How to Get the Most Out of Your Tesla Software Update

Pierce Keesee
Pierce Keesee
January 31, 2022
How to Get the Most Out of Your Tesla Software Update

With the recent 2021.36 updates to Tesla's vehicle software, we figured it's a good time to remind current and future drivers about the central role that the software-machine interface, also known as firmware, plays in the day-to-day operations of these luxury electric vehicles (EVs).

The Tesla Model S, X, Y, and three all use Tesla's proprietary software. This means that Tesla has control over the vehicle's digital systems — they can build simple updates into their cars overnight, while owners can get more extensive updates when they are connected wirelessly for an extended period. 

They can do this partly because Tesla Smart EVs are built on a tightly regulated version of the Linux operating system, allowing Tesla to control every aspect of the car's hardware and software.

Tesla has made it their aim to regularly update the software on Tesla vehicles to provide simple and practical ways to fix potential problems or annoyances that Tesla owners faced with earlier versions of Tesla software. These updates also add new features and improve both driver and passenger experience. Here's everything you need to know for drivers looking to get the most out of Tesla updates to the software. 

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How Tesla Updates Software for Its Vehicles

Tesla updates can be divided into Tesla monthly software updates (in Tesla's parlance, Tesla Firmware Update) and Tesla over-the-air (OTA) updates. Tesla firmware updates come with new pre-programmed features (APIs, reference points, etc.) at the Tesla factory before being delivered to vehicles across the global consumer fleet. 

Tesla OTA software updates are those which Tesla can push out to your Tesla vehicle wirelessly or via plugging it in. The Model S, X, Y, and three vehicles constantly stay in touch with Tesla's servers. 

The company automates the rollout process so that different batches of vehicles receive the update at a time. Tesla also allows owners to schedule the newest Tesla firmware update/OTA using their app and onboard systems.

As stated earlier, Tesla’s embedded Vehicle Operating System (VOS) contains a Linux kernel that connects the mechanical components within the vehicle to the overarching software architecture that Tesla has built. 

Tesla can update the VOS with over-the-air (OTA) updates, which can run automatically or manually. The Tesla software update uses the same computer hardware in Tesla's fleet, which is constantly connected to Tesla's servers. 

Tesla periodically pushes new software versions with bug fixes, improved performance, and even enhanced features when they become available. Tesla will always push the latest software version when you turn on your Tesla vehicle.

It is possible for owners to alter the version of the software that their vehicle runs, but it's important to be fully aware of the implications before making any decision on updates. Additionally, Tesla recently announced that they would roll back their "beta" software releases and alter how they improve vehicle software performance. This is because the company strives to ensure that high safety and performance standards are upheld throughout all of its software releases.

Now that you have a solid background let's discuss how you can leverage the enhanced technology behind Tesla vehicles to get the best performance and experience, particularly the new 2021.36 update.

How Tesla's Updates to Software Impact Vehicle Performance and Driver Experience

It's inevitable that enhancements in computer technology will integrate with the most important tools of our day-to-day lives. 

Vehicles are amongst the most natural, necessary, and habitual places to use computers. Tesla's vehicles are no different as they integrate a huge amount of computing power with an extremely powerful software package.

Vehicle Performance

The software is critical to vehicle performance in any vehicle that uses microchips to synchronize and govern component function and integration. 

In Tesla's case, the need for these digital systems is even more important because Tesla uses those chips to govern the battery/power plant and the Tesla drivetrain and chassis. 

Tesla's cars are truly cutting edge, and Tesla has made a name for itself as a company that not only builds exceptional vehicles but also takes steps to improve its existing products on an ongoing basis. 

Tesla owners can expect regular software updates, which will continue to improve Tesla's vehicles long after they have left the Tesla factory.

Here are some of the vehicle performance boosts that you can receive from Tesla updates:

Cold Weather Performance: The latest software updates help improve Tesla vehicle performance for those who live in colder northern areas. These software updates address everything from windshield wiper performance to faster Supercharging time via battery preconditioning during cold conditions.

If the temperature is about or lower than 32°F, the cold weather will reduce your Tesla’s range and increase charging times. Use the Optiwatt app to reduce your charging costs. The app analyses your driving habits and electricity loads to charge your EV at the lowest price.

Airbag System: Tesla's interconnected digital system has been updated, so the airbag and other restraint devices now deploy differently depending on the impact detected.

Lane Change Signalling: Now, internally, as their Yoke Behavior Changes, the latest VOS update enables the vehicle to automate the process of lane-change signaling. As drivers perform merge, turn, and other signal-necessitating maneuvers, the new software system will leverage vehicle sensors to end the signal more quickly.

Autopark: Autonomous driving is one of the major frontiers that Tesla is embarking on, and the latest update furthers that mission by improving the Autopark system. By identifying the painted lines and road edges with sensors, Tesla vehicles can perform perpendicular parking maneuvers more effectively.

User Interface and User Experience

Aside from pure road performance, the Tesla software systems are also important from an experience perspective. VOS updates regularly to improve the quality of driver and passenger experience by updating the dashboard interface, in-vehicle entertainment capabilities, and precision of climate control systems. Some of the recent improvements include: 

For more information on how you can get the most out of Tesla updates to the software for your specific model, you can use the support features available in your VOS or mobile app.

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Pierce Keesee
Pierce Keesee

Technology enthusiast with background in battery building and electronic repair

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