Tesla Autopilot Not Working? [How To Fix It]

If Tesla Autopilot is Not working, Try This First.

Tesla is one of the only car companies to offer the option of driving with autopilot. This is a very appealing feature to Tesla owners. Not only is its high-level technology, but it is also extremely useful.  Tesla has spent a lot of time making sure the autopilot feature is user-friendly as well as safe. Although these measures have been put in place, there may be a time that you discover the autopilot is not working.

If the autopilot on your Tesla stops working, do not panic because there are some things you can do before sending it to the shop: checking for software updates and rebooting the system are great places to start. If these two things do not work, you can take other troubleshooting actions.

In this article, you will learn about how to troubleshoot when the autopilot has stopped working on your Tesla.

» MORE: Common Tesla Autopilot Myths About Sleeping At The Wheel

Troubleshooting Autopilot

If you are a Tesla driver, then you know how amazing the autopilot feature is. You also know how devastating it can be when this feature decides to stop working. Because Tesla produces technologically advanced vehicles that can be updated and even repaired remotely at times, there may be some things you can do before you call a professional. 

When looking for fixes and troubleshooting tips, it is important that you only attempt fixes that you feel completely comfortable with and understand how to complete them. If you do not feel comfortable at any time, it is likely best that you call in the help of a professional. Chances are they will be able to talk you through some troubleshooting ideas remotely. You will notice some things are more complex than others.

Check for Software Updates

One of the most common causes of malfunctions within Tesla is software updates that you may not have performed. Each month Tesla rolls out major updates, while smaller updates occur more frequently between the monthly update (Source: Screen Rant). If your vehicle doesn’t receive these updates, it can be problematic over time.

How do I Update My Tesla Software?

If you are a new Tesla owner, you may be wondering how you update your software. Lucky for you, it is quite simple. The technology behind Tesla allows all updates to be completed remotely or “over the air.”  Because of this, you will likely get an alert on both your phone app and the touchscreen in the car. By following the directions on your touch screen, you can easily begin the download to update your software.

No driving during the update: It is important to note that once you begin to download a software update, you cannot use the car until the update is complete.  It would be best to remember the updates are created to keep your Tesla in the safest working condition possible.  Allowing the Tesla to be driven during a safety update could be quite dangerous.

No charging during the update:  You may think it would be wise to charge your Tesla during an update, but the company has place safeguards in the vehicle that will not allow it to accept a charge during software updates. This is likely because it could interfere with the download process, which could ultimately cause a safety issue.

It would help if you were connected to wi-fi: Because Tesla updates take place over the air, the only way to access and complete the software updates is to be connected to wi-fi. It would be wise to use your home wi-fi to do this, because it may be more reliable than other wi-fi sources. 

Knowing the different things you cannot do during a software update can save you both a headache and time. Most updates take approximately 30 minutes to complete, so you need to make sure your care will be sitting in one place and is charged for the duration of the update. Once the update is complete, your car is ready to drive again. (Source: Mashable)

» MORE: Tesla Model S Screen is Black [How To Fix It]

Reboot the System

If you have updated your Tesla and it still doesn’t seem to be working, you may need to reboot the entire system. This may sound a bit extreme and maybe even complicated, but it is quite easy to do if you follow the correct steps. Again, if you have questions about rebooting the system, you should call the support line. You can complete different types of resets on the Tesla.

Soft reboot:  This is the most common type of reset that you will do on a Tesla. A soft reset does not involve disconnecting the power source. When you complete a soft reset, you are essentially restarting the software of the vehicle. 

To soft reboot your Tesla:

  1. Put your Tesla in Park
  2. Press and hold the brake pedal with your foot, keep holding
  3. Press and hold both scroll wheels on the steering wheel for 10 seconds
  4. Once the screen goes black, release the brake pedal and the scroll wheels
  5. Wait about 1 minute for the screen to reboot

Hard reset: A hard reset is usually one of the last things you will want to resort to because it involves disconnecting the power source. Knowing that Teslas are all electronic, you can imagine the risk this type of reset may cause to both you and the vehicle if not done properly.

The idea behind the hard reset is that you will remove the power source from the vehicle, which in turn allows all of the electronic components to reset themselves completely. If this method works, everything should work as it is supposed to when you reattach the power source. 

If the hard reset does not work, there is a chance that your vehicle is suffering from greater problems, and you should take it to a certified Tesla technician, or a mobile technician should service it. (Source: Find my Electric)

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Other Strategies

If you have tried updating your software and rebooting the system with no luck, you can do some other things to help remedy the problem before you call for technical support. 

Turn off Sentry Mode: Each Tesla comes equipped with something called the Sentry Mode. The purpose of this mode is to help offer an added layer of security to the vehicle. The sentry mode has constant recording around your vehicle to help alert you to potential security threats. As you can imagine, this mode can use a lot of power. 

Some Tesla owners have found that disabling the sentry mode and only using it when the vehicle is in park allows the autopilot feature to work without error. While this may not be the best solution to the problem of your autopilot not working, it is a rather quick fix that you can easily apply with simple touches of the screen. (Source: Hot Cars)

Disable 3rd Party Apps: Your Tesla is an electronic mecca which means it can use many different apps. Including apps that the Tesla corporation did not solely create. When you enlist the use of a third-party app, you may find yourself without a functioning autopilot.

Remove the USB chip: You must remove any USB chips in the Tesla before resetting your system. When you are resetting the vehicle, it is essentially resetting all features of the vehicle. If there is a USB in use, there is a chance that part of the system will be unable to reset. This is because it is still ultimately in use with the USB in place. 

Disable Bluetooth: Bluetooth is constantly searching for a signal from another Bluetooth device. If this is enabled on your Tesla, it may have trouble completely updating all the systems. By simply shutting the Bluetooth off it will likely allow the necessary updates to download.

» MORE: Tesla Not Charging? Here’s What to Do

How Can an App Impact Autopilot?

You may be wondering how a verified app could impact your autopilot. It would be best if you remembered that the creators of Tesla and the software engineers have total control over the technological interfaces of the vehicles. Because of this, if they feel an app is no longer appropriate for their vehicles, they can block all access, which means it is no longer usable to your vehicle. (Source: Tesla Motors Club)

Let Your Car Sleep

Yes, you are reading this correctly. Your Tesla may need to sleep to allow the autopilot to function properly. To get the most out of your Tesla, it is recommended that your Tesla be allowed to move to sleep mode for a total of two hours, once every 24 hours. To ensure your vehicle is in full sleep mode, you will need to remove the USB and disable the Sentry system. After two hours, everything should work as it should.

Remove your key fob: Your Tesla is aware of the presence of the key fob, which means it will not go to sleep when it is close by. To allow your car to sleep deep, you need to make sure the key fob is located far from the vehicle. Even just walking by with it in your pocket will wake the car up. While this isn’t an issue when preparing to drive, it can impact the update process when the cat is sleeping. (Source: Tesla Forums)

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Why is Autopilot Important?

If the autopilot is disabled, does it matter in the way you drive your Tesla? The good news is that if the autopilot is not working, you can still drive your car. However, this removes one of the major safety features provided by Tesla. The reason behind allowing self-driving cars is to decrease the risk of driver error.

Think about all the times you have driven when you are sleepy or in a terrible rainstorm when you can barely see the lines, let alone a car in front of you. Tesla has implemented autopilot to help support the driver in these situations. While it is not wise to rely strictly on autopilot, it is a feature that likely adds greater safety and protection.

Does Autopilot Require an Active Driver?

You may be wondering if autopilot requires the responsiveness of the driver. You have likely read stories about individuals sleeping at the wheel and just allowing the car to take them to their destination and wondered about the feasibility of this. 

Autopilot does offer support when driving, and depending on the model of Tesla you purchase, you may be able to be quite hands-off. In earlier versions of autopilot, the driver was still required to be actively engaged in driving the car, while newer versions may require less presence from the driver.

» MORE: Tesla Model 3 Not Connecting to Cell Phone [How To Fix It]

Autopilot Vs. Full-Service Driving

When looking at the autopilot feature of the Tesla, it is important that you not confuse it with the full service driving feature that is available with an upgrade. The upgrade to full-service driving is much more expensive than autopilot because of the features included.


The autopilot feature is something that the company can load onto your Tesla for a small fee. This feature requires full driver attention. However, it provides a layer of safety when operating the vehicle. While it doesn’t drive the car for you, it provides the safety of lane recognition and recognizing vehicle changes taking place around you.

Features of Autopilot: If you are using autopilot on your Tesla, you can expect to see these features as you are driving

  • The traffic around you determines cruise control
  • Automatic steering to help you avoid dangers on the road

As you can see, autopilot features are quite minimal and similar to other non-electric vehicles.

Full-Self Driving

Just as the name suggests, full-self driving is when the car can take over all aspects of driving for you. Tesla recently added this feature to newer car models, but it doesn’t mean that you can curl up and take a nap while your car takes you to the appropriate destination. 

Much like autopilot, this feature still requires the driver’s attentiveness to ensure that it is safely used. While there are more bells and whistles per se, there is always a chance it won’t work the way it is designed to. We all know that even the best and most expensive technology has been known to fail from time to time, and Tesla is no different.

If you choose to add full-service driving, you need to know it does come with a pretty hefty price tag. The good news is that it can be added as an upgrade at any time during the life of your Tesla. With a simple call and swipe of the credit card, you can have the feature pushed out to your car and added as an update to your software. (Source: Pocket Lint)

Features of Full-Service Driving: If you opt for the full-driving service option, the saying you get what you pay for is certainly true. You may even get more than you bargained for. Here is what you could expect from the feature.

  • Autopilot that allows for navigation in lanes and moving from lanes
  • Parking support
  • The ability to move your car just by using the key
  • The ability to stop at traffic lights and signs

Although there are many capabilities in this mode, the driver must be actively engaged in the process. Sure, you can relax just a bit, but don’t take your shoes off and grab a good book just yet. As with all vehicles, you need to have total awareness of the road and things around you, just in case the Tesla stops working the way it should.

» MORE: Is Your Tesla Autopilot Jerky? You Aren’t Alone

Does Autopilot Prevent all Accidents?

Autopilot is a great feature to have in any car, but you must remember it does not prevent all accidents. Therefore, you cannot rely on autopilot as your only method of staying safe on the road. Tesla claims that by using the autopilot feature, you are ten times less likely to be in a serious accident. (Source: Business Insider)

While these statistics are quite strong, it is important that you not let your guard down when using autopilot.

Final Thoughts

The use of Tesla autopilot is a fantastic safety feature that has been integrated into the car’s design. Although Tesla is a remarkably advanced technology, there is still room for error that you need to be prepared for. There are some simple troubleshooting actions you can take, but if you cannot remedy the situation with these tips, seek out the help of a licensed technician. Not only will this save frustration, but it could also prevent damage to your vehicle.

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The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com 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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