Tesla Won’t Download Update – Quick Tricks!

Every Tesla is, in essence, a large computer. Updates can be small and big but do not benefit the user if you can’t fully download them correctly. There’s always a solution. Read on to find out how to update your Tesla successfully.

The most common reasons your Tesla won’t download an update include:

  • Wifi is not strong enough
  • The download is struck
  • Too many apps are running

In this article, we’ll examine why your Tesla won’t download the update and how to trigger it.

Model S Tesla dashboard

Wifi Not Strong Enough

Tesla constantly sends OTA (Over The Air) updates to your car. Most of the time, it’s not even noticed that an update has occurred, but if the Wi-Fi you are connected to is not strong enough, this can cause the download to fail.

Most Tesla owners have their vehicles connected to their home Wifi. Most people have strong Wifi connections, but sometimes the router can slow down and prevent the update from being downloaded.

If you’re having problems completing updates or only progressing to a certain point and then stalling, the first thing to check is your Wifi connection.

To check:

  • Select Controls
  • Select Wifi icon (at top of the screen)
    • Tesla will then scan for available Wifi
  • Select your Wifi
  • Enter password (if required)
  • Touch Confirm

However, your selected Wifi might be weakened by the number of devices linked to it. The average home will have many devices, including computers, TVs, mobile devices, and alarms; the list is endless. For every connected device, your connection to your Tesla is weakened.

If your router is heavily loaded, you might have to switch to an alternative Wifi or set up a new connection specifically for your Tesla.

The alternative Wifi – is your smartphone. Simply activate the hotspot on your phone and select it from the Wifi list onscreen. Sometimes this can be the easier option. However, the download can take some time, and if your hotspot does not have a strong connection, you may have to remain in your car. (which is not very practical). The download can be activated while driving, so it could be activated while on your daily commute.

The location of your car, relative to your router, can also be an issue. The signal might have to pass through several walls and/or to an underground parking area. It’s best to park where you have the clearest and nearest signal, but this isn’t always practical or possible.

It’s good to note that the Wifi Antenna in your Tesla is located in the Right Side Mirror. If you can position your car with the Mirror in direct line with the Wifi, you give the vehicle the best chance of a strong connection.

The Download is Stuck

If you notice that a download is stuck or seems to have paused, you can do a few things to trigger it into action.

Check the Download

All updates can be checked in the Software area onscreen.

  • Select Controls
  • Select Software
    • Checking for Updates
  • Update available

A download icon, Yellow in color, will appear if an update is available.

Clicking on the icon, the download will begin. This can then be activated at any stage if the Wifi is strong enough.

Standard vs. Advanced Preferences

There are two software preferences available. Standard and advanced.

Standard – requires you to actually check for updates

Advanced – will automatically update as soon as information becomes available

When you select Install, the icon will change to White or Green. If you choose a specific installation time, the icon will turn white. This is preferable as you can neither drive nor charge your vehicle while an installation is in progress.

When the installation begins, the icon will turn green.

So all of the above is what to expect if things are planned. But what do you do if the installation begins and stalls at 40% for several hours?

There are two explanations. Either the update is enormous, or the update has hung.

Enormous File

The is no real way of finding out the actual size of the update, as Tesla doesn’t release this information. It’s only after that that we can see the size. But with a little detective work, you can figure out the update.

Updates are not released to Tesla owners en masse. They release updates to approximately 10% of owners daily for a specified time. This way, Tesla can monitor any issues that might arise. So how do they decide who goes first? Well, it’s based on your VIN. Each batch that receives an update is in the same VIN sequence.

You can check software updates on a helpful website called Teslafi.com.

Most updates are relatively small and happen without issue, but larger updates such as Maps and Navigation can be up to 6GB and, on a standard network, can take up to 3-4 hours to update.

We need to be patient. It looks like nothing is happening, and the whole thing has hung, but it might still be updating.

Hung Update

On the other hand, if you have checked it continuously over a longer period and nothing seems to be happening, then there’s a strong possibility that the update has hung.

Again there are some options to try:

  • Soft Reset
  • Log a Call with Tesla

Soft Reset

  • Shift into Park
  • Remove any devices
  • Hold both scroll wheels on the steering wheel for 10-15 seconds
  • The touchscreen turns black
  • Tesla Logo reappears
  • Everything will once again be available

Performing a Soft Reset may trigger the software to complete the update. If your screen is acting up, you can check out this article – What to do if Tesla screen is black?

Log a Call with Tesla

Logging a call with Tesla is a good idea if the update doesn’t trigger.

  • Open the Tesla App
  • Select Service
  • In ‘Details,’ give as much information as possible about the problem, including any photos of notifications you might have received.

By logging a call with Tesla, they can see that the update has hung and can then remotely push through a new update to your vehicle. It can easily happen that OTA files can become corrupt, and no matter what you do, it will never work.

Once the replacement file is there, you can begin the download process again and complete the installation.

Too Many Apps Running

The other thing that can hamper downloads and updates is the number of apps you have running on your system. Well, what’s the point in having all the apps if you can’t access them, right? Well, they only have to be temporarily disconnected if you’re having software issues.

The apps to watch for are usually third-party apps, which are in huge supply, and very worthwhile but take more wifi to run than normal.

The other app to watch for is Sentry Mode. Sentry Mode requires Wifi (and a premium connection at that). Not only does it reduce your range, but it also prevents software updates. It’s certainly something to think about.

It might not always be necessary, especially if your vehicle is parked securely overnight. Sentry Mode can affect other vital functions like charging too. I wrote a post about exactly that, which you may find helpful – Tesla won’t charge 100%

I’ve written a ton on common Tesla issues, which hopefully you won’t ever experience, but if you do, we have you covered with these posts:

Check out the Tesla troubleshooting page for problem Teslas.

Check out the Tesla charging page for common Tesla charging problems.

Check out the Tesla category page for a list of popular Tesla posts.

If you are curious about other EV models, check out the EV FAQ category.

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is a technical writer here at EVjuicedup.com. He's a Red Seal qualified Auto Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience working on Classic and Modern Cars. He's worked for GM, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Audi, and VW main dealers.

Recent Posts