Many Lexus owners experienced broken navigation and infotainment systems yesterday, with drivers unable to listen to music or get directions because their head units were stuck in a rebooting loop.
"Errant data broadcast by our traffic and weather data service provider was not handled as expected" by the head unit, said Lexus in a statement to The Verge. "The data suspected to be the source of the error was corrected last night."
The issue affected 2014–2016 Lexus vehicles, as well as the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser, and could cause the head unit to restart repeatedly and prevent normal operation of navigation, audio, and climate control. The company says affected Lexus owners can go to their local dealer for a "complimentary system reset," though we have heard from multiple affected owners that simply disconnecting the battery for 30 seconds was enough to get the system back online.
Recent model year Lexus cars get traffic and weather data through the Total Traffic Network via HD radio signals or through the data connection from a connected smartphone.
Yesterday, Lexus believed it was a bug in a software update that caused the problem, but instead it was the connected nature of the car that caused the failure. It's not clear how traffic and weather data could crash the computer in the infotainment system so spectacularly, but it's definitely cause for concern — you could liken it to a DirecTV set-top box crashing because of "errant" data being broadcast over an ESPN video stream. Shouldn't it be able to handle that kind of thing?
Either way, Lexus says the problem should be fixed going forward, though we've pressed them for more details about what exactly went wrong.