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Touchscreens Fail in Tesla Model S and Model X

Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles are advertised as the “Future of Driving.” A prominent feature of many Tesla Model S and Model X advertisements is the touchscreen display, also called an infotainment system or the Media Control Unit (MCU). Instead of the typical car center console, each Tesla vehicle—including the Model S and Model X—has a large touch screen computer.  The MCU infotainment system controls many aspects of the vehicle’s interior, including the air conditioning and heating, the radio, and the navigation system, and displays the backup camera.

Tesla MCU Picture Credit to

Unfortunately, many Tesla Model S owners have experienced problems with the touchscreen. The touchscreens slow down becoming less responsive and eventually fail, displaying a blank screen and not responding to any user commands. Other owners have described the touchscreen darkening and eventually fading to black. As a result of the touchscreen problems, the drivers lose control over the air conditioning, audio, and navigation, and cannot use the rearview camera. The failure of the MCU may also limit the battery charging capacity and maximum rate of charge when recharging.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received multiple complaints regarding touchscreen failure and opened an investigation. The NHTSA’s preliminary findings indicate that touchscreen failure is caused by memory wear-out. The NHTSA reported that the processor in the MCU has a finite lifespan based on the number of program/erase (P/E) cycles. The touchscreens may fail prematurely because the MCU erases and reprograms the computer frequently. The NHTSA continues to investigate the scope, frequency, and safety consequences of the defect in the touchscreens.

The same touchscreen processor is used in the following vehicles:

  • 2012 Tesla Model S
  • 2013 Tesla Model S
  • 2014 Tesla Model S
  • 2015 Tesla Model S
  • 2016 Tesla Model S
  • 2017 Tesla Model S
  • 2018 Tesla Model S
  • 2016 Tesla Model X
  • 2017 Tesla Model X
  • 2018 Tesla Model X.

Many Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X owners have experienced and have been complaining about the defect in the touchscreens. For example, one 2015 Tesla Model S owner reported his experience:

“I was having problems with the Audio not loading and erroring out so I decided to reboot the touchscreen. Bad mistake, it never came back on. Tesla says it went bad and needs to be replaced. I have a 2015 model and it seems other friends with similar aged Model S’s have had to replace [the] screen or having other issues. Is this the lifetime of the screen? $2600 replacement for something so critical for the car, without it, you can’t do anything but drive. So not happy about this.”

Tesla has no fix for the touch screen problems.  The defective touch screen computers cannot be repaired; instead, the infotainment MCU system must be completely replaced. A replacement MCU (also called an MCU2) costs thousands of dollars. Tesla has refused to replace the defective touchscreen MCU systems, forcing owners to pay for replacements out of pocket.

If you have experienced issues with any of your Tesla Model S or Tesla Model X touchscreen MCU it may be a result of the defective design of the infotainment system computer.  To fix this problem you may have to purchase and completely replace the touchscreen.

If you have purchased a Tesla Model S or Tesla Model X and experienced problems with the touchscreen MCU infotainment system, it may be time to consult an attorney regarding your legal options.  The attorneys at Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel are experienced in handling consumer class action lawsuits and are currently investigating a potential class action against Tesla regarding the failures and defects in the touchscreen MCUs.

If you are interested in discussing this issue in more detail, you can contact CCMS to discuss your options and whether it is appropriate to join a class action against the companies.


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