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MCU2 Upgrade and AM/FM/XM Radio Issues

MCU2 Upgrade and AM/FM/XM Radio Issues

Understanding the MCU2 upgrade, features, and options for radios. (Feb-2024)

MCU2 Upgrade

Tesla is offering an upgrade from MCU1 to MCU2 for $2250 with cars prior to HW2.0. For vehicles with HW2.x, the retrofit cost is $1750. The upgrade also includes a new instrument cluster screen. 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.  Tesla appears to also be upgrading the AP processor to HW3.0 for HW2.x cars, even if the owner has not purchased FSD.  

Additional improvements not mentioned:

  • Flash memory that should last 8-16 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. 

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 (Likely will not work)
    •  Have Tesla replace the analog radio with the digital FM or FM/XM radio.  This can be done when MCU2 is installed or anytime afterward. The total cost is $500 and includes installation. The new radio is also reported to offer better reception than the old one.
  • Buy a new Tesla vehicle that includes MCUZ 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, set up WiFi for your home, and link up Homelink.

  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 is likely you’ll need to reset the password.
  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.