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Update on USB loading issues

Update on USB loading issues

There are many threads about issues when playing media from USB drives. I wanted to provide an update on my own experience with both a Model S and Model 3, so I’m posting it here in the General forum.

With my previous 2016 Model S85, I had frequent USB loading errors when listening to USB music. This issue started for me (and many others) with a software update from around April 2017 (I don’t know which version). The car would either hesitate while trying to start a new song and eventually recover, or just display a loading error with a refresh icon that could press repeatedly until eventually the song would play. While the car was having issues trying to play a song, other sounds in the car (turn signals etc.) could be muted. Some days I would have few or no errors; other days I would have many. Some people have no problems playing USB music, others have many. There have been several theories about possible causes, but none have been proven.

I took delivery of both a new Model S100D and a Model 3 last month. Both cars have issues playing from USB media, but not quite the same as before. Both cars reload the entire USB the majority of times you start the car, so you have to wait for that to finish before you can listen to USB music. If the USB doesn’t reload, it usually hesitates or fails to start playing when you start the car — you need to switch to USB and select something to play. I’ve had loading errors when starting to play USB music in both cars. Once you successfully start playing from USB, no more errors occur for the rest of that trip.

So, USB playback is still an issue in new cars, though the symptoms are a bit different.

GotLithium | January 10, 2019

I would add one more anomaly. My music is mostly organized in folders by genera or artists and some playlists. At times after the USB “loads” some folders just disappear. A screen reset so far has fixed the issue. I believe it’s the Bermuda musical triangle.

BlueRadish | January 10, 2019

@EVRider - Good description of the current USB issues. I've done some extensive testing and the problems seem to happen when you have over about 3,500 songs. After more pleas for help to my SC rep, I'm getting some tech questions, through the SC rep, that sound like they are from an engineer. Hopefully we can get this issue fixed soon. Will post any updates.

EVRider | January 11, 2019

@BlueRadish: I’ve suspected all along that the loading errors are caused by a multithreading issue in the firmware, for example, conflicts between a thread used to play USB media and other threads running at the same time. USB media playback worked flawlessly until the problem started, so it’s probably other unrelated code that caused it.

The fact that the car is now reloading the USB almost every time is a separate issue — maybe that’s an intentional workaround implemented by Tesla to deal with the loading errors (or maybe not :-).

NoMoPetrol | January 11, 2019

I'm in a CPO S85. After 18 months of irregular performance with a SanDisk 3.0 128 GB flash drive, including some of the problems described in the above posts, the car could not even find the drive (after one of the recent updates). On a lark I purchased a SanDisk 3.1 UltraFit Flash Drive with 256 GB. I added 25% more music and have had no problems. Yet.

In the meantime, the profile of the Ultra Fit is really handy. It stays completely out of the way in that cubbyhole where the USB ports are. Not sure if the upgrade to 3.1 is more compatible with all the firmware updates we've been getting, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Here's a link to the 128 GB version:
https://shop.sandisk.com/store/sdiskus/pd/productID.5214542500/varProduc...

TeslaTap.com | January 11, 2019

I have problems and no problems!

Ok, my MCU1 car is close to perfect. Rarely have any issues and it's been at least a year since I've seen a loading error. I have about 8,000 songs using 178 GB, mostly FLAC and some MP3. No Apple sourced content, which seems to be a problem with some owners. When getting into the car, music usually plays immediately, operation that got more reliable with with v9 (Thank you Tesla).

Now I happen to have a 2018 MS with MCU2 loaner (while service installs my intrusion alarm), and using the same 256 GB drive that works perfectly in MCU1, it does have some issues. No loading errors, but it rarely starts playing when I get into the car and I have to select a song to get it to play. This may be I haven't waited long enough, as often if I press on the brake to start the car, I get the "Waiting to power up" message that is very rare in the MCU1 car. In two days of use, I've not seen it rescan the drive by itself. When I do insert the drive, it takes 110 seconds to scan the drive, almost twice as fast as my MCU1 car.

Not trying to sell a drive, but here's the specific 256GB drive I use: https://amzn.to/2ChxyTy.

A fast 3.0 drive does appear to help (Tesla is USB 2.0, but 3.0 drives are usually faster than most 2.0 drives and can be run at the limit of 2.0 specs). I got a 64 GB test drive (different make flash drive) from another owner, and it did exhibit loading errors on my MCU1 car. So the issues is not that my car is somehow better than other cars. Some of the content was Apple sourced on the test drive, and playback was not consistent - some song would have a loading error, and then later work fine. Oddly, when I copied the 192 files to my 256 GB drive, they played fine, so the drive does have a lot to do with the issues we see. The tests were done about 6 months ago before v9. I did other tests, but couldn't find any specific case that triggered the problems.

BlueRadish | January 14, 2019

In the last few months I've been trying to narrow down what causes the re-loading issues with a bunch of experiments. I figured the more info on a repeatable case the better chance we'd get an engineer's attention. I tested 6+ different USB drives, including the 3.1 Ultra Fit. For sure, some drives would load faster than others, but the reloading issues are pretty consistent. I also removed all the meta data, artist, album, art, etc., renamed all .mp3s to simple file names, i.e. m1.mp3 - m3800.mp3, trying to find the cause. From what I can tell trouble seems to simply be having over about 3,000 to 3,500 music files. This isn't to say this is the only cause, or only bug, but a large number of files always seems to be trouble.

The simplest case I could reproduce the issues by grabbing any Sample.mp3 file off the Web and coping it 3,800 times in a the root of a USB drive. For those techies, the link below (forum won't let me post commands directly here) to command line commands for Linux, Windows PowerShell and DOS, to duplicate a lot of copies of a single Sample.mp3, see:

https://pastebin.com/ZPWPdB7r

Frank99 | January 15, 2019

I can't get reliable USB startup from my Model 3 at all. I've tried several different USB Flash drives (including a super-fast USB 3.0 one), but its still only about 50/50 as to whether or not it'll play automatically when I get in the car.
This is with a bit less than 1000 .mp3's.
The player works perfectly using Streaming (always starts, except, of course, when driving across northern AZ where there's no LTE coverage), and playing music off my phone (iPhone 7).
This has been a problem for Tesla since I first signed on to this list back in March of 2016. You'd think that an MP3 player, that everyone in the world has figured out how to do correctly for the last 20 years except Tesla, would be an easy thing for them to do.

Terks | January 25, 2019

USB music has always been flaky but has gotten worse over time. My 2014 Model S went from working pretty well to always restarting the song that was playing when the car was parked. The earlier firmware would resume a song where it was playing. This change was very annoying esp with longer music tracks (ie: classical). My new 2018 Model S has the same characteristic with the added problem of almost always reloading the entire USB filesystem on every startup. Given the size of my collection (1100 CD's on a terabyte drive), this takes about 10 minutes. Obviously, Tesla doesn't care about USB audio as it's had issues from the beginning and has only gotten more useless over time. In the past, other owners have told me to shut up and just go streaming. I think that may be the only viable solution.

NoMoPetrol | January 25, 2019

I've put another two weeks on the SanDisk 3.1 Ultra Fit without any reloading incidents. Not ready to declare victory yet, but I'm really liking the performance so far.

TeslaTap.com | January 27, 2019

@NoMoPetrol - Great to hear. Is any of your music sourced from Apple (where it seems most of the problems occur)? Also are you using MCU1 or MCU2?

EVRider | January 27, 2019

For the record, I’m using SanDisk Ultra Fit 64GB USB 3.0 flash drives in both cars. The music is from iTunes but I converted the Apple files to FLAC — I did the conversion when I owned my older Model S and it made no difference. I also tried a Lexar drive similar to the one TeslaTap recommended (in my old S) and that made no difference either.

Although I have the USB reloading and startup issues in both of the new cars, one improvement over the old Model S is that once playback starts, I don’t get any more loading errors.

NoMoPetrol | January 27, 2019

Mine is a 2013 S85. I believe that makes it a MCU1. No Apple music; all selections have been burned from CDs I own.

stevefien | February 27, 2019

Since the last update (Navigate on Auto Pilot) I get the "Loading Error" on about 95% of the 10,000 songs on my flash drive. Before the update, it worked perfectly. I tried a 3.0 flash drive with only 50 songs and the same thing happened. It is always the same songs that play but I can't figure out what makes them different than the ones that won't play. All are in the mp3 format. My drive is formatted with fat32. I switched to listening to music on my phone through the cars Bluetooth but the sound was scratchy and intermittent which was never the case before the update. Then I tried wiring my phone music through the cars USB but it didn't work - no USB came up on the media screen. I guess I will have the stream but I would really prefer to listen to my music. Help. I have a 2017 S90D.

blue adept | February 27, 2019

Might I suggest that everyone reformat both their chosen USB drive AND, particularly, their music tracks to a single format on a particular drive?

I've had no issues whatsoever with either MP3 or FLAC formatted music tracks when the WHOLE drive was so formatted exclusively.

Might solve all of these "issues" you guys keep having.

TeslaTap.com | February 27, 2019

@stevefien - Since it worked before - have you rebooted? Often fixes oddities where it "used to work fine".

I'm using a mix of MP3 and FLAC - on v50.6 and have zero issues. I have seen that music sourced from Apple seems to have more problems than that sourced from anywhere else. I examined some of these problem files from another owner and couldn't see any meta data items that might cause of problems.

EVRider | February 27, 2019

It's been a month since my previous comment, and nothing has changed much: both my new cars (S and 3) have trouble starting media playback from USB, usually reloading the USB every time we get in the car, but once playback starts, it continues without any loading errors. Sometimes playback starts by itself after a delay, sometimes we have to actually pick a song to get it going.

Given these USB media issues, it doesn't surprise me that some people are having issues with the new dashcam feature and even newer sentry mode feature.

blue adept | February 27, 2019

@stevefien

Cuing off of @TeslaTap.com's comments, i.e., "...music sourced from Apple seems to have more problems than that sourced from anywhere else...."

Since Apple tends to copyright the shiznit out of whatever media makes it their way (because they pay $$$ for it), they typically tend to embed "code" into their tracks to prevent copying or downloading to any device other than one "branded" by them, so running (aka, "scrubbing") iTunes tracks through a media converter BEFORE loading them onto your device is a worthwhile step in the process towards playing music tracks from your device on your Tesla's music player (but you didn't hear that from me).

stevefien | February 27, 2019

Sorry, I should have mentioned that I have rebooted many times and it didn't help. None of my music came from Apple or iTunes.

blue adept | February 27, 2019

Then I would fully format your device, run all of your tracks through a media converter to reformat them to either FLAC or MP3, then load them onto your freshly formatted device.

Good luck!

tew ms us | February 28, 2019

All I'm interested in is music off USB. I rarely get a loading error, but I also rarely get USB playback picking up where it left off; I have to select USB then switch to the song I remember stopping at.

Sometimes USB picks up where it left off. I had an odd pick up the other day. I drove over to a friends' house to take them to lunch while Bette Midler chirped away. Went in to chat a bit before coming back to the car, and the music app stared at me. That was ok; I don't play my tunes when others are riding with me. We got to the restaurant, had a nice lunch, came back to the car, and Bette Midler was right back where she left off arriving at my friends' house.

The app developers must be psychic; they knew just how I like my music played after USB doesn't remember where it left off:

Act I of Aida
Act I of Carmen
....
Act I of Zauberflöte
....
Alcohol of Fame ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MramsYAzwCc )
...

NoMoPetrol | February 28, 2019

Another month since my last post. I am ready to declare a small victory in the battle against the unintended consequences of firmware updates. The SanDisk UltraFit 256 GB has operated flawlessly.

Since I doubled the GBs from 128 to 256, I am wondering if the issue may not be the number of songs in storage so much as it is a percentage of available storage.

TeslaTap.com | February 28, 2019

@NoMo - The drive is a factor. I did some work but couldn't identify why some drives work fine and others not so much . I use a 256 GB USB 3.0 Lexar drive like this https://amzn.to/2VsmyKK, but I don't think the drive size matters.

Some problems could be due to fake drives. Most drives at a price too good to be true or any on an auction site are likely fakes and will cause endless problems wherever you attempt to use them. They seem ok, but are actually drives with 1/10 or less real capacity. The fakes can even have known brand names printed on them, so you have to be very careful where you buy a drive today.

stevefien | March 3, 2019

Thank you Blue Adept. I did what you suggested and I am back in business. I don't know why but it worked. To recap, playing music on my USB flash drive was fine until the latest Tesla update (Navigate on Autopilot). After the update, 95% of the songs on my drive would not play - "loading error". Since I have over 10,000 songs, it took me a while to convert them all and to reformat a 256 GB 3.0 SanDisk drive. When I put the drive into the Tesla, it took about 10 hours to load. It then played fine on my first drive. I left it running when I left the car. When I came back, my USB music was not available to me as the drive was again loading. Again, it took about 10 hours to load, It worked fine for my last few drives except that by itself it switched for USB to Tune In. Even though the screen showed Tune In, it still played my USB music. I dread having to reboot because of the 10 hour loading time. I had this problem with loading time before and I think I solved it by putting my music into 26 folders on the flash drive. However, I am hesitant to do that now because that is what I had on the drive when the above problems started. Any suggestions? Thanks again.

TeslaTap.com | March 3, 2019

@stevefien - No way should it take 10 hours. I load 8,000 songs (256 GB drive) in about 5 minutes. I also have the much slower MCU1. With the same drive on MCU2 it was about 40% faster.

Is the drive a flash drive or ancient spinning media? If spinning, yes it might take 10 hours. If a flash drive, there is something seriously wrong with the drive or it is dog slow. I would suspect a fake drive as this is exactly how they act once you exceed the real memory size. For example, if the drive is "256 GB" but is really only a 4 GB drive, it causes all sorts of read errors when attempting to get to fake areas of the drive beyond 4 GB. The other trick with fake drives is they use very slow memory (i.e. cheap/defective). SanDisk makes good drives, but they, like many valid manufacturers, have fakes with their name on them. I try to only buy directly from the manufacturer or Amazon (not from unknown resellers), or perhaps Best Buy. I'd say 90% of drives sold on eBay are fakes - even if they have a known name.

stevefien | March 3, 2019

I don't know why, but I had the same long time loading in my last Tesla S 85. Now I have an S 90D. I think all my flash drives have come from Costco or Amazon. I wonder if the problem might be the way my computer puts the music on the drive. The drive I am using now is from a fairly recent purchase.

EVRider | March 3, 2019

I've mentioned before that both our recently-purchased Model S and Model 3 reload the USB most of the time we get in the car, regardless of when we last drove the car. One thing I've noticed on the Model 3 is that sometimes it reloads the USB fairly quickly, but once it a while it's much slower (but still only 2-3 minutes for about 6,000 songs). The Model S always reloads pretty quickly (faster than the Model 3 in all cases).

blue adept | March 4, 2019

Maybe try making a new folder titled something like 'Tunes' or 'Music', or something along those lines, and load all of your music into it/a single folder and then plug it into the USB interface.

Perhaps simplifying the task for the media player would make it easier for it to play your music... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I'm just trying to come up with something to help you as I've not experienced any of the problems you or others have mentioned.

EVRider | March 5, 2019

@blue adept: My music is organized the way iTunes maintains it, with folders for each artist and subfolders for each album containing the songs. I really doubt the directory structure is an issue, and it would be a pain to change it. Although my previous Model S had loading errors, it didn’t reload the USB every time I got in the car, so the directory structure wasn’t an issue there.

TeslaTap.com | March 5, 2019

I also have a standard directory structure (artist folders, album folders), so structure is not the issue - it scans all the directories. I also have a few directories with more levels (various artists folder) and it finds everything fine, although it still lists compilation albums as separate entries, a bug that has been around since v7 or older.

@stevefien - Sort of a pain, but I'd try and reformat the drive (make sure it's FAT32, which Windows can't do if > 32 GB) and reload it via a PC or Mac. It really sounds like something is wonky about the format or drive.

blue adept | March 5, 2019

@EVRider

As I alluded to earlier, other than the reformatting/scrubbing suggestion, I'm really just spit balling at this point as I've not suffered any of the performance issues others have mentioned and am just hoping that something will 'stick' at this point.

You know, just trying to help....

EVRider | March 13, 2019

Another update on this issue: The other day I received software updates for both the Model S (2019.5.16) and Model 3 (2019.5.15). I've only driven the Model S once since the update, but I've driven the Model 3 several times. In most cases the USB music playback in the 3 has resumed as soon as I got on the car, so that's a big improvement.

Time will tell whether this is a permanent improvement, or a temporary improvement caused by loading new firmware.