Tesla Navigation is terrible

Tesla Navigation is terrible

Firstly let me say how much I love my model 3. It is not even comparable to any other car, more like a completely new breed of machine.

however as with everything in life nothing is perfect. The one thing that has marred the experience almost as much as Tesla removing auto lane change from standard autopilot after it was sold to us as being included, is just how completely terrible the navigation is.

I regularly drive with Waze running on my phone as a comparison. Regular Google Maps Navigation too. I have taken simultaneously screenshots and photos comparing the two. Unfortunately there appears to be no way to post them here. However as an example Tesla navigation will say the journey by it's different route will take 1 hour 12 minutes. By comparison Waze goes a completely different way with an ETA of 52 minutes. Google maps shows a similar ETA of 53 minutes.

again I have tried this on several 1 hour drives and Tesla navigation is always consistently 10 to 20 minutes longer in route. That adds up to a lot of lost life going via nonsensical routes.

I understand why Tesla have done this. They are using Google maps however Google maps navigation does not yet recognizedHOV lanes. So Tesla had no choice but to create their own navigation. But it is just absolutely awful.

I hope and pray the Tesla are working with Google to bring true Google navigation to the car instead of "Tesla navigation". I'm sure Google are working on HOV lanes and at that time Tesla will abandon their second rate system. In the meantime I have no choice but to continue using Waze. It's a shame that their huge Tesla screen is now mostly redundant to me.

I hope this feedback is useful and other users will put similar pressure on Tesla. I have sent my comments to them by email.

ccash | March 29, 2019

I find that the car usually jibes with Google, but not always. I’ve been comparing Waze, Google, and the Tesla on almost every drive and I’m super impressed. I’m close to fully trusting the car’s Nav and ditching the phone.

Two differences are: I don’t use the carpool lanes (yet, still waiting for stickers) and I’m in LA where traffic data maps may be more precise.?

christian | March 29, 2019

I'm in LA too, but I'm using HOV. It's no wonder you're getting similar results between Tesla and the other 2 apps!

The point is, HOV lanes are faster. Turn that option on in Tesla and Waze, when you get your stickers, and you won't be impressed any more. Sorry for the bad news.

82bert | March 29, 2019

Completely disagree. It works as well as google maps for me. It even rerouted me to avoid a suddenly closed highway due to snow this winter. Saved me at least 45 minutes.

ccash | March 29, 2019

Good to know, thanks. I’ll send them a note if I experience that too.

carlk | March 30, 2019

I used to use Waze but now I use Tesla Nav exclusively. The conveniece and better screen is one reason. The other reason is from my experience Tesla gives as good if not better routes than Waze. Sometimes I feel Waze has becoming victim of its own success. When it directs everyone to a short cut, like when there is an accident, that short cut soon became a worse traffic jam.

Like others said you can select the HOV option and few others with Tesla Nav.

schralp | March 30, 2019

I find it to be better than either Waze or google maps and like the way it chooses an alternate route on the fly when situations dictate. I also like the fact that it is HOV lane aware if you select that option. I live in LA and no use it exclusively. I only use the others when not driving my M3.

gballant4570 | March 30, 2019

OP is simply delusional. Why would someone post something like this?

Wormtown Kris | March 30, 2019

I much prefer the Tesla Nav to Google and what Siri suggests on my phone. I've even discovered more efficient routes taking my boys to practices once we got the Model 3. I have to disagree with the original poster.

Kary993 | March 30, 2019

My experience is the Tesla routing selects routes that are compatible fast but more importantly less miles. My wife and I were heading to a party st a wine bar approximately 10 miles away. There are at least 7 different ways to go but Tesla nav selected a route that was 4 minutes slower than my iPhone on Apple maps and google maps. But the distance was 3 miles shorter. We got off a short stretch of freeway and we’re winding around through a windy narrow residential street in the dark when could have easily used the freeway the whole way at speed in lighted areas. My wife and I were laughing but all of the sudden after turning a corner in the darkness there was the wine bar!

jmmcfarla | March 30, 2019

Rather than sharing an anecdote about my nav preference, I'll try a different approach (pun intended)....

Can someone explain the inputs the Tesla nav uses? In other words, how does it know traffic ahead and what does it optimize for? That may help us all learn when to use Tesla vs Waze

jefjes | March 30, 2019

The only complaint I have with the Tesla nav is the inability to select "avoid freeways". That doesn't bother me when I'm traveling long distance but once I arrive at my destination and if not familiar with local roads but have plenty of time plus wish to stay off the freeway gridlock even if it might take longer, it becomes an issue. Most GPS systems I've seen have the option to avoid freeways, toll roads, etc. and Tesla's does have some of those features but I haven't seen a way to avoid freeways if desired.

AAinSoCal | March 30, 2019

Agreed with @jefjes on the “avoid freeways” option. I’ve requested that any number of times through the car’s reporting system. No doubt it’s a low priority update if it’s even on anyone’s radar, but it would be nice to have. As mentioned, most nav systems have had that option for years. Other than that, I’ve been pretty impressed with Tesla’s nav.

pmagid | March 30, 2019

@gballant4570 the op is not delusional. I also live in LA and I can confirm with absolute certainty that the HOV button in the Tesla nav is a PLACEBO. It currently does nothing. I have had it on since it was first available (Octoberish of 2018). Not once has a route containing an HOV lane been suggested to me. All routes I ever get appear non-HOV optimal. If I toggle it on and then off and visa versa there is no change in route. If you do the same with Waze you notice an immediate change in routing that makes sense based on whether you just turned HOV on or off.

Carl Thompson | March 30, 2019

I think the OP made a mistake in his phrasing. Instead of saying "Tesla navigation is terrible" he should have said "Tesla navigation's route recommendations to avoid traffic are terrible."

Tesla navigation in general is great. The routes it chooses in normal traffic are pretty much the same as Google Maps. But as I have expressed before the routes it chooses to attempt to avoid traffic are quite bad and not on par with Google Maps.

So just that one aspect of Tesla navigation isn't up to par but as a whole it's quite good.

Carl Thompson | March 30, 2019

"I also live in LA and I can confirm with absolute certainty that the HOV button in the Tesla nav is a PLACEBO."

I agree with this. It doesn't seem to me that Tesla takes into account the considerably reduced time on major freeways due to HOV lane access. It has recommended that I leave the major freeways and take back streets in heavy traffic and on the occasions I've listened to it it's always cost me considerable _extra_ time rather than saving time.

Paul.r.freedman | March 30, 2019

Lately, I’ve had an odd bug with navigation. Not sure it’s Palm Springs specifically - but it will say “Destination is on the right” when it is actually on the left. This appears to have started in the past week.

lbowroom | March 30, 2019

Good thing there’s a human on board who can see that the HOV lane is moving faster

root1999 | March 30, 2019

I like Waze for the police detection!

pmagid | March 30, 2019

@Carl Thompson: Agreed re overall nav quality.

christian | March 30, 2019

I'm in LA too, but I'm using HOV. It's no wonder you're getting similar results between Tesla and the other 2 apps!

The point is, HOV lanes are faster. Turn that option on in Tesla and Waze, when you get your stickers, and you won't be impressed any more. Sorry for the bad news.

christian | March 30, 2019

It seems we're each having different experiences, but that doesn't mean those of us in this thread who find Tesla navigation (or traffic rerouting/HOV guidance) to be sub-par are "delusional".

It's quite possible for different people living in different places or having a difference in HOV sticker status to have different but equally valid experiences.

For me, Tesla navigation is terrible.

Waze screenshot:

Tesla screenshot:

These were taken at the same time. As you can see:

Waze: 51 mins
Tesla: 1 hr 2 mins

I am wondering if those for who it seems Tesla navigation is good, are always running a comparison app on their phone or not. I'm not saying Tesla doesn't take you around accidents, but as others have said here, it doesn't take you the fastest route. The evidence is clear in the screenshots. 11 minutes longer. That's significant.

I've even seen people claim in this forum that Tesla is set to take you on scenic routes, not fast routes, though I don't think that's true.

Anyway, evidently there is something going on here. Thanks for listening. I hope Tesla are too.

Carl Thompson | March 30, 2019

One other thing I'll mention is that in my experience the Tesla navigation's time estimates are worthless, especially when routing around traffic. I've had it tell me a route would take ~50 minutes and have it actually take close to 2 hours.

christian | March 30, 2019

@Carl, yes that, plus the estimates jump all over the place during the drive.


Google Maps and Waze keep the estimate extremely steady. If it says 1 hour at the start, you can bet the journey will take 1 hour, +/- 1-2 mins.

As mentioned in my OP, this is because Tesla aren't using Google's navigation algorithms at all. It's in-house, and for me, it's bad.

M3BlueGeorgia | March 30, 2019

We do long trips with Tesla navigation and Waze. Sometimes also with Google Maps.

They all seem to be in the same ballpark, but when stuff is going wrong (many miles) ahead, Google Maps is usually first to adjust and the best at offering alternatives.

Check your navigation settings for Tesla navigation.

hzb | March 30, 2019

I think tesla navigation is great. numerous experiences with great routing around rush hour congestion often taking me ways I hadn't considered in a city i've lived in most of my life.

calpilot7 | March 30, 2019

Tesla Nav is complaints there BUT the media integration IS BAD. Can’t believe I can use my nice touch screen to surf the media on my linked phone. Just use Apple play already or IMPROVE THE MEDIA PLAYER.

calvin940 | March 30, 2019

Traffic doesn't freeze after you select go. I would expect estimates to change during drives as it accounts for traffic pattern changes.

Rt002k | March 30, 2019

@christian - what's your experience with the accuracy of those estimates? My Toyota always gave much faster estimates than Google - but it was always wrong.

An area where I can confirm that "Use HOV" makes a difference is with Navigate on Autopilot. If HOV is disabled and you are travelling in the HOV lane - even outside of designated "HOV hours" - NoA will immediately prompt you to move over. It will not do this with HOV enabled. In fact, with it enabled you can get in the lane, select the gear, uncheck HOV, and it will immediately prompt a lane change. Other than that, I never use the HOV during HOV hours so don't have any experience with the drive time estimates with or without HOV enabled.

jdcollins5 | March 30, 2019

I think it is the best built-in Nav system that I have owned. I have always liked Garmin and my wife’s Honda Pilot has the Apple Car Play with the Garmin Nav. This Nav is just better. The turn-by-turn list, the ETA, the battery estimate, the auto zoom in and out, the SC locations, etc. are just better.

The traffic alert re-routed me around a major wreck on I-95 and saved me a lot of time not sitting in a highway parking lot.

christian | March 30, 2019

To those who are posting that it's great, are you actually driving with Google Maps running on your phone to compare? With no live comparison I agree it seems great. It's only when you see what better software does that you realize what you were missing.

In other words there's no way to know Tesla isn't great until you see the other app finds a route 12 minutes faster than Tesla. You've got to actually do the live comparison to be able to acurately comment on whether Tesla is as accurate as Google Maps running at the same time.

To those coming from Honda or Toyota or Garmin, Tesla will definitely seem better. I was coming from an Android Auto integrated car, and that's how I'm so shocked at the stark downgrade.

My screenshots above showing Tesla clearly taking me on regular routes that are 10-20 mins longer for >1 hour journeys speak for themselves.

If anyone taking >1 hour journeys wants to show their comparison screenshots with Google or Waze, I'd be sincerely interested. Maybe it's just an LA thing, but I doubt it.

Yes I've checked my Navigation settings.

If you're saying estimate changes are expected, you obviously haven't used Google Maps Navigation frequently. It rarely changes the estimate more than 1/2 minutes. Advanced machine learning algorithms at play from a decade of date. Tesla are simply not using that.


syclone | March 30, 2019

I haven't investigated where Tesla guidance's system gets it's data from, but I have to say that it's destination data base is the best I've ever seen. I've asked it to drive to the most out-of-the-way hole in the wall locations and it just finds them and goes. It's not perfect, but it's miles ahead of any other system I've ever used. Hopefully, they will upgrade the system it include way-points soon. Probably more important than a farting app.

Carl Thompson | March 30, 2019


+1 for waypoints!

Tesla gets its map data (including destination info) from Google but apparently doesn't use the same traffic routing algorithms as Google.

christian | March 30, 2019

Correct. No complaints about the destination data. Different subject really.

lbowroom | March 30, 2019

Christian, from your screenshots, aren't both of them taking you the same route?

82bert | March 30, 2019

Definitely have run simultaneous comparisons with google maps. Still works great. I can’t comment on HOV, however.

Slonkis | March 31, 2019

In my personal experience, the time of arrival estimates are very precise, better than Waze. There is an annoying bug, though, that makes the estimate go up by ten minutes or so, for no good reason, fairly close to the destination. I've observed it multiple times. In the end, I generally arrive within a couple of minutes of the original estimate. Go figure...

jefjes | March 31, 2019

I just will stick with Tesla for every trip unless I'm exploring local surface streets to avoid freeways as mentioned earlier. I'm fine with my head in the sand on this one and if I'm not obsessed with comparing other apps to find a couple of minutes shorter route I'll never know anyway and get to my destination gleefully ignorant of what other routes may have saved me.

Bighorn | March 31, 2019

Works for me. I think Waze caused me to go over my data limit a time or two. It also has gotten very poor at predicting speed traps.

christian | March 31, 2019

lbowroom, no they're not the same route. Just look at the "next turn" arrow at the top of each screen.

Tesla Navigation is taking me onto the CA-2 which will take: 1h 2min

Waze is taking me on the SR-134 which will take: 51min

I can't be much clearer than the screenshots, or add much more to the conversation, but for HOV routes in LA, Tesla navigation is terrible.

Wishing you all much luck with your journeys. As long as they're safe, I guess that's the main thing.

Rt002k | March 31, 2019

Yes we concede, in your specific situation and what you place your value in Tesla Navigation is terrible - but your situation is not all situations. Plenty of us find it great or at the very least adequate enough to not stress ourselves out over comparing the times between 3 different apps. I find that Tesla Nav works great in my area, and it sounds like its biggest drawback is HOV application. Hopefully it gets better. But to label an entire system as "terrible" because of one use case is in itself terrible. We do not live in a binary world where if it's not the best it's terrible, despite what the internet seems to think. You know what Google does sometimes? It drops me 1-2 blocks from the actual destination. That's pretty annoying when trying to find a location in a part of the city I've never been to before. Tesla hasn't done that to me (yet).

I hope it does improve, like showing multiple routes know specific lane speeds (this would help your HOV issue). We have a highway that empties into a loop around the city. When I'm going to the other side of the city, it really doesn't matter which way I go (north/south off this road) and it's usually decided by whether the right lane or left lane is going faster. Unfortunately, since Tesla doesn't show multiple options, I don't know if it picked the northern route because it's 1 minute faster on a no-traffic day, or if there is an accident further down the line on the South route that makes a difference.

Rt002k | March 31, 2019

Personally, I place a lot of value on the ease of use. Get in, press a button, say "Navigate to the McDonalds on Main st" and it finds it and goes is a lot better to me than having to look it up on my phone tell it to go and then wait for it to sync with the car, or have to get a mount for my phone to safely use it as a navigation device. That places more stress on me than whether Tesla sent me the exact fastest backroad to get around traffic, I just care that it gets me around traffic when possible, and it has come up with some creative options in the past that have worked well enough to my liking that I don't analyze whether it was the exact fastest route.

Madatgascar | March 31, 2019

I can corroborate @christian’s observations. I drive the exact same route from Pasadena and all over LA. I use Tesla’s Nav system anyway, and override with my brain when necessary. Granted, this only is possible because I know the freeway system like the back of my hand. Basic guiding principles:

1) HOV lanes aren’t considered, correct. No big deal for me, I know about how much time I will save time taking the HOV lanes from experience, and won’t accept an alternate route with no HOV lanes.
2) Drive times are based on instantaneous traffic analysis. If you’re starting a trip just before rush hour, the predicted travel time will grow; if you set out when traffic is heaviest, it will improve.
3) Don’t accept alternate routes that involve a lot of turns on unfamiliar surface streets. The algorithms seem to have no idea how long it takes to make a left turn where there is no left turn arrow. Time and again experience shows it is better to stay on the freeway.
4) I value freeway time over surface street time, because EAP frees me and reduces stress, and also reduces risks of hitting potholes and LA gang combat zones.

Carl Thompson | March 31, 2019

"2) Drive times are based on instantaneous traffic analysis. If you’re starting a trip just before rush hour, the predicted travel time will grow; if you set out when traffic is heaviest, it will improve."

Ahh, that makes sense and matches what I've seen. Then that's an advantage for Google Maps which seems to predict how traffic will change over the course of the drive.

"3) Don’t accept alternate routes that involve a lot of turns on unfamiliar surface streets. The algorithms seem to have no idea how long it takes to make a left turn where there is no left turn arrow. Time and again experience shows it is better to stay on the freeway."

Yup, found that out the hard. My supposedly ~50 minute trip that took nearly two hours was one of those.

BTW, you have the awesomest screen name!

neil.weinstock | March 31, 2019

In NJ here the Tesla navigation is totally fine. It's certainly worlds better than the nav in other cars I've owned. I don't deny the possibility that it is not as good in some other areas though.

bwagner | March 31, 2019

Lots of valid points made. I would like to add that Google Maps is not alway great. Try using it in the Glen Arbor area in Northern Michigan. It was driving us around in circles last summer!

Bighorn | March 31, 2019

Car re-route just cut 6 miles off a 7 mile traffic jam at the Kentucky-Illinois border.

amceachin | March 31, 2019

I also think Waze underestimates how long traffic will take in Socal, even with HOV turned on (while Tesla overestimates the length of time). I live in the OC, and drive to Santa Monica for work. At the start of the trip, Waze always suggests a route that is 15 to 25 minutes shorter (many times the same route, but Waze accounts for HOV lane speeds ... supposedly). However, 10 trips in a row as I started my trip with both Waze and Tesla Nav open and noticed the same pattern each time. Tesla's estimated time would decrease by 5 to 10 minutes as I traveled faster in the HOV lane than it anticipated, but Waze estimated time eventually matched Tesla's about 2/3 into the trip.

tl;dr Waze doesnt gauge true HOV travel speeds in socal any better than Tesla.

tom8959 | March 31, 2019

Another LA driver here - I commute 40 miles round trip on the 101 (on a stretch with no HOV lanes). I was a total Waze devotee before I got my Model 3, but found the switch to Tesla navigation to be a hassle free no-brainer. For me, the Waze routes and times were virtually the same as Tesla's. But the having the Tesla navigation being built-in, and on that big, beautiful display is a tremendous advantage for visibility and ease of use. In my experience, Tesla navigation excellent.

OP - I understand that the problem you have with Tesla's navigation is regarding HOV lanes - which I have no experience with - but to say that their navigation is "terrible" as a general statement is false for most applications.

Madatgascar | March 31, 2019

@Carl Thompson - thanks!

lbowroom | March 31, 2019

How do you think it stacks up against oem nav systems in Mercedes, Audi, BMW, etc?