Tesla Model S Screen is Black [How To Fix It]

When Tesla Model S Screen is Black Try This First

If you own a Tesla S model, you already know how superior the technology is. The featured 17-inch touchscreen is the admiration of many, with full ability to control your vehicle. This advanced technology helps to operate your vehicle, and without it, you will be hard-pressed to drive your vehicle safely and comfortably.

If your Tesla Model S screen turns black, do not panic. Typically a soft reboot will fix it: Simply hold down both scroll buttons on the steering wheel for 10 seconds. Within a minute, the screen should refresh.

Keep reading to discover a few tips you can use to get your screen operating before needing to take any kind of drastic action.

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Why is my Model S Touchscreen Black?

The Tesla Model S touchscreen is essentially the brain of the vehicle, so it can be quite scary when it malfunctions. After all, anything that controls the gear switching of the vehicle, the entertainment, the navigation, and even the defogging of the windows, needs to be replaced immediately if it is broken.

If your Model S touchscreen is black, it could be due to a number of factors:

  • eMMC failure
  • User error
  • System overload

All of these errors differ in severity and will therefore require different responses. The most damaging reason for the black touchscreen is a known Tesla issue, called the eMMC failure.

eMMC Failure

Unfortunately, Tesla has acknowledged that there is a current failure within their touchscreen technology. Recently, Tesla announced that they are planning to extend the warranty for their touchscreen due to issues that cause it to malfunction. While Tesla has agreed to the warranty extensions, it has yet to issue a formal recall.

Tesla announced that over time, the touchscreen is not as responsive, the screen is often freezing with reboots needed, and that turning the touchscreen on even takes longer. Eventually, this may lead to a complete failure of the touchscreen system.

The problem is presumed to lie within the embedded Multi-Media-Card memory (eMMC). This problem appears to largely affect those Tesla Model S vehicles purchased prior to 2018. If you fall into this category, Tesla has opted to offer consumers free repair as long as their car fall under these parameters:

  • Built before 2018
  • On the road for less than 8 years
  • Under 100,000 miles

It may be worth reaching out to your car servicer in order to have this replaced if you fall within these parameters and are suffering from issues with the touchscreen. You may also be eligible for reimbursement if you have already paid for service to replace the memory card.

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Recall of Touchscreen

When interviewed about the failure of their touchscreen, the makers of Tesla admitted that the lifespan of their touchscreens was only meant to be about five or six years. With many owners keeping their cars on the road for over a decade, this is a considerably short amount of time and is detrimental to the investment an electric car offers.

The short lifespan of the touchscreen is even more damaging to the brand as it is responsible for a majority of the operating abilities of the car beyond just controlling the radio. The Tesla touchscreen offers access to safety features, such as the ability to defog the windows and control the headlights. Without the functioning of the touchscreen, the driver may also not be able to access the rearview camera, which is not only a critical safety component but one that was federally mandated.

It is not just a matter of comfortability, but rather a serious safety issue.

If the makers of Tesla want to continue to grow their brand, they must improve the efficacy of their touchscreens in future models.

User Error

Occasionally, the use of music applications in the Tesla can cause the system to get aggravated and thus turn the touchscreen black. Often, this issue is a result of subroutines that get stuck in a loop that causes the system to shut down. This is more likely to happen if you use music streaming services, such as Spotify, with your Tesla touchscreen.

If you note that your touchscreen is going black, check for updates before doing anything else. Usually, running software updates will help to correct issues. This is one of the best preventative measures to take.

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System Overload

Another reason you may want to look into software updates if your Tesla Model S screen goes black is that system overload can be somewhat common. This happens when too much is going on for the computer system within the Tesla to handle.

When you rely on technology, it can sometimes fail you. Phones or computers often need updates to their processors as time goes on because they end up lagging and are ill-equipped to handle the latest software. The same goes for your Tesla touchscreen. If you have not upgraded your software to the latest edition, now would be a good time. This may help to correct the issue of the screen going blank.

The older software, MCU1, is better upgraded to the newer MCU2 software. Since the MCU1 is also known to log data, which can sometimes be useful, the data ends up overloading the software, which can cause it to malfunction. Just like you have finite data storage on your laptop or phone that can cause software issues if it is not addressed, the same goes for Tesla.

While upgrading software, eliminating old data storage, and rebooting your Tesla are three methods that are easy fixes if your screen goes black, these issues do not address the eMMC failure. If your Tesla is experiencing an eMMC failure, it will require the use of a service provider to fix it. This issue is occasionally covered under an updated warranty program, so be sure to check if your car is covered before bringing it in.

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How Do I Reboot My Tesla Model S?

There are a few different ways you can reboot your Tesla Model S touchscreen. Thankfully, both options are pretty simple, and you can choose which one based on what is most convenient. If the first reset method does not work, try the second.

The options to reset your Tesla Model S are:

  • Soft reboot: manipulating the car’s software
  • Hard reboot: manipulating the car’s hardware

Both reboot options will have a similar effect. The hard reboot takes your reset just a touch further. It is advised that rebooting your touchscreen should occur in the safety of either your driveway if you are home or on the side of the road. While a quick reboot of the screen does not require you to be in the park, it is advised from a safety standpoint.

Soft Reboot

A soft reboot allows you to restart software while maintaining power over the rest of the vehicle. If you are looking to do a soft reset on a Tesla, there are two different kinds:

  • Touchscreen reset
  • Power Cycling

Both of these options require a soft reset that can be completed while the car is in motion, but it is best to park the car before attempting these fixes. Safety first

Touchscreen Reset

A touch screen reset is a pretty simple process. You simply hold down both scroll buttons simultaneously. Hold these buttons until the screen turns off. Within a minute, the screen should refresh.

While it is possible to reset the touchscreen this way while driving the vehicle, it is recommended that you pull over to the side of the road if it is safe to do so. This will help to minimize distractions and prevent potential car accidents.

You should also be aware that some of the functionality of the vehicle will be lost until the touchscreen resets. This means that if your air conditioner is off, you will not be able to use it until the touchscreen turns back on. The same goes for other more important features like your headlights.

Power Cycling

Power cycling is a slightly longer process but still relatively straightforward. 

  1. Park your car and close all of the doors
  2. Press down firmly on your brake
  3. While still pressing on the brake, hold down both the scrolls and the two buttons above them.
  4. Hold these four buttons and the brake simultaneously until the screen turns back on. This should typically take approximately one minute.
  5. Wait several minutes without interacting with the vehicle. Once the time has elapsed, press the brake to activate the car.

Whereas the touchscreen reset affects just the touchscreen, power cycling is a full vehicle restart.

Hard Reboot

A hard reboot disconnects the power supply from the computer systems it supports. This is similar to taking the battery out of your phone. This kind of reboot requires you to touch the heart of your Tesla and should therefore only be done when absolutely necessary and with instruction from a service operator.

The process of a hard reboot is a more detailed process.

  1. Turn off the climate control.
  2. Make sure your window is open to prevent you from getting locked out.
  3. Open the trunk and remove the storage panel to expose the battery.
  4. Disconnect the battery.
  5. Disconnect the first responder loop.
  6. After waiting approximately 2 to 3 minutes, reconnect the battery
  7. Reconnect the first responder loop.
  8. Replace the storage panel and close the trunk.

This type of reset is not recommended without proper instruction, as doing so without prior knowledge can lead to damage and may void your warranty.

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What if I Have an Older Model?

Older models handle a soft reboot differently than the newer models. In order to initiate a soft reboot of an older model, you want to start by stepping on the brake pedal. While the brake pedal remains engaged, press down and hold both buttons on the steering wheel just like you would the newer model.

These buttons should be pressed and held for approximately twenty seconds or until the speedometer begins blinking. Even after the speedometer blinks, continue holding down the brake pedal. Finally, hold down both scroll wheels. At this point, the screen should be blank. Once a “T” appears on the screen, you can release both the buttons and the brake pedal.

Within minutes, your touchscreen should reset. 

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Tesla Still Not Responding?

If your Tesla touchscreen is still having issues, first unplug anything in the USB ports. This will prevent file corruption. You will also want to turn off the Bluetooth on your phone as occasionally, this will cause issues due to connectivity.

You can also clear out the data from your trips by going into the “Controls” menu and selecting “trips,” and resetting. This may help clear data and make the touchscreen regain functionality.

Deleting locations from memory may also help. Just like we sometimes need to close out programs on our phones or computers or eliminate cookies or excess data to achieve optimal functioning, the same goes for your Tesla touchscreen.

If none of these options help, you may consider performing a factory reset. Although not ideal, it may help to bring back functionality to your vehicle. At the very least, you should leave your Tesla to sit off for several hours. When you return to the vehicle, a soft startup should reboot the system anyways.

Factory Reset

If these reboots fail and you are still experiencing issues, you may consider doing a factory reset. Factory resets will restore your Tesla to its initial condition, and any saved data will be eliminated.

Factory reset is a chosen option on the screen once you have regained use. This is considered a last resort in attempting to fix your Tesla touchscreen from failing. If you have experienced your Tesla Model S screen going black several times and the issue still appears to be a problem, try the factory reset before calling a servicing station.

It should be noted that during a factory reset, ensuring the elimination of personal data is important. Your Tesla functions similar to your smartphone or laptop in that it saves frequently accessed locations, images, and other personal data. If you need to turn in your car, or have your car serviced, make sure all personal data is protected or eliminated to preserve your personal safety.

A Few Quick Fixes to Try

It can be frustrating when such an expensive piece of technology fails, especially one like the Tesla Model S touchscreen, which you rely on for entertainment, comfortability, and safety. Trying the previous rebooting options first ensures the quickest way to get a fix for your Tesla touchscreen.

If your Tesla touchscreen is still having issues, first unplug anything in the USB ports. This will prevent file corruption. You will also want to turn off the Bluetooth on your phone as occasionally, this will cause issues due to connectivity. You can also clear out the data from your trips by going into the “Controls” menu and selecting “trips,” and resetting. This may help clear data and make the touchscreen regain functionality.

Deleting locations from memory may also help. Just like we sometimes need to close out programs on our phones or computers or eliminate cookies or excess data to achieve optimal functioning, the same goes for your Tesla touchscreen.

If none of these options help, you should bring your vehicle into your Tesla dealership for proper servicing. Regular preventative maintenance can help reduce the likeliness of issues arising.

In other words, if these reboot options do not work, or it only creates a temporary fix, and the black screen continues to occur, it is suggested that you immediately contact the manufacturer for further instructions. If your car is experiencing the failure of the eMMC unit and you fall under the warranty guidelines, you can get your unit repaired for free, as long as you meet certain criteria.

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Being behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S is like driving a computer. So, it should not be surprising that technical difficulties can occur. However, issues with the touchscreen are particularly problematic as its proper functioning is needed in order for you to get the most out of your experience in driving your vehicle. Not to mention the safety concerns that may arise.

Although the touch screen going black does pose a safety concern, there have been no reported injuries or death due to the problem. That said, it is better to get the issue fixed to ensure a smooth, enjoyable, and maximally safe driving experience for you and your family.

Tesla Discounts:


The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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