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Why are the auto high beams so awful?

Braumin

Member
Mar 5, 2021
91
91
Canada
This is not my first car with auto high beams so I am shocked at just how poorly this is implemented. It's getting darker earlier now (got the car in April) so not really driven it too much on the highway at night but I did this weekend. The high beams turn off like 3 seconds before a car is on me. If there is another car 2 seconds after that, they will turn on for half a second in the middle and basically flash the person. How is this car so powerful and then it fails at the basics? Wipers and lights are kind of important and Tesla fails miserably at both.

My BMW was arguably too sensitive and would turn off the high beams if there was a light at a farm yard 2 miles away, but at least that's not blinding the people oncoming. This is such a terrible implementation. Tesla give us some ability to adjust the sensitivity at least if you are going to screw it up this badly.
 

rpiotro

Member
Aug 18, 2021
158
101
42°57'33.77"N 88°03'05"W
This is not my first car with auto high beams so I am shocked at just how poorly this is implemented. It's getting darker earlier now (got the car in April) so not really driven it too much on the highway at night but I did this weekend. The high beams turn off like 3 seconds before a car is on me. If there is another car 2 seconds after that, they will turn on for half a second in the middle and basically flash the person. How is this car so powerful and then it fails at the basics? Wipers and lights are kind of important and Tesla fails miserably at both.

My BMW was arguably too sensitive and would turn off the high beams if there was a light at a farm yard 2 miles away, but at least that's not blinding the people oncoming. This is such a terrible implementation. Tesla give us some ability to adjust the sensitivity at least if you are going to screw it up this badly.
So, you weren't happy with either car in this department. I think they work pretty well. Not my first car with them either. Or second. Or third. Same for auto wipers.

No, they are not 100% perfect. But, at least with Tesla they are not tied to fixed sensors. They use cameras and AI. The operation can be tweaked in software and I have seen incremental improvements in both functions in just the two months since I got the car. What other manufacturer can say that?
 

ZilWin

Member
May 29, 2021
225
175
North America, Earth
I agree with your assessment. I think both the lights and wipers are poorly programmed. I have a May21 M3 so at mine is a Tesla Vision car. i believe the headlights and wipers (to a lesser degree) are set up to accommodate the camera vision in the darker environment. My assumption is that the programmers believe they need as much light as possible to maximize the effectiveness of the vision system. I assume it is a safety and data collection issue. I question that as I just completed a coast to coast trip with much of the driving at night in both clear and heavy rain/road spray conditions. i had the opportunity to look at the camaras available during these rain/road spray events and I am surprised the AP system can gather useful data from the poor vision that exists during those events. Conversely, if the system can still function during limited vision situations, why can't they throttle back the headlight algos during clear but dark conditions? Hopefully it is a work in progress that will improve. i got to the point where it was more efficient for me to drive without AP during dark periods and use it during daylight hours where it performed well.
 

Braumin

Member
Mar 5, 2021
91
91
Canada
So, you weren't happy with either car in this department. I think they work pretty well. Not my first car with them either. Or second. Or third. Same for auto wipers.

No, they are not 100% perfect. But, at least with Tesla they are not tied to fixed sensors. They use cameras and AI. The operation can be tweaked in software and I have seen incremental improvements in both functions in just the two months since I got the car. What other manufacturer can say that?
This is the typical Tesla answer. "They aren't working as designed, but Tesla can update them!" OK well until they do, they are not working very well.
 

afadeev

Member
Feb 28, 2019
810
960
NYC
The high beams turn off like 3 seconds before a car is on me. If there is another car 2 seconds after that, they will turn on for half a second in the middle and basically flash the person. How is this car so powerful and then it fails at the basics? Wipers and lights are kind of important and Tesla fails miserably at both.

My high beams (HB) also come on way too late for my taste, which is particularly unhelpful during the deer mating season (now). I already had to ABS brake twice this fall to avoid taking out the horny tick transporters.

I've learned to manually over-ride both high-beams and wiper functions.
At least you can engage the high beams with a dedicated stalk on a Model 3. Adjusting wipers speed requires more fumbling with the screen.

My BMW was arguably too sensitive and would turn off the high beams if there was a light at a farm yard 2 miles away, but at least that's not blinding the people oncoming. This is such a terrible implementation. Tesla give us some ability to adjust the sensitivity at least if you are going to screw it up this badly.

Truth be told, my BMW (F80 Xenons) high-beams are more powerful than those on the Model 3. Plus they adjust the aim with the turn of the steering wheel (they shine "ahead" of the curve). So all things being equal, BMW has to be more careful with toning them down.

That being said, I frequently manually turn the high beams on/off in the bimmer as well, especially in areas with aggressive wildlife.

But, at least with Tesla they are not tied to fixed sensors. They use cameras and AI. The operation can be tweaked in software ...

Tesla's high-beam activation is driven by the light sensors, identical to the HB activation method of all other cars.
All cars process light sensor inputs into action, same as Tesla. Unless you have firm evidence that no other automaker applies AI/ML logic for light activation triggers, I would suggest that your claim is unsubstantiated.

I have seen incremental improvements in both functions in just the two months since I got the car. What other manufacturer can say that?

Pretty much all OEMs COULD say that (OTA updates have been standard fair on cars for ~10 years, except Ford), but most automakers do NOT pull that trigger anywhere close to the rapidity of Tesla. Mostly because they do more thorough pre-production testing, so they don't have to.

I wish I could say quantity of OTA updates was positively correlated with the quality.
After ~3 years of TM3P ownership, OTA updates have not materially improved any of the following key deficiencies:
  • Auto-pilot error rates are still too high, and it fails consistently in all the places it was failing ~3 years ago. I've just trained myself in what circumstances to never ever engage it.
  • Auto-wipers still do whatever they want to, and not what I would wish they did.
  • Auto-high-beams are usually late, and activation is unpredictable.
Tesla has, in all fairness, has OTA delivered more games that I care to keep track of. And some new infotainment options that I don't care about.

And then there is the dog mode.
well-thats-awesome-meme.jpg


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Last edited:

Habu

Member
Dec 20, 2020
38
38
Cincinnati
The auto wipers and high beams are unusable on my 2021 M3. I’ve driven other cars with these features and the implementation wasn’t perfect but was still usable and nice to have.

It seems like a solvable problem. Why don’t they address it?
 
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TexasTezla

Member
Feb 28, 2020
337
263
Texas
I've been a Tesla owner for 2 years and have never had a big problem with high beams nor wipers. Sure, sometimes my wipers go faster than necessary but I just manually change the speed, no biggie. As for high beam, never had an issue that would cause me or other drivers issues. I drive freeway at night reasonably regularly too. Seems to work fine for me.
 

TLLMRRJ

Active Member
Dec 19, 2019
2,052
2,450
Houston
The auto wipers and high beams are unusable on my 2021 M3. I’ve driven other cars with these features and the implementation wasn’t perfect but was still usable and nice to have.

It seems like a solvable problem. Why don’t they address it?

I am sure right after they fix phantom braking and crashing into parked cars, they will get right on to fixing the wipers and high beams.
 

KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,849
3,561
Maine
This is not my first car with auto high beams so I am shocked at just how poorly this is implemented. It's getting darker earlier now (got the car in April) so not really driven it too much on the highway at night but I did this weekend. The high beams turn off like 3 seconds before a car is on me. If there is another car 2 seconds after that, they will turn on for half a second in the middle and basically flash the person. How is this car so powerful and then it fails at the basics? Wipers and lights are kind of important and Tesla fails miserably at both.

My BMW was arguably too sensitive and would turn off the high beams if there was a light at a farm yard 2 miles away, but at least that's not blinding the people oncoming. This is such a terrible implementation. Tesla give us some ability to adjust the sensitivity at least if you are going to screw it up this badly.
sounds like the light sensor is not sensitive enough. I'd have it checked out.
 

NBCGLX

Member
Jul 3, 2021
29
17
Philadelphia, PA
I seem to have the opposite problem, that the high beams are too aggressive to come on and the car turns the high beams on even when there are other vehicles around (either in front of me or oncoming)! It's especially annoying on highways that have the large medians separating the directions of travel. I also hate, and this applies to all vehicles with auto high beams, that the high beams won't turn on at low speeds. Driving in semi-rural heavily wooded areas with lots of curvy, you need high beams even at low speeds. But all auto high beam systems seem to not turn on the high beams unless you're going above a certain speed.
 

Gasaraki

Active Member
Oct 21, 2019
2,190
1,517
Syracuse, NY
On the highway it's not good because they are too sensitive. Cars on the other side with a big medium still turns off my high beams when the camera sees them.

I don't like auto high beams on any car.
 

CheezyNachos

Member
Sep 3, 2021
92
86
Wisconsin
I haven't used auto high beams, but what's the complaint about auto wipers? It has only rained a few times since I got the car, but they don't seem any better or worse than my previous vehicles.
 

Braumin

Member
Mar 5, 2021
91
91
Canada
I haven't used auto high beams, but what's the complaint about auto wipers? It has only rained a few times since I got the car, but they don't seem any better or worse than my previous vehicles.
They seem too sensitive and ramp up the speed to max way too quickly, and there's no adjustment at all in Auto. I don't hate the wipers but it's a bit sad that such a tech focused car doesn't do this as well a BMW from 2008.
 

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