How to update Tesla software

3 min read

Tesla software update

Modern cars are incredibly advanced, with computers controlling everything. Just like your phone or computer, you must install regular software updates.
This guide explains installing Tesla software updates, including scheduling and viewing release notes.
Read your owner’s manual for the most in-depth, model-specific information. This is a critical step before operating anything on your vehicle.
Let’s get into it.

When do you need Tesla software updates?

Tesla releases software updates whenever necessary. In general, you can expect the following (although this is by no means an official schedule):

  • Major system update – once per year
  • Routine software update – once every one or two months
  • Minor bug and security patches – between two and five times per month

Remember, though, that this is entirely dependent on Tesla. Some months bring several updates; some come with none.
The company also staggers the rollout of updates to customers. That means you might not be offered a Tesla software update at the same time as someone else.
You can get updates sooner by choosing Advanced updates in your preference settings. To do this, follow the instructions below:

  1. Tap Controls.
  2. Go to Software.
  3. Choose Software Update Preferences.
  4. Select Advanced.

(Advanced updates don’t enroll you in the early access program!)
Leave this setting as Standard if you’re happy to receive updates as part of the normal rollout process.
Regularly connecting to Wi-Fi can force updates to install more quickly. For example, park near your home, where Wi-Fi can reach.

How to install a Tesla software update

Follow the below instructions to check for and, if applicable, install a Tesla update.

Checking for Tesla software updates

Checking for updates regularly is part of good maintenance in a modern car. It’s the same thing you’d do for your phone or laptop, and the computers used in Teslas are just as advanced.

  • A yellow clock icon shows at the top of the Controls menu when there’s an available Tesla update.
  • Follow the below instructions to manually check for an update.
    • Choose Controls.
    • Go to Software.
    • If an update is available, you’ll see Software Update Available.
    • Select this to open the scheduling screen.
  • Look for software updates in the app.

How to start a Tesla software update from your car

When you see the yellow clock icon or find an Available Software Update (explained above), your vehicle needs an update. Follow these instructions.

  1. Leave your Tesla in Park.
  2. Ensure you’re connected to Wi-Fi.
  3. Tap the clock icon/message.
  4. Choose Install Now.
  5. The yellow clock icon turns into a green download icon when the update is successfully installing.
    • If you see a yellow download icon, the update is ready, but you aren’t connected to Wi-Fi.

Alternatively, schedule the update for later when you’ll have arrived at a Wi-Fi connection.

  1. Tap the clock icon/message.
  2. Select a time to install the update.
  3. Press Set For This Time.
  4. The yellow clock icon turns white until the update starts. It then becomes a download icon, as above.

It’s also possible to start updates via the app.
If the touchscreen tells you the update couldn’t be installed (either before or after), get in touch with your local dealership.

Conditions for a Tesla software update

The below conditions must be met for a software update to start:

  • The car must be in Park (and stay in Park). Don’t start driving until the update finishes! You may have incomplete and, therefore, dangerous software!
  • You shouldn’t be driving at the scheduled update time. This will override it, and you’ll need to reschedule.
  • You must be connected to Wi-Fi.
    • Some updates might install via cellular connection if required.
  • If the following features are active, it’ll prevent updates from installing:
    • Sentry Mode
    • Smart Preconditioning
    • Keep Climate On
    • Dog Mode
    • Camp Mode

It’s also important to know the following:

  • Updates override charging. Charging resumes once the update completes.
  • Failing to install updates in a reasonable timeframe could invalidate the warranty coverage for any related damage.
  • Some features will become inaccessible or incompatible if updates aren’t installed.
  • Tesla might update your software as part of a standard service.
  • You can’t go back to a previous software version. The updates override it.

How long do Tesla software updates take?

Tesla software updates are usually relatively quick. This is especially true for the more minor updates when connected to a strong Wi-Fi connection.
More significant system updates could take up to three hours. Of course, this depends on your Wi-Fi speed and signal strength.
You don’t need to worry about sitting in your car while the update installs. You might hear the battery relays clanking as they transfer the current, which can be unsettling.
Everything’s fine, though. Simply plug your car in once you get home, start the software update, and head inside.

How to view Tesla update release notes

Reading the Tesla update release notes is vital. You can do this once the update has been installed.

  1. Tap Controls.
  2. Choose Software.
  3. Find Release Notes.

These might contain crucial information regarding using new or updated systems safely.
You could also ask your local Tesla dealership for clarification on any sections you’re unsure about.

Read your owner’s manual for model-specific information about software upgrades. This is the most reliable source of information. If you still need help, contact your local Tesla dealership.
You’ll find a Tesla owner’s manual below.

owners manual

By Ben Kitchen Ben is a qualified car mechanic with experience working in the industry. He now works as an automotive author, writing about all things vehicle-related. He’s excited about the potential held by electric cars of all shapes, sizes, and types.

Ben Kitchen Ben is a qualified car mechanic with experience working in the industry. He now works as an automotive author, writing about all things vehicle-related. He’s excited about the potential held by electric cars of all shapes, sizes, and types.

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