After running into a number of controllers that didn’t work within Tesla vehicles, we decided to quickly throw together a quick list of controller models that do work. Ranging from the most common to the most affordable.
Tesla’s website and manuals simply mention gaming with a controller as using a “USB-compatible” gaming controller. However, not all controllers are alike and this includes how compatible they are with devices when it comes to plug-and-play. We have actually run into more models that do not work than did and the company doesn’t provide a list of actual compatible options. So you can use ours (here) instead!
Note: With the below controller options, it is important to remember that any USB controller requires you to plug it into a port that supports data. Some USB ports are for charging only. Some of the older models supported data through the front dash ports, but the later models only support data via the port inside the glove box. So you’ll need to pay attention to which port you are using. If the port doesn’t accept USB drives for music and other activities, it won’t support controllers either.
Official Xbox Wireless/Wired Controller
Jumping into things, we wanted to start with one of the most common options out there. The official Xbox controller is by far one of the most common controllers used by users (and quite likely the first that Tesla added support for). These controllers can be used both wired and wirelessly.
Going wired, you can connect this controller to any data-supported port within your Tesla and it will be ready to go for any game that supports a controller.
However, going wireless could be a little more tricky. You want to make sure the controller is one of the latest versions of the Xbox controller (Xbox Series X/S generation) that support Bluetooth connectivity. Then you will want to use a dongle to connect it to your vehicle. 8Bitdo makes one that happens to be the most popular among users (although you may have to update the firmware on the adapter before it will work). Another popular option is the Mayflash Magic-NS adapter for PlayStation and Nintendo Switch Pro controllers (if you don’t like using the Xbox controllers). Again, make sure that you plug the adapter into a data-compatible port and then pair the adapter and controller together (one controller per adapter).
You could also opt for the Xbox Elite controllers, but those are a bit expensive for gaming in the car vs a PC where they could be fully taken advantage of.
PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller (most popular third-party option)
As the title states, this is one of the most popular third-party options for Tesla vehicles out there. Verified to work by so many (including ourselves), these controllers typically run between $30-$38 and come in a variety of colors and designs (the majority of these designs found on Amazon). They are more affordable than the official Xbox controllers, which some may find attractive.
The only catch as the quality takes a step down since they are third-party coming from who-knows-where, so make sure you don’t have any joystick drift or any other troubles before you decide to keep it. Thankfully, there are a lot of happy users out there, so you will likely have a good experience with this one.
Logitech F310 Wired Gamepad Controller (most affordable)
For those who like to save a bit of money, this is by far, one of the most affordable options out there. Especially, for those who prefer a design closer to the PlayStation controllers. It’s buttons are laid out like Xbox while the shape is closest to PS, while coming from Logitech (a leader in computer and gaming peripherals). Best of all, it is only around $17.99 on Amazon at the time of writing this. Clearly, the price could change at any time, but even Logitech has it for $19.99, so it does feel like the price will stay under the others now and in the future (hopefully).
Just like the PowerA or the taking the official Xbox controller wired, it simply plugs into a data-compatible port within your Tesla and it should be good to go with any game the supports using a controller.
This is a great deal for a controller that works with the Tesla vehicles, as well as any modern PC. Plus, Logitech is known for the quality of its products, so it should last for years as long as you take good care of it. It is also starting to really give PowerA some competition as it has slowly been gaining traction within the Tesla community, taking attention away from the PowerA controllers. Of course, it doesn’t look nearly as cool as some of their designs.
Hopefully, Tesla will open compatibility a little for controllers so it will be a little more universal. It can likely do this by supporting Bluetooth directly to the car vs using adapters. This would make things quite a bit more user-friendly and allow you to take virtually any bluetooth compatible controller you have lying around and pair to your vehicle (assumedly). Until then, we are limited on what we can all use.
So we hope that this short guide was helpful in your search for a compatible controllers and that you didn’t already run through a few options that didn’t work. If you have experience with additional options that work, feel free to share in the comments below.