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Tesla Touchscreen Issues: NHTSA Requests Revocation of Models S and X

A brick wall with the Tesla logo on top
Enlarge / 158,000 Teslas wall their infotainment screens within 3-4 years due to a design flaw.

Getty Images / Jonathan Gitlin

In November, we learned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had opened an engineering analysis of a potential defect with Tesla̵

7;s popular models S and X batteries. On Wednesday, the second shoe fell when NHTSA informed the U.S. automaker that it needs to recall 158,000 vehicles to repair defective touch screens.

The problem concerns a component of the vehicles’ infotainment systems, called the Media Control Unit. Buried inside the MCU is an 8 GB eMMC NAND flash memory chip that can only be written a finite number of times. When this number of read / write cycles is reached – something that takes between three and four years depending on how much the car is driven – the touch screen dies. And unfortunately, it’s a real problem in a car, where the touch screen is the way there is access to almost all controls.

Not being able to surf the Internet in your car or stream a podcast is obviously a disadvantage, especially in a high-end vehicle. But NHTSA is more concerned about the fact that if the touch screen dies, features like backup camera and defogging of windows are also lost, as are audible alarms for other security systems on board.

The problem is well known among the Tesla community, affecting any Model S built between 2012 and 2018, and Model Xs built between 2016 and 2018. After NHTSA received 537 complaints from owners, it asked Tesla if it had more information on the scope. of problem. It did – handing over records of thousands of complaints and more than 12,000 MCU replacements.

Now NHTSA has taken the unusual steps to tell Tesla to remember the 158,000 vehicles affected, according to Reuters. “[D]”During our review of the data, Tesla confirmed that all devices will inevitably fail given the memory device’s final storage capacity,” NHTSA told Reuters. significantly inadequate “and the law requires car manufacturers to recall vehicles that contain safety defects.

Tesla has no press office to contact for comment, and the company has not made a statement about either its Twitter feed or CEO Elon Musk’s. The company has since redesigned the MCU to use a 64 GB eMMC, so newer vehicles should not be affected. The more popular models 3 and Y are not affected by this problem.

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