The murky issue of Tesla paid software updates not transferring to new owners surfaces as Tesla removes Autopilot after being sold with it

2015 Tesla Model S
Photo by Michael Simari

One of the potential pitfalls of over-the-air software updates is that he who giveth, can just as easily taketh away. That appears to be the case as Jalopnik is reporting a used Model S was purchased with Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD), only to have it removed after a software update.

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It all started when a third-party dealer bought the 2017 Model S at an auction on November 15, 2019 held by Tesla. At that time, the Model S had both Enhanced Autopilot and FSD, and was advertised as such.

Naturally, when that dealer turned around to sell the Model S, it was advertised with those features, as it makes it a more valuable and enticing car with them included.

But it turns out that 3 days after purchasing it from Tesla, they conducted what they called a software audit on November 18, and determined the owner “did not pay” for the features and is therefore not eligible to use them. When the dealer performed a software update on the vehicle before handing the vehicle to the new owner in December, the features were removed.

Tesla Model S Autpilot removal invoice
Image via Jalopnik

Naturally the new owner contacted Tesla Support, and was told of the audit and removal of the features:

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Tesla has recent identified instances of customers being incorrectly configured for Autopilot versions that they did not pay for. Since, there was an audit done to correct these instances. Your vehicle is one of the vehicles that was incorrectly configured for Autopilot. We looked back at your purchase history and unfortunately Full-Self Driving was not a feature that you had paid for. We apologize for the confusion. If you are still interested in having those additional features we can begin the process to purchase the upgrade.

To make matters worse, the new owner conducted a test by contacting a Tesla Used Vehicle Sales Advisor, and asking if he could get one of their vehicles for less money if Autopilot and FSD were removed. The advisor responded by saying, “if it’s added and it’s a used car they just simply will not remove it.

Tesla removing features from vehicles is a touchy subject. Until Tesla arrived in the automotive world, someone would need to physically access a car to remove a feature. Now with software updates and features being added to cars at the touch of a button, something can very easily be removed without your knowledge or consent.

I doubt this will be the end of this story. But it serves as a cautionary tale to anyone looking to buy a used Tesla that has optional upgrades included with the vehicle.

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Founder and Editor-in-chief of Drive Tesla Canada | Darryn@DriveTeslaCanada.ca Have a Tesla tip? Email tips@driveteslacanada.ca, or DM us on Twitter @DriveTeslaca