An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Is one of Tesla’s infotainment systems defective by design? That’s a question the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hopes to answer. It has started an engineering analysis after hundreds of customer complaints of bricked systems resulted in a preliminary investigation in June. NHTSA thinks it knows what the problem is: an 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory chip with a finite number of write cycles, fitted to its Media Control Unit. The MCU regularly writes logs to this chip and, within three or four years, reaches the lifetime number of cycles. At this point the touchscreen dies, taking with it functions like the car’s backup camera, the ability to defog the windows, and also the audible alerts and chimes for the driver aids and turn signals. After the regulator’s Office of Defects Investigation received 537 complaints, it asked Tesla if it knew of any more problems with the Nvidia Tegra 3-based system, which is fitted to approximately 158,000 Models S (2012-2018) and X (2016-2018). Tesla did, handing over 2,399 complaints and field reports, 7,777 warranty claims, and 4,746 non-warranty claims. The finite — and short — lifespan of these infotainment systems is a relatively well-known problem within the Tesla community. “The automaker told NHTSA that as of firmware 2020.20, each block of NAND flash should only receive 0.7 read/write cycles a day, which would therefore take between 11 and 12 years before the chip reached its end of life,” the report adds. “However, owners who use their cars more often could see this time before failure halved.” “However, Tesla also told NHTSA that ‘the MCU failures are likely to continue to occur in subject vehicles as vehicles continue to operate and use available memory in the 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory until 100 percent of units have failed.'” Ars says an official recall may occur in the coming months.

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