.
  • The Sentry Mode setting may have been off at some point, meaning it wouldn’t record without being enabled through the controls menu.
  • A buggy software update meant to improve Sentry Mode can unexpectedly cause new issues.
  • The high volume of video writing may have caused USB drive problems over time.

Troubleshooting Steps to Resolve Tesla Sentry Mode Not Recording Issue

1. Restart and Reset

When Sentry stopped triggering for me out of the blue, I started with some basic resets.

  • Shift your vehicle into Park by pressing the black button on the gear selector and ensuring the “P” is shown on the touchscreen. This ensures the vehicle is in a safe state before powering off.
  • Go to Controls > Safety & Security > Power Off Vehicle on the touchscreen. Select “Power Off” and wait for the vehicle to fully shut down, which typically takes 2–3 minutes. Do not open doors, press pedals, or interact with the touchscreen during this time to allow the system to power off fully.
  • After at least 2 minutes of completely shutting down and idle, press the brake pedal to wake the vehicle back up. This performs a full reset of the electrical systems.

Unfortunately, that reset alone didn’t resolve the issue for me. So next, I enabled Sentry Mode again through the Tesla mobile app to try and refresh the settings.

  • To enable or disable Sentry Mode, you have two options:
  • Use voice commands by saying, “Keep Tesla safe,” “Keep my car safe,” “Sentry on,” or “Enable Sentry” while near the vehicle. This will turn it back on.
  • Access the Tesla mobile app and toggle the Sentry Mode switch to the on position under Controls > Safety & Security.
  • Once enabled through either method, check that the red Sentry icon is displayed on the car’s touchscreen and the mobile app to confirm the settings took effect.

2. Update Your Tesla Software

Check Your Current Software Version and Install the Latest Update

Force an Additional Software Check

  • Go to Car Settings > Software > Software Update Preferences
  • Toggle between Standard and Advanced repeatedly 
  • This may find and install a smaller update Sentry Mode needs

Monitor Sentry Mode Afterward

  • Once updates are complete, check if Sentry is recording properly again

3. Test Alternative Storage

Choose a Storage Device

  • Consider Solid State Drives, USB flash drives, microSD cards, or Ultra Fit USBs
  • SSDs provide best speed and reliability overall

Prepare the Device

  • Format the Storage
  • Insert the storage device into your Tesla’s USB port
  • Select “Format” and format to FAT32

Enable Sentry Mode Recording

  • Activate Sentry Mode from your car’s display or mobile app
  • Allow it to record for 30 minutes or more

Access and Review Recordings

  • Select “Security” or “Saved Clips” from the display 
  • Browse through recent Sentry Mode videos

Evaluate Performance

  • Check video quality and note any issues
  • Ensure videos are saving properly to the storage device
  • Gauge reliability compared to previous storage 
  • Try different file formats or storage types if needed

4. Reformat the Drive

Prepare the Drive

  • Back up any important files as formatting deletes all data on the drive.

Format the Drive from Your Tesla or Your Computer

Formatting From Your Tesla
  • Connect the drive to your car 
  • Go to Controls > Safety > Security
  • Scroll down the menu and find “FORMAT USB DRIVE”.
  • Continue to format by tapping on the “Format” option.
Formatting From Your Computer (Windows)
  • Connect the drive to your computer 
  • Open File Explorer
  • Right click on the drive and select “Format”
  • Set File System to “FAT32”
  • Click Start
  • Third Party Applications may be needed if the drive size is greater than 32GB.
Formatting From Your Computer (Mac)
  • Connect the drive to your computer
  • Open Finder, search for Disk Utility and select it. 
  • Select your drive and click on the Erase tab, be careful not to select your hard drive instead.  
  • Select “MS-DOS (FAT)” as the Volume Format 
  • Click on the “Erase” button to begin formatting.

Finalize Drive Setup

Test Sentry Mode Recording

  • Enable to confirm any issues have been resolved  
  • Check saved clips to ensure proper video saving

5. Ensure Correct Setup of USB Drive

Check Compatibility

  • Verify the USB drive’s specifications meet Tesla’s requirements for Sentry Mode storage.

Safely Eject the USB Drive

Reconnect the USB to Your Tesla

Inspect USB Drive Contents

  • Insert the USB into a computer and check that the “TeslaCam” folder was generated correctly

Always Safely Remove USB Drive

When to Contact Tesla Support

In my experience with troubleshooting Sentry Mode issues, there are five main situations where it makes sense to contact Tesla support for assistance:

Persistent Issues

The first is if you’ve exhausted all the typical troubleshooting steps without success. This includes restarting the car, updating to the latest software version, reformatting the USB drive for storage, and ensuring it meets the requirements. However, Sentry Mode is still persistently not recording. Support may need to look closely for potential bugs or hardware faults in this case.

Software Glitches and Bugs

Another reason is that after updating the car’s software, issues with recording began. Software updates can sometimes unintentionally cause glitches that prevent features like Sentry Mode from working properly. The support team would want to investigate if a recent change introduced a bug.

Hardware Issues

Support can evaluate if a component needs replacement or repair if the cameras, sensors, or any other hardware responsible for Sentry Mode functionality appears faulty or damaged. Hardware issues won’t be resolved without their involvement.

Unclear Error Messages

Vague error messages that don’t clearly explain the underlying problem are frustrating. Support is trained to decipher error codes and provide meaningful next steps based on their knowledge and service history with other vehicles.

Recent Changes

Changes we make, like swapping the USB drive, modifying camera/sensor settings, or other tweaks, could potentially disrupt how Sentry Mode runs. If issues arose after an owner-initiated change, support may be able to advise better on how to restore proper settings and functionality.

In all these cases, the more details shared with support upfront on the steps taken, any errors seen, and the timeline of the problem will help identify the root cause faster. Their goal is always to get the features working properly again or determine if servicing is necessary.

Preventive Measures for Sentry Mode Issues

  • Regularly update your Tesla’s software with automatic downloads to fix bugs before they impact Sentry Mode recording.
  • Check your computer’s USB drive’s storage space and file system frequently to catch issues early. 
  • Double check that Sentry Mode is properly enabled after any vehicle settings changes to avoid user errors.
  • Also, avoid extreme hot or cold temperatures that could damage USB drives left in the car for long periods.
  • Protect your Tesla from harsh weather conditions by using a car cover water or snow exposure may impact camera functionality.
  • Consider upgrading to a high endurance USB drive rated for continuous recording to prevent wear over time from extensive video saving.


In summary, several potential software, hardware, or setting-related causes could lead to Sentry Mode stopping its recording functionality. Thoroughly troubleshooting through resets, updates, storage testing, and ensuring proper setup is essential to diagnose the root problem methodically. If issues persist after exhaustive efforts, then contacting Tesla support is recommended. Their team of technicians can remotely analyze the vehicle’s systems or potentially service it if needed.

Regular preventative maintenance is advisable to help prevent such issues from arising. Maintaining the vehicle’s software and the USB drive through consistent updates and storage checks can catch small glitches early. Additionally, being diligent about double-checking Sentry Mode and other settings after any changes minimizes user errors.

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