Model S Dashboard Failure & Data Loss

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.

Dashboard failure

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.

Suspension Work

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.