Touch screen bubbles / leakage

Touch screen bubbles / leakage

Hi guys,
I own Tesla 2013 Model S and is out of warranty period. Touch screen on MCU is showing up bubbles on the sides and top edge of the screen which is increased from what I noticed last November.
Tesla service center looked at the pictures I sent and told me to have entire MCU replaced for this and it is costly. I have no issues with controls or MCU so far. Why do I need to replace whole thing?

Last November, I was told $1000 by same service center and now $2700. It doesn't make sense. I read various comments in forum and noticed price varies a lot for the similar problem.

What should be cost for fixing? Any suggestions for replacing the screen portion or fixing the gel leaking problem from the screen?

Is the screen available to buy and can it be replaced by consumers. I assume it is few screws and power plugs on board.

Any suggestions will be really helpful. I am afraid that MCU may stop responding at some point with more bubbles in it.

Thank you very much, | 12. August 2017

Yep, the screen needs to be replaced - it cannot be repaired. I'm fairly sure Tesla has a screen replacement program, and the cost is in the $1000 area. The $2700 would be for a total replacement, which seems unnecessary.

Getting the MCU out is quite a chore, as much of the dash must be disassembled. I know the screen is made by LG, but beyond that, I don't have an LG part number. You could try eBay for a screen replacement, but only if new. Tesla may have changed suppliers and/or the display model since 2013, so that newer screens are better, at least I'd hope so.

Lastly, it's worth considering a LTE upgrade at the same time ($500). The 3G module is inside the MCU. Perhaps they would give a discount if the work is already being done to pull out the MCU, but I somewhat doubt it. They seem to have fixed prices for modifications like this.

Rocky_H | 14. August 2017

I just saw the bubbles on mine a few weeks ago. I'm going to get it done this spring before I get out of my initial 4 year warranty period and get the LTE upgrade with it.

Boonedocks | 14. August 2017

At some point this needs to be addressed as a possible Service Bulletin issue and not a pay-for-service issue. I wonder how many have to happen before it will be considered.

I had several after warranty issues on my BMW handled as Service Bulletins because they were considered not normal wear and tear even out of warranty.

rxlawdude | 14. August 2017

@Boone, @Rocky: There MAY be recourse even "out of [express] warranty" under the theory of implied warranty against design defects. Many early screens seem to suffer this problem.
Of course, asking Tesla for some "goodwill" assistance if you're out of warranty is the best approach.

RedShift | 14. August 2017

Mine had bubbles (2013 Model) and luckily I still had a few months before warranty expiration. They replaced entire MCU.

Haggy | 14. August 2017

I've seen them on eBay for relatively little money, but it's not something I'd recommend doing on your own or with a private mechanic. You really need Tesla's computer and toolkit to save the data and go through the entire process. In theory you could mess things up, including the odometer reading, if things aren't done with a proper reset and by the book. I doubt Tesla would accept you walking in with a used part and asking them to install it.

Rocky_H | 14. August 2017

Well, I'm glad it happened when it did. It get to start over the clock on that part before the warranty is up. Maybe if I can kick the internal charger a time or two, I can get that to go out now and have it replaced in the warranty period too. :) Those are the two kind of pricey things I would be a little concerned about in the next few years.

NKYTA | 14. August 2017

@Rocky et. al., don't forget to take a screenshot of Trip A before replacement...

stevenmaifert | 15. August 2017

Mine appeared after the warranty expired. I purchased the ESA right after delivery in 2012 as a hedge against the nascent technology in a car that had no maintenance track record. If Tesla won't do a "goodwill" replacement, at least I know it won't cost more than $200. Sounds like a good time to do the 4G upgrade too.

Rocky_H | 15. August 2017

@NKYTA, Yeah, that would make me sad if I lost that. I've never reset either of my trip meters. They're about 20 miles different.

ssarker | 15. August 2017

We also had bubbles appear on the monitor of our 2013 Model S. Unfortunately, right after the 50k service. I asked the Service Center to replace the monitor when the car was at the SC for urgent chargeport replacement. Both done for $200 under ESA (bought for $2500 in 2013). Trip meters got reset :(

nimeshpatel13 | 18. August 2017

Thanks for all your suggestions! Really appreciate it.

However, I want to share my thoughts on new finding. Since, I noticed increased amount of bubbles, I have switched ON temperature setting for car cabin overheating. No further increased in bubbles since then (at least few weeks by now).
I remember when I purchased the car, this is how cabin overheat temperature was set. Just to extend battery life, I had tuned it OFF. This was the first summer experience I have with Tesla and this bubble issue raised extensively (compare to small bubbles earlier) within a month of July. Several days were in 90+ here in Chicago and car was being toasted in parking lot at my work.

Please correct me if I am wrong but I believe that issue is quality of glue that used in screen sealing. It melts and allows air to get in if temperature is high inside the car cabin.

To me, this is poor quality of work not tested properly and no one needs to pay out of pocket. I will keep posted if I see any further extension of leakage in my car.

Please let me know if you agree or disagree.

Being Electrical and computer engineer, I was more comfortable buying electric vehicle than gas engine one but never thought of this poor workmanship. I don't know what will be the next even I fix this.

Thank you for reading,

sandman | 06. September 2017

Hey, I'm joining the club of gel-leaking tesla screens conveniently happening after warranty expiration. 2013 car with 56k miles. I do believe it is related to temperature and time in the field. The seal on the gel within the screen will continue to weaken over time with temp and humidity variations. It's going to happen eventually even with the overheat monitoring on. I think it is there only for ease of install of the antiglare screen protection so that there is a consistent surface with no bubbles or display variations.

In any case, mine is leaking all over the center console and underscreen cubby. It is messy and very difficult to remove without some sort of Goo-gone product. So I'm sure it also isn't something you want on your skin. So watch out for cell phones, packs of gum, sunglasses, etc that get leaked on.

rxlawdude | 06. September 2017

This sounds like a design defect. My 2004 Prius touchscreen never leaked in the 7 years I had it.

nshook145 | 10. September 2017

I too have a 2013 and have bubbles now I noticed the fluid dripping out of the bottom of the screen.
I too believe this should be a recall issue.

lotusracer | 10. September 2017

My 2013 Tesla developed a 1.5 inch bubble on the side of the display when the car was about 3 years old. Unfortunately it was out of warranty since we had over 50k miles. Cost was about $1k.

lotusracer | 10. September 2017

I do feel that the bubble issue is a manufacturing defect. My car doesn't usually experience really hot weather or direct sun since it's garaged when at home, and I'm able to have covered garage parking at work.

rxlawdude | 10. September 2017

I would press hard for a goodwill replacement.

lyonbyte | 18. September 2017

My 2015 S just started with a bubble right after warranty ran out. Still waiting to hear from Tesla about goodwill replacement. They told me around $1200 for repair. I very disappointed.

rxlawdude | 18. September 2017

@lyonbyte, wow, a 2015. That was after they supposedly fixed the leakage problem. Now you've got me worrying (7/2015 build).

Do you live in a place with large temperature extremes?

Chunky Jr. | 18. September 2017

My 2013 P85 had that problem. They replaced the screen during an annual service. If you get it done, make sure they back up all your settings. Mine were all lost. Trip counters, homelink, driver profile, presets, etc. were all reset.

Chunky Jr. | 18. September 2017

@rxlawdude : Do you live in a place with large temperature extremes?

Hmmm.. I wonder if that is another reason why they did the cabin temperature control - to protect the screen and save them money in replacement costs.

SCCRENDO | 18. September 2017

Developed a hardly noticeable bubble at around 66000 miles. Tesla replaced it free under my extended warranty

rxlawdude | 18. September 2017

@Chunky, that's a really great point!

And perhaps not only for protection of the screen, but of all the electronics in the cabin. They don't like ambients in the 140s F, though it's unlikely most things are powered up when the car is vacant (which would only add to the heat stress).

jordanrichard | 19. September 2017

If perhaps Chunky is correct about cabin temp control, at least they came up with a fix. What do other car companies do about cars that have already left the factory?.

rxlawdude | 19. September 2017

@jordan, there's a bit of self-interest in Tesla's magnanimous software fix. | 19. September 2017

@lotusracer "I do feel that the bubble issue is a manufacturing defect."

Perhaps, but that is what the warranty specifically covers. Any screen in warranty is covered. If you don't elect to maintain warranty coverage, even if it was a total design error, it's not covered. This is true of any product or vehicle. (And yes it sort of sucks if you're out of warranty).

nshook145 "I too believe this should be a recall issue."

Recalls are for safety issues. Might be a stretch to call the display a safety item. The instrument cluster might be closer to a safety item, but I'm not sure it would qualify either. Tesla has done recalls, for example replacement of the charger connectors with ones that have a temperature fuse.

I had the bubble issue on my first car (no leaking), and it was replaced under warranty.

Note that in some cases, Tesla can replace just the display, not the entire MCU at a lower price. Ask service if that is an option. Perhaps if the screen leaks a lot, the MCU needs replacement. Worth catching it early if you start to see bubbles.

rxlawdude | 19. September 2017

"Any screen in warranty is covered. If you don't elect to maintain warranty coverage, even if it was a total design error, it's not covered. This is true of any product or vehicle. (And yes it sort of sucks if you're out of warranty)."

Not necessarily true. Design defects (not manufacturing defects) may transcend the EXPRESS warranty you refer to, but still be subject to an IMPLIED warranty of fitness or merchantability.

stevenmaifert | 19. September 2017

@SCCRENDO - I'm taking my 2012 MS in tomorrow for this problem and also have the ESA. Are you saying they didn't charge you the $200 deductible?

Haggy | 19. September 2017

"If you get it done, make sure they back up all your settings. Mine were all lost. Trip counters, homelink, driver profile, presets, etc. were all reset."

All that is in the service manual. If they didn't do it, you should have complained.

SCCRENDO | 19. September 2017

I had a couple of things done between 50-100,000 and was never charged the $200. In fact when my master charger failed after 100,000 miles (third time it failed they never charged me anything. I have paid for other stuff after 100,000 which included a scroll wheel and a 12V battery. Must be my good looks.

staze | 20. September 2017

Another 2013 P85 checking in with the issue. I've been waiting for a replacement for 40 days now. I now feel the pain that others have with the parts backorder. I also have dual screen freezing issues which I am told will be resolved with a new MCU. With the numbers listed here, (and those not on the forums), sound like this could be a recall for 2013 models.

stevenmaifert | 20. September 2017

My 2012 MS is at the service center today for replacement of the touch screen due to the bubbles. They have one in stock. Unfortunately, no good will replacement. I will have to pay the $200 deductible required by the Extended Service Agreement. Not complaining, just the way it is. No loaners were available, so they gave me an Audi Q5 rental. Nice car, but going back to ICE for even just a day is a bummer.

staze | 20. September 2017

@stevenmaifert, glad you were able to snag one. I'm told they are on "nationwide backorder". I was further advised that the freezing speedo is not an issue so long as the two-finger-scrool-wheel reboot continues to work. I am thinking about calling other service centers in the area to see if they have one in stock.

staze | 20. September 2017

Update: parts manager just “found” an MCU. Happy about the part but can’t help but be a bit creeped out with the timing.

ATCRomes | 22. September 2017

I have been on this forum for over 3 years and never heard of this. I put a screen protector on my screen as soon as my car was home (Matte finish from Abstract Ocean) GREAT PRODUCT! Anyways, I know a screen protector is not going to avoid the problem at hand, just thought I would mention it.

The reason for my comment is I would like to know if those affected leave their cars in warm temps often. I would also like to request that anytime someone posts about service center experiences, they also post which service center. I think this would be helpful. For example, the $200 deductible question, is it a particular SvC not charging just cuz? Curious. Thanks guys.

staze | 22. September 2017

@ATCRomes, my car is out in the SoCal sun from 8-6 daily. Sometimes on weekends. Other than errands and work, it's garaged. I don't have a screen protector nor sunshade. Personally I think it's an engineering issue. They definitely heat test these cars for hot climates but sometimes the tests don't take into account longevity issues. It's fine. Tesla is not alone in this. Tough to test parts for 4 years without falling behind in the innovation race. This replacement helps to pay for my ESA.

My SvC ctr is Buena Park, CA. They've been pretty good just like Costa Mesa. From what I have read, it was luck of the draw in getting this part. I'll report back on the deductible after my appt in a few weeks.

Schnitts | 22. September 2017

I'm new here - test drove a 2013 today and intend to buy it but it has this screen issue. The dealer agreed to replace the screen before the sale or reduce the price by the fix amount - he claimed $4k. I'll be happy to have a new screen and based on this thread, it sounds like a great opportunity to upgrade from the current 3G system.

SO | 23. September 2017

@schnitts - a 3rd party dealer or tesla gallery?

I'd buy through Tesla CPO program for warranty reasons.

Koz | 23. September 2017

I think hot climates have particular issues with bubbles in the screen. It's happened to both S' I've owned. My second was certified pre-owned and came from a cooler climate.

EESROCK | 23. September 2017

@ATCRomes, I had a bubble in the screen which I noticed at around the 3 year mark. My car is not typically exposed to high temps in southern CA. I park my car in a parking garage at work every day, and the car is garaged when at home. I do have a screen protector, and I use a sunshade whenever the car is parked outside.

ftwohy | 23. September 2017

I have two Bubbles in my 2013 screen. San Diego Service Center Rep said about $1000 to replace. I will do this at my next service at 62,000. I have 59,000 miles now. Probably do the 4G upgrade then also.

Caterham7 | 12. Oktober 2017

Great first my screen had the above issue and fixed under warranty now I have bubbles in the dash Display and I am OOW

This is gonna cost I am sure )-: could be time to sell?

Mathew98 | 12. Oktober 2017

It's their way of telling you it's time for an upgrade...

staze | 12. Oktober 2017

Buena park replaced my screen a few weeks ago. Looks great. No charge or deductible with my extended warranty.

HawaiiScottM | 10. April 2018

Have 2013 MS, started long time ago having small bubbles in top of screen. Stupid me thought it was like my leaf and the bubbles might be some clever reward for driving at optimal energy savings like the leaf which builds trees for you if you are conserving power. Now 2 years later half my screen is one big bubble but still works and no leakage yet. Service wants $1100 ro fix it. Come on Elon! You know this is a defect, stand by your product and replace these defective screens for us, we have supported you and continue to do so as I just received my M3 yesterday, the first one to arrive in Kauai, now time to support us.

Silver2K | 11. April 2018

"Now 2 years later half my screen is one big bubble"

you have a 3d screen?

SCCRENDO | 11. April 2018

Why wait 2 years to fix it????
I guess warranties come to an end at some point.
I had my replaced under the extended warrant for a tiny bubble at around 65000 miles.
Try talk nicely to them. We feel for you. But we cannot help you.

Supermodel56 | 22. April 2018

in Southern California and just got bubbles in my screen today. It was warm, but the weather says it was only 75 degrees out. We used a sunshade when we parked for lunch, there was no shade to park in, it's regularly garaged. Came back and found bubbles all along the right side of the screen. Do we know if they replace with the same screen subject to the same issues or have they resolved the issue on the replacement screens?

alybrad | 22. April 2018

I have a 2013 P85. From the very beginning I have always used a "Heat Shield" sunshade to keep the sun off of the screen and the computer under the dash. I also crack all four windows about 1" to allow ventilation. Four and one third years later and 132,000 miles - no problems. Hope I'm not jinxing myself, but hope this might be a helpful preventive tip for those living in warm weather climates.