Please Don’t Hack Your Tesla Model S – You Might Forever Void Your Warranty


Tesla Model S Interior

Tesla Model S Interior

“Your Tesla Model S has been temporarily disabled due to detected hacking”

“Please contact Tesla customer service for further details.”

That’s likely the next over-the-air update you’ll receive if you attempt to hack your Model S as some tech-savvy owners are currently trying to do.

Tesla Logo

Tesla Logo

It would be irresponsible for us to describe here how a Tesla Model S can be hacked via an Ethernet networking port.

Instead, we’ll focus on the end result.

Tesla will recognize that you’ve attempted to hack the Model S and you’ll receive a warning.  Continue on and you’ll see that Tesla can detect what you’re doing within the network.  Take it too far and Tesla will kindly ask you to stop what you’re doing or risk voiding your warranty.

As a connected car, Tesla could see this hacking as potentially affecting the safety of the vehicle.  If so, Tesla could zip out an over-the-air-update that shuts down the Model S until it’s returned to its un-hacked condition, which would likely require a Tesla tech who will empty your wallet in the process of returning your Model S to its factory condition.

Moral of the story: Don’t hack your Tesla Model S.  You’re risking a lot for what? The ability to watch YouTube videos on the go?  Enjoy your Model S the way Tesla intended it to be.

Source: DragTimes

Categories: Tesla


Leave a Reply

34 Comments on "Please Don’t Hack Your Tesla Model S – You Might Forever Void Your Warranty"

newest oldest most voted

At most I see them sending an OTA that wipes whatever changes you made and locks down the OS to prevent this. I don’t see them blocking your car from operating as I’m pretty sure that’s not legal. Even with a voided warranty, the manufacturer does not have the right to prevent you from using the device.

Tesla has the legal responsibility to prevent tampering to maintain the safe operation of their vehicles. The proper operation of the onboard computer is critical to its safe and predictable functioning. They have every right to prevent misuse of their product, even after the sale.

If you ignore their warning and continue using the vehicle in unintended ways– you forfeit any rights as a consumer. Pretty simple.

Just wait till the approved vehicle app system is in place for developers… Sheesh.

If you’ve purchased the product it’s yours. If you elect to void the warranty the costs are on you. To say that a manufacturer can destroy your purchase because you don’t comply with their terms (modifiable by them AFTER your purchase) is theft of your purchase. Take a cell phone the service provider can deny you service but they cannot brick your phone. The phone maker cannot do either.

What they can do is refuse to service the product OR charge a lot more to do the service and only then restore it to a functional state.

This mindset that the manufacturer owns the product and can control it’s use when it has SOLD the product is not correct.

When you purchase any complex product that contains proprietary intellectual property that is required for its normal functioning, the buyer customarily agrees to be bound by certain restrictions during the course of “ownership”.

Voiding the agreed upon restrictions; like reverse engineering, unauthorized software modification, duplication, etc., and the consequences that can occur if such an incident has been documented to have occurred– are legally binding for both parties and actionable: even long after the sale. That’s the point of specifying such conditions for continued use… Tesla has every right to exercise their user agreement, if it feels it must act on known violations of it.

Reverse engineering is not illegal and in fact is protected under law.

Not in regards to closed source software, which is the business model Tesla uses.

So what you’re saying is that Honda has a ” legal responsibility to prevent tampering to maintain the safe operation of their vehicles” whenever it sees a civic slammed on cut springs and wheels so far out of camber that it can’t stop in an emergency?

Honda better get busy policing US roads! LOL


“you forfeit any rights as a consumer”
Forfeiting your rights as a consumer and having the manufacturer completely disable your device/car are two completely different things. I have never seen a case where “hacking” led to the manufacturer remotely disabling a device. The most they can do is refuse to service your device or charge you extra to do it.

There’s also the fact the infotainment OS that is being “hacked” is independent of the car functions. That means even if Tesla disables the infotainment system, the car can still be driven.

I do wish that Tesla would listen up as they have a reputation for doing so. I wish they would understand that there are plenty of owners who would feel that the car is too restrictive. The Model S’ computer is literally compared to an ordinary computer, but it doesn’t behave like one truly. Tesla should really allow some tinkering and flexibility into its products if they want to satisfy even more owners and reviewers.

No, they shouldn’t. They are selling a car, not a computer.

40Kw/h to 60Kw/h unlock hack. How many would go for it.

They can try but they can’t hurt me

LOL only the nerds

hacking is dumb

Hacking, and the independent spirit of innovation it embodies, helped kick off the computer revolution that you currently enjoy (though probably only to watch cat videos).

Hacking is not dumb. You, on the other hand…

Hacking has been used as a means to find weaknesses in software so that those weaknesses can be fixed. Hacking has probably kept your identity from being stolen several times already.

Neither Ubuntu, nor Linux, nor Firefox are the property of Tesla.
Their software licenses explicit allow hacking.

I see a huge GPL violation by Tesla.

Tesla runs their own proprietary environment on top of linux: they do not submit their vehicle software under the same GPL as the OS that runs it. There is nothing illegal about restricting access by dubious tinkerers that can jeopardize the safety of everyone: from passengers, pedestrians, other vehicles on the road in proximity to it, or across the world, via the internet.

The app system will be the proper channel within which to express curiosity and creativity for all Tesla User’s benefit. Be patient.

Anon, you clearly do not understand Copyright law.

Tesla is absolutely required to distribute source code for all GPL derived binaries they ship with their car.

The GPL has been upheld in court. There is actually a legal battle brewing right now where GPL copyright holders are preparing to force Tesla to release the source to GPL derived software which ships in the car.

The fact that Tesla thinks they can avoid this is mind boggling.

If they wanted to avoid this, they should have avoided GPL licensed software.

Your argument is moot, since Tesla uses a closed source business model for their proprietary firmware.

No, Dave is right. Anything GPL derived has to comply with GPL. Period. If Tesla does not like it, they have to do a clean sheet rewrite of the offending code.

I have no idea how much GPL derived code they have written, if any. A program is not GPL derived merely because it runs on Linux. But if they have used GPL code in their software, there is no wiggle room.

I don’t see that Tesla has any right to void warranties unless they can prove that there was damage caused to the car by the modifications. After all, people modify their cars all of the time, but rarely does it void the warranty.

Nobody said Tesla was worried that hacking would cause damage directly. The article said that hacking could potentially impact safety.

With regular ICE cars, sure you can throw in some HID lights, change wheels, heck even do a bit of “hacking” by doing an engine tune after exhaust or intake mods. Those cars are very mechanical.

With a Tesla, it is obvious that the software controls ALL aspects of the car. You can think of it almost like a car OS. Sure you can hack Ubuntu, Linux or Firefox but those are software sitting in a box that doesn’t move, right? Your kids are not in that box, right? Lawyers don’t care if you mess up, right?

“Safety” is such a common refrane. I wish I believed it.

Since you require more than words… Feel free to upload malicious malware into you vehicles computer just to play devil’s advocate.

What kind of “User Experience” do you think you’ll have?

The vehicle might not randomly accelerate (till someone writes a specific worm to do it), but you’ll likely see an increase in network traffic that is pretty certain to slow your vehicles connectivity waaay down. Do you want to turn your vehicle into a mobile spambot? Don’t like keyloggers or dataminers collecting your passwords and personal information on the go? Why not? Nothing like waiting forever for nav updates or OS freezes to make a trip more exciting…

Tesla has every incentive, backed by law, to keep their product operating predictably and safely. I completely fail to understand why others can’t or won’t grasp this…

Is the infotainment software in the Model S really capable of *directly* affecting the power train? Not likely. Those systems are controlled by other computers. I think you could probably hack the music player, or web browser, but not make the car accelerate, or brake, etc. or do anything “dangerous” with such a hack.

Most cars today (even non EVs) can have many tens of independent electronic processing units (of some form or another) that run various systems throughout the car, from fuel-injection to anti-lock brakes.

The least consequential system (for the actual operation of the vehicle) is usually the infotainment system (even if it’s a computer).

Tesla does allow a surprising amount of interaction with the powertrain through the touchscreen, it’s not just infotainment. You can command regen levels, ride height, and even creep torque settings.

Wow, what a typical Eric Loveday article – designed to generate drama among readers and generate tons of page hits.

I have not seen anywhere that Tesla will remotely disable your car if you are found to be “hacking” it and demand boat loads of money. What a crazy thing to suggest.

Just because hackers are usually smart does not mean that hacking is not stupid. It is case specific.

Tesla will probably deal with hacking the way most companies deal with it. If it turns out good or has some good potential, they will look the other way or possibly even offer incentives for you to share your ideas with them to make the product better. If you screw up, don’t expect them to clean up your mess for free.

There are really two issues at play here….

Firstly, you can do whatever you want to a product once you own it. It is yours. However as a consequence the manufacturer may elect to not provide warranty or related services support. Tesla would inevitably take that position, but it is your decision whether to accept the consequence and there is no basis for them to “brick” your product.

The second issue is a more subtle issue related to the safety of others through regulation. We, as a society, may decide to forbid modifications to electric vehicles to protect the safety of others. We already have laws that require an operator of any vehicle, including electric, to be licensed (driving license), so it is certainly possible for a level of government to pass a law restricting modifications to the vehicle. Past examples include emissions equipment and airplanes.

This last point is more worthy of debate than just tinkering.

It’s not just safety… it’s also about insurance and commercial regulations regarding resale. There must be mechanisms in place to prevent theft and unauthorized component reuse. Tampering with odometers is prohibited. None of these apply to the “bricked” cellphone analogy people are thinking of.

only thing hacking would be good for is very high suspension at 60 kph or something or max power

also i think smart hackers can disable the Tesla OTA check by making it off net as if was out of range of cell recption etc check