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MCU2 Upgrade and AM/FM/XM Radio Issues

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MCU2 Upgrade & Radio Issues

MCU2 Upgrade and AM/FM/XM Radio Issues

Understanding the MCU2 upgrade, features, and options for radios. (Oct-2020)

MCU2 Upgrade

Tesla is now offering an upgrade from MCU1 to MCU2 for $2500 on the Model S and X. If you elect to reuse your old display, the cost is $2250. The upgrade also includes a new instrument cluster screen. If you are currently still under warranty, the price is $1750 when you reuse your main display.  In all cases, the instrument cluster and its display are replaced as part of the upgrade.

Installation costs are included, although a few Service centers have been confused about this. It is clear installation labor is included in the price.  More details are available on the Tesla Infotainment Upgrade page.

Additional improvements not mentioned:

  • If you elect to get a new display – updated display with no yellow banding or bubble issues. For 2016+ cars, if you elect to reuse your display, they can fix the yellow banding issue as part of the process and worth confirming
  • Flash memory that should last about 8 times longer than the memory used in the original MCU1
  • For 2012-2014 cars without LTE, you’ll get LTE
  • For 2012-2014 cars the replacement instrument cluster has higher resolution and better contrast
  • The ability to get future features that will not work in MCU1
  • Improved audio quality
  • For those with FSD, you’ll get additional visualizations, such as traffic cones

For those replacing MCU1 out of warranty, switching to MCU2 makes a lot of sense. We recommend all 2012 through 2014 cars use a new display if you are still on the original display. For newer cars, a new display is not that important.

While it offers a number of improvements, it will remove the AM/FM/XM radio functions. This is because the radio module, separate from the MCU, is analog in MCU1 and all digital in MCU2.

Radio Options

Options include:

  • Don’t Upgrade – This, of course, keeps your existing radios
  • Upgrade to MCU2 – Radios are removed, but there are options:
    • Live without AM/FM/XM
    • Use streaming audio with TuneIn, which supports many AM and FM stations
    • Use your phone with Bluetooth to stream XM radio with the XM radio app
    • Buy an external XM radio (See our XM Radio article)
    • Buy an external MP3/FM player that supports Bluetooth 5.0 (untested, but may work – antenna may be tricky)
    • DIY – Replace the analog radio with the MCU2 compatible digital radio for FM/XM
    • NEW!  Have Tesla replace the analog radio with the digital FM or FM/XM radio.  Tesla states this option will be available in late 2020 and can be done when MCU2 is installed or anytime afterwards. We don’t know the cost or exact date of availability.
  • Buy a new Tesla vehicle that includes MCU2 and FM or FM/XM radios

Tesla has completely discontinued AM radios in all cars for several years now, and any upgrade does not include AM. The digital modules do not include AM radio and it’s unlikely MCU2 has any software to support AM radio.


MCU2 Validation After Installation

After your MCU2 has been installed, we suggest you make the following checks to ensure everything is working as expected. In most cases, you will need to pair your phone again and/or set up WiFi for your home.

  1. Confirm the FOB locks/unlocks the car.
  2. Confirm you have LTE (using the satellite image map or a website and seeing the top status shows LTE).
  3. Confirm WiFi is working. It may be necessary to link it up again.
  4. Confirm the phone app connects with the car remotely (not near the car, and you can honk or open doors remotely).
  5. Confirm Bluetooth is working – have your phone inside the car and see that your contacts have loaded and/or you can make a call inside the car. A new pairing is likely required due to new Bluetooth hardware.
  6. Confirm streaming audio works, and all speakers are working.
  7. Confirm both front USB ports work and can play music and/or record dashcam video.