According to recent reports, some Tesla cars are spontaneously “bricking,” Silicon Valley slang for being left completely useless, due to embedded flash memory burning out. The problem leaves the cars unable to charge and has appeared in vehicles that are four years old.
Vice News reports that some older Tesla cars are facing issues with their onboard flash memory, resulting in the car’s computer system bricking itself according to three independent Tesla repair professionals. The issue arises with the cars’ eMMC chip which is embedded on a board called MCU1; two experts who have studied the issue claim that the Tesla vehicle writes memory to these chips so often that they eventually go bad.
YouTuber Rich Benoit discussed the issue with another Tesla repair professional named Phil Sadow in a video, stating: “Tesla’s got a problem. They create so many logs in the car, they write to [the chip] so fast that it basically burns them out. They have a finite amount of writes. When this burns out, you wake up to a black screen [in the car’s center console.] There’s nothing there. No climate control. You can generally drive the car, but it won’t charge.”
Sadow suggests that this problem appears to arise in Tesla vehicles after about four years of driving but it can often vary. While some Tesla owners have not experienced the issue whatsoever, others have posted to official message boards about the problem.
One of the factors making this issue worse is that Tesla is not bound by the same rules that other manufacturers are when it comes to repairs. Tesla is not party to a memorandum of understanding which was signed by other auto manufacturers in 2014 in which they all agreed to sell parts to independent repair shops. This means that there are very few independent Tesla repair professionals and acquiring the parts to repairs Teslas is very difficult.
“We’re building these parts in the aftermarket because Tesla won’t sell these parts,” Sadow said. Benoit told Motherboard: “I see it in the wild. I own a shop that repairs these cars and the older vehicles are starting to show their signs of age.”
Benoit stated that he has a collection of replacement motherboards he has salvaged from wrecked teslas in case he starts to repair this issue for customers. “At the moment, we do not provide this service as we would like to form a partnership with Tesla to help them resolve these issues,” he said.
Musk tweeted at another independent repair professional named Jason Hughes that the issue “should be much better at this point,” but did not elaborate on what his team had done to fix the problem.
In the past month I've done repairs/replacements on over a dozen @Tesla MCUv1 units for customers suffering from eMMC flash failure.@elonmusk, you really need to tell the engineers to fix the logging wear in /var. It's literally killing a huge percentage of these units. ὡ
— Jason Hughes (@wk057) October 9, 2019