Can Tesla Model 3 Self-Park Reliably? 10 Owners Put It to the Test

By Zac Ludicrous •  Updated: 05/16/22 •  12 min read

Everyone has an opinion on Tesla’s built-in self-driving features.

But no one has taken the time to put together some of the most insightful real-world tests, segmented by type — and organized in a chronological fashion — as I did in this article.

If you’ve been wondering whether the Tesla Model 3 can actually park itself, look no further. Here’s the evidence so you can see it for yourself and make your own conclusions.

Let’s start with some of the easiest parking feats and scale from there.

Can a Tesla Model 3 Self-Park in Reverse — Perpendicular to Another Car?

Recorded in August 2019. Jump to 0:47 for TeslaDriver’s perpendicular parking tests, 2:25 for parallel parking, and 5:03 for a weird, diagonal parking scenario.

Back in 2019, the TeslaDriver channel performed its first attempt to park the Model 3 perpendicularly between two cars.

The vehicle parked successfully. It’s straight between the two cars, and it never got so close that I would have panicked. 

It did it quite slower than a human would, though. It becomes less practical at that point — and impatient people like me are likely to take over and just do it themselves.

If you want to see more from this video, the car successfully parallel parked at 2:25 and then drove up a curb at a weird diagonal parking scenario at 5:03.

Recorded in Sept 2020. Skip ahead to 0:27 for the first perpendicular parking test or to 1:35 for a second test from an exterior view.

Fast forward to about a year, and the Saying Goodbye to Gasoline YouTube channel performs its own perpendicular parking tests.

In both instances, the car, again, parked successfully, but at a speed that would stress some people.

The second test is a bit strange. Look closely at the 2:15 mark. The car overextends a little to one side and then steers the other way rather than landing straight in one go.

Still, it does a good job. But not so good that I would allow it to park for me, especially if I’m in a hurry.

I find it intriguing that this owner suggests the vehicle is only able to park between two vehicles because the car doesn’t identify the parking lines.

However, the third test above from TeslaDriver did park when only one car was available. 

It seems Teslas’ ability to identify a parking space depends on the scenario — which, again, makes it less practical when you want it to park in a specific spot.

Recorded in May 2021. The first perpendicular test starts at 2:22.

MonsterGadgets kicks off his parking tests by stating, just like the previous video on this list, that the Model 3 just doesn’t identify a parking space by its lines.

If you happen to want to park between two cars, then you’re in luck. But most of us would choose a space without cars next to us if we could.

That’s certainly a negative.

At 2:22, the first perpendicular test starts. And I’m disappointed to see that the speed continues to be on the lower end for my liking.

The car seems to have gotten pretty close to one of the cars it was parking next to… which is okay but unnecessary with all the space it had to work with.

It also got a little past the line on the rear of the car.


As you can see, the Model 3 can successfully park perpendicular to other cars. But its cautious speed and inability to park in a space that has no vehicles parked on its sides makes the Autopark feature a cool gadget rather than a reliable feature for your parking needs.

Perpendicular parking is arguably one of the easiest parking feats, though. Let’s see how the Model 3 does in a harder scenario.

Can Tesla Model 3 Parallel Park Itself?

Recorded in July 2018. Jump to 3:58 to watch the first parallel park test.

The Model 3 production really started to ramp up in 2018, so this YouTube video Nick from Tesla Life recorded is likely to be one of the first Model 3 Autopark videos available.

Even back then, the feature was quite decent.

He tests perpendicular parking a few times at 0:39, and at 3:58, he tries to parallel park with decent space between each vehicle.

The car parked successfully. However, it went forward after it landed almost perfectly in reverse. I would have left the car right there.

The only other thing I could nitpick at is the fact that it parked in front of someone’s driveway.

Though not a big deal, this is something artificial intelligence will have to understand if we want autonomous cars driving us around all the time.

Nick tries a left-side parking scenario — and the feature just doesn’t recognize the space. He also tries a right-side tighter spot and the car doesn’t pick up the space either.

Clearly, the feature handles the parking well… but when it can actually identify a spot.

I was surprised it did so well the first time, given that this was 2018 and the feature was fairly new.

Let’s see a few more recent tests.

Recorded in Nov 2019. Skip to 4:45 for the first parallel parking test or to 5:59 for a tighter parking test.

This Model 3 owner from The Lairds Set Free YouTube channel hunts for a parallel parking space to test and enthusiastically says he’s “getting the parking logo coming up” more frequently, which suggests Tesla’s ability to identify these parking spaces has improved.

After some driving at 4:45, he finds a spacious spot. But the first thing I noticed is that he had to wait a while for the logo to come up.

The vehicle parked pretty well once again. He repeats the test at 5:59 in a tighter spot, and the car pulls it off again.

I’m happy to see improvements in recognizing these opportunities — and the car continues to get in smoothly every time.

Recorded in Jan 2020. Jack’s first parallel test starts at 1:11. Jump to 2:23 to hear his rants on Autopark failure scenarios.

After being critical in previous videos about Tesla’s self-driving features, YouTube personality Jack Massey Welsh decides to put the Autopark features to the test again.

At 1:11, he finds an opportunity to parallel park, and the car picks it up really quickly, an improvement in and of itself.

The vehicle goes ahead and gets in successfully, but just like the 2018 parallel park test we saw, the car continued to do some strange back and forth. Even more so than the 2018 test.

I’m not sure if it’s because the system tries to center the car, but this is slower than I’d allow for sure.

Given how smoothly it gets in, though, I’d allow it to get in for me, and then I’ll center it myself.

After a few years, I would have expected this aspect of the system to be better.

If you’re curious to listen more about Jack’s previous experiences, jump to 2:23 of the video for his rants and short clips of Autopark failures.


Overall, I find the Model 3’s ability to parallel park much smoother. As long as the car identifies the space, it just lands straight every time.

Not only that, but parallel parking is harder for humans, so in these instances, Autopark is a feature I’d engage in whenever I have the chance.

Can Your Model 3 Autopark in a Garage?

Recorded in Feb 2020. Jump to 0:18 for the first garage Autopark test. The second test starts at 0:48.

Garage parking is not necessarily harder or easier than other parking feats — but one that can be very convenient for many people.

CfTesla puts his car to the test in a spacious garage that looks very easy to get into. His first run — at 0:18 — was successful, though I find it intriguing that he cuts the front-view clip before the vehicle stops.

He doesn’t stop with one run, though. A second test at 0:48 shows a slightly different angle, and you can see the vehicle going all the way through.

The car parked successfully again. And it does two more times (one of them much farther away from the garage entry). 

Given how successfully the car had handled other parking situations, I’m not surprised it did this well. However, I would have loved to see tougher situations.

Can you park the car perpendicular to the garage and instruct it to park? 

What if he changed the items inside the garage from one side to the other — will the vehicle still pull it off?

These questions still remain.

Recorded in Dec 2020. Skip to 0:21 for the forward test and to 1:12 for the reverse summon.

In this quick two-minute video, the car successfully got in and out of a fairly tight garage. But again, it was so well positioned in front of the garage that I’m not impressed.

I would have placed the car just a few inches to the right (and then to the left) and then a few more inches – just to see how well it corrects itself to enter this tight spot.


From my perspective, the Model 3’s Autopark and Summon are good enough to reliably get in and out of a garage.

I’d trust it to get in and out for me, especially if I had a spacious garage with few items that could damage the car.

However, I’d love to see other owners giving the car harder tasks. I couldn’t really find videos of owners stress-testing the system.

Is the Newer, Vision-Based Autopark Better or Worse?

Recorded in Mar 2022. Five perpendicular parking tests, back to back.

The first noticeable improvement is Autopark’s ability to handle empty parking spaces – no need to park between two vehicles anymore.

This video has no audio and is recorded from the Tesla’s cameras, which makes it harder to understand. 

However, this owner performs at least five tests, and the car parks just as well every time.

I was able to detect some speed variance now. Some parking tests were definitely faster than others. But I still feel the speed is slower than some humans would feel comfortable with. 

Recorded in Jan 2022.

This quick 90-second video shows what a parallel park looks like in 2022.

Though the owner mentions the rather large number of sensors the Model 3 has, my understanding is that these were disabled in an effort for Tesla to transition to vision-only autonomy.

As expected, the car parked beautifully.

I was also expecting the car to go back and forth multiple times (as it did in other tests), but this time, it just went forward once. Just like I would have done as a human.

A small improvement but worth mentioning.

MonsterGadgets update, recorded in Feb 2022. The first test starts at 2:15.

Lastly, after almost a year, MonsterGadgets drives to the same parking lot and records a follow-up to the video we discussed in the perpendicular parking section.

Here, the improvements are much more clearly visible. At 2:15, the first test is successful despite being only one car next to the chosen space.

The car takes its time to pick up a space with no cars parked close to it (the snow on the floor could have played a role), but at 3:39, it finally picks one up.

I’m impressed with this one, I must admit. 

It’s one of the first tests I see where the car lands straight in one go. I didn’t move back and forth at all.

THIS is what I’d love to see more consistently to make the feature more practical.


Despite many people’s fears of the vision-based approach being inferior, it does feel like Tesla has had some modest improvements since removing its radar sensors.

They still have a long way to go to achieve their goal of sleep-in-the-back-seat, fully autonomous capability…

But the improvement of these tests suggests they’re moving in the right direction.

How Good Is Model 3’s Autopark Ultimately?

You just saw it with your own eyes.

The Autopark feature of Teslas is certainly a welcome convenience for some parking feats.

However, given the fact that it may not identify the parking space you want in some scenarios – and that its speed (for obvious reasons) is noticeably slower than a human –

I believe it’s not yet practical enough to rely on. 

That said, looking at tests from the last three to four years gets me excited to see an autonomous reality in the not-so-distant future.

Lastly, I do feel like Tesla gets a lot of credit for making autonomy cool, with many believing they might be the first company to crack full autonomy. 

And although the praise and recognition are well deserved, other companies with comparable autonomous features don’t get nearly as much love.

It’s one of the many benefits Tesla gets for being the new kid on the block.

Final Thoughts: Can Tesla Model 3 Self-Park Reliably?

The Tesla Model 3 can definitely self-park, but whether it will do so perfectly every time — or whether it will identify the parking space you want in the first place — is still up for debate.

I was impressed by its parallel parking abilities in particular, and I’d certainly engage the Autopark feature on those scenarios as much as I could.

If not for convenience, at least for the excitement to see the autonomous future become a reality little improvements at a time.

Zac Ludicrous

Mechanical engineer by profession. TSLA shareholder before the hype. EV enthusiast all day long. Zac enjoys learning about the future of battery technology, autonomy, and EVs. He considers Tesla Model 3 the most important vehicle of the 21st century -- and is in a quest to improve the ownership experience of every Model 3 owner he possibly can.

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