2020.36.12 – Tesla Software Update History and Tracker

by Denis Gurskiy
Tesla Software Updates
  • The current Tesla Software update is 2020.36.12
  • It features new additions such as driving visualization improvements, green light chime, autosteer warning, and more.

One of this automaker’s many benefits is their ability to continuously improve and add to their vehicles through over-the-air update. The company is constantly looking to improve the safety of their vehicles, adding owner requested features, or simply making owning a Tesla more fun. With each Tesla software update your car feels new again. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Tesla software update today along with previous versions and release notes.

Latest Tesla Update:

2020.36.12
  • Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control (Beta)
  • Navigate on Autopilot (Beta) – Exit Passing Lane
  • Driving Visualization Improvements
  • Autosteer Stop Sign and Stop Light Warning
  • Green Traffic Light Chime
  • Speed Assist Improvements
  • Suspension Instrument Panel Display
  • Cruise Set Speed Improvements
  • Pedestrian Warning

The Tesla software update today can be a little confusing. Not every vehicle is on the same version, updates are done in batches spontaneously, and not all features are available to all cars. With this guide, you can check out both the previous Tesla software update history and the newest Tesla software update release notes showcasing compatibilities and breakdowns.

The current and latest Tesla update today is 2020.36.12, but don’t start to worry if you’re a bit behind. Tesla rolls out their updates in small batches. You can use TeslaFi, a Tesla firmware tracker, to view fleet progress and check out what percent of the Tesla owners are on which Tesla software versions.

Tesla Firmware Tracker

Spotted
Version

09/23/2020

2020.36.12

09/09/2020

2020.36.10

09/08/2020

2020.36.3.1

09/07/2020

2020.36.3

08/29/2020

2020.36

How To Get Your Tesla Software Update

The latest Tesla software update is usually reserved for those in the early access program, such as employees and those under NDA’s. However, those who purchased the FSD package prior to March 2019 are in a secondary early access program and receive updates slightly faster than the general public. Previously, there was also an opportunity to enter the program through gaining a certain amount of referrals but that option is now gone. So if you ever look through the Tesla firmware tracker and see that a specific update has an unusually low amount of vehicles with it, you can bet that it was meant for owners in the Early Access Program.

When a new Tesla software update is available, your car will notify you with a request to install it. There is currently no way to force a Tesla software update. The company pushes out available updates at random and the cars slowly download them in the background, as you drive and sleep. You can promote faster download times and more frequent updates by leaving your car connected to WiFi. Additionally, you can go into your car’s settings and change your update preferences from ‘STANDARD’ to ‘ADVANCED’ for priority support.

‘Controls’ > ‘Software’ > ‘Software Update Preference’

The process of moving forward with a Tesla software update is easy enough. When your vehicle is eligible you will see a notification on the main screen (and your phone) that will say you are ready to receive an update. If you are feeling a tad impatient and don’t trust that your car will notify you, you can go to ‘Controls’ > ‘Software’ which will allow you to manually have your car check for a new Tesla update. Once you see you are eligible for an update, you can continue with the download and schedule an install.

However, do keep in mind that you will not be able to drive while the update is installing. In most cases, especially with the larger releases (including map and game update), you will need Wi-Fi to download the latest Tesla update. If your parking spot is not in range to your home network, you will have to either have to use your phones hotspot or find an open Wi-Fi network such as a coffee shop or even a Tesla service center.

Tesla Update Issues?

If your Tesla software update failed you can try rebooting your vehicle by holding down the two scroll wheel buttons for about 20 seconds. After, you’ll have to wait for Tesla to push the update to your car once more.

You can view your Tesla update download progress from within your car. Under the software menu, you’ll see a green progress bar. If the update is large enough to require a WiFi connection, you will be notified there as well.

What Tesla Features Do I Get?

To answer this question effectively, you need to know three pieces of information: your Tesla model, what version Media Control Unit (MCU) you have, and what Autopilot computer (HW) you have. All new Tesla’s built today are on Autopilot 3 with MCU 2. Any car built after March 2018 should receive all new and present features excluding those that are region-specific.

To make a long story short, the MCU dictates how smoothly your infotainment computer works and what features you will be able to receive. For instance, such certain newer video games as well as video streaming services are only available on MCU2. Currently, there are only two different versions of the MCU with the latest MCU being found in all Model 3/Y’s and every Model S/X post March 2018.

The Autopilot computer on the other hand will dictate what kind of autonomous driving features you will be able to receive. As of now, there are five different versions of the Autopilot computer, HW0, HW1, HW2, HW2.5, and HW3. The most recent version is found in roughly every Tesla model produced after March 2019. HW3 is important to have if you are planning to use FSD features as Tesla states that HW3 will be the computer that will be capable of providing full autonomy, and so any new features such as Traffic Light Recognition are exclusive to HW3.

How to Check

For your convenience, we’ve compiled a Tesla update history list below outlining Tesla features with their respective Autopilot and MCU version. If you’re wondering what your car is missing out on or are considering buying a used Tesla we highly recommend checking out the following.

Tesla has all but stopped providing support for the previous MCU version, MCU1. With it, you will only receive a fraction of the newest Tesla features and your infotainment system will run dreadfully slow. The newer MCU, MCU2, is found in all new Tesla’s and offer performance similar to some smart phones.

The newest Autopilot computer, AP3, is also found in every new Tesla. Being the companies primary focus, as this is the version which is set to allow for FSD capabilities, it receives improvements at a much faster rate. The new chip in AP3 is said to be the best in the world and improves the Tesla Autopilot update experience exponentially.

AP109/2014MCU106/2012
AP208/2016MCU206/2017
AP2.507/2017 (Model S/X)MCU2 (Model S/X)03/2018
AP304/2019 (Model S/X)  

It is admittedly pretty confusing, but we made a table that can give you an idea of what kind of hardware is in each model. Do keep in mind that Tesla is already working on a AP4 chip which looks to be making its way late next year.

TeslaFi

At this point, TeslaFi is a necessary tool if you want to truly stay up to date with your car. Most people might already know about the TeslaFi firmware tracker, but did you know they offer much more than that? Sure, the free Tesla firmware tracker is great, but dive a bit deeper and you’ll have a tough time arguing against registering yourself.

When registered you can track everything about your vehicle such as range loss, electricity savings, software updates, charging data, and full fledged live driving data. It is the near perfect Tesla log book. Looking through the current features and data points that are available when registered we are greeted with the following:

  • Charge tracking
  • Charging summary
  • Tag drives
  • Calendar
  • Scheduling
  • Temperature efficiency
  • Amazon Alexa skill

The TeslaFi app is perfect for those people that classify themselves as ‘stat nerds’ or people who are just generally curious how your mileage is affected while driving in different temperatures.

TeslaFi SuperchargingTeslaFi Tesla Charge TrackerTeslaFi Personal RecordsTeslaFi Tesla Phantom DrainTeslaFi Tesla TrackerTeslaFi Live DataTeslaFi TrackerTeslaFi Daily Tesla LogTeslaFi ConditioningTeslaFi Tesla Log

What is TeslaFi?

In short, TeslaFi is a Tesla logistics app. Looking through the calendar, you’ll get you a good idea at what kind of information you can expect from the app at a glance. Looking at each individual day you can see if you went on a trip, how many miles you drove, what your average Wh/mile was, the average temperature for the day, and the total cost of driving and any charging you might have done during the day. Basically, everything.

For instance, if you are coming from a gasoline-powered car then you may or may not have to change some of your driving habits to get the most range out of your Tesla. Something like Teslafi allows you to perform little experiments to see what kind of driving and/or driving conditions are best suited for higher efficiency. Plus, it’s a good way to visualize how much less money you are spending on gas.

The site uses data from those registered to give us a better understanding of Tesla’s overall fleet. In conclusion, the service is well worth it if you’re data-driven or just want to know if you are truly getting the most out of your battery. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, TeslaFi even has a leader board tracking the longest ranges achieved on a single charge.

You can earn a month-long free trial simply by using our referral code, EVBite.

Latest Tesla Software Update


Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control (Beta)
First Noticed 2020.36.10 (September 2020)
MCU 2+AP 3+

Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control is designed to recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs, slowing your car to a stop when using Traffic-Aware Cruise Control or Autosteer. This feature will slow the car for all detected traffic lights, including green, blinking yellow, and off lights. As your car approaches an intersection, your car will indicate the intention to slow down via a notification, slow down, and stop at the red line shown on the driving visualization.

(Model S/X)To continue through the stop line, pull the Autopilot stalk once or briefly press the accelerator pedal to confirm that it is safe to proceed. As with all Autopilot features, you must continue to pay attention and be ready to take immediate action, including braking because this feature may not stop for all traffic controls. This feature will be conservative, slowdown often at first, and will not attempt to turn through intersections. Over time, as we learn from the fleet, the feature will control more naturally.

(Model 3/Y)To continue through the stop line, push down the gear selector once or briefly press the accelerator pedal to confirm that it is safe to proceed. As with all Autopilot features, you must continue to pay attention and be ready to take immediate action, including braking because this feature may not stop for all traffic controls. This feature will be conservative, slowdown often at first, and will not attempt to turn through intersections. Over time, as we learn from the fleet, the feature will control more naturally.

To enable, shift your car into PARK and tap Controls > Autopilot > Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control (Beta).

Note: Before this feature can be enabled, camera calibration may be required, and the latest version of Navigation maps must be downloaded via Wi-Fi. Please refer to the Owner’s Manual for additional details about this feature.

Another refinement to the traffic intersection has been pushed through. The system is still far from perfect as you still have to confirm to the car that it is safe to proceed through an intersection. A previous update (2020.24.6.9 (July 2020)) however did start allowing the car to proceed through intersections if there was a lead car. As always, Tesla states that this feature will plan to be conservative before it gains enough data to be confident enough to take more risks.

Navigate on Autopilot (Beta) – Exit Passing Lane
First Noticed 2020.36.10 (September 2020)
MCU 1+AP 2.5+

While Navigate on Autopilot is activated, your car can now remain in the passing lane. To adjust your passing lane preference, tap Controls > Autopilot > CUSTOMIZE NAVIGATE ON AUTOPILOT > EXIT PASSING LANE.

An additional improvement to the Navigate on Autopilot now allows the car to continue to stay in the passing lane rather than exiting it once an overtake has occurred.

Driving Visualization Improvements
First Noticed 2020.36 (August 2020)
MCU 2+AP 3+

The driving visualization can now display additional objects which include stop lights and select road markings. The stop light visualizations are not a substitute for an attentive driver and will not stop the car. To see these additional objects in your driving visualization, tap Controls > Autopilot > Full Self-Driving Visualization Preview.

Further refinements have been made to the driving visualizations as Tesla tries to provide as much information in the autopilot visualization and for the purposes of nailing autonomy in city streets.

Autosteer Stop Sign and Stop Light Warning
First Noticed 2020.36 (August 2020)
MCU 2+AP 3+

Your car may warn you in some cases if it detects that you are about to run a stop sign or stop light while Autosteer is in use. This is not a substitute for an attentive driver and will not stop the car.

The improvement to Tesla’s interactions with stop signs and traffic lights will now allow your car to give you a warning if it notices that it might run a stop sign or traffic light while Autosteer is enabled. Do keep in mind that even though it might sense that it will run an intersection, the car will not stop itself, so it is still your responsibility to intervene.

Green Traffic Light Chime
First Noticed 2020.36 (August 2020)
MCU 2+AP 3+

Speed Assist now leverages your car’s cameras to detect speed limit signs A chime will play when the traffic light you are waiting for turns green. If you are waiting behind another car, the chime will play once the car advances unless Traffic-Aware Cruise Control or Autosteer is active. When Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control is activated, a chime will play when you can confirm to proceed through a green traffic light. To enable, tap Controls > Autopilot > Green Traffic Light Chime.

Note: This chime is only designed as a notification. It is the driver’s responsibility to observe their environment and make decisions accordingly.

Another new feature added as Tesla tries to perfect their autonomous system in regards to dealing with stop signs and traffic lights. You can now enable your Tesla to play a chime when it detects a green light so that you don’t become THAT guy who sits at a green light and holds everyone up.

Speed Assist Improvements
First Noticed 2020.36 (August 2020)
MCU 2+AP 3+

Speed Assist now leverages your car’s cameras to detect speed limit signs to improve the accuracy of speed limit data on local roads. Detected speed limit signs will be displayed in the driving visualization and used to set the associated Speed Limit Warning.

As usual, to adjust Speed Assist settings, tap Controls > Autopilot > Speed Limit.

Further refinement of the Full Self Driving suite will now leverage the cameras around your car to get a more accurate understanding of what the speed limit is on the road you are traveling on.

Suspension Instrument Panel Display
First Noticed 2020.36 (August 2020)
MCU 2+AP 3+

The real-time visualization shows how the suspension system is dynamically adjusting each wheel’s damping to account for changing road conditions. This can now be displayed on the right or left side of the instrument panel. To view, hold the respective steering wheel scroll button briefly until the available instrument panel options are displayed. Roll the scroll button to choose Suspension.

That neat little suspension visualization showing the suspension loads that was introduced in the last update? Well now you can change which side in the gauge cluster it was originally displayed on in case it was not to your liking.

Cruise Set Speed Improvements
First Noticed 2020.36 (August 2020)
MCU 2+AP 2+

Quickly adjust the Traffic-Aware Cruise Control or Autosteer set speed to the current speed by simply tapping the cluster speedometer. You can still tap the speed limit sign to adjust the set speed to the speed limit.

For those of you with a Model 3/Y you are getting a little shortcut for setting your desired Autopilot speed by tapping on the speedometer or speed limit sign.


Taking one look at the features that Tesla software updates have added to their cars over the past few years and it’s very clear that Tesla does not treat their updates as mere bug fixes. Similarly, as cars continue to evolve with more and more technology, looking forward to new updates will be just as exciting as impatiently waiting for next years iOS version. The features added during the ownership of your Tesla not only keep things fresh, but they also show that the engineers at Tesla are listening to community feedback and trying to bring the best car and software experience that they can.

The features found in a standard Tesla software update are not only limited to adding new features in the infotainment system of your Tesla. The Tesla OTAs can also provide important updates to the companies efforts regarding full-self driving (if you have the package). Tesla FSD updates are occasionally spread throughout the standard Tesla update with constant improvements being made on nearly a week to week basis. Additionally, and probably more famously, a Tesla update can and has resulted in an increase to performance to your car. Pushing well passed the limitations of infotainment updates, Tesla software updates can even go as far to tackle on efficiency and performance of the vehicles. This of course goes well beyond updates found on your smartphones. Have you ever had an update which resulted in your processor or battery performing better? Vehicle OTA updates are rarely talked about outside the context of Tesla, but it is definitely an area that Tesla has a huge advantage over basically any other car in the market.

FAQs

What is the latest Tesla software update?

Currently, the latest Tesla software update is 2020.36.12

How do you update Tesla software?

When your car is ready to have a software update, a notification will appear on your touchscreen that will prompt you to either install it now or schedule it for later.

What's in the new Tesla software update

The newest Tesla update comes with: improvements to both Navigate on Autopilot as well as Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control

How can I get the Tesla software update faster?

You can go into your settings 'Controls' > 'Software' > 'Software Update Preference'. From there you can switch from 'STANDARD' to 'ADVANCED' which should allow you to receive updates sooner.

How do you download a Tesla update?

When your car is ready to have a software update, a notification will appear on your touchscreen that will prompt you to either install it now or schedule it for later.

Can you force a Tesla software update?

Some people report that holding the 'ADVANCED' button in the 'Software Update Preference' screen will force the car to check for an update, while others have had success calling their service centers to get the car updated there. Results may vary.

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5 comments

Alan Glenn June 19, 2020 - 12:04 pm

How can I tell which version of AP I have? I know I’m on MCU1 but no idea what version of AP?

Reply
Giovanni June 19, 2020 - 1:23 pm

Tesla recently made this easy. From within your car go to the software menu. Under your VIN you’ll see “Additional vehicle information” just go ahead and click that.

Reply
Alan Glenn June 19, 2020 - 1:48 pm

Thanks. I have AP 2.5 but MCU1 so I’m out of luck for lots of these new features. Can’t do the MCU update as I use XM in a bad cell area.

Reply
Chrus February 1, 2020 - 5:31 am

You have not mentioned that this update provides a lot of pretty useless stuff like backgammon but breaks one of the best things about owning a Tesla which is the voice command to play any Spotify song. Now playing music just takes you to a menu so you have to type. This is really dangerous IMO. So don’t update if you haven’t already. Can live with a glitchy car.

Reply
Linda Whitmore May 6, 2019 - 10:27 am

Regarding the new Sentry Mode, I am concerned about the Hispanic men who will provide this around-the-clock security. You wrote that the new service “activates cameras and senors to monitor any criminal activity.” (Ha!)

Reply

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