Still a callback? New Tesla warranty for MCU failure is not enough for US authorities

A long fermenting problem with the media computer in older Tesla Model S and Model X could end in a recall. By March 2018, Tesla installed the first generation of this so-called MCU (for Media Control Unit) in the two electric cars, which is equipped with a memory chip with a capacity of only 8 gigabytes. That turned out to be too little, so that after a few years of use, many of these MCU1 failed. After many complaints and remedial attempts via software updates, Tesla introduced an extended warranty for it. But that is not enough for the US agency NHTSA: They have now asked the company to recall all Model S and Model X with MCU1.

158,000 Model S and Model X affected

That emerges from a letter to Tesla that the NHTSA published on Wednesday. According to her, the MCU weakness is a security problem because the unit is not only responsible for media in the narrower sense, but also, for example, for reversing cameras, ventilation and warning and blinker tones. Nine other automakers have already initiated recalls because of similar problems. Tesla has confirmed that sooner or later the chips in all old MCUs would fail. A total of around 158,000 Model S and Model X are affected (in the USA).

Your preliminary assessment is that the problem is “a defect related to vehicle safety”, writes the NHTSA. This would meet the requirements for a recall. The warranty extension from Tesla, which is apparently valid worldwide, came last November. As part of this, the company will cover the costs of repairing or replacing failed MCU1s for up to eight years after initial registration or 100,000 miles. Customers who have already paid for it should get the money back. However, the guarantee only applies after a failure, not as a precaution.

Tesala has to respond by the end of January

This decision came after the NHTSA had already started an investigation into several thousand failures of the MCU1. The now published letter is unusual, according to a report by the news agency Reuters: Normally, automakers would agree to a voluntary recall if it is suggested to them by the authorities. Tesla now has to respond to the official request by the end of January: either by confirming a recall or with a “full explanation” for the opposite decision with additional data.


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