Is Your Tesla Autopilot Jerky? You Aren’t Alone

Is Your Tesla Autopilot Jerky?

Tesla has become a major car manufacturer in the 21st century, especially due to the shift to electric cars. Among the many features included in Tesla vehicles, you will find that many Tesla models will include an autopilot feature that allows for the car to drive itself rather than rely on the driver.

Many have found issues with Tesla’s autopilot system. From jerky lane changes to awful acceleration, owners have found that the autopilot system on Tesla vehicles may not work as smoothly as one would think.

Continue reading to understand the problems other owners have experienced with Tesla’s autopilot system, as well as the benefits of having an autopilot system in a car. Find out why autopilot systems can make driving safer and the difference between Tesla’s autopilot system and fully self-driving cars.

Problems That Have Been Reported with Tesla Autopilot

There have been many issues that have been reported by those who have bought a Tesla vehicle and have used the autopilot system in the vehicle. Two of the reported issues customers have been having in regard to Tesla autopilot have to deal with lane changes and acceleration.

Lane Changes Can Be Nerve Wracking

When one puts a vehicle on autopilot, you assume that the car will use its navigational system and sensors in order to determine the appropriate time to change lanes when traveling, but some Tesla owners have found this to not be true using the Tesla autopilot system.

Some users have claimed that the lane changes tend to be jerky and abrupt making the driver feel less safe. The changes have also been described as:

  • Abrupt
  • Fast
  • Dangerous
  • Uncomfortable

Due to these feelings, many drivers have found themselves reaching for the steering wheel and taking control of the vehicle in order to keep from crashing with other vehicles on the road.

Tesla Autopilot Acceleration Can Be Slow and Jerky

Another problem Tesla owners are experiencing with the autopilot feature is the acceleration. Rather than experiencing a smooth acceleration, some drivers have found that, while using the autopilot in their Tesla, the acceleration was slow and often jerky.

Other Problems with Tesla’s Autopilot

Some other problems that have been noted by drivers are:

  • The car did not change lanes properly
  • Turns were missed
  • The signal is often not turned on during a lane change

These issues cause the driver to feel unsafe when using the autopilot in their Tesla vehicle.

Tesla’s Autopilot: Good or Bad?

It is important to note that Tesla autopilot is not currently good enough to allow the driver of the vehicle to zone out and relax. Due to the issues discussed previously, you may find yourself taking hold of the steering wheel while the car is on autopilot and still needing to be aware of the other vehicles in the area.

With all of the previous issues reported by drivers, you may be wondering whether Tesla’s autopilot feature is good. In the chart below, you will find advantages and disadvantages to Tesla’s autopilot feature, as well as self-driving cars in general.

Environmentally friendlyNot fully self-driving
Reduces overall workload as a driverReports of jerkiness
Comes standard in new Tesla vehiclesSlow and or odd acceleration

It is important to note that Tesla intends for both the autopilot and full self-driving features of their cars to be used by drivers who are fully attentive and ready to take control of the car when they need to. These features are to not be fully relied on when driving as they are still somewhat in development.

Tesla’s Autopilot Makes Driving Safer Or More Dangerous

With the advantages and disadvantages of Tesla autopilot discussed, you may be wondering if Tesla’s autopilot system actually makes driving safer or if it makes driving more dangerous.

In terms of accidents, the company reported in 2021 that only one accident for every 4.19 million miles driven in which the driver had Autopilot engaged. In the fourth quarterly report from 2020, the company reported one accident for every 3.45 million had Autopilot engaged.

Based on these statistics, you can infer that while the autopilot system may have some issues that may cause drivers to worry, the autopilot system does not appear to be the main reason behind accidents or collisions.

Tesla has stated that a driver must still be aware of their surroundings and be prepared to take control of the vehicle when autopilot is engaged, so the company has not reached the point where the autopilot feature and full self-driving feature are complete to the standard of autonomy that one expects with those titles.

When Is The Best Time To Use Autopilot

The purpose of Tesla’s autopilot is to keep the car centered in the lane and keep a safe distance from other cars[1]  that may be in the area. Due to this aspect of the feature, the best place to use this feature is when driving on the highway.

Similar to cruise-control features, autopilot is most useful on long, uninterrupted stretches of road, but it can be used at any speed on any road. Due to this, it is better to use the feature when driving on a highway rather than on smaller, curvy roads or in highly congested areas.

Tesla autopilot can still be used in these areas, but the best driving area for the feature is on long, uninterrupted stretches.

Understanding Tesla’s Autopilot and its Problems

Tesla has a reputation for developing and manufacturing fully electric vehicles. Due to the need to cut emissions, many car owners have switched to driving electric cars, and many will choose to purchase a Tesla vehicle.

One major characteristic of Tesla as a company is its ingenuity and proclivity to look toward the future of car manufacturing. One of these methods of looking toward the future is the development of self-driving cars.

While many drivers may not be prepared for a full shift to self-driving, Tesla cars have begun to come with both an autopilot feature as well as full self-driving capabilities.

Understanding Tesla’s Autopilot

When you think of the term “autopilot”, you may only think the term refers to aircraft, but an autopilot system can be incorporated in many different forms of transportation, such as cars.

By definition, autopilot is a device for automatically steering ships, aircraft, and spacecraft. For cars, autopilot systems are driver assistance systems that enhance safety and convenience.

Much like the autopilot on a ship or aircraft, the autopilot system on a car allows the driver to take a break and allows the car’s navigational system to take control.

Car Manufacturers Who Include Autopilot Systems

Many car manufacturers have begun to include autopilot-like features in some of their vehicles. These manufacturers include:

Car ManufacturerModel Which Includes Autopilot
TeslaModel 3, Model Y, Model S, and Model X
GM (General Motors)Cadillac CT6, Chevy Bolt, and Cadillac Escalade
AudiA6 and A8
FordMustang Mach-E
NissanNissan Rogue and Nissan LEAF
Mercedes BenzE-Class and S-Class

The Difference Between Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving

Tesla vehicles come with both an autopilot feature as well as a full self-driving feature as part of its driver assistance feature which comes standard with newer Tesla vehicles.

In denoting the differences between the two features that as part of Tesla’s driver assistance feature, it is important to note the functions that come with each feature.

For Autopilot, two functions are included with the standard safety features:

  • Traffic-Aware Cruise Control matches the speed your car travels to the speed of other cars in the area
  • Autosteer keeps the car in proper lanes using aspects of the traffic-aware cruise control feature

For Full Self-Driving, many new functions are included along with the standard safety features. Some of these are:

  • Auto Lane Change assists in changing lanes when Autosteer is engaged when on the highway
  • Autopark helps to parallel or perpendicular park your car
  • Smart Summon allows for your car to navigate complex areas and maneuver around objects to find you in a parking lot
  • Summon will move your car in and out of tight spaces using the mobile app or key

On the surface, Autopilot and Full Self-Driving may seem to be the same thing, but the two are very different.

AutopilotFull Self-Driving
Incorporates two new functions to aid the driverIncorporates many new functions to aid the driver
The driver should remain fully alert and ready to take back controlThe driver can relax more (although this feature is still yet to be fully developed)
Mainly focused on keeping a constant speed and completing safe lane changesThe car becomes more autonomous and is able to do more than what is present for Autopilot

Similarities Between Autopilot and Full Self-Driving

Both Autopilot and Full Self-Driving are meant to help make driving easier for people. While companies, such as Tesla, have not been able to develop cars that are fully able to be self-driving and allow the driver to just relax, both of these features can help make driving safer.

Both features also equivalate to approximately the same price. Both features come standard in newer Tesla vehicles. It is also important to note that neither feature allows for the cars to be complete without the driver’s help.

Legality Of Self-Driving Cars: Can You Even Use Tesla’s Autopilot?

With the advance of technology and the development of self-driving cars being considered, many have begun to question the legality of self-driving cars.

The legality of self-driving cars has been considered and debated by legislatures from the District of Columbia and 17 other states in the United States. While the legality of self-driving cars has been considered, many states’ laws do not state whether a person must be holding the steering wheel of the car or if the car can in fact control and drive itself.

When it comes to driving laws, most assume that a person will be behind the wheel of the vehicle having control of it. Since the idea of fully self-driving vehicles is still being worked on and has not reached its full potential, it is difficult to gauge if a self-driving car could be considered illegal.

States With No Legislation For Self-Driving Cars

Not all states have enacted a form of legislation in reference to self-driving vehicles. Some of these states are:

  • Alaska
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

The states listed above have no record of any form of legislation or executive order being enacted in regard to self-driving vehicles.

Legality of Tesla Autopilot Per State

While the legality of self-driving cars is yet to be decided, many states have passed laws that allow for the development of self-driving cars as well as the prospect of self-driving cars to be used in the future. Below are some states laws which have allowed for this, but for your states’ particular laws and stance, you can check here.

California: Legal

After several companies began experimenting with the development of self-driving vehicles, the state of California became one of the first to allow and even encourage the development of these vehicles.

In 2012, Bill 1298 passed through California’s senate. In Section 1, the bill explains that the development of technology that allows for a motor vehicle to operate without the control and monitoring of a human operator is allowed in the state of California.

Colorado: Legal

Colorado passed Senate Bill 213 in 2017. According to this bill, people can begin using self-driving cars as long as the vehicle complies with both state laws and federal laws.

The bill also forbids local authorities from setting different standards for automated driving systems than those set for systems that require human drivers.

Florida: Legal for Testing

In 2012, House Bill 1207 was passed through legislation. This bill encourages the safe testing of self-driving cars. This legislation also clearly states that self-driving cars are not banned in the state.

In 2016, the legislation House Bill 7027 was passed. This bill permits for vehicles to be operated without a driver being present in the vehicle.

Georgia: Fully Legal, No License Required

In Senate Bill 219, Georgia made it legal for someone to operate a self-driving car even if they do not have a driver’s license. According to this legislation, self-driving cars can be operated in the state even without [4] a human operator in the vehicle.

Massachusetts: Legal, but May Change

There are no laws in the state of Massachusetts that apply to the operation of self-driving cars. This also means that there are no laws that ban the development of such vehicles.

In 2016, the governor of Massachusetts issued executive order 572. This order allows for the development and operation of self-driving cars in the state.

New York: Working on It

When it comes to self-driving vehicles, the state of New York has two pieces of legislation that discuss the topic. In Senate Bill 2005, testing requirements, as well as procedures for self-driving vehicles, were determined. Then in addition legislation in the form of AB 9508 test procedures and instructions for first responders were created in order to deal with autonomous vehicles.

Texas: Legal

In Senate Bill 2205, the state of Texas stated that self-driving vehicles are legal in the state as well as defining a number of terms in relation to autonomous vehicles. It also prevents local governments from outlawing self-driving vehicles. The legislation also states that under specific circumstances, a fully autonomous vehicle may be operated without the need of a person.

Final Thoughts

If you find that the autopilot in your Tesla vehicle is quite jerky, you should know that it is not only you who is experiencing this. Many drivers have found issues with Tesla’s autopilot system.

The Tesla autopilot is primarily meant to assist the driver and not to be relied on to get from one point to another. The autopilot system is meant to be used with the driver still aware of their surroundings and prepared to take control of the steering wheel. It is best used when in areas where there are long stretches of uninterrupted roads, such as the highway.

Tesla Discounts:


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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