Hey, Tesla owners, have you ever noticed that when you turn on your infotainment screen, there’s a strange kind of yellow tint around the screen border? The first time you saw it, you might have tried to clean it off, but then been a bit horrified when you discovered that you can’t clean it off.
What is this yellow border? Why does it appear? Can it be fixed? Is it impacting the functionality of your Tesla while it’s there? These are some of the important questions we will try to answer in today’s blog.
Background: What is the Yellow Screen Tint Problem?
As the name suggests, the problem emerges quite suddenly where users have noticed that around the outer edge of their infotainment screen there is a kind of yellowish band of color stretching around the entire screen usually. It doesn’t appear to affect the way the screen works, but obviously it has a pretty big impact on the way it looks.
The problem is most visible when you set the map to its more monotone map settings with plain white on the land, blue for the ocean, etc. In this stark color scheme, the yellow becomes very visible even to the point of distraction. When you set it to the satellite map view with real colors in place, it’s diminished somewhat but still clearly there.
Furthermore, the problem isn’t always completely sudden for everyone. Many experience a more “creeping” yellow border that appears weak at first and then gets stronger over time. There are some users who only started to notice the border problem when other Tesla users pointed out the problem online.
For many users, Tesla is a premium product and that means you should expect a minimum standard of quality in all the features. Maintaining proper coloring on the infotainment screen is among those basic standards, and that’s quite a fair position. Some point out, however, that perhaps we shouldn’t point the finger at Tesla since the screens are made by a third party.
Most disagree with this, however. Third party or not, Tesla puts its brand name on these products and sells it as the Tesla experience. This type of defect shouldn’t be happening on a screen and in a vehicle of this caliber. So what’s going on? Let’s dive in a bit deeper.
What Causes This Problem? What Solution Did Tesla Use?
It seems that the main culprit of this problem is the glue adhesive that is used to attach the glass of the display to the unit. As heat emerges through its normal operation and also with the car perhaps being left in direct sunlight where it will heat up more, the glue becomes increasingly yellow, which adds more and more yellow border effect to the screen.
So, as it happens, the screen itself is not a problem, but rather one of the components that helps the screen stick together. The problem first emerged back in 2018, and Tesla’s widely issued solution was rolled out during the summer of 2019. Tesla announced that they had developed – and were shipping – a special device that uses UV rays to make the yellow border disappear.
Before that, however, they actually did try to solve the problem simply by replacing the screens under warranty. The problem was that the screens were replaced with all the same materials, including the same problematic adhesive. That being the case, the yellow border returned to screens again sooner or later.
To get the problem fixed properly, Tesla owners have had to make appointments at their local service center, and then attend the center to have their screens treated under the UV light device. According to one Tesla owner, the job just takes a couple of hours or so and you would be best waiting in the service center lounge if you can.
He remarked that they appeared to dismantle quite a lot of the dash during the process, presumably to make way for the UV device to treat the screen or to remove the screen to take it for treatment.
So it appears not to be an easy fix, even if the professionals can get it done within a couple of hours. It has taken some investment in equipment and training time for Tesla to roll out the technique to all its centers. This is why waiting times have varied with some getting the fix early on and others waiting for months until their local service center had the device and the training for how to use it.
Is the UV Light Solution a Permanent One?
Another question mark sits over this “miracle” procedure, however. That is, Tesla has not confirmed that this UV treating process is some kind of permanent fix, nor that the yellow border could return at some point after treatment has been done.
A member of the Tesla Motors Club (TMC) posted an apparent email from Tesla with a line indicating just this problem. It read:
“Given the above, Tesla has developed a procedure which uses ultraviolet light to remove the yellowing condition for a period of time and we will apply it as a one-time goodwill gesture once this procedure is available.”
If this is an authentic and official communication from Tesla, then it means that the solution is just temporary. Others are not sure, however, as it seems the main effect of the UV light is to “finish” the curing of the adhesive, which in turn makes the color disappear. If the adhesive is fully cured as a result of the application of this UV light, then there’s no reason to think that it’s anything but permanent.
The other good news about this solution is that if your screen is still under warranty, then you can expect to have it covered at the service center. What’s more, fixing this problem even if it were for a second time, would never mean having to remove or replace the MCU or the screen. The only bad news is that we can’t be fully certain about how permanent the solution is.
How Important is Getting This Problem Fixed?
For the consumer, and looking at the problem practically and objectively, it isn’t a serious issue and Tesla owners who are experiencing this yellowing of the border should not be worried. First of all, the yellow border does nothing to impact the functionality or operation of the screen. You can use it entirely as normal. It’s a purely cosmetic problem.
Looking at the problem more subjectively and from an aesthetic perspective, however, there is good reason for Tesla owners to be irritated. The border isn’t just a small or faint bit of yellow.
In the worst cases, it forms a solid yellow frame around the screen like a picture frame. It can grow from half an inch to about an inch in thickness in the worst cases. It’s most visible when the screen is in monochrome colors, but once you see it, you can’t unsee it.
When people pay more to get their Tesla and they wait months on end for it, sometimes, they are within their rights to expect these fundamental things to be right. In addition, if there’s even a small chance that someone could get distracted or frustrated at the yellow border while driving, it could have safety implications.
As for Tesla, from their perspective it makes the company and brand look a bit cheap and shoddy. These poor-quality screens are things we thought we left behind in the 1990s and 2000s. We have high standards in 2022, and screens should not be doing that.
They may also want to make sure they’re on top of this problem in the longer term, because in July 2021, there was a class-action lawsuit levelled against the company.
The main grievances mentioned in the lawsuit are:
- That this defect is a result of normal use, and not anything done wrong by owners
- That replacement screens are the same Innolux screens that are turning yellow
- Tesla has allegedly already started to ignore warranty requirements regarding the yellow borders, despite previous assurances that warranties would apply
How they handle a problem like this moving forward can say a lot about their brand and reputation.