Is Tesla Navigation Really That Terrible? How ‘Bout That Horn?


What are the ins and outs of the Tesla Model 3 navigation system?

We’ve heard from many people and watched several videos that try to prove that the navigation system in Tesla vehicles could stand to be better. However, the automaker uses over-the-air updates to correct problems and it seems many issues have been addressed. Let’s face it, nav systems in many of today’s cars are just not up to par. This is the reason many people use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to deal with their navigation needs. Sadly, Tesla doesn’t offer compatibility with either service. So, is the system in the Model 3 really that bad?

Brian The Money Guy doesn’t think so. He actually seems pretty impressed with it. Brian mentions that he has another car with a nav system that he refuses to use. He relies primarily on Waze for his traffic concerns. But, in the Model 3, he uses the built-in nav most of the time. He’s impressed with its satellite view, ability to set the map’s direction, and reliable voice-activated control feature.

Brian does say that he finds it strange that even though the system seems to know the exit numbers, they’re never displayed on the screen. He also says Waze still does a better job when it comes to alerting about traffic “events.”

Although the Tesla Model 3 horn has no relation to the car’s navigation system, the guys end this video with an interesting discussion about “polite horns” and the fact that the Tesla horn may be best-suited for The Bronx. Apparently, having a “polite horn” in Tennessee is a thing?

What is your opinion of navigation in Tesla vehicles? Is the Model 3 system different from that of the Model S and X? How ’bout that Tesla horn? Let us know in the comment section below.

Video Description via The Money Guy Show on YouTube:

Is The Tesla Navigation and Horn Terrible? We answer these questions and more in this highlight!


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2. Tesla Model 3
Range: 310 miles; 136/123 mpg-e. Still maintaining a long waiting list as production ramps up slowly, the new compact Tesla Model 3 sedan is a smaller and cheaper, but no less stylish, alternative, to the fledgling automaker’s popular Model S. This estimate is for a Model 3 with the “optional” (at $9,000) long-range battery, which is as of this writing still the only configuration available. The standard battery, which is expected to become available later in 2018, is estimated to run for 220 miles on a charge. Tesla Model 3 charge port (U.S.) Tesla Model 3 front seats Tesla Model 3 at Atascadero, CA Supercharging station (via Mark F!) Tesla Model 3 Tesla Model 3 The Tesla Model 3 is not hiding anymore! Tesla Model 3 (Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs) Tesla Model 3 Inside the Tesla Model 3 Tesla Model 3 rear seats Tesla Model 3 Road Trip arrives in Tallahassee Tesla Model 3 charges in Tallahassee, trunk open.


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44 Comments on "Is Tesla Navigation Really That Terrible? How ‘Bout That Horn?"

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I was worried about switching from Android Auto to Tesla traffic when I got my Model 3 and have been pleasantly surprised. I regularly get the same directions, changes routes when a faster one becomes available, etc. The transition has been easy with little impacts

I do notice it does not get updated with road closures, etc even when roads have been closed for weeks and that some roads have wrong speeds or old / wrong street names. Wish they had a way to report this like Waze/Google Maps. The thing I miss is the ability to see times on alternate routes as Google Maps shows since if 2-3 routes have similar ETA, I have routes I like better than others.

Agreed, give me a way to post updates!

On several occasions I’ve done a “Bug report” voice command about wrong speed limits and other map data… it doesn’t get fixed though, so I don’t think it’s working…

I would like to have a way to send them updated speed limits. This also affects auto-pilot as it will limit the top speed based on what it thinks the speed limit is.

There was a conversation no long ago about this and some evidence was presented that the Tesla AP actually reads the speed signs and not rely on a database. Your experience is different?

Yes. It’s not registering speed signs IMO. I can drive by signs all day long in certain areas, and it still thinks it’s a different speed.

Just a few examples in a relatively short time. I know anecdotal evidence is hard to quantify and Boston may be an extreme example, but my Tesla tells me to take a left hand turn onto State Street from the 93 expressway which happens to be underground and only has right hand exit for government center. The west bound 90 mass pike exit for Route 30/Weston says “Take Exit 15A” when the exit is 15B! (Of course Exit 15B comes before exit 15A, but we like to confuse people).

Tesla Navigation has a higher preference major roads than Waze. It managed to dump me on major roads that were parking lot slow while avoiding back roads that were open.

Waze road conditions notifications (pothole, car on side of road, police) are great! As far as I know, Waze is getting the other directions for Weston and State Street right.

@Pinewold said: “… Tesla Navigation has a higher preference major roads than Waze. It managed to dump me on major roads that were parking lot slow while avoiding back roads that were open…”

@Pinewold- In nav settings there is option to re-route you to faster road route (traffic aware). Have you tried turning that on?

The nav works great on my Model 3. Higly responsive and way better than on any other car I’ve experienced.

Wish list:

1: Settings option to place an overlay distance scale on bottom left of map so know relative scale distance… especially useful when zooming in/out.

2: Would like ability to choose from alternative road routes… same as @DrGez comment above.

3: Be able to in setting set the default map orientation.

Above wish list also applies to Model S/X.

I have been using the factory navigation in my S for years now and it rarely comes up with odd routes. In fact, the factory installed navigation systems in every car that I have had have been just as good or better than and portable or phone based option at the time.

Not familiar with Tesla’s system but NAV systems in general, though I use a CMV version of Rand McNally for routing (Has data base of bridge heights and restricted routes for trucks)

Google maps is really hard to beat when you get to local street level especially NEW streets and roads, or when they change on/off ramps to different design Google maps seem to be the most current I seen. The same with traffic updates.

Waze is amazing for that, as well.

I think the NAV in my Model 3 is better than any other NAV I’ve used before. My favorite features is displaying the charging points along my route and the large screen. I also like the calm sounding verbal directions.

Volt#671 + BoltEV + Model 3

Agreed. TM3 uses large area to display the map (unlike phones and most other NAV systems) and works great in general. Some minor improvements, as mentioned by CDAVIS, would be nice. Hopefully, Tesla will implement the enhancements in the near future.

Not being able to do CarPlay / Android Auto in a Tesla is a “no buy” driver for me. I will buy a Volt, Bolt, Energi, Leaf before I buy a Tesla 3 for this alone. I mean, c’mon, its a $50,000 car and I can’t have CarPlay?

CarPlay is a cheap way for automakers to offer navigation and music. There aren’t even more than a few apps for CarPlay. I had it in the 2018 Nissan Leaf that I had and I don’t miss having it.

If you’re not going to buy a car because it doesn’t have CarPlay then you weren’t really interested in the car in the first place.

Agreed, sort of, though I’m not going as far as saying it’s a “no buy”. I really, really don’t ever want a car with it’s own nav system.

Even the big 3 nav for phones each have pros and cons. Google, WAZE and Apple maps. For what I do, I know each one excels in certain situations, and flops in others. For example, WAZE is usually best for directions, but totally fails when going through downtown if it’s stop and go. Where I live there’s constant construction closures, often just at night, weekends, etc., and Google gets these immediately. If Tesla, or whoever, didn’t get these in real time, then I’ll just end out using my phone anyway.

That’s the point – you’re locked in with a built in nav that doesn’t allow you to feed off your phone. With Carplay or similar, you can adapt as situations and technology change.

I thought similarly to you before I actually got my Model 3. I thought that way because I knew no car nav system can compete with your phone. However, Model 3 ‘s nav is excellent. Huge display. Uses Google maps data with always-on internet data just like your phone. Voice nav is excellent (unlike every other car you’ve ever used). Display’s as responsive as phone (probably faster actually). If you really think about it, you really don’t want to use carplay in your hopefully soon to be self driving Tesla. In order to self drive, it’ll need an exceptional nav system to direct it. Unlike every other car in the market, Tesla has a huge vested interest in making their nav system the best because their other huge plan depends on it. This already shows in the current system.

I thought it was pretty good. My only complaints are traffic looks ‘green’ until I zoom in very close any then I can see gridlock and the speed limit isn’t reported correctly on some sections of highway on my commute, resulting in autopilot trying to brake down to 50 mph while traffic is moving 70+. Routing seems to work well and the system is very responsive.

I’m surprised that with the cloud-learning infrastructure they have, they don’t let the autopilot read the speed limit signs and report back to the mothership to update the speed limit for all (once several cars have corroborated it). I think the cars should read speed signs and slow down as indicated, but require consensus to increase the limit on a road. And just to make sure someone isn’t trying to spoof the system with fake signs only the Tesla can see, after x number of reports show a pic to an employee before increasing the limit.

Does the “How Speed Assist Works” section on page 82 of the Model 3 owners manual help you avoid the “brake down”?
I have not run into that scenario in my 14 day trail of Autopilot.

Volt#671 + BoltEV + Model 3

If anyone has a Tesla S or X with Browser (not sure if the 3 has a browser yet), the Tesla Waze site is great to show traffic, red light/speed cameras, hidden law enforcement etc. It doesn’t navigate and only is north facing but very useful 🙂

To test it on your phone just turn GPS on (it maps around your car’s (or phone’s) location:

I really like the Model 3 Nav system. I’ve always used my phone in the past. Not anymore. I like being able to hit a button on the steering wheel and use a voice command to tell it where i want to go. It’s really fast. The Nav system also zooms in and out as required, and shows you what lane to be in at exits/etc.

Two complaints.
1) The woman’s voice needs to be louder/clearer. It’s hard to hear over wind noise & music.
2) The exit number needs to be displayed.

Agree that the TM3 Nav is great.
I find the NAV voice to be clear, perhaps it could be a bit louder.
I don’t use the exit numbers, prefer to refer to exit street/place names.

Hi Kdawg,
Have you tried raising the volume button on the steering wheel while the NAV voice is talking? That works for me.

Volt#671 + BoltEV + Model 3

No. Let me give that a try. Thanks.

That worked! And it even shows a navigation icon on the volume level while changing it, vs. a music note.

You can change the loudness of the NAV in the Volt in the same way! (I was thinking you owned a Volt). In the Volt if you miss the nav speaking you an pick the RPT (repeat) button on the Gen 1 Volts at least.

Wait….what?! The music doesn’t pause when nav is talking?

It just gets a bit quieter, but not enough, IMO.

I don’t have a Tesla, but have had too many cars with overly polite (wimpy) horns. I would like to have 2 horns – one for getting the attention of people in parking lots, etc. The other for making Albuquerque drivers think they are about to get creamed by the Queen Mary in tandem with a railroad locomotive.

Are you saying that you’d welcome a “rude horn”?

I did like the “pedestrian alert” in my Volt. I used it occasionally.

Yeah, horns are for warnings – they need to be discordant and stand out from music and talking and road noise and ICE noise, etc.

I can appreciate what you are saying, Having an 18 wheeler with both loud air horn and a simple electric “city horn” yeah……. best of both worlds LOL

We picked up our Model 3 two days ago and I tested the horn. It’s possible to do short toots if you want to.

The in-instrument-panel Model S and X guidance is pretty slick, but the data and routing is worse than Google Maps or Waze. The Model 3’s heads right display is harder to follow, in my opinion, though pretty.

CarPlay/Android Auto to the instrument panel would be ideal.

I have to admit my Model-3 says some weird things on the navigation. What’s on screen seems to always be correct. But the verbal commands it gives are not always right. For example, it will tell me “enter the roundabout and take the first right.” But on the map it is clearly showing the 2nd or 3rd right from the roundabout. I’ve had it tell me to take a right to go onto another street. When in reality it is the same street going in a straight line, it just changed names somewhere along the way. And, top it off, I’m pretty sure that one time it told me to take a right when I was really supposed to take a left. So, I usually don’t pay much attention to the voice and just follow what it shows on screen.

It looks like the horns may be fairly easy to change. I believe they may be the two silver and black disks seen here in this video. If so, all you have to do is remove those and put in whatever horns you like. If you like a BMW horn, get a pair of BMW horns and slap them in. They are really very low tech devices. They have 12V on one post, ground on the other post, and are generally swappable as long as you can bolt them down somewhere.

Each Auto makers including Tesla has their reasons not to go with Google Maps, otherwise it’s a best in class and very hard to get better then Google, Apple tried it but Still their maps not as good as Google.

I know that Musk keeps trying to reinvent everything with a substantial amount of success (fortunately, he has left the wheel alone! 😉

However, Waze is great. Particularly up and down the East coast, where there are a lot of users, the crowd-sourced data is outstanding and the maps are almost always up-to-date with recent road construction and changes.

Ford now puts Waze in all their vehicles. Ford Sync also has voice activation light-years ahead of all of the other automakers. I hope that, when I get a Tesla, I will not be disappointed with the vocal interface. I’m holding steady with my Mercury hybrid until my financial situation clears up.

My only gripe with Waze (and why I never continued to use it) was that there were so many “ALERTS”. People tagged so many things, it kept popping up with annoying alerts, when all I really want to know is when my next turn is.

I find the navigation routing matches Google Maps navigation routing. I’ve had 2 occasions where the Tesla POI search led me astray, while Google pointed me to the correct location. I tried to navigate to a local park called “Lake Balboa Park” a few miles away, by saying “Navigate to Balboa Park.” While this works on my phone (I tested it), the Tesla system tried to route me to Balboa Park in San Diego, 150 miles away. Similarly, while renting a Model 3 in Minneapolis, I tried to navigate to my hotel, “Residence Inn Downtown” in Minneapolis, and found myself on the way to a Residence Inn Downtown in Chicago. From I’ve gathered, Google is better at determining context based on distance / location than the Tesla navigation system. About the “polite horn.” This is something I miss from my 2014 Volt. There’s a “pedestrian alert” horn button the end of the left stalk that does a quick chirp from the horn. Chevy took it out of the next generation Volt, which I thought was a shame. It would be nice if Tesla could enable something that that OTA. So many pedestrians walk right in front of me while in… Read more »

1) FYI, Tesla X/S driver display shows exit; 2) It is super handy to navigate with calendar entries when you know in advance (ie. calendar app on car display, then your bluetoothed calendar entry displayed on the Tesla display (use this all the time)