Customer’s Used Tesla Suddenly Loses Autopilot Features After Sale

Used cars sometimes present unpleasant surprises.

The more complex their system is, the more unusual the problems may be. An owner of a used Tesla Model S has found that the automaker turned off paid functions in it after the purchase.

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The ill-fated car was purchased by a used car dealership on November 15, 2019. Then, a month later, on December 20, it was bought by a certain Alec B. Later, he discovered that Full Self-Driving Capability (FSD) had been disabled and only Enhanced Autopilot had remained. Though, according to the 2017 vehicle description, the car was initially equipped with both of them. The service center, which was contacted by the unsuccessful EV fan, told that the option had been disabled as a result of «an audit» because he had not paid for it.

The Monroney sticker is a mandatory document that car sellers are required to attach to each car sold. It shows all relevant information about a product, including a list of options. However, this does not apply to used cars. Only the original 2017 sticker appears in the story; a similar equipment list was not provided for the auction.

At the end of 2019, Tesla sold such cars at a significant discount. There is an ambiguity of the whole story at this point. It is not known under what conditions the dealership bought the car from the manufacturer. On the one hand, the famous company has never previously removed options from used models at the request of the buyer. But the company could have turned off the options intentionally in order to somehow compensate for the decrease in profit for itself. After all, FSD costs $6,000 and gets more expensive every year. The dealership's employees are also people and just might have read the documents inattentively. This version is indirectly confirmed by the fact that the sale contract was never published.

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After buying the Model S, the dealership’s employee drove it several times and made sure that all the functions were working properly, which he told Alec about. At the same time, between November 15 and December 20, when both sides agreed on all the deal terms, a message about a new autopilot updated appeared on the car tablet, and then FSD disappeared. Both the dealership's employee and the future owner of the car decided that this was a glitch and it could easily be fixed, so the deal still took place. Later, it turned out that on November 18, Tesla conducted an audit of paid functions on this car and considered that this vehicle carries illegally working options on board. Full Self-Driving Capability was disabled after the first over-the-air update.

Alec found out about this in January 2020, when he contacted the technical support and service center. He was offered to re-pay for the FSD activation. However, it is not known how the story ends at the moment. Despite a few obscure points, the whole story looks pretty ugly. It turns out that when buying a used Tesla, you can never be sure that you will get the declared functionality. Many options in Tesla cars depend on software and can be disabled with a second update.

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Many owners of Teslas with mileage noted that they had similar situations, but dealerships were not usually involved in them. As a rule, all misunderstandings were resolved by contacting technical support; disabled options were restored without additional payment. Enhanced Autopilot is a package of options that includes Traffic-Aware Cruise Control, Lane Departure Avoidance, and Automatic Emergency Braking. Full Self-Driving Capability is an extended package of options that help the driver: Navigate on Autopilot and Auto Lane Change, as well as Summon (the car drives up to the owner by itself).

The company regularly updates FSD and promises to improve it to the L3 autopilot in the next year or two (the driver can be distracted from the road). In the future, Tesla wants to introduce Level 4 (the driver does not need to constantly monitor the road). At the moment, the manufacturer’s cars meet the L2 driving automation: you need to constantly monitor the road and keep your hands on the steering wheel, and the autopilot is allowed to be used only on some intercity routes or in traffic jams. However, you can find dozens of videos online in which drivers even sleep at the wheel and a Tesla does its job perfectly.

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