This Is How to Properly Use Autopilot in Model Y

This Is How to Properly Use Autopilot in Model Y

If you are the present owner of a Tesla Model Y or are thinking about the possibility of investing in one, then you are likely familiar with at least some of the many features that the model offers.  One of the most significant of these is the car’s Autopilot feature.

In order to safely operate the Model Y in Autopilot mode, it is first and foremost important to realize that the feature does not take over driving from you.  You must always pay attention and be ready to resume standard driving at all times.  Secondly, you should familiarize yourself with each feature that the autopilot mode offers.

The Model Y’s Autopilot mode is a fantastic set of tools you can use to help make sure that you have the safest and most enjoyable driving experience possible.  As mentioned above, you should carefully review the features as well as Tesla’s Autopilot Mode Manual, in addition to reading other materials that might be helpful.  Read on to learn more!

Model Y Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability Mode Features

It might be tempting from both a practical and a fanciful perspective to think of the autopilot mode as relieving us of the responsibilities of safe and proper driving.  After all, humans have been fantasizing about self-driving passenger cars for decades, and despite setbacks, they remain a future possibility.  This, however, is not at all the case for the Autopilot feature.

For the Model Y, there are actually two forms of autopilot mode: the standard Autopilot and the Full Self-Driving Capability.  If the automobile was purchased with the Autopilot already installed, customers will have the option of purchasing it or the Self-Driving package.

Having established that the Model Y’s Autopilot Mode is not a self-driving car, however, we can examine the many features that it offers as well as how to properly use each one.

Traffic-Aware Cruise Control

It goes without saying that cruise control, which was first invented in 1948 by a blind engineer named Ralph Teetor, is one of the most widely used features for many drivers.

For the Tesla Model Y, speed and acceleration control are taken to the next level through the use of a Traffic-Aware Cruise Control device.  While it is by no means the first of its kind, the feature has the ability to detect other vehicles around the car and, using calculations, allow for a safe distance from them.

Additionally, it allows for the speed of your car to adjust to the same as that of the traffic around it.

In order to use the feature on the Model Y, Tesla gives instructions that the gear selector stalk should be pulled down once.  This is located to the right of the steering column.


Traffic Light and Stop Control

Perhaps one of the most striking iterations that the Model 3 has is the Traffic Light and Stop Control feature.  This gadget, which was announced by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in the spring of 2020, is available on newer iterations of the Model 3 that have the Hardware 3 Package installed.

What is perhaps most remarkable about the Traffic Light and Stop Control feature is that it can successfully detect and stop the car at red lights and stop signs if the Autopilot device is enabled. 

While this certainly does not preclude the necessity of the driver stopping the car (Tesla describes the feature as working under the “active supervision” of the driver), it is nevertheless a welcome safety addition, much as the bumper detector or reverse camera has been for many cars.

According to Tesla’s Autopilot support page, the Traffic Light and Stop Control can be enabled by pressing the Controls button, followed by the Autopilot and Traffic Light and Stop Sign Controls buttons.  Lastly, you will activate either Traffic-Aware Cruise Control or Autosteer.  These buttons will only work when the transmission is in park.

Tesla has made it clear, however, that the Traffic Light and Stop Control feature is in the beta stage of development, meaning that it is still a work in progress.  As such, it should not be solely relied upon for safe and necessary stops. 

At the end of the day, you as the driver are responsible for your own safety as well as that of other passengers in your vehicle, as well as other drivers, pedestrians and anything else on the road.


In a method that is similar to the Traffic-Aware Cruise Control feature, the Autosteer feature allows for a driver to be effectively guided to remain in their lane.  Needless to say, this is an important safety mechanism as it can be all too easy for even proficient and experienced drivers to accidentally start drifting into another lane.

Tesla’s Autopilot support page says that the Autosteer feature can be activated by pulling down two times on the gear selector stalk.

Navigate on Autopilot

This feature, which is currently available for those who purchase the Full Self-Driving Capability addition, enables the driver to navigate safely and effectively to their destination using a series of suggestions for lane changes, exits, and routes. 

It can be activated by pressing the control button, followed by the autopilot and autosteer buttons, and then finally the navigate button.

Tesla first rolled out the Navigate on Autopilot feature in 2018.  Following research as well as feedback from customers, it updated the system the following year to allow lane changes without having to use the turn stalk.

Auto Lane Change

As its name suggests, this feature allows for the Model Y to be moved into a different traffic lane if the autopilot feature is on and the Autosteer and other features do not detect a vehicle to be too close.

The Auto Lane Change function works by first enacting the Auto Lane Changes button, which can be found in the Autopilot controls menu.


Summon acts as a method of communication between the Model Y and your garage door.  It can be activated through the Tesla app on your phone.

Smart Summon

This feature is more or less a cross between the Auto Lane Change and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control features.  It helps a driver to reach their destination safely and efficiently by notifying them of potential objects on the road.

Other Important Information

The Tesla Autopilot feature for Model Y and its counterparts has been praised by various auto experts for the depth and ingenuity of its capabilities.  It has, however, not been exempt from significant criticism.

The Autopilot mode has been declared to be at least partly responsible for multiple auto fatalities, including that of a driver who had previously praised it.  In fact, as the New York Times has reported, both Tesla’s autopilot mode and similar drive assistance features have come under withering criticism for its role in auto crashes, including when it has failed to yield for tractor trailers.  

According to Consumer Reports, the autopilot feature has also successfully been configured to operate without someone in the driver’s seat, and this constitutes a clear breach of safety protocols.

It should therefore go without saying that any Model Y driver who elects to utilize the Autopilot feature does so at their own risk and should be aware of the potential safety hazards that doing so entails.


As we have seen, the Autopilot feature for the Tesla Model Y–as well as its Full Self-Driving Capability offshoot–are high tech gadgets that are helping to reshape the driving experience for so many people.  However, it certainly behooves all drivers to carefully familiarize themselves with the Autopilot feature before using it.


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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