The Tesla Autopilot Button – Function to Troubleshooting

The Tesla Autopilot Button

If you are looking for a vehicle that practically drives itself in many situations, Tesla is already there for you. The Autopilot makes it happen for you. This simple button will activate an entire host of features designed to make the driving experience safer and more enjoyable. The question is how to activate and use it effectively. 

Tesla Autopilot function is to assist drivers by providing a convenient array of features designed to take the pressure off of operating a vehicle. The system is made possible thanks to the number of cameras, sensors, and radars installed around the vehicle. It is easy to use and activate. 

If you have been wondering what Autopilot can do for you, it is important that you continue reading. We will also talk about some of the more commonly asked questions related to the Autopilot and how to troubleshoot some of the common issues that you may encounter. 

How Do I Activate Autopilot?

If you have a Tesla car manufactured after 2019, activating it is quite easy. All models now have Autopilot already included as a standard feature ready for you to make use of. You will need to purchase the system in order to activate it.

To purchase the Tesla Autopilot, log into your Tesla account online. Once you do that, there will be an option to register for Autopilot. Once you pay the required fee, the system will automatically add the software to your car that is necessary for Autopilot to work. 

When activating Autopilot, you will have two options. The first is for just the Autopilot system. This currently costs $2,000. You can also opt for the full suite of self-driving features. That currently runs $10,000. These are one time fees. You will then receive all software upgrades automatically as they become available. 

Choosing Between Autopilot and Full Self-Driving

You have a choice between only having Autopilot installed on your Tesla or opting for the full range of self-driving features. Autopilot itself is made up of the following:

  • Eight cameras outside the vehicle
  • Twelve ultrasonic sensors located all over the vehicle
  • A comprehensive radar system

The features above are already installed on all Tesla vehicles made after October of 2016. You will need to confirm that you understand that both Autopilot and the fully self-driving features on the Tesla are only to be used with a competent and licensed driver in the driver’s seat at all times.

Various Functions of Autopilot

Now that you understand what Autopilot is all about, it is important to go over its various functions. Those include the following pieces of technology, some of which are unique to Tesla. 

Traffic-Aware Cruise Control

This function of Autopilot works by sensing the speed of all the other vehicles around you. It will typically be used on the open highway. Having sensed the speed, it will automatically adjust the speed of your vehicle to continually match that of the traffic on the road to keep you a safe distance away at all times.

Autosteer Keeps Your Tesla in Its Lane

This is one of the original functions of Autopilot. It is designed to make sure that your vehicle always stays in its lane. If the sensors notice your car start to drift from one side to another, it will automatically adjust your steering to compensate. It will do this without having to receive confirmation from the diver. It works together with the Traffic-Aware system.

Navigate on Autopilot

Now we start to get into the self-driving functions of Autopilot. This feature is still in Beta testing. It will actively work to move your car from the on-ramp on a highway to the off-ramp. All the while, the system will suggest lane changes, navigate any upcoming interchanges, and automatically switch on your turn signal when it is time for the car to start exiting. 

Auto Lane Change

This function is designed to help the driver move the vehicle to the next lane when the autosteer feature is also engaged. It is designed to be used on the highway, so keep that in mind. 

Autopark a Simple Feature

With parking becoming more difficult as parking spaces seem to be at a premium, this is an incredibly useful feature of Autopilot. It will work to either parallel or perpendicular park your vehicle. You simply need to position your car in front of the space you would like it parked into and then push a button. Autopilot will do the rest.

Summon Automatically Retrieves Car

If you have ever struggled to get your car out of a tight space, this is a function of Autopilot that you may find useful. When activated, the car will automatically move out of the space so that you can get inside. It is enabled via a mobile app or from your Tesla key. 

Smart Summon Comes to You

This is an advanced function that will not only move the car out of a tight space but will then continue by driving through the parking lot and coming directly to you. Keep in mind that it is only designed to be used in a controlled environment, and you still must be ready to override the system if necessary.

Traffic and Stop Sign Control

Using the array of sensors on the car, this function of Autopilot will notice when the vehicle is approaching either a stop sign or traffic light. It will automatically brake at an appropriate distance in order to ensure that the car comes to a safe stop in time. You must still actively supervise the vehicle when this feature is enabled.

Autosteer on Urban Streets

This is a new function of Autopilot that is not quite available yet. Once Tesla has completed the testing, it will automatically become available to all owners via a simple software upgrade. 

Troubleshooting Autopilot

Here are some questions that you might find helpful to have answered as you compare the various features of Autopilot and how to work through any issues that you might have. 

Are There Limitations to Autopilot?

Many drivers report that certain features of Autopilot are not available or do not seem to work in certain situations. This is because the system is not designed to replace human drivers. In certain conditions, the system may not function as intended. This includes the following:

  • When heavy rain, wind, or snow causes extremely poor visibility
  • When mud or ice interferes with the system of cameras and sensors on the car
  • Obstructions to the system caused by pain, rust, stickers, or other objects. 
  • Interference from other technology on the road such as those that generate ultrasonic waves that may compromise the radar system that Autopilot relies on. 

Are Drivers Required to Sit in the Driver’s Seat?

Autopilot is not meant to replace human drivers at this time. It is required that a driver agree always to keep his or her hands on the steering wheel. Without agreeing to this, Autopilot functionality will be unavailable on the Tesla. 

How Can Drivers Make Sure They Have the Latest Autopilot Hardware and Software?

This is done from the touchscreen in the Tesla vehicle itself. Just go to ‘Controls’ and then press ‘Software’. The system will then show you the latest Autopilot software you are using and let you know if there is an update. 


The Autopilot is a functional system that is activated with the touch of a button. It really cannot get any easier than this. However, it is important to understand how each part of the system works and under what conditions to maximize its use and effectiveness.

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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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