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Reboot and reset instructions for your Tesla – 2021

Tesla cars can sometimes find themselves with a software gremlin that requires a reboot or reset for your Tesla. Its not that common, but it’s certainly something that all owners need to be aware of as it solves the majority of issues. Which computer has had the issue means different resets will be needed, the most common one is a simple main screen reboot. but if the fault is deeper within the car, for instance linked to the autopilot or chargers, a deeper reset may be required. It’s also possible that just leaving the car alone for a few hours will cure the problem as the car will go to sleep and effectively reboot itself when you wake it up.

The crashing of the MCU also seems to be linked to one of a number of issues that point to a memory leak of some description, we provide some tips to help trouble shoot. The worst case however is a sign of an eMMC failure.

The reboot options for your Tesla

The following reboot options exist. While some are possible while driving, we recommend that the car should always be stationary and in a safe place before rebooting the car.

Tesla now suggest unplugging all USB devices prior to performing a reboot as it can prevent some sub systems from shutting down.

  • Option 1: The scroll wheel reboot Press and hold both scroll wheels on either side of the steering wheel for up to 10 seconds and the main/central screen will reboot. While rebooting you may have seen the airbag icon become visible in the dash and the clicking noise from the indicator will not be heard.
  • Option 2: Top button reboot (MS and MX only) Press and hold both buttons above the scroll wheels on either side of the steering wheel for up to 10 seconds and the drivers dash/screen will reboot.
  • Option 3: Full steering wheel hard reset and brake pedal This reboot is a little harder to do. You need to be sitting in the car with the doors closed and not open them for the duration of the reboot to perform the hard reset.
    • Place your foot on the brake and keep it there, although some believe this is optional, it does no harm.
    • Now press and hold both buttons above the scroll wheels, and the scroll wheels on either side of the steering wheel (MS and MX). or just the scroll wheels (M3)
    • Hold for up to 10 seconds and the drivers dash/screen will reboot (centre screen on the M3).
    • Wait, keeping your foot on the brake. Eventually the screens will restart.
  • Option 4: Full power down and restart Sit in the car with the door closed and don’t touch anything or open the door other than to follow the instructions. This is also best done where its quiet as being able to listen to the car can help, otherwise pay attention to the time.
    • It’s recommended that Option 3 is performed first
    • Release the brake pedal if pressed
    • Go to the main screen, bring up the service menu and select “Power Off”.
    • After a while the screens will have gone out, the interior light will have gone off and the system are shutting down.
    • If you can hear the car, you may still hear some background noises from the car. If this is the case wait until the car is quiet.
    • If you can’t hear the car because of background noise, wait for several minutes, we suggest a minimum of 5 – it seems a long time but it is worth doing to ensure the car is fully shut down.
    • Press the brake pedal to reawaken the car.
  • Option 5: Factory hard reset We don’t advise doing this hard reset unless you are selling the car but if you are stuck and Tesla support is unable to help, then this can be tried. The process is the same as Option 4 just pick the different option from the screen.

Additional things to try in your Tesla

Some people report their car screens rebooting randomly, the first sign of this on an MS or MX is if the Air-bag light comes on. Nobody knows all the reasons, but there have been a number of software glitches over the years that can cause this to a greater or lesser extent. If you are experiencing frequent reboots, maybe the air-bag light appearing and the steps above do not help, then some or all of the following have been known to help.

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They all point to a memory issue, possibly the eMMC issue below, or a software fault of one form or another. Either the memory cannot handle some form of corrupted data, or the actions below move the active part of the eMMC memory to a different area which has not started to fail. If one of the suggestions below does resolve the issue, you should still log the issue with Tesla especially if in warranty as it may be temporary. If out of warranty you may want to consider the eMMC resolution below. If you can attribute the issue to a specific rogue music file or contact then there is no need to contact Tesla.

  • Clear the trip computers Your car stores up a history of your driving and clearing the trip computers has been known to improve the stability of the computers, especially if one of the trip computers has a significant amount of history captured.
  • Clear previous destinations Your car also stores the sat nav locations that have been previously used. These build up over time. These can be deleted by swiping them off the list.
  • Remove any USB devices If you are using a USB dashcam or have a USB stick with music on it, then try removing it. Similar to the trip computer, a large amount of data can cause problems and in the case of music files, the car reads these in and stores the information to make the contents available to the driver. If this cures the problem, then try reducing the number of files on the USB stick and seeing if that solves the problem while regaining the utility of USB music.
  • Disconnect your bluetooth phone You may see a pattern here, if your phone has a lot of contacts then these will be loaded into the car. Disconnecting your phone for a while will help determine if this is the problem.

None of the above options are ideal, the car should be able to handle problems, but if one of these temporarily cures the problem you can start to work out how to permanently fix. It may be a rogue MP3 file, or a phone contact with some corrupted details. If however its trip or destination data then it could point to a problem with the car memory.

The eMMC issue while Reboot and reset your Tesla

Frequent reboots could be the sign of something much more sinister going on and that the failure of the eMMC memory. This is the memory that the car writes to when its being used and as well as the user information we have covered, it also includes logging information the car generates.

Essentially, the eMMC memory can wear out and crashes are a sign that this can be occurring. Once failed, the solution is to have a replacement MCU which is $1000’s. The tell tail signs is an steady increase in needing to reboot or the system rebooting itself, especially across software releases. We recommend one of the following:

  • If the car is under warranty, make a note and log it with Tesla, especially if the issue occurs across different software versions. Higher mileage and older cars are more likely to have the issue. MCU1 cars are also more prone to get the issue, in part because they are generally older cars, and secondly because an MCU2 has more memory to share the workload.
  • If the car is out of warranty then consider getting the eMMC memory replaced. This involved removing the memory, copying the content onto a new memory chip and installing that in the car. There are independent repairers offering to do this for a few hundred dollar/euro/pound, and should avoid the need for an expensive replacement MCU

For more information, see our guide to the Tesla MCU1 eMMC failure and what you should do.

Before we go

Check out our essential accessories for some ideas on what to buy to make you Tesla ownership more enjoyable.

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