Since Tesla’s subscription service for their famous Full Self-Driving (FSD) Autopilot software rolled out in 2021, owners of fully-purchased FSD have been left in a curious position…
What, exactly, is the value of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Software in a sale or trade-in? Does FSD stay with the car and transfer to the new owner? Can you get some of your Full Self-Driving money back when you sell your used Tesla?
Since Tesla’s stance on transferring Full Self-Driving has fluctuated over the years, Tesla owners are understandably confused about what exactly it is that they own (or don’t).
In this blog post, we’re going to give a full overview of why Full Self-Driving transfer is a complex issue, when FSD transfers and when it doesn’t, and where to sell (or buy) a used Tesla with FSD included.
Update 7/21/2023: for a limited time, Tesla will allow Tesla owners who have purchased FSD in full to transfer FSD from their old Tesla to a new Tesla purchased before the end of Q3. This promotion will end on 9/30/23 (the end of Q3), and is not likely to be offered again (in Tesla’s Q2 earnings call, Elon described it as “a one time amnesty”). As far as we know, you will need to place your order before the end of Q3 (on a Tesla that will deliver relatively soon, though the timeframe there isn’t defined) for the transfer to be valid.
Why is Transferring Tesla’s Full Self-Driving So Complicated?
When Tesla first introduced Full Self-Driving, they changed the Tesla Autopilot (AP) / Enhanced Autopilot (EAP) structure, rearranging into basic Autopilot features (Traffic Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer) and more advanced features FSD features like Summon (and those still in beta, such as Navigate on Autopilot). More importantly, the purchase of Full Self-Driving came with a promise of hardware upgrades and software updates to support Autopilot features that Tesla was (and is) still developing.
But as the timeline for a roll-out of feature-complete Full Self-Driving remains uncertain, owners are curious about how this affects their purchase of FSD as it relates to buying and selling a Tesla.
Typically, it wouldn’t make sense to give an owner the opportunity to carry their Tesla’s features with them to the next car (imagine selling your car but keeping the driver’s seat).
However, as Full Self-Driving is more accurately seen as a software purchase, many people expect to own a license to the software they’ve purchased with the option to transfer its benefits to their next purchase.
What’s an automaker to do when their product is a literal computer on wheels, creating a hybrid of two industries (computer and automotive) with the problems and expectations of each?
Similar to their struggle with Free Unlimited Supercharging, Tesla has tried one purchase model for Full Self-Driving and found that they have been unable to deliver the final product in the timeline expected. Tesla will likely be incurring a larger expense than they anticipated when it comes time to upgrade all the legacy FSD (and Enhanced Autopilot, or EAP) Teslas out there. That’s why a change came to Full Self-Driving, and Tesla added access to FSD through a subscription-based model: an owner-limited, temporary purchase of FSD features.
As for a paid-in-full Full Self-Driving package, owners will have a short opportunity to pass their purchase on to another owner through a used Tesla sale (much like owners selling a Model S or Model X with Free Unlimited Supercharging).
Tesla has made it clear that they want to limit this behavior (financially, it’s better for Tesla to have Full Self-Driving purchased per owner, per car), so there are restrictions on what they will allow regarding transferring the Full Self-Driving feature (as well as Enhanced Autopilot, or any Autopilot-related software packages).
Now that we’ve looked at problem, let’s talk about specific situations where Full Self-Driving transfers and when it doesn’t:
When Does Full Self-Driving Transfer to a New Owner?
Note: for the purposes of this article, Full Self-Driving refers to the paid-in-full package. We do make references to the subscription model, but Tesla treats the two payment models in distinctly different ways.
Currently, the closest thing to a guaranteed way for Full Self-Driving to transfer to a new owner is directly from owner to owner through a private sale.
So far, with the exception of a few rare cases, Tesla has allowed the transfer of Full Self-Driving to the next owner of the Tesla for which FSD was purchased. The software remains active at the time of transfer, and the new owner is able to access Full Self-Driving features upon adding the purchased Tesla to their account.
This means that a private sale is one of the best ways to return some value for Full Self-Driving when you sell your used Tesla, and one of three ways to purchase a pre-owned Tesla with FSD at a reduced cost.
For buyers, Tesla occasionally offers an activated FSD package on their Used Inventory, though it’s unclear if they will allow that purchase of FSD to remain on the vehicle for subsequent owners.
Dealerships are also a source for reduced-price FSD, which we’ll talk about next.
You can get Full Self-Driving on a Tesla purchased through a dealership. However, while FSD transfer through a dealership is almost always a smooth transition to the new owner, it is not 100% guaranteed (more like 99.9%, though the reason for that last 0.1% is very unclear).
Tesla has not made any clear policies regarding transfer of FSD with 3rd party dealership involvement to date, which does unfortuately leave the situation open to debate.
One item of note as it relates to FSD transferability is the Monroney (AKA window) sticker.
A Monroney sticker is included by law when a vehicle is new and lists features included by the manufacturer. Common interpretations of Monroney law (officially known as the AIDA act) say that a manufacturer cannot remove these features after the vehicle leaves their hands. Whether or not this applies to FSD is still a matter of debate, but the presence of FSD on the actual sticker may provide some standing in the case of FSD’s removal.
Every dealer we’ve spoken with has never had any issues transferring FSD from a previous owner to a new owner, and they state the Monroney law (and Tesla’s awareness of it) is a likely reason the FSD transferability remains. This applies so long as the car has not returned to the ownership of Tesla at any point; in that situation, they’re allowed to remove features from the vehicle.
Some savvy readers may note that the Monroney (window) sticker situation doesn’t apply to someone who’s purchased EAP or FSD after delivery (where the vehicle wasn’t originally equipped with it)—which is true. But it does lend some credibility and consistency to the overall FSD transfer situation.
If you’re buying from a dealer and have any concerns about the transferability of FSD, you can also speak to them directly about this issue with some of the following questions:
- Has the dealership sold a Tesla with FSD before?
- Did the paid-in-full FSD package transfer? Has there ever been an issue with FSD transfer?
- What steps did the dealership and new owner take to make FSD transfer happen?
In summary, you can find dealerships that offer and successfully sell Teslas with Full Self-Driving that transfers to the new owner.
When Does FSD NOT Transfer?
Let’s look at a few scenarios where Tesla has made it clear that Full Self-Driving will not transfer, followed by one gray area where it might not transfer:
Your Next Tesla
Update 7/21/2023: for a very limited time, Tesla will allow Tesla owners who have purchased FSD in full to transfer FSD from their old Tesla to a new Tesla purchased before the end of Q3. This promotion will end on 9/30/23 (the end of Q3), and is not likely to be offered again (in Tesla’s Q2 earnings call, Elon described it as “a one time amnesty”). As far as we know, you will need to place your order before the end of Q3 (on a Tesla that will deliver relatively soon, though the timeframe there isn’t defined) for the transfer to be valid.
First of all, to the disappointment of most Tesla owners, a purchase of Full Self-Driving for your Tesla does not give you the ability to transfer the software to a different Tesla, new or used. Tesla insists that the software is an activated feature of the car itself (in other words, Full Self-Driving is tied to the car) and not a transferable software purchase per se.
Similarly, the language Tesla uses to describe a Full Self-Driving subscription suggests that it is not transferable between vehicles. An FSD subscription is tied to the account owner and the vehicle for which it was purchased; the balance of the FSD subscription likely will not transfer to your next new or used Tesla.
Does Full Self-Driving stay with the car when insurance considers it totaled or salvage? Unfortunately, no. Much like the deactivation of any Supercharging ability on Teslas that are officially considered salvage, Full Self-Driving is also removed when the vehicle has a salvage title. Tesla’s reasoning here comes from safety concerns with equipment and sensors that may not function as designed.
Some Dealership Sales
We’ve covered dealerships already in the previous section, but because of the uncertainty factor in FSD transfer through 3rd party sales, we also need to cover dealerships here.
Very rarely, Tesla has chosen to remove features like Free Unlimited Supercharging and Full Self-Driving when a Tesla changes hands through a third-party dealership sale. Because of this uncertain transfer history, some dealerships won’t include the value of Full Self-Driving in their trade-in or cash offers.
The main caution we’d like to make here is that even if the vehicle has changed hands and retained Full Self-Driving in the past, Tesla can remote audit and remove FSD from a car that has previously been owned by a dealership or sold in an auction.
Will Tesla do this all the time on every dealership sale? No. Reports of this happening suggest that it happens very rarely. But, to the best of our knowledge, buying a used Tesla that was owned by a dealership at any point may increase the probability that FSD/EAP features could be removed in the future (although it’s not a guarantee; see the section above on dealers).
What about Enhanced Autopilot? Does EAP transfer to a new owner?
The conditions for transferring Enhanced Autopilot (EAP) are the same as for Full Self-Driving: the paid upgrade generally transfers in the case of a private sale on the Tesla it was purchased for, but may or may not transfer if it has passed through the hands of a 3rd party.
Can Tesla Cancel Your FSD?
Does Tesla ever cancel purchased Full Self-Driving capability? The short answer is yes, it happens. While we’ve already mentioned how a Tesla changing hands through a dealership may rarely be subject to removal of FSD upon a remote vehicle audit by Tesla, there is another circumstance where Tesla has actually made it very clear that FSD will be canceled: misuse or abuse of the software. In the case of beta testers, Tesla has removed FSD privileges from drivers who display repeated inattentive behavior while using Full Self-Driving features.
In fact, as Tesla controls the software and deliberately does not define the limits of FSD ownership in writing, Tesla could technically remove FSD at any time and for any reason.
However, while this reality makes any transfer of Full Self-Driving uncertain, we’d like to reiterate that Tesla has historically allowed transfer and use of Full Self-Driving by a new owner in the case of a private sale (and nearly all dealership sales).
In our opinion, you should weigh these factors carefully if you’re looking to buy a used Tesla with Full Self-Driving (or EAP, etc.) on it. It’s a “nice to have” bonus when purchasing a used Tesla. While FSD is something worth looking/filtering for, it shouldn’t be a significant decision factor due to the fact that Tesla could amend their policy at any time on the current status quo of letting it transfer from owner to owner. In other words, Full Self-Driving shouldn’t factor into your purchase of a used Tesla in expectation of future return on investment.
How Much Is Full Self-Driving Worth When You Sell or Trade Your Tesla?
We’ve already covered transfer scenarios, so by now you know that FSD has the most value to the current owner of the Tesla that FSD was purchased for and the next owner in a private sale. What we’d like to emphasize before discussing actual value is that some dealers may assign varying degrees of value to FSD/EAP as part of a trade, and will typically not value it as much as a private party sale where it’s much more likely to transfer. That said, there are specialty used Tesla dealerships that are more knowledgeable about how to value FSD in a trade.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about pricing. KBB currently values Full Self-Driving at about 20% of the original price. For the right buyer, the value of Full Self-Driving should be somewhere between the KBB estimate for FSD and 50% of your FSD’s purchase value depending on the model and age of each vehicle.
Legacy Full Self-Driving’s value should change when Tesla delivers on their promise of a feature-complete FSD Autopilot program. At that point, we don’t really know what the value of transferable Full Self-Driving will be, though Elon Musk continues to insist that it will make the investment in fully purchased FSD worthwhile.
Where Can I Find a Used Tesla with Full Self-Driving (FSD)?
We’ve already established that owner to owner sales are the best way to ensure Full Self-Driving transferability, but there are currently three markets where you can buy or sell a used Tesla with Full Self-Driving included: Tesla’s Used Inventory (commonly known as CPO), dealership sales, and “for sale by owner” listings.
Full Self-Driving in the Tesla Used Inventory
While some have suggested that Tesla adds a little value to a trade-in with FSD (though we haven’t seen any evidence that this is true), you can’t sell your Full Self-Driving package back to Tesla.
However, you can buy a used Tesla with Full Self-Driving activated from Tesla itself. This doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be getting Full Self-Driving that can be transferred to a new owner when you sell your Tesla, but it is an option if you are looking to pay less than full price for FSD.
Specialty Dealership Sales
Dealerships that specialize in Teslas and know some of the ins and outs of Full Self-Driving transferability do exist, and they can assist you in buying or selling a Tesla with FSD included.
We’ve spoken with EV dealerships that buy and sell Teslas who report no issues with the transfer. These dealerships are confident that there should be very little to worry about with FSD transfer, and they do ascribe value to the software either when buying or selling.
While we’d still say that top dollar goes to selling a Tesla with FSD privately, we know that some Tesla owners would rather sell online through a dealership than spend time vetting prospective buyers. With your needs in mind, we’ve partnered with a hand-selected group of Tesla-informed dealerships to create our Instant Cash Offer system.
If you are looking to sell a Tesla with FSD, Find My Electric’s Instant Cash Offer system puts you in contact with dealerships that know your Tesla’s value, from trim level to software options. They see the worth in the FSD package and know what EAP adds to your Tesla. The Instant Cash Offer system is as easy as creating a listing and there’s no hidden obligation to accept an offer. Be sure to check it out and see what you can get for your used Tesla today!
Private Owner Listings with Transferable FSD
The best of all worlds for buyers and sellers of used Tesla’s with Full Self-Driving? Private owner listings.
The problem is that not all listing services are created equal, especially for EVs like a Tesla. Many online marketplaces are poorly equipped to search and sort through features like Full Self-Driving that apply specifically to Teslas. You may have to dig through quite a few irrelevant listings before getting to a Tesla with Full Self-Driving, and even then, there may be confusion about whether the feature listed really is FSD instead of EAP or base Autopilot.
The lack of functionality and misrepresentation of Tesla Features on most traditional online listing sites is exactly why we built Find My Electric. We created our proprietary search function and listing options specifically for Teslas. Whether you are looking for or looking to sell a Tesla with Full Self-Driving, Free Unlimited Supercharging, or Premium Connectivity, searching through our listings is easy and intuitive.
As a buyer, with the information from this article, some details from the owner, and a car history report (available for viewing on our listings), you can often determine if the Tesla you are looking at is a candidate for a Full Self-Driving transfer. Please note that it’s always a good idea to check that info out yourself, even if a listing says FSD is included and transferable. With that in mind, why not take a look through Find My Electric’s current listings to start your search for transferable Full Self-Driving?
As a seller, you can be sure that buyers already on the hunt for transferable Full Self-Driving will be able to locate your listing in just a few clicks. With Find My Electric’s listing package, you can also display the AutoCheck report that comes with the package right on your listing. The report helps your buyer verify the potential for Full Self-Driving transfer to the next owner of your Tesla (and helps you to do the same if you aren’t sure about your car’s history).
Do you have a Tesla with Full Self-Driving that you’re looking to sell? Great—we can help with that! Get your used Tesla in front of thousands of eager buyers in minutes! Sell your Tesla now!