What to Do if Tesla Screen is Black – Easy Fix Below!


The dreaded Black Screen of Death is every Tesla owner’s nightmare. Just about to go somewhere, and you realize your worst fear. No screen! Don’t panic; it’s usually an easy fix. Read on to find out what to do.

To fix a black unresponsive Tesla screen, try a soft reboot. For pre-2018 Teslas, an MCU upgrade may also be required.

In this article, we’ll look at ways to fix your Tesla black screen and also reasons why it is happening.

Tesla Dashboard

Tesla Black Screen Soft Reboot

The easiest way to bring your Black Screen of Death back to life is with a Soft Reboot of your Tesla. It’s not as scary as you imagine. Our Teslas are, in reality, high-spec computers, and we wouldn’t think twice about restarting our home computer if it froze or was acting peculiar. So let’s dive right in and do that Soft Update:

  • Vehicle Stopped and in Park
  • Hold down both scroll wheels for 10 seconds
  • Wait for the Tesla logo to appear
  • After approximately 30 seconds, the screen should be working again as normal
Tesla Black Screen

If your Tesla has an older MCU (in pre-2018 models), the Soft Reboot is slightly different because you press the two buttons above the scroll and hold for 10 seconds. Again after 30 seconds or so, the Tesla Logo will appear, and all is well.

A soft reboot should, in theory, sort out your problem. It’s usually just a minor glitch that the reboot will fix. If it hasn’t worked or seems to be continually failing, then something else is amiss. Let’s take a look at what that might be.

MCU (Media Control Unit) Requires an Update

The MCU (Media Control Unit runs the touchscreen in your Tesla. The MCU upgrade is only applicable to a certain amount of Teslas. The Model S and Model X pre-2018 are all equipped with the MCU1. The Model 3 and Model Y all began life with the MCU2. If you own a Model 3 or Model Y, the MCU is probably not the cause of your Black Screen of Death.

The Model S and Model X are covered under warranty for the upgrade if your car is less than eight years old and has less than 100,000 miles on it.

Let’s briefly look at what the MCU does. It controls the touchscreen in your Tesla and runs the Navigation, Audio, entertainment, and HVAC system.

Within the MCU is the eMMC (embedded MultiMedia Card) which is actually the item that is failing and causing your screen to blackout. Like all technology over the last 15-20 years, Tesla tech has progressed at breakneck speed.

The touchscreen was expected to last 5-6 years with daily use, which in reality is half the age of the average car in the US. NHTSA insisted that the failure of the eMMC was a safety risk and that a full recall must be done, excluding the vehicles that had already had the upgrade.

The original MCU1 uses NVIDIA CPU with an 8GB eMMC. It simply became too small to cope with the tech it was trying to run. After the NHTSA insisted on a recall, Tesla upgraded the eMMC to 64GB for free. This wasn’t, however, an MCU upgrade. This upgrade, from MCU1 to MCU2, is available but at a cost of $1500 – $2000. You may feel that you don’t need your MCU upgrade, depending on how you use and drive your Tesla. But like everything, if you don’t keep the software and hardware up to date, it quickly becomes obsolete.

In February 2022, the 3G network was no longer available to Tesla owners, and a modem upgrade was required for continued connectivity. The cost of this upgrade is approximately $500, but realistically, if you’re considering upgrading your modem, you should consider the full MCU upgrade.

Checking which MCU is installed

If you’re not sure which MCU is installed in your Tesla, it can be easily checked.

On-screen:

  • Select Software
  • Additional Vehicle Information
    • NVIDIA is MCU1
    • Intel / Atom is MCU2

There are a few reasons why you might be unsure of the MCU model. You might just have never enquired before, as you had no reason to. Or you might have recently bought a used pre-2018 Tesla. Unless it’s a Model S or X, you shouldn’t have a problem. But the Tesla you have bought may or may not have already had an upgrade, so it’s good to check.

If it hasn’t, it is worth investing the money as going forward; some options may no longer be available to you. Tesla has already started to install the MCU3 in some models, and it’s uncertain whether you will be able to upgrade from an MCU1 – MCU3.

Black Screen with the MCU2 is Installed

You might still be having touchscreen problems even with the MCU2 upgrade. This could be caused by third-party apps or multi-device plug-ins.

Third-Party Apps

Tesla’s, as I say, are just computers on wheels. Over time more and more companies have come on board, offering all kinds of extra apps for music streaming, or games. This can sometimes interfere with the main running of your Tesla software.

If you have screen issues, I’d advise looking at what you have installed. It is usually a quick fix where an update is required to one of the apps. I’d also recommend a Soft Reboot after to ensure everything is in order.

Multi-Device Plug-Ins

Your Black Screen of Death can sometimes be caused by too much being asked of it. If you use any type of computer, you will experience a freeze at some stage because you tried to do too many things at once or asked the computer to do it too quickly. The same can be said for your Tesla. When a lot happens simultaneously, your Tesla can just have a Brain Fart and say ‘Nope!’.

You might have a couple of phones plugged in and a device that plays music through a USB cable, and you’re also asking it to locate the nearest juice bar!

Try unplugging everything and go for a Soft Reboot. Everything should realign and work again. If this is a problem you are frequently having, you might consider a Tela Service Check.

Tesla Factory Reset

A factory reset is to be given long and serious thought. It is, in effect, resetting your car back to leaving the Tesla factory. All your presets, saved options, including locations, and all personal data, will be erased. If you feel that you have tried everything and you are still experiencing problems, it is worth a shot.

  • Select Controls
  • Select Service
  • Select Factory Reset
    • You will be asked to confirm your account details before proceeding as a security measure.

If you are not happy to take this leap of faith, then a Service Center Appointment is the next best option. They may have to do a factory reset anyway, but at least it’s them doing it, and you don’t have to consider the stress. You can easily log an appointment by going to your Tesla App.

  • Select Service
  • Select what most suits your issue
  • In the ‘Details’ area
    • Describe what problems you are experiencing
    • When it has occurred
    • How often
  • Select a time that suits
  • Ensure all contact information is correct

I probably wouldn’t mention the problem as the Black Screen of Death but more so that the touchscreen gives trouble.

Other posts you might find useful:

Tesla Model 3 Won’t Turn OFF

Tesla Model S Won’t Forget Bluetooth

Tesla Won’t Download Update

E John Cunningham

Hey, I’m John and I'm a technical writer here at EVjuicedup.com. I’m a Red Seal qualified Auto Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience working on Classic and Modern Cars. I've worked for GM, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Audi, and VW main dealers. Yep, I’ve skint my knuckles on them all!

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