Tesla recently started offering the option of upgrading the company’s older MCU1 units to an MCU2, which provides access to new features such as Sentry Mode and Tesla Theater. The process involved in this upgrade was recently shared by an owner of a 2017 Tesla Model S, who recently opted to purchase the MCU2 retrofit together with a Hardware 3 update.
Akikiki of the Tesla Motors Club forum gave details of the experience and the changes in his vehicle’s performance and features thanks to the hardware upgrades. The addition of MCU2 and Hardware 3 gave the Model S new features from the Full Self-Driving (FSD) suite’s Navigate on Autopilot feature, as well as the vehicle’s capability to visualize traffic lights, stop signs, and on-road markings.
The 2017 Model S “now has visualization that includes traffic lights, showing red, changing to green at the intersection,” Akikiki wrote. “As I drove under the light, they got larger showing green, until they disappeared as I went under them.”
The installation of the HW3 unit required for a recalibration of the Model S’ Autopilot system. The vehicle alerted Akikiki with a message on the vehicle’s Instrument Cluster (IC), stating, “CALIBRATION IN PROCESS.” The recalibration of Autopilot took ten miles total and allowed the driver to operate with Navigate on Autopilot, allowing the new visualizations to appear. The vehicle’s lane centering and steadiness while operating on Autopilot were reportedly improved with Hardware 3 installed.
Additionally, the Model S gained the ability to operate both Dashcam and Sentry Mode, both of which have been subjected to recent updates as recorded clips from both features can soon be viewed within the vehicle. Watching recorded clips in the car was previously not possible, but CEO Elon Musk and his team of engineers added the function with a recent update.
Additional features included a new WiFi card in the MCU2 that supports both 2.4 and 5GHz internet speeds, along with the vehicle’s internet browser, Tesla Theater, and Tesla Arcade.
The invoice states that the upgraded features of the Model S required Akikiki to pay a total of $2,500, all of which can be attributed to the MCU2 upgrade. The HW3 upgrade was free of charge because Akikiki purchased the FSD suite, qualifying him for a free HW3 retrofit, as per Elon Musk’s tweet back in October 2018.
Initially, Akikiki considered merely replacing the MCU1 chip, but he found that the upgrade would be just $1,000 less than the full MCU2 upgrade. “Although under warranty, the MCUs eMMC would still have the same size chip and would likely have another short life,” he said. “Out of warranty MCU1 repair would cost by today’s cost at least $1700+ including Tax. MCU2 cost is only $1,000 more than the MCU1 replacement and, in my opinion, is worth double that difference for longer life, better performance of AP and NAV plus the addition of Tesla Dashcam and Sentry.”
Older Tesla vehicles are being upgraded, so owners can experience the newest pieces of the company’s technology without having to buy a whole new car. For the Model S owner, his 2017 sedan now runs on the same hardware that Tesla’s latest vehicles operate on, giving it full range to drive and maneuver with the help of the company’s FSD suite. Not only does this increase the value of an older car immediately for owners, but it also contributes to safer driving conditions for Tesla owners and other vehicles on the road.