Tesla cannot fix stalled firmware update without replacing whole center console...

Tesla cannot fix stalled firmware update without replacing whole center console...

Model S tries to install downloaded firmware update every night and progress bar stalls at 10% consistently. I need to reset the touchscreen each morning to be able to drive. Brought car to the shop and was told it is a failing SD drive (apparently the firmware gets loaded on that) and needs the whole infotainment MCU replaces at a cost of ~$2.5K!

Told them I would be ok to no longer receive firmware updates as it is a 2013 model (no autopilot features) so they just need to avoid the daily install of the new version so it doesn’t need a daily reset. They said they cannot do this. The written message basically suggest the extent of their diagnostics is that they inserted a new SD card in the reader and it didn’t work with that either.

1. You need to do more detailed diagnostics than just staying ‘its probably the SD reader’
2. It’s a sign of bad non-modular hardware design that you cannot replace part of a full infotainment system
3. It’s a sign of bad UI software design that you cannot have a simple ‘abort’ button on a firmware install. My $700 phone has that but apparently a $100k car does not

So far I have not approved the repair.

Anyone experienced a similar issue?

murphyS90D | 16 Janvier 2020

Many people, including me, have had problems with the SD card. Linux is continuously writing unnecessary log files to the SD card. SD cards have a limited number of write cycles before they fail. In normal use it is unlikely anyone will reach the limit. So far the SD card in my car has been remotely reformatted and partitioned twice. It is on record that if it happens a third time they will replace the card. The proper place to be writing log files is RAM or a hard disk which usually do not have write limitations.

There are a couple of aftermarket people that can repair the problem. It has been discussed on here and on TMC.

In my case it was navigation data that would not load.

IMHO the choice to put an SD card in this hardware was a very poor decision.
I'm a retired EE that worked on computers that I could walk inside of, in other words they were massive.

Bighorn | 16 Janvier 2020

Are people using SD and eMMC interchangeably? If the MCU needs replacing, stalled FW updates are going to be the least of your worries. Mine is being replaced today. Car doesn't charge.

Dramsey | 16 Janvier 2020

It's not an SD card; if it was, it would be easy to pop it out and replace it, since Secure Digital cards are designed to use sockets.

It's soldered-in flash memory. The memory tech is the same as a consumer SD card, but it's not (easily) replaceable.

Bighorn | 16 Janvier 2020

Thanks for clarifying. I was confused, not really being familiar with the vernacular, but well aware that the eMMC is the culprit.

Tldickerson | 16 Janvier 2020

Bighorn, are they replacing yours under warranty? | 16 Janvier 2020

@BH - I presume you have MCU1. Is it a direct replacement or upgrading it to MCU2 (which I'm not sure a retrofit is available yet).

@euroguyinbayarea - You've got more serious problems than the failed update. It sounds like the eMMC flash drive is failing, and even if you have no update, it's going to cause other problems, perhaps a lot of problems. As others noted, it is a soldered component deep in the MCU.

We can argue if the design, made back in 2009 or so is the best approach, but very similar to all other auto manufacturers. Any fault in the entertainment system and the dealer replaces the entire unit, even if it's only a $5 part that failed. Dealers and Tesla service centers are not well equipped to deal with electronic failures down to the component level. It does make it expensive when such items do fail.

I'd also point out the eMMC memory in your phone is also not replaceable, and when it fails, the phone is junk. The advantages manufacturers have with phones are other items such as the battery or cracked glass make the phone disposable after 2-3 years, so it's rare to get to the eMMC end-of-life in a phone.

The current MCU2 uses a different part that should last 4 or more times longer as it's much larger and uses newer technology not available back in 2009.

reed_lewis | 16 Janvier 2020

@TeslaTap - The other issue is that Tesla was writing multitudes of logs to the eMMC card continuously. This resulted in the car being written to and then rewritten over and over again.

They have fixed this issue lately, but the damage has already been done to many cars out there. Being a software engineer with a lot of experience with solid state devices, I know that you do not write to them over and over again. It is a bad idea and will cause them to eventually fail. Tesla should have lowered the amount of logging a long time ago.

I am having issues with my car where audio is pausing every few seconds randomly, and my driver's assist features are becoming disabled at random times. I am convinced that my MCU1 eMMC is starting to fail. I have a service appointment (the second one for this) and hopefully they will replace the MCU. I would love to get a MCU2, but I do not think that will happen.

reed_lewis | 16 Janvier 2020

s/in the car being written/in the card being written/g

I wish this forum had edit.

Bighorn | 16 Janvier 2020

Not counting on an MCU2 upgrade based on what I’ve read. Ranger is just a few minutes away, so I’ll know soon enough. Not under warranty at 283k miles, though the estimated labor was very reasonable. $1800 for the part.

murphyS90D | 16 Janvier 2020

Hmm. The statement made to me was that the engineers reformatted and partitioned the SD card in my car to get it working again. This was done remotely while the car sat in my garage. That brings back my worry that the people programming the car have never driven one and maybe have never even seen one.

Bighorn | 16 Janvier 2020

He said it's not possible to upgrade to MCU2 with the early Tegra units or that it would involve a new dash as well. He said he wasn't aware of a successful update, though it sounds like some are kluging a solution with effort.

akikiki | 16 Janvier 2020

BH, I'd pay $1800 without hesitation to go from MCU1 to MCU2

barrykmd | 16 Janvier 2020

Bighorn | January 16, 2020
Car doesn't charge.

How ironic for you!

Bighorn | 16 Janvier 2020

I've been cut off. A conspiracy I tell you!

dougk71 | 16 Janvier 2020

The non volatile memory chip soldered to the board has a finite number of write cycles. Unfortunately the early chips had the least number of cycles.I expect the later models have 10x the number of write cycles than those that are failing in older cars today.

Bighorn | 16 Janvier 2020

Back in business.

Bluesday Afternoon | 16 Janvier 2020

The Costa Mesa Service Center just replaced the MCU on my 2015 85D with only 50,400 miles and just under 5 years of ownership. So it looks like Bighorn did a little better than me! The total cost of the repair was $2308 with specifics listed below:

Rear View Camera HSD Jumper(1127304-00-B) $8.80
MCU,MDLX,NA PREMIUM,REMAN(1098010-00-F). $1800.00
ANTENNA , BLUETOOTH(1052393-00-B). $7.70

Total Parts (USD). 1,816.50
Total Labor (USD). 351.00
Discount. 0.00
Subtotal (USD). 2,167.50
Tax. 140.78
Total Amount (USD). 2,308.28

The service rep told me the web browser should load faster. I can verify it went from really really slow to now really slow. What I found interesting was the MCU went black and would not reboot but the display behind the steering wheel still functioned enough to drive, charge (both at home and Superchaarge) and even do basic TACC. My car wouldn't do full Autopilot (stay in lane), navigation, radio, air conditioning, turn signal sounds, etc. I could even drive the car safely at night but very quietly.

Bighorn | 16 Janvier 2020

Surprised they didn’t goodwill it so close to 50k. Letting the maps download now, so haven’t checked it out. I did get an LTE upgrade in the process by design. Exact same parts on my estimate.

Bluesday Afternoon | 16 Janvier 2020

I had LTE from a previous upgrade. As I was well into the 5th year (bought March 31, 2015) I didn't push it.

barrykmd | 16 Janvier 2020

Bighorn | January 16, 2020
Back in business.

How much did they charge you?

Bighorn | 16 Janvier 2020

I signed an estimate that was exactly like Bluesday’s except they only quoted $120 for labor. Hoping they stick to it. Plus no charge for the 750 miles the 2 rangers drove. TSLA makes it all a rounding error;)

Bighorn | 16 Janvier 2020

Didn’t consider the 4 yr limit. I never run into that issue:)

akikiki | 16 Janvier 2020

Bighorn, MCU1 or MCU2. Come on. We are on the edges of our seats.

Bighorn | 16 Janvier 2020

MC1. He said an upgrade was impossible on my vintage car. I mentioned that above to Tap.

Tldickerson | 16 Janvier 2020

Bighorn, what year is your vintage car? When was it built? Did the tech give you any idea of what year/month cars can be updated?

Bighorn | 16 Janvier 2020

July 2013
We didn’t get into further details about upgrades.

reed_lewis | 17 Janvier 2020

Reformatting the eMMC does very little good in terms of extending its life. The way that these devices work is that each cell has a limited number of writes allowed. The older ones probably have 300 or so writes per cell (which is a block in disk terms). The devices is smart in that if you were to write the same logical block 100 times it would write it to 100 different physical cells. I used to work at a company that made an embedded device with an eMMC and we had to replace all our eMMC consumer grade devices with commercial grade ones that have many more writes allowed. We actually put logging into our system and realized that the number of writes was much higher than we thought it was.

The issue comes down to:
1. If the drive is almost full, then the data on the drive does not get moved at all, so the limited free space eventually runs out of allowed writes.
2. If the amount of data written and deleted is large, then the cells eventually are used up and cannot be written to any more.

It has been proven that Tesla was logging extensive debug logging to the drive (each button press, etc.) as to cause lots of data to be written to the drive on a daily basis. For people like me who use the music a lot and do a lt of song selections, it would result in more logging than average.

My late 2016 Model S is starting to exhibit issues with the MCU1. Songs are stopping playing every 12-15 seconds, the maps are taking a long time to zoom in and out, and trying to select music to play is taking longer than ever. The other issue is that my driver's assist features (including auto wipers, auto high beams, autopilot, cruise control) are all disabling themselves at random times for about 10 minutes at a time.

I have a service appointment scheduled to hopefully get this replaced. I am beyond 50K miles, but bought the extended warranty. I will know what they do on the 20th of Jan. I doubt that any upgrade will be offered or performed, but who knows... I am eligible for HW3.0 FSD.

GoldAK47 | 17 Janvier 2020

Is anyone else wondering why they would replace the center console to fix an MCU?

NKYTA | 17 Janvier 2020

@Gold, no. Likely it needs to be removed to gain access to screws or bolts on the bottom of the MCU.

Or just physically in the way...

GoldAK47 | 17 Janvier 2020

Obviously you didnt read the title.....

Bighorn | 17 Janvier 2020

Do you speak euroguy?

NKYTA | 17 Janvier 2020


The Center Console was something that Tesla issued to replace the bare / and or Yacht floors in early Model S. If we can agree on that, that is a start.

The main center screen is the MCU. Older cars like mine have MCU1, but don’t have a problem with physical access to underneath the MCU1, because the Center Console did not exist, at that time.

Apparently we have a different perspective on what that, actually, is.

I was responding to your post.

If I refer to the OP, it is just dumb.

BH, nope.

#2 is almost funny.

tes-s | 19 Janvier 2020

I wonder if my MCU will be less. I paid $500 for LTE upgrade. Seems that was a mistake.

LTE RETROFIT PACKAGE (1067726-00-A) 1 500.00 500.00

I think mine is also a July 2013 build, so no point in holding out for MCU2.

Bighorn | 19 Janvier 2020

No. Still will get the same MCU part regardless of LTE status.

Nifty | 25 Janvier 2020

Just encountered this problem yesterday on my 2015 Model S. Tesla service diagnosed based on my brief written description without even looking at my car. They quoted the repair at $3000 for a refurbished MCU1, antenna, camera and install. I showed them the $2300 quote from Bluesday on Jan 16th. Tesla said, "the price went up". I told them I want to keep the old MCU1. They said that would cost an extra $500 + tax.

Bighorn | 25 Janvier 2020

I paid $2000 one week ago. MCU is 1800. Other two parts are less than 10 each.