NHTSA asks Tesla to recall 158,000 vehicles over failing touchscreens

midian182

Posts: 6,298   +53
Staff member
What just happened? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has asked Tesla to recall around 158,000 Model S and Model X vehicles over an issue with their touchscreens that could cause the displays to fail.

The NHTSA writes that it opened an investigation last June into "a potential safety-related defect concerning incidents of media control unit ("MCU") failures resulting in loss of rearview camera and other safety-related vehicle functions." The issue affects certain 2012 - 2018 Tesla Model S sedans and 2016 - 2018 Model X SUVs.

Motherboard reports that the issue stems from the eMMC flash storage chip embedded on the MCU1 board. Experts claim that the Teslas are writing vehicle logs to the chip so often that they burn out. "When this burns out, you wake up to a black screen [in the car's center console.] There's nothing there. No climate control. You can generally drive the car, but it won't charge," said Tesla repair professional Phil Sadow.

It's believed to take around four years for the flash chips to wear out, though many owners have not experienced the issue. However, according to the NHTSA letter, Tesla confirmed that all the units would "inevitable fail." The company also provided a statistical model of projected weekly MCU repairs from 2020 to 2028, showing replacements peaking in early 2022.

Tesla has tried to fix the issue via over-the-air updates, but the NHTSA believes these have been "substantively insufficient."

The NHTSA has "tentatively" determined that the MCU's failure constitutes "a defect related to motor vehicle safety," and is therefore asking Tesla to issue a recall. Elon Musk's company has until January 27 to respond. Should it refuse to comply, it must provide "a full explanation of its decision."

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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,138   +2,779
Cars are recalled all the time for many different reasons. I don’t see this as a huge issue.
The memory failing in the infotainment system due to tesla’s Obsessive data collection, with no failsafe, also effectively bricking the rest of the car is a pretty major ****up.

I mean imagine if a failed door lock on the f150 lit the gas tank on fire and deflated the front right tire, just cause.
 
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sreams

Posts: 80   +104
And this is why analog dials are and will always be superior.
I think you mean physical dials. Almost all dials in modern cars deal with digital signals.

What is failing in some of these older Teslas is a component in one of the main computers. The closest equivalent would be an ECU failure in any other car. No amount of physical dials would solve that issue.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 356   +449
I had this problem on my 2015 Model S and can expand on it more. I could charge my vehicle and luckily did have some AC but no way to control it. But sound, maps, and internet connectivity did not work. It basically became a very dumb car and I had to pay $3000 to fix it.

In November, Tesla released a retroactive 100k mile warranty around this issue promising to refund anyone who had it under 100k miles. They also started offering a fix that instead of replacing the whole computer would replace the soldered eMMC part for probably 5x cheaper if it was outside the 100k mile warranty. They are supposed to notify who would get reimbursed by the end of February.

I believe Tesla’s solution is appropriate, except they should at least reimburse everybody for the difference between the cost of a computer replacement and the cost of the new repair. Some people opted to replace their computer for the upgraded, much faster computer with the same cost and are not eligible for a reimbursement because of that—I disagree with this. I would have chosen to do this if the solution was available when my MCU failed.
 
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scavengerspc

Posts: 833   +687
TechSpot Elite
I had this problem on my 2015 Model S and can expand on it more. I could charge my vehicle and luckily did have some AC but no way to control it. But sound, maps, and internet connectivity did not work. It basically became a very dumb car and I had to pay $3000 to fix it.
There doesn't seem to be a pattern. I have 2 Tesla owners on my staff and this happened to one of them a few years back. Except she could charge but very slowly and she didn't have AC but heater, and she couldn't shut it off in the middle of an Arkansas summer. But she took it to the Dallas location and they fixed it for free. Did you get a refund?
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,120   +2,105
TechSpot Elite
I think you mean physical dials. Almost all dials in modern cars deal with digital signals.

What is failing in some of these older Teslas is a component in one of the main computers. The closest equivalent would be an ECU failure in any other car. No amount of physical dials would solve that issue.
Analog works. It implies there's something physical about the interaction.

I made sure that my current car (a 2015) was almost all analog. Bonus is that it does have a screen to do more advanced things if needed, but not required.
 
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sreams

Posts: 80   +104
Analog works. It implies there's something physical about the interaction.

I made sure that my current car (a 2015) was almost all analog. Bonus is that it does have a screen to do more advanced things if needed, but not required.
No, actually... analog does not imply physical. It means, specifically:

"relating to or using signals or information represented by a continuously variable physical quantity such as spatial position, voltage, etc."

A physical knob that turns up the volume in any modern car is not analog. It is a physical knob that controls stepped, digital volume.

I am a recording engineer who deals with analog and digital gear every day. Both have physical knobs, but both are not analog.
 
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terzaerian

Posts: 239   +284
The memory failing in the infotainment system due to tesla’s Obsessive data collection, with no failsafe, also effectively bricking the rest of the car is a pretty major ****up.

I mean imagine if a failed door lock on the f150 lit the gas tank on fire and deflated the front right tire, just cause.
Unfortunately the increasing computerization of cars means we'll probably start seeing issues like this crop up outside Tesla as well.

Don't worry, though, in a few years Apple is going to invent the automobile. Wow. Amazing. Such innovation.
 
And this is why analog dials are and will always be superior.
Don't be so sure about that. My old Toyota truck uses a speedometer cable. There's a gear on the output shaft of the transmission that turns another gear that then turns the speedometer cable. The gear on the output shaft lost the pin or whatever attached it to the output so it no longer spins with the shaft. To fix the speedometer, I'd have to remove and disassemble the transmission to fix it. The best solution is an inexpensive GPS speedometer, but at least the part failure has no effect on any other part of the vehicle.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,120   +2,105
TechSpot Elite
No, actually... analog does not imply physical. It means, specifically:

"relating to or using signals or information represented by a continuously variable physical quantity such as spatial position, voltage, etc."

A physical knob that turns up the volume in any modern car is not analog. It is a physical knob that controls stepped, digital volume.

I am a recording engineer who deals with analog and digital gear every day. Both have physical knobs, but both are not analog.
For a lot of people, it does (something to physically interact with). You might as well be arguing figuratively and literally lol. But If someone says they want analog instead of touchscreen, I'll understand what they mean (aka, it works). I'm not being literal here.

Otherwise, I would argue that most knobs in all but the high tech cars (or newest) are still analog (whereas, there are probably a lot more "low tech" cars on the road).
My car have 1 digital knob for volume, and the rest analog (fan, temperature, lights, wipers,...)
 
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Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 356   +449
There doesn't seem to be a pattern. I have 2 Tesla owners on my staff and this happened to one of them a few years back. Except she could charge but very slowly and she didn't have AC but heater, and she couldn't shut it off in the middle of an Arkansas summer. But she took it to the Dallas location and they fixed it for free. Did you get a refund?
I haven’t heard anything since about whether I’m eligible, so no refund (yet).
 

Nobina

Posts: 2,802   +2,503
I don't like the current trend of having 10 billion touchscreens in a car. Have it, it sure is useful, but don't put basic functions of the car in it, have them as buttons and knobs.

Having more and more software in the car = more likely to have bugs and issues a mechanic can't fix.
 

sreams

Posts: 80   +104
I don't like the current trend of having 10 billion touchscreens in a car. Have it, it sure is useful, but don't put basic functions of the car in it, have them as buttons and knobs.

Having more and more software in the car = more likely to have bugs and issues a mechanic can't fix.
You'll love the Model 3 then. It only has one.
 

Nobina

Posts: 2,802   +2,503
You'll love the Model 3 then. It only has one.
It has almost no buttons and knobs, everything is controlled through touchscreen which I'm not a fan of. IMO Tesla has the ugliest interiors of all modern cars.

Can't wait till we have a touchscreen instead of a steering wheel.
 

sreams

Posts: 80   +104
It has almost no buttons and knobs, everything is controlled through touchscreen which I'm not a fan of. IMO Tesla has the ugliest interiors of all modern cars.

Can't wait till we have a touchscreen instead of a steering wheel.
Oh, I already knew you'd hate it. I was messing with you over your extreme "10 billion touchscreens" hyperbole.