For the last six months, owners of older Tesla vehicles have reported issues with the center console display going dark and being unresponsive. In a Tesla, this means that you cannot program the climate control — and more importantly, the vehicle can’t be charged, though it will still drive without the center console. Tesla online message boards have lit up with the issue as owners search for answers from Tesla and authorized repair centers.
The problem has been traced to a flash storage chip called an eMMC that is embedded in the MCU1 onboard computer. Flash storage is a type of computer memory that can be constantly erased and reprogrammed to help the MCU1 perform tasks quickly and efficiently. The Tesla system is writing and erasing so much data on these chips that after about four years, the chips simply burn up.
In a post to Twitter by Jason Hughes, a repair technician who complained about the problem, company founder Elon Musk replied, “Should be much better at this point.” No specific actions were mentioned to explain what is being done to rectify the problem, nor has Tesla released a statement identifying the solution.
Tesla has consistently ranked at the top of Consumer Reports’ customer satisfaction rating for the last three years despite ranking 27th out of 29 automakers for reliability in a 2018 report. Currently, the Tesla Model 3 is the only car from the manufacturer recommended by Consumer Reports. Previously, the Tesla Model S sedan had the recommendation as well, until reliability issues got it bumped off the list.
Members of online Tesla message boards have reported costs to replace the unit at between $2,500 and $2,700. There are requests on these boards for Tesla to recall older vehicles and replace the faulty unit with a better version, but Tesla has not responded yet. There is an active online petition calling for action by Tesla as well. Members on these boards have reported this failure in models ranging from 2012 to 2017. The issue could not have come at a more inconvenient time for the electric automaker, as quarterly earnings are due to be reported on October 23.
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