Well, That’s One Way to Make a SH%$Ty Car Look Better

Matthew G. Saroff
3 min readFeb 1, 2022


You would think for amount that Tesla charges for its cars, you would think that they would make decent seats.

It appears that this is not the case, because Tesla is monitoring how you use your power seats to determine if you are being, “irresponsible,” and will shut down the seat adjustment function.

Speaking as a mechanical engineer (BSME, UMass, 1987), I think that it is a better practice, and better customer service, to make seats that can stand up to ordinary use.

If you have 4 drivers in the house, or curious children, watch out:

Tesla’s new vehicles rolling out of the factory will include a bizarre feature designed to prevent abuse of the seat adjustment controls. The new seats will track and measure the amount of adjustments users make and will disable the controls if they detect “excessive” changes. The feature was first identified by @greentheonly, an anonymous hacker and researcher, and subsequently covered by Jalopnik.

Tesla recently began installing new seat motors in some of its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, in addition to the seats it gets from China’s Yangfeng and the ones it makes in-house. The new motors come from Brose, a 110-year-old German company that supplies a lot of components to the automotive industry.

The difference between the Brose seats and Yangfeng and Tesla’s are what @greentheonly calls “‘seat abuse’ metrics.” This functionality will issue warnings to the users if they are making too many adjustments and eventually will disable the seat controls if the warnings are unheeded. Apparently, the car is tracking how many times users move their seats forward and backward, as opposed to lumbar support controls — though the feature could eventually include those controls as well.


(For anyone with trouble imagining under what circumstances someone would be screwing around with their seat controls for a full two minutes, allow me to introduce you to a concept known as “children.”)

In a direct message on Twitter, @greentheonly said they discovered the new feature while scanning Tesla’s latest firmware releases in order to compare them to old releases and see what new functionalities were coming. The hacker also had some theories on why Tesla decided on including the new seat control protections:

so there are two possibilities:

1. their historical replacement pattern show that motors fail like this.

2. they are using worse motors at the factory now so added this check into factory firmware first.

In the end I cannot tell you it’s one or the other for sure. This change is coincident with the BROSE seats config so may be just the Brose seats have this weaker motor? That would explain the first appearance is in the factory firmware too, then.

But may be it is based on historical data too and would apply to all cars and it’s all just a [coincidence]. I have no real way to know. I don’t even have a model3 car myself

There is a 3rd possibility, which is that as a result of Tesla’s production push, it already infamously lax attention to build fit and finish is such that misaligned rails are placing undue loads on the motors, and instead of fixing the problem, they came up with a software limiter.

My money is on build quality problems