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Steering wheel and central display inside the cabin of the Tesla Model 3
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Steering wheel and central display inside the cabin of the Tesla Model 3

It would be fair to say Tesla pioneered over-the-air software updates for cars. Ever since the Model S arrived back in 2012, the user interface and software features have gradually improved via updates downloaded through the car’s Wi-Fi connection.

As well as tweaks to – and, sometimes a total visual overhaul of – the Tesla infotainment system, software updates add features like rain-sensing wipers and the option to switch creep on or off, and bring a constant flow of improvements to the Autopilot driver assistance system.

Updating a Tesla is much like updating the software on your smartphone. The car will let you know when an update is available (or you can check manually), and it is downloaded over Wi-Fi, before being installed. 

It is crucial to remember that, much like your smartphone, your Tesla cannot be used – or charged – while software updates are being installed.

If you haven’t been notified about a new software update, you can check manually by opening the Software tab on the touchscreen. 

If a new update is available, a notification will appear on the center of the screen, giving you the option to download and install right away, or schedule for later.

Updates can be downloaded over the car’s cellular connection while driving, but you are best off connecting to Wi-Fi for the fastest, smoothest download.

You can also check for an update by tapping Controls then Software. If there is no update available you’ll see the message: “Your car software is up to date.” 

If an update is available the car will say so, and a yellow download icon will appear at the top of the screen. Your best option is to connect your Tesla to Wi-Fi at home, then tap the yellow icon to begin the download, or schedule it for later.

The download can happen in the background while using the car, but the installation can only be done while parked. 

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