Tesla is updating its cars at an astonishing rate. Every update seems to take a bit longer than the previous, or maybe I’m just getting more impatient to test out the new FSD features. With all the Ai learning that is packed into every update, these updates should be HUGE right? So, what size is a Tesla OTA software update file?

The size and duration of an OTA software update will vary, but extensive updates are usually not more than 7GB. A prompt in the car will typically say that the update could take an hour and a half, but it usually takes just 30 minutes if you have a solid and stable internet connection.

We unpacked some data for you to upload into your brain. So check out the rest of this article!

Tesla OTA (Over-the-Air) Updates

Imagine making your car safer and more capable without spending a dime or going to the dealership. Well, fortunately, with Tesla, that isn’t wishful thinking because you can get the latest features through an OTA (over-the-air) software update.

What sets Teslas apart from other cars is their ability to get better, even after rolling out of the dealership. It’s remarkable how often they send updates, as you can expect to receive at least one every month.

It’s best to connect to your home or office WiFi and perform the update during a time you know you won’t be driving your car for hours.

The YouTube video below demonstrates how to begin an update, set a timer, and troubleshoot issues that might arise during the update. 

Phases of a Tesla OTA Update

A Tesla OTA update has two stages; the download and install phase.

Download Phase

The download phase is when the car receives an OTA update prepped to be installed in your vehicle. You can still drive your car during the download phase if you have a stable WiFi connection. If you lose your internet connection, the download will get disrupted.

Once the download phase is complete, the software is prepared and stored, ready for installation.

Install Phase

The fully downloaded software is installed on your vehicle during the install phase to give you access to the latest upgrades. For safety purposes, you will not be able to drive or charge your car while the installation takes place.

You can hook your car up to a charger before the installation, but charging will stop as soon as installation begins and will resume once the update is complete.

It is crucial to note that you cannot stop the update once the install phase has commenced, but you are free to schedule it at your most convenient time. You can also change the schedule at any time before the update begins.

If you encounter an issue when downloading or installing an update, Tesla has some troubleshooting tips to help.

How To Receive a Software Update

As long as you have a strong WiFi connection, you’ll be able to check if there’s an update available on the infotainment screen. Tapping ‘Controls’ and ‘Software’ will prompt the car to check for any updates.

If a software update is available, you will see a yellow icon where you choose to update the software immediately or schedule it at a later time.


The yellow icon should become white after entering a schedule for the update. Once the update begins, a green download icon will appear on your screen. If an update is available, but there is no Wi-Fi connection, the download icon will be yellow.

Tesla model updates are rolled out gradually in 30 to 60-day patch cycles. Sending the updates in batches helps prevent congestion on Tesla’s servers, and it also helps to keep bugs (if any) confined to a smaller group.

So, don’t be surprised if you hear about a new update for your vehicle, but your screen shows that there is no update available.

What To Expect From a Tesla Software Update

It’s amazing enough to get additional features for your Tesla with a push of a button (or, in this case, a touch screen), but the fact that you can also get a boost in performance really begs the question, “What kind of sorcery is this?”

Aside from getting additional entertainment like access to new games and apps, Tesla software updates include improvements to existing systems. Features like Car Wash Mode and Automated Seat Heaters are just some of the many enhancements with Tesla’s 2021.44.25 software update.

If you’d like to connect a Game Controller to your Tesla, check out this related article that I wrote. I discuss 3 different methods.

But the most surprising aspect of Tesla’s OTA software updates is its ability to give you additional driving features like Autopark and improve ride comfort through improvements such as Adaptive Suspension Damping.

Some software updates can even boost performance, like reducing braking distance, increasing range, and improving acceleration.

The table below shows more examples of different enhancements received through software updates, classified under the following categories:

  • Entertainment: Entertainment software like games or apps.
  • New Feature: Additional features or improvements to current systems.
  • Performance and Safety: Updates impacting safety, driving dynamics, or vehicle performance.

The table below gives some specific examples of the things you might see in an update. 

EntertainmentNew FeaturePerformance or Safety
Disney +Cabin CameraFull Self-Driving Suspension
TikTokSave Dashcam ClipsBlind Spot Camera
Sonic The HedgehogRear Cabin Climate Track Mode (Plaid)
Tesla Mic and KTVLight Show

It may seem magical, but over-the-air performance enhancements are now possible since hardly anything in a Tesla is mechanical. Almost all the systems in a Tesla are electronic and controlled by software. So, improving performance can be done without modifying or replacing any components.

If you wonder why such features and performance don’t come standard with the car when they’re new, many car manufacturers factor in huge safety margins that can hamper performance.

If you have issues updating your Tesla for whatever reason, check out this related article that I wrote on how to force a Tesla software update with 4 solutions when your Tesla is not updating.

Over time, they may learn that it’s safe to unleash more performance without compromising safety or reliability. Hence, Tesla can fine-tune the software to get better performance out of their automobiles, and thanks to modern technology, these updates can be sent to each vehicle remotely.

You can check the features that come with every update by clicking on the Tesla ‘T’ on the top of the touch screen. A new window will appear, and you can click on “Release Notes” to see all the changes and features included in the latest software update.

To view Tesla’s latest features and software update history, you can view this list from notateslaapp.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Check Which Software Version I Have?

To confirm which software version you have, click on ‘Software’ on your infotainment screen. Available software updates appear on this screen. If you don’t see anything, you have the latest software. 

Why Don’t I See Any Changes After An Update?

Some software updates are minor and may not result in any noticeable differences. However, each software update should include a viewable list of the changes that were made. 

Check out these 20 great gift ideas for yourself or a Tesla fanboy.

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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

A renowned Tesla enthusiast, and successful entrepreneur, enlightens global audiences through his compelling EV narratives. Discover more about his electric journey on his About Me page. Venture to read Erwin's incredible story that's reshaping the future of motoring. Want to spark a conversation with Erwin? Visit his Contact page, and let’s electrify the world together.