In my last post, I wrote about a concerning power degraded failure related to a coolant valve. It turns out that wasn’t the only part that would fail at the same time as my dashboard failed right after that.
From the time I made the appointment with Tesla to the time I dropped the car off for service the dashboard started showing weird freezes and would just stop for a little bit then resume showing the speed/power changes. But then it got worse, as I was heading to the service center, the dashboard froze up completely:
In the above picture, I’m sitting in traffic at a light. The dashboard shows me doing 49mph and using power, in the wrong place on the map, on a call, unable to route, etc. This frozen display remained this way all the way to the service center and even remained on as I left the car to walk in for service.
Tesla confirmed there was a real issue with my dash display:
Verified customer concern of the instrument cluster freezing. Technician diagnosed the assembly and discovered an internal fault causing intermittent operation. Replaced instrument cluster and installed the latest firmware. Performed testing procedures and verified that operation has returned to normal.
They ended up replacing the whole instrument cluster at a cost of $1,427.50.
The worst part
While forking over $1,400+ for a dashboard repair was painful, the worst part was that they completely reset all settings in the car. They said they needed to do it to get the 17″ MCU to talk to the new dashboard correctly. All driver profiles, garage door programming, browser bookmarks, seat positions, etc were completely wiped.
Programming the Tesla to operate 3 different garage doors with rolling codes when you have other cars that also need to operate them is a huge pain, especially if you’re missing one remote control.
Entering a list of browser URLs back into the car is also painful as there’s no sync capability.
Not to mention the loss wifi passwords, phone connections, etc.
Tesla has been talking about roaming profiles so you can go from car to car and keep all your settings but here I couldn’t even keep my settings in my own car. I think they need to start with the basics first.
I’ve owned a lot of cars and I’ve never had another vendor wipe all data in the car as part of a service operation.
While the car was in I also had some suspension work done ($728). The Massachusetts roads took their toll on the suspension. While painful, I pretty much expected some suspension work by the time I hit 100K miles.
The decision to not purchase the extended warranty covering repairs to 100,000 miles still remains a good one. I’ve had about $1,600 worth of repairs out of warranty that the $4,000 warranty would have covered.
Given that the unit has no moving parts in it and that I’ve never had to have an instrument cluster replaced in any car I’ve owned in the last 30 years, this failure was concerning.
Also concerning was the data loss as part of the service. Tesla should consider a method to preserve the owners settings as part of any maintenance procedure.
Tesla’s claim for reduced costs of owning a Tesla is around gas price savings (being reduced as Tesla increases the costs for Supercharging for new owners), and reduced maintenance costs. Here a part with no moving components died and was not inexpensive to replace. When I hit 100,000 miles in the next month or so I’ll do a full analysis of the maintenance to 100,000 miles vs my old ICE car and we’ll see how the two really stack up.
Ouch. I am also surprised they couldn’t save off the data. My 17” screen was replaced a couple months back, but I believe I was “late enough” in the process to where they replace just the screen vs. the entire MCU. However, earlier this month they replaced my driver’s seat and while all my profiles were there, they did nothing – not even move the mirrors or steering wheel. I still haven’t reprogrammed all the profiles back – just my daily driver one. While such repairs are not common, there totally should be some effort made in developing user-friendly processes around this. This could even be the basis for the roaming profiles, even if today they had to be manually done if you, for instance, traded to another Tesla.
DAVID A BRYANT said:
I agree. I recently replaced an Android phone. All my settings, contacts, calling history, etc., were easily moved to the new phone. Some of it happened by moving the SIM card, some of it by physically connecting the two phones for a few minutes, and much of it via the cloud. And the phone cost a lot less than the instrument cluster, let alone the car itself.
DAVID A BRYANT said:
In a curious way, this reminds me of my son’s refrigerator. A few years ago, his family refrigerator failed. It was only a few years old. The faulty part? the mother board! Mechanically, it was fine. And the repair would have been so costly that they decided it was a better deal to buy a new refrigerator. Terrible waste of mechanical equipment.
Meanwhile my mother’s original Coldspot refrigerator was more than 50 years old and still working when we finally unplugged it a few years ago.
The automobile environment is a tough one for electronics. The temperature extremes cause the circuit boards and other components to expand and contract more than they would in a home environment. Humidity can be very high. Physical shock and vibration must be tolerated. Although we are unlikely ever to know the statistics, it would be interesting to learn if Tesla’s electronic parts fail at any faster rate than those of other automakers.
I once owned a 1995 Lexus SC400 sport coupe. The dashboard tach and speedo arms began to loose LEDs at about 59K miles. Out of warrantee. There was no way to replace the LEDs so I had to get a new dash gauge assembly. That cost was $700 in parts plus $300 labor. When the LEDs went out, at night you could not tell your speed or RPMs… So your display replacement is pretty much in line with what I had experienced back in 1999ish time frame.
You should tweet this to Elon.
There’s no reason for an always-connected car to lose any settings whatsoever.