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Tesla MCU car touchscreen failure rate reached over 30%, NHTSA still considering a recall

An update to the NHTSA investigation into Tesla’s MCU car touchscreen failure showed that some build months had a failure rate over 30% and Tesla has received over 10,000 requests from owners to change their MCU.

NHTSA is still considering a recall even after Tesla pushed its own fix.

Owners of older Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles have been reporting some issues with their MCUs.

The touchscreen becomes less responsive, the power-up time becomes longer, the screen freezes and has to be rebooted, or there is even total failure of the MCU unit.

Some owners believe that it is a problem with the embedded Multi-Media-Card memory (eMMC) in the MCU and that it is being overwritten to the point of failure.

It has known as the “eMMC failure” problem.

Tesla introduced a new MCU in 2018 that doesn’t have the same problem, but owners of older vehicles are still experiencing the problem in having to replace the unit out of warranty, despite seeing Tesla’s mistake as the source of the problem instead of a normal issue that occurs over time.

Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that it has launched an official investigation into the matter.

Last week, Tesla finally officially acknowledged the eMMC failure with its touchscreen and offered an extended warranty.

The move wasn’t welcomed by all Tesla owners as many thought that it didn’t go far enough in addressing what is seen by many as an important defect.

Considering there are many important functions that can only be accessed through the touchscreen/MCU in Tesla vehicles, NHTSA is looking into the matter as a potential safety issue, and despite Tesla’s warranty change last week, the agency is still considering a recall.

In an update to their investigation, they released information this week showing that Tesla received over 10,000 claims to replace the MCU in Model S and Model X vehicles:

In response to ODI’s Information Request (IR) for PE20-010, Tesla provided ODI with 2,399 complaints and field reports, 7,777 warranty claims, and 4,746 non-warranty claims related to MCU replacements. The data show failure rates over 30% in certain build months and accelerating failure trends after 3 to 4 years-in-service.

 NHTSA has now expanded its investigation into “159,000 2012-2018 Model S and 2016-2018 Model X vehicles built by Tesla through early-2018.”

Here’s the NHTSA update in full:

[scribd id=484645644 key=key-pygHizDpYxmXjHaUwPf4 mode=scroll]

Electrek’s Take

Tesla is trying really hard to not make this a recall, but it looks like NHTSA is not letting it go.

Like many Tesla owners following the announcement last week, they don’t seem impressed by Tesla’s offer of a new extended warranty on the MCU.

Many people seem to think that should simply replace the 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory on all affected vehicles since it was a defect that accelerated the wear on them.

Personally, I think that’s fair, and it is starting to look like NHTSA is going to force it anyway.

Tesla certainly is not looking its best with this whole MCU situation.

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