Changing Lanes with Tesla Autopilot? Read This First

Changing Lanes with Tesla Autopilot?

While the fully self-driving feature on the Tesla Autopilot may not be available yet, all of the technology is available for you to enjoy as a driver. One of those involves the ability to safely change lanes with the help of the Autopilot system. This is a real game-changer when it comes to driving, particularly in heavy traffic and urban environments. 

Changing lanes with Tesla Autopilot is meant to be seamless and safe. It is a way to get to your destination based on the route you have programmed without having to worry about being in the proper lane to exit an off ramp or switch interchanges.

As with any piece of new technology, you want to make sure you understand how to use it before you start to employ it. This is especially true when it comes to driving. If you are ready to change lanes with Tesla Autopilot, you will want to continue reading to learn how to put the system to practical use for you. 

Can Your Tesla Change Lanes Without Your Involvement?

If you were to ask this question a few years ago, the answer would be absolutely not. In the early models of the Tesla Autopilot, the car would first ask you if you would like it to change lanes. That is no longer the case, which brings us one step closer to the day when regulations permit a fully self-driving car. 

A recent software upgrade has added a feature to the Navigate on Autopilot system. You have the option to tell the car that it does not need your confirmation to change lanes. When you grant that permission, the vehicle will change lanes when it deems it to be beneficial to the overall route. 

Is It Safe?

As with any Autopilot feature that Tesla introduces, this feature within Navigate has undergone extensive testing. Before it went live in the American market, Tesla conducted more than 500,000 miles of testing. However, drivers should always remain in control of the vehicle at all times. Your eyes should never leave the road. 

Three Autopilot Lane Change Features You Should Know About

If you are going to make use of the Autopilot lane change feature that Tesla has created, there are some things that you will want to know about first. While the system is not yet fully self-drive capable, the objective is to allow the vehicle to execute a safe lane change independent of driver interaction. 

From the outset, the Navigate on Autopilot system featured a requirement that the driver give permission before any suggested lane changes could occur. This was a feature that many drivers appreciated because it kept them in control of every situation. That has all changed with the new model Teslas and recent hardware upgrades. 

Now, for the changes. You now have three options when it comes to changing lanes using Navigate on Autopilot. 

Automatically Enable the Navigate on Autopilot System

This is a way to be certain that you always have access to the Navigate on Autopilot feature. Without enabling this, you will have to manually select it every time that you get behind the wheel. In order to avoid having to do that, you will just want to activate the system automatically. 

When you do that, your Tesla will use the lane change feature automatically any time that the driver keys in a destination using the navigation system on their Tesla and decides to use Autopilot. In so doing, you do not even have to think about it. However, there are a couple of other options that you will want to select in the meantime. 

Manually Deselect the Requirements for a Lane Change Confirmation

If you would rather your Tesla just go ahead and make lane changes when it feels that it would be beneficial given your route and prevailing traffic pattern, you are now able to do that. However, you will first need to go in and manually deselect the requirement that the driver confirms all lane changes first. 

When you do this, no further input will be needed by the driver. As long as you are using the Navigate on Autopilot feature, the car will change lanes for you automatically when it feels that it is in your best interest. You can always go back and re-select the need for manual confirmation whenever you feel the need to do so. 

Activate the Notification Feature for All Lane Changes

Another cool feature that Tesla has recently added is the ability to be notified anytime a lane change is being executed. Again, you will need to engage this feature. When you do, you will hear an audible beep every time the car is about to change lanes. This gives you the ability to override the execution if you feel the need to do so. 

If you are driving a Tesla made after 2017, you can also activate an option to have your steering wheel vibrate anytime a lane change is about to be executed. This is quite handy, particularly if you are the type of driver who likes to play loud music when on the road. It is recommended that you use this feature if you decide to disable the lane change confirmation feature. 

How Does the Auto Lane Change Feature Work?

Now that you understand how to implement the auto lane change feature on Tesla’s Autopilot, it is important that you understand its functionality. To begin with, this feature only works in conjunction when Navigate on Autopilot is engaged. 

You engage the Navigate on Autopilot when you want your Tesla to program the best route to your next destination. It could be as little as a half-mile away or several hundred miles. The principle is still the same. You will program that destination in and then your Tesla will begin to do much of the work for you. 

When using Navigate on Autopilot, the system will automatically direct your vehicle from one location to another, including from highway on-ramp to off-ramp, by doing the following:

  • Suggesting lane changes – If the system feels that you would be better off in an adjacent lane, then it will notify you. If you confirm the notification, then the system will begin to safely move your Tesla into the next lane. 
  • Navigating interchanges – Autopilot will also help your car to navigate tricky interchanges and make sure you stay on the correct road. This may mean that a series of lane changes is necessary to make it happen, and the system will begin to do this as far away from the interchange as it feels is needed. 
  • Switching on the turn signal automatically – You might forget to turn on your signal when changing lanes, but the Tesla Autopilot will not. 
  • Taking the correct exit – When it is time to exit the highway, your Tesla will be in the correct lane, ready to execute it flawlessly. 

The auto lane change feature is at the center of this. While the default is that you will need to confirm all suggestions as the driver, you can also tell the system to execute the lane changes automatically. The key is that Autopilot can sense how far out from your destination you need to begin changing lanes in order to safely arrive at your exit. 


The ability that Tesla vehicles have to safely change lanes is groundbreaking. However, it is important to know that you have options when it comes to employing this feature. You can either require that Autopilot ask for your confirmation prior to changing lanes, or you can let the vehicle decide for itself. As with any Tesla feature, you are in complete control.

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The articles here on are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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