— Tesla Model S media control unit (MCU) failures are under a federal investigation after reports of touchscreen failures in 2012-2015 Model S cars.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received complaints about touchscreen failures over the past 13 months at service intervals ranging from 3.9 to 6.3 years.
The owner of a 2015 Tesla Model S was left wondering if the car would be better with buttons, switches and knobs.
"My 17-inch monster touch screen went blank the other day. That wouldn't be a big deal in most cars, but nearly everything about this car is controlled from that screen. Heck, I couldn't even open the charger port cover or change the heat. It kind of makes me miss some physical controls. To fix it, Tesla mechanics performed a "hard reset." I can't believe my $85k car needed CTRL+ALT+DELETE."
Like the Model S owner above, drivers complain about losing all the video and audio features of the touchscreens, including the infotainment, navigation and internet browsing systems.
Rear camera images are also lost and MCU failures will cause the climate control systems to default to automatic mode, while limits will be applied on battery charging.
According to NHTSA, the display control unit subassembly of the Model S MCU is a "NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor with an integrated 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory device."
"EMMC NAND flash devices have a finite lifespan based upon the number of program/erase (P/E) cycles. The subject MCU allegedly fails prematurely due to memory wear-out of the eMMC NAND flash. Tesla used the same MCU with the Tegra 3 processor in approximately 159 thousand 2012-2018 Model S and 2016-2018 Model X vehicles built by Tesla through early-2018." - NHTSA
Federal investigators believe the touchscreen fails after other symptoms occur, including problems with cellular connectivity, a loss of navigation and more frequent resets of the touchscreen.
The Tesla Model S MCU investigation will determine the safety consequences caused by touchscreen failures.
Separately, Tesla was recently sued by a customer who claimed the touchscreens often go blank.
CarComplaints.com will update our website with results of the Model S touchscreen investigation.