How To Update the Software on a Tesla (The Complete Guide)

How to Install Tesla Software Update

One of the unique features of Tesla cars is their regular software updates. Understandably, many of us are only used to software updates on our mobile devices, PCs, and smart TVs, so the process of updating the software on a car may seem a little confusing. However, it’s pretty straightforward if you have the correct information.

To update the software on a Tesla, connect the car to a Wi-Fi network and tap on the yellow download icon on the dash touchscreen. Owners can choose to start the installation immediately, and the download icon will change to green to show the installation progress. Owners can also schedule updates.

This guide offers tips on how to install a Tesla software update. Read on to learn how to troubleshoot problems during an update.

Why Do Tesla Cars Require Software Updates?

Your car is already great when it comes out of the factory, so you may be wondering why it needs to be updated. Well, Tesla wants your vehicle to get even better over time, so they regularly roll out updates to improve your car’s functionality and add new features to it. 

These updates make Tesla stand out from traditional cars that have preset onboard computer systems. The major Tesla updates typically arrive once each month and make your vehicle safer to drive. These crucial updates also enhance your vehicle’s navigation, handling, and performance capabilities.

Tesla’s software updates also improve your car’s entertainment and enhance specialized features like Tesla Autopilot. One of the major benefits of owning a Tesla is receiving consistent free system updates and upgrades that don’t require a service visit. 

How To Check for Software Updates on a Tesla

You can find information about your current software by tapping the Tesla “T” logo on the center of the dashboard touchscreen. A digital window will open to show your car’s software version and other details like the battery configuration, vehicle avatar, and VIN. 

To check for an update on your Tesla, tap “Controls’ and navigate to “Software.” The touchscreen of your car will display “Checking For Updates” and search available updates. If there are no pending updates, you’ll see the message “Your Car Software Is Up to Date” on the touchscreen.

If an update is available, you’ll see “Update Available” and a yellow download icon on the touchscreen. You can also tap on “Release Notes” on the window’s bottom right-hand side to access information on the latest software update. 

The notification will give you an estimate on how long the update installation will take to complete, although download times vary depending on the Wi-Fi signal strength. In most cases, you don’t need to check for an update, as you’ll be notified via your touchscreen and the Tesla mobile app once one is available. 

These update notifications automatically appear when your car is connected to Wi-Fi. If you’re connected to Wi-Fi and still can’t receive update notifications, visit the “Software” window to configure your car to receive updates when they are available. Accessing the Advanced Settings will allow you to turn on  the automatic update installation feature.

How To Install Tesla Software Updates

When you receive a software update notification on your Tesla, you can either install it immediately or at a later time. If you choose to install it immediately, here’s how to go about it:

Connect Your Tesla to Wi-Fi

Before you can download and install a software update, you need to connect it to Wi-Fi. You can connect it to any Wi-Fi source, whether it’s your home network or mobile phone internet. 

To connect your car to a Wi-Fi network, tap on the Wi-Fi symbol or the LTE icon on the top right of your screen. A list of available networks will show up that you can connect to. Now, select your home network, enter the Wi-Fi password, and tap “Confirm.”

Tap on the Yellow Download Icon

To begin the update installation, you’ll need to tap that little yellow icon. Once the installation starts, the icon will change to green and remain that way until the update is complete. If the icon does not change color, something may be wrong with your Wi-Fi connection.

Wait for the Update To Finish Downloading

Installation typically takes about 30 minutes or lesser, depending on the strength and speed of the network. During this time, you will not be able to drive or recharge your car. This limitation is a safety measure by Tesla to avoid any conflicts or malfunction with the features you’re updating.

Also, you can’t cancel an update once you’ve started it. You’ll have to wait for the installation to complete before you start your car. As a result, it’s best to schedule your update installation when you don’t have an important meeting or event to attend.

Here’s a video to further guide you on how to set up a Wi-Fi connection on your Tesla:

More Tips on Tesla Software Updates

If something goes wrong during a software update and it gets interrupted, you can’t directly restart it. You’ll have to contact Tesla Customer Support to request that your update be restarted. If your car or touchscreen malfunctions or becomes unresponsive after an update, don’t panic. Some features may become unavailable during a software update.

However, if you don’t get a “Software Update Complete” after about 30 minutes, it’s possible that the software update did not complete, and you’ll have to call Customer Support.

If you received the notification that your software update is complete, but your touchscreen or care is still not responding, Tesla recommends taking one of the following steps to troubleshoot the problem.

Do a Touchscreen Reboot

This action is performed by pressing and holding the two scroll wheels located on either side of the steering wheel for about 5 seconds until the screen turns off. As the system reboots, you’ll start to see the Tesla “T” logo appear on the touchscreen. It can take several seconds for it to boot back up.

Power Off the Vehicle Completely

The last option is to switch off your Tesla and then restart it completely. Before performing this action, put your car in park and close all your doors and ensure they are closed throughout the procedure. 

To power off your vehicle in the Model S and Model X, go to Controls, navigate to E-Brake and Power Off, and then select Power Off. Next, tap Confirm and wait for about two minutes.

On Model 3, go to Settings, select “Safety & Security,” and tap on Power Off and then Confirm. Pressing on the brake will restart the car for all these models.


Being able to update the features on your Tesla is something most other car owners may not be able to enjoy. Although some updates may not cause any significant changes to your car, they help to improve its functionality over time. And best of all, performing an update is not difficult at all.

If you experience any problem after updating the software on your Tesla, performing a reboot of the touchscreen or IC or powering off your car can help to fix it. Of course, you can also choose to visit your local Tesla dealership for in-house repairs and maintenance.