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What Is a Tesla Autopilot Weight (and Why It’s a Bad Idea)?

Tesla’s AP is amazing but far from perfect. Still, some try to trick the system with a Tesla Autopilot Weight. Here’s why that’s a really bad idea.

A member of a Tesla Facebook group I follow recently posted an excellent write up from a recent trip. His family just returned from their first EV road trip and he was excited about the results and cheerfully shared details. Charging times, suggested stops and costs compiled in one long post. Along with that, a picture of him and his many young children in front of their car. One thing, however, really struck a chord;

Autopilot is amazing! I used the Tesla Autopilot weight and I didn’t go have to touch the wheel for 98% of the trip!!“

New Tesla owner


This simple boast stirred up a lot of feedback from myself and others in the group. So much so that the original poster deleted the post and re-added his story with that line removed due to the flack.

Although he quickly found out using this weight was a bad idea, it showed that there may be others like him. With that, consider this a PSA for those unaware of what an Autopilot weight is and why using one could have deadly consequences.

What is a Tesla Autopilot Weight?

Simply put, a Tesla Autopilot weight is a way to trick the car’s computer and sensors into thinking you have your hands on the wheel. You can find various versions of these online (often marketed as a counter wieght or “Steering Wheel Control Booster”) however, I have heard a grapefruit or an orange can do the trick. 

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Why a Tesla Auto Pilot Weight Is a Bad Idea

If you were looking for something to “do the trick” or fool something, commonsense would say this is a bad idea. Still, these devices exist and people use them. Let me explain why this is dangerous. 

Tesla Autopilot Isn’t Perfect

Now, although Tesla marketing would have you believe the cars can drive themselves, in reality, we are a long way off from this. Using terms like “autopilot“ and full self-driving is dangerous as it leads people to believe the product is truly autonomous. This is simply not true. Some countries are challenging Tesla on this and are forcing them to be more transparent and clear.

That said, Tesla‘s fine print is very clear on their “Full Self-Driving.” In reality, full self-driving is still in beta. Its users even acknowledge this through the fine print, likely to free Tesla from any liability.

Currently, Autopilot does remind users to place their hands on the wheel and be ready to take over at a moments notice. Removing your hands is possible however after several seconds the screen will flash blue. If you ignore this warning you will then hear an audible queue. If you still fail to place your hands on the wheel, Autopilot will shut off for the remainder of your trip (or till you put the cart in park.)

Some Tesla drivers get around this safety feature with the use of a weight.

Deadly Consequences

Now, admittedly, Tesla Autopilot is amazing. I use it for the majority of every road trip and makes for a relaxing drive. I recently drove across the country, largely solo, and Autopilot made the trip a breeze. That said, there have been a handful of times where I have had to intervene. Phantom breaking, confusion with narrowing lanes, and rapid deceleration have all brought on WTF moments. In return, it keeps me at the ready.

Still, there have been many well-documented Tesla crashes resulting in fatalities. The headlines always make it look like Tesla fails however many are still under investigation. Some reports have indicated that there was no one at the wheel at the time of the crash. This means something was used to trick the car into thinking someone was alert and at the wheel.

Ironic or sad, people have died trying to get around safety measures put in place to protect them.

Just Don’t

This irony brought me back to that Facebook post and the photo of a beaming family in front of their Tesla. Instead of an ill-informed boast, it could have been used as headline-grabbing image after an accident. Thankfully, they are OK and the poster learned his leason. Here’s hoping others follow suit.

Despite deceiving marketing terms, we just aren’t there yet. Drive safe all and please, keep those hands on the wheel!

If you are thinking about placing a Tesla order, be sure to use my referral code and get 1,500 Super Charger kilometres!

*As of Sept 2021, Tesla has put a pause on referrals 😞 I will update if they reinstate it.

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