Center screens failing at high rate
Issue lies with memory inside 17-inch display unit’s controller
A new report says that US officials are asking Tesla to recall close to 160,000 vehicles over concerns about the large center touchscreens in Model S and Model X vehicles. The concern is that they can fail after a few years of use, which affects some critical safety functions.
When launched, company CEO bragged about the 17-inch touchscreens used in the cars and how they were sourced from computer supply companies rather than traditional automotive suppliers. It both saved money and gave Tesla a feature that was at the time unmatched or even closed in on by any competitors.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Tesla was sent a letter by federal regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, asking them to recall some Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles over the potential failure of the screen.
According to NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, the issue is with the Media Control Unit that runs the display, its Nvidia processor, and 8 GB of flash memory. Installed in around 158,000 2012-2018 Model S and 2016-2018 Tesla Model X vehicles. The ODI report says that the memory “fails when the storage capacity is reached, resulting in failure of the MCU,” while as it reaches failure it can become unresponsive and prone to crashes.
Once the screen fails, mandated safety features like the back up camera and defroster cannot be used, and turn signal chimes and driver assistance may not work. All of these could potentially lead to a crash. ODI said that “the failure rate in this investigation is significantly greater than the failure rate for vehicles involved in prior recalls involving similar behavior.”
Tesla can deny the request for a recall if it provides an explanation. The NHTSA could then accept that explanation or escalate to a public hearing and push a recall through the court system. Tesla did not comment on the letter as they no longer have a public relations department.