Background: I have driven my 2019 Tesla Model 3 Long Range now for two years and 7 months. The odometer reads 70,469 miles. I’ve been driving it across the country on the Interstate highways from North Carolina to Southern California, on the 12-lane metropolitan I-15 freeways and intersections of Salt Lake City, as well as on the rural roads of Northern Wisconsin. I’ve obsessively use Full Self Driving Beta for 191 days through 5 updates of the software — V10.5, V10.8, V10.10, V10.11.2.1, and just now V10.12.2, which came with download 2022.12.3.20 Each new version has brought improvements, but also some backsliding, particularly in the area of phantom braking. I am reading about big improvements with coming V10.13 onward. I can’t wait!
A big rap against previous versions of FSD Beta is that it has been too timid, too slow in many situations. If someone was following you at a stop sign, particularly turning onto a busy street, you would need to help FSD Beta with the accelerator or disengage it. With the release of V10.12.2, we see incremental progress in aggressiveness in many areas.
- The maximum speed of FSD Beta has been increased from 80 to 85 mph. There are highways in Utah and other Western States where the speed limit is 80 mph, or even 85 mph in Texas. With most traffic going 5 mph over the speed limit, this allows you to keep up with traffic or more easily pass a slower moving truck. Another option is to disengage FSD Beta if you need to go over the maximum, so you won’t have a forced disengagement and have to stop the car and put it into park to use FSD Beta again. Also, with five forced disengagements, you will lose access to FSD Beta.
- One feature of FSD Beta that is not available for standard autosteer is that you can use it on roads with no yellow lines in the middle and white lines down the sides. With the previous version, you were limited to a speed of about 28 mph. Now the FSD Beta speed limit on roads with no lines is also 85 mph, just like roads with lines. Note: use on roads without lines is impressive in the way it will move to the right on a narrow road for a vehicle coming from the opposite direction or to the left for bikes, pedestrians, and parked vehicles. Not so impressive is that the steering is not as accurate as on roads with lines. Also, on narrow winding roads, the speed control is not smooth. On all tight turns, FSD Beta will slow down, but the behavior in this case is quite uneven.
- The biggie is more aggressive behavior at stop signs. FSD Beta will still stop (sometimes too soon) and creep forward a little too long while it looks for cross traffic, then it will make the turn if needed, and now more aggressively accelerate to the maximum speed that is set. The pause is a still longer than most drivers would use, so I will add a little accelerator pressure to avoid annoying a car following me.
Turning onto a Highway with a Speed Limit of 55 mph or Faster: FSD Beta will look for cross traffic, then make the turn, but doesn’t accelerate to the speed limit fast enough to avoid the oncoming cross traffic.
Phantom Braking: In several trips in rural Northern Wisconsin, I did not observe phantom braking. However, in a longer test driving 300 miles to pick up my wife and grandson at the Green Bay Airport and on my way to visit my brother in Madison and go then 250 miles back to Three Lakes, I observed numerous cases of phantom braking and even slight phantom swerving. Most of these occurred on a sunny day where FSD Beta may have interpreted shadows on the highway as legitimate dangers to be avoided. Phantom slowing might be a more accurate description since I virtually never get hard braking. I keep my right foot lightly on the accelerator and an eye on the mirror for a vehicle following me closely just to be safe.
Failure to Select the Proper Lane: On a two-lane road that widens with a turn lane, FSD Beta puts you consistently into the turn lane even though you are not turning. This is annoying, but not dangerous. I have also observed a few cases of picking a lane inconsistent with the navigation route at an intersection. In one case, it corrected at the last instant and in another case the car made a right turn not called for by the navigation.
Stopping at Rotary Entrances: FSD Beta will still come to a full stop when entering a rotary even with no cars present rather than treating it properly like a yield sign. It’s another case where a driver following you will be annoyed.
Navigating through Construction Cones: When construction cones are directing you to the right because of a lane closure, FSD Beta will not direct you to the right properly. Also, when construction cones are placed partially in your single lane for several miles, FSD Beta will eventually go wild with the red blinking steering wheel ikon.
Seesawing on Sharp Turns: Making a 90º turn from a major road onto a minor road, FSD Beta waits until the last instant to initiate the turn and executes it with abrupt seesawing of the steering wheel rather than making a smooth turn.
Trips with No Interventions: I made two 60 mile round trips with little traffic from Three Lakes to Rhinelander Wisconsin and back with no interventions.
Takeaways: I’ve observed significant improvements in the performance of FSD Beta V10.12.2. However, as outlined above, some of the most annoying and disturbing behavior has not been eliminated. Elon Musk is promising big improvements with upcoming V10.13. Let’s hope that then “bad robot” behavior will finally be gone for good.
I haven’t done very much driving lately in busy metropolitan areas. If you have observed improvements or continued bad behavior that I have missed, please list it in the comments section.
Warning: Supercharger Out of Order! In all my ~70,000 miles of driving my Tesla Model 3, I’ve never seen a malfunctioning Supercharger, but on a trip two days ago, the Wausau Supercharger was reporting that it was out of order. Since I had never seen an out-of-order Supercharger, I didn’t notice the greyed ikon with a diagonal line instead of the usual red ikon with a number indicating the number of free stalls at the Wausau Supercharger on my screen. I thought we were totally screwed, as we had only 25 miles of remaining range and no alternate Superchargers within 100 miles. My wife was smart enough to call the Hilton Gardens Inn, which is the location of the Supercharger, and they reported that there were several Teslas using the charger. We drove the 1.5 miles to the charger to find that it was actually working just fine. In fact, there was a Tesla employee at the charger who had driven a white Model Y up from Madison and was trying to fix the out-of-order warning.
I knew there were some J1772 L2 chargers in Wausau from my previous experience with a Nissan Leaf. However, that would have meant at least 5 hours of charging and no guarantee that the one or two chargers would not be in use. I did find a CCS L3 charger at a nearby Audi dealer, but I would need to have purchased a CCS-to-Tesla charging converter for >$200 to use it. The converters have been available in South Korea for some time, but I recently read about someone using one in the U.S. for the first time. A CCS-to-Tesla charging converter purchase is definitely a high-priority action item on my list now!
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