Advice for anyone who has a Tesla with Full Self Driving (FSD) and wants to buy a new Tesla and keep their FSD without having to pay another $12,000.

Despite my displeasure with Elan Musk’s antics, what he did to Twitter and some of his disturbing statements, I have been a happy Model 3 owner since 2018 and part of the minority (19%) of Tesla owners who bought Full Self Driving, though in my case it cost far less than the current $12,000 because I bought it early on.

Mostly positive experience with FSD

I have mixed feelings about FSD but mostly positive, despite its nefarious reputation. For me, it’s a safety assistant because I always have my eyes on the road, ready to take over if something appears wrong. I love the fact that it changes lanes, which is one of the riskier maneuvers for human drivers. Having cameras — in addition to your own eyes — scanning the road, makes it a lot safer as long as you’re also paying close attention, should the cameras get it wrong. Having said that, I have never had a close call on an FSD lane change though I have had other issues such as sloppy or potentially dangerous turns on city streets. Also, I’m always on the lookout for road hazards, like a mattress on the highway, that FSD might miss.

Finally, as a tech journalist, I find it interesting to follow along with the ongoing improvements to FSD. It has a long way to go before it fulfills Elan Musk’s wild promises of turning Teslas into robo-taxis, as Musk once claimed would occur by 2020. Still, I believe that self-driving cars will eventually be a reality and, when they are commonly used, will significantly reduce traffic casualties.

Ordering issues regarding FSD

This past summer Tesla introduced a “one-time” temporary offer allowing owners who have FSD to transfer it to a new vehicle for no charge. That original offer ended in September, but they re-introduced it in January with a March 31 expiration date.

Their rule is that you must take delivery by March 31st. The deadline is based on delivery, not when you order it. They have said they will make exceptions for situations where they deliver after the date they predict (for example if the estimated delivery date was March when you ordered, and it comes later, they say they will honor it) but they haven’t promised to honor orders if the estimated delivery is past March as is now the case for Long Range, which is slated for May. As of this writing, you can still get a Standard Range with an estimated March delivery.

Since I get range anxiety on road trips when I’m off major highways where there are lots of Superchargers, I wanted a long-range, but thought I was out of luck. I looked on Tesla’s inventory page but couldn’t find any Model 3s with a projected range of 341, which is what they claim for the new 2024 long range model.

Inside sales advisor got me a car

It took several attempts using the Tesla chat feature (press the chat icon on the order page) but I finally got in touch with an “inside sales advisor” who sent me links to demo cars that were available in my area. I didn’t see any of these cars on Tesla’s inventory page, but they did show up when I clicked on his link. He said that demos don’t stay available long and urged me to order quickly. I did order and got a delivery date only a couple of days later. The car I ordered had about 2,000 miles on it and they gave me a $890 discount. The discount wasn’t the incentive. I would have rather had a new car, but it was the only way to get a long range in time to keep my FSD package without having to pay another $12,000.

The not-so great news

When I showed up at the Tesla sales office to pick up my car, my wife found a small dent and scratches on the lower front fascia, which is the area below the front bumper. It looked as if someone who test drove it ran into a curb. There were also about 4 very small paint chips but otherwise the car seemed OK. I at first rejected it and asked if they could find me a new one or another demo but they weren’t able to do that for me. It took some convincing, but I was able to get their manager to agree in an email to have it repaired at Tesla’s expense. The repair is scheduled for next week, so we’ll see how that goes.

There were a couple of minor issues. They did transfer the FSD but I have to wait for a software update before it will start working. That could come any day, any week or in a month or two. It’s hard to predict. Autopilot, however, does work. Also, when I did a range check by noting the number of miles left on the charge divided by the percentage of charge, it came to 331 instead of the promised 341. I wondered if that were battery degradation, but I checked a couple of other 2024 Long Range Model 3s they had on the lot and they all came to about 333, including one with only 11 miles on it. Interesting a standard range on the lot showed the full 272 miles that it promises.

So, if you’re looking for a Long Range Tesla Model 3 before now and the end of the month, ask to speak to an Inside Sales Advisor and see if they can help.

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