With software updates over the air, Tesla can fix errors in its electric cars, improve functions that are already running and introduce new ones, and makes extensive use of them to the delight of customers. In the case of a known weakness of the older Tesla Model S and Model X, however, this does not seem to help: Despite six updates now, the memory chips of the infotainment computer still fail after prolonged use, which leads to its failure. Tesla recently agreed to extend the warranty and also reimburse the costs for chips that have already been replaced. Nevertheless, the US agency NHTSA has now started an investigation into the problem, which could lead to a recall.
Tesla reports 12,523 cases in the United States
It announced in June that the authority was dealing with the case. As part of this preliminary evaluation of eleven complaints submitted, she obtained further information from Tesla and now also reported that she had initiated a technical analysis based on this. Because as part of the first procedure, Tesla had to provide numbers for the chip problem with Model S and Model X, and they were high.
In the meantime, she has 537 complaints from Tesla owners in the USA, informs the NHTSA. On request, Tesla reported a total of 12,523 cases in which the chip for the infotainment system was exchanged within or outside of the warranty period. If the computer known as the Media Control Unit fails, this also has consequences for some functions that can be important for safe driving. The air conditioning can no longer be controlled, which can be dangerous if the windows are misted up. In addition, warning and indicator signals can no longer be heard.
All early Model S and Model X affected
According to the NHTSA, the problem affects all Tesla Model S and Model X that were produced through 2018. Because their MCU chip only has 8 gigabytes of capacity. That is so little that it fails after many write cycles. According to its own information, Tesla has reduced their number with six software updates in an answer to the NHTSA, but admits that the memory will still be defective after 11-12 years if you drive a day – and earlier if you drive more often .
Sooner or later, according to Tesla, 100 percent of the memory chips in the 158,716 Model S and Model X that were sold in the USA from 2012 to 2018 would fail, the NHTSA reported. Against this background, she started a technical analysis to assess the extent, frequency and safety relevance of the problem. As the authority explains in another document, the decision to initiate a recall is made in this procedure. The prerequisite for this is that a safety-relevant error is detected and the manufacturer does not initiate a recall of his own accord.