Telsa is being offered with a 19 inch rim with all season tires, or a 21 inch rim with performance tires. I live in Seattle, and we have a lot of rain, and in the winter some snow.

I like the way the 21's look, but I would like to hear from those out there that have thoughts and experience with these two types of tires. Don't want to crash my car, or be one of "those guys", stuck in 1/8th inch of snow.

mwu | 07. Oktober 2011

If you have winter precipitation reliably or frequently in your winter, I strongly recommend getting an extra set of wheels and putting winter tires on them. You can get cheaper, smaller wheels and put winter tires on that have more sidewall. That should save some money as the rims will likely be the more expensive part. They won't have optimum roll resistance, but it will make it less likely you will end up wrecking or getting stuck in winter weather -- well worth the investment.

If you don't get a lot of winter weather, you may be able to get by on just all season tires, but if snow does fall, be very careful. All season tires are a compromise -- a jack of all trades, but master of none. They will not outperform performance tires in the dry or winter tires in the snow.

I got in the middle of a drive home from work when snow started falling heavily while I was driving on extreme summer performance tires. I made it home, but on the last stretch I go up a hill on a curve and my tires were not grabbing at all. I burned rubber all the way up the hill, up my driveway, and into my garage. I should have left my car at the bottom of the hill and walked up, but my pride kept me going. Driving up that hill cost me a set of tires and could have cost me a lot more if anything unexpected had happened. Plus it didn't actually save me my pride because I felt like a real idiot as my neighbor watched me burn rubber into my driveway... And then the marks were left there for people to see for a week, lol.

I now have all season performance tires and I still wouldn't drive in that much snow because while they are labeled all season they are also still performance oriented. If we got more snow around here I would have an extra set of wheels for the winter. If you don't want to deal with extra rims and tires, don't get the 21" rims. However... Running winter tires in the winter will make summer tires last longer.

William13 | 08. Oktober 2011

I may be getting the 19 inch wheels as all season and then maybe 17 or 18 inch with snow tires. We only have 5 months without snow and I have been surprised by early or late snows in October and April.

gjunky | 08. Oktober 2011

I live in Phoenix. Snow tires... what? :-)

I only see one reason not to go with the 21" wheels and tires and that is ride comfort which doesn't seem to be a big problem as I believe the test ride cars had them and they felt pretty smooth.

There is of course the cost of replacing 21" tires...

cytek | 08. Oktober 2011

Anyone of you guys think the bolt pattern on Model-S wheels are the same as Mercedes? I know Model-S has the same E-Class transmission controls, signal levers, window/ mirror controls, etc. They even used Lorinser RS8 turbine wheels for Mercedes on Alpha prototype. I have heard that Lorinser RS8 turbine wheels have durability issues with cracking. I won't be surprised, if 21" wheels will be a very pricy option with tires set. My guess would be around $4000-$4500 for 21" wheel/ tire set.

DartLady S77 | 08. Oktober 2011

@jbunn Lose the performance part of your tires and invest in good "rain" tires. I live in Abbotsford, BC (just outside Vancouver) and have the same winter conditions you have. I switched to rain tires on my Grand Am SE and have never had traction issues since. I also have a very steep hill to navigate home - my all seasons did it, but not well - these babies go up it with no issues at all (even when we had the "big" 3" snowfall last year).

I'm going with the 19" wheels (reluctantly - I love the look of the turbine wheels, but don't want low profile tires) and will again invest in these same tires when the time comes.

jbunn | 09. Oktober 2011


I think you might have made up my mind. I'm not really going for performance. I'm already gonna be one of the quickest things out there (present company excluded). I liked the way they look, but it's hard to look good when you're in a ditch.

DartLady S77 | 09. Oktober 2011

Glad to help out - and since we are close by each other, maybe we can do a Model S road trip sometime. :o)

HJ-45 | 09. Oktober 2011

Regarding the bolt pattern and wheels. The prototype may indeed have the 9 spoke Lorinser RS-8s and it is a pretty good assumption that the wheel hub pattern will be the same as Mercedes. The Alpha's and Beta's however have a 10 spoke design and are NOT the Lorinser RS-8s. I would hope that Tesla purchased a license to reproduce the design and had an American wheel manufacturer build these. Wheel manufacturing seems to be a sector in which the US can still participate successfully.

I love the 21" fan blades, but will most likely go with the 19" wheels. I have purchased expensive wheels and lower profile tires in the past only to have them bent and mangled by winter pot holes.

JohhnyS | 09. Oktober 2011

Will the model S have a spare tire? It definitely has the space, but I have not seen any information on it. The only flat I have had in the last 25 years was in a car that does not have a spare.

stephen.kamichik | 09. Oktober 2011

I believe that there will be no spare and no jack. They will include a can of "flat repair". One can always buy an aftermarket rim, tire and jack.

jbunn | 09. Oktober 2011


Like a play date for car siblings!. Love it.

ncn | 10. Oktober 2011

Unless you have really nice, well-maintained roads and no winter, forget the 21-inch wheels with "performance" tires.

The 19-inch ones may actually be usable on normal roads in summer.

With winter you'll probably have to get a set of winter tires as well. I am waiting for Tesla to release the tire specs before ordering them. And the spare tire. And the jack. Money money money.

Vawlkus | 11. Oktober 2011

There is one more thing to consider: the price difference between 19" and 21" tires. I'm not sure, but I'm willing to wager one will be more expensive than the other. Take a look at your local tireshop and see what you discover.

BossSrikanth | 25. August 2012

I have the EXACT SAME ISSUE, jbunn! I live up in Bellevue and I fell in love with the 21 inch wheels. I was wondering if I could just ditch the Tesla tires and get 21 inch all season or studded tires elsewhere. I know it sounds irresponsible but I would really like the 21 inch wheels. By the way, I live up on Cougar Mountain, which means have some rather steep inclines to climb/descend. Does anybody have some other good suggestions?
P.S the 21 inch wheels are listed as $3,500 more on the Tesla website.

jerry3 | 25. August 2012

There really aren't any 21" tires that aren't summer performance. The best solution is to get a second set of 19" wheels and put good studless winter tires on them like Nokian Hakkapeliitta R

Michael23 | 25. August 2012

Why don't they make winter 21s? I had 20 blizacks on my Infiniti for winter.

jerry3 | 25. August 2012

Because that wheel size hasn't been out long enough and there aren't enough cars on the road using them yet to justify their manufacture.

In addition, as tire aspect ratio gets lower, winter performance decreases. Wide, low profile tires are great for getting good skidpad numbers on dry pavement. They are poor whenever the weather turns ugly (all things being equal). A 35% aspect ratio tire is a poor starting place for winter use.

Teoatawki | 25. August 2012


Cougar Mountain! We must be practically neighbors! I live in the Summit. I also am getting the 21's. Planning on getting additional 19" set for winter, possibly even studded tires for getting up our hill and pass travel.

Robert22 | 26. August 2012

@dartlady and jbunn-

Sounds like we may need a dating forum. Let's face it, if you're both first gen Model S owners, why would you need a compatibility survey ;)

I've even got a name:

Amos' Tesla | 11. September 2012

Studded versus non-studded winter tires? The additional wheel/tire options are up on the website. I'd be interested in folks thoughts on the studded versus non-studded winter tire options. I'm in CO and plan to drive my car year round. I'm leaning towards the non-studded version. Thoughts? Thanks

Timo | 11. September 2012

Studded are better on ice, especially on hilly terrain. Non-studded have lower rolling resistance and are more silent and have slightly better grip on tarmac. Only you can know which is better for you.

Teoatawki | 11. September 2012

Studded tires are strictly regulated in most states because of the excessive road wear and rutting on highways. They are permitted in CO year round. If you plan extensive out-of-state travel, you may be fined. In Washington state, you can only use studded tires Nov 1 through Mar 31 barring an extension for late winter weather.

No stealth mode with studded tires, as the make a very distinct clicking noise at low speeds and more like a rain stick at higher speeds.

William13 | 11. September 2012

Studded tires are bad for human health. They tear up the road and produce particulates which cause/exacerbate lung disease. Don't use them unless you need them. They do help with ice but not snow or slush.

jerry3 | 11. September 2012

Willima and Teoatawki are correct. Studded tires are generally bad news. The studless winter tires are really just as good in almost every instance (assuming you get good ones--there are some pretty bad ones out there).

What makes ice slippery is the film of water that covers the ice. When drivers spin the tires, they create the perfect surface for studs. Of course, spinning the tires is a poor way to get traction. Studded tires give worse handling and traction in every other situation because the studs hold the tread off the road.

jerry3 | 11. September 2012


Increased lung cancer in Hokkaido, Japan was the reason that studless tires were first developed.

jbunn | 11. September 2012

Teo, and Boss, we are all indeed all neighbors. I'm down issaquah hobart road. Sooner or later we would have seen each other in downtown issy. Shoot me mail if you like. P4100 or so. Nov Dec delivery, blue with tan 60, pano. Can provide help with electrical if needed. | 11. September 2012

I ordered the performance model with the 21" wheels & will get a second set of 19" All Season wheels from Tesla at the time of delivery. Talked briefly with the Denver service center & they told me they can do the tire switch or it can be done at a tire store. They will have to program in the new tire pressure sensors at the time of the switch (as it stand right now). I asked how many S deliveries they had done (while the manager was saying he was "not allowed to say" another worker gave me a number <5). I told them I looked forward to seeing them Nov/Dec.

J King | 11. September 2012

I ordered the 21" set but an now wondering if i should change. Not much winter where I am, but I saw some comments that said the 21" reslulted in lower range. Does anyone have a reference for the difference in range between the 21 " performance and the 19" all season? Really like the look of the 21s.

jbunn | 11. September 2012

Should if anything increace range

Timo | 11. September 2012

@William13 Studded tires are bad for human health. They tear up the road and produce particulates which cause/exacerbate lung disease.

I'm not so sure this is actually true, or if it is is it worth more than safer driving. As a result of weaker grip of studless tires they use sanding more here, and as result when spring comes and roads start to melt that sand gets crushed under car tires to really small dust, and this in turn causes way worse dust problem than studded tires alone cause.

Jerry3 mentions wheel spinning causing "perfect surface to studs" IOW, ice. Slippery ice. This is real problem, and basically all the intersections are now really really slippery, especially crosswalks. I bet studless tires are cause of more deaths indirectly than they save lives by reducing hypothetical lung cancer.

Teoatawki | 12. September 2012

Yes, the 21's will give you reduced range compared to the 19's. The outer diameter of the tires is essentially identical, regardless of the rim diameter. The reason the 21's will give you reduced range is because:

1) The tires are wider, so increased road contact produces greater rolling resistance.
2) The tires are made of a softer rubber for increased grip, which means greater rolling resistance.

As an aside: This is why the 21's have a shorter life expectancy. The softer rubber wears more quickly.

AFAIK no one has actually quantified how much this will reduce your range. Probably 1-5%. Still, I'm sure some people with 21" rims will still get better range than the EPA reports, and better than many people driving with 19" rims. Your driving habits are going to be a much bigger factor than your tires.

EdG | 12. September 2012

A Tesla rep quoted me "up to 5%" loss of range with the 21" tires. I'm guestimating 4%, but only your car manufacturer knows for sure.

murraypetera | 12. September 2012

Has anyone asked about getting Snow Tires on their delivered car instead of all season?

As reasonalbe a price that they are offering for the winter packages I really do not want put lay down another couple of thousand dollars day 1. I would rather do this 5 months later in the spring.

jerry3 | 13. September 2012

My guess would be 5% to 8% depending upon ambient temperature and road surface.

Timo | 13. September 2012

It can be gain instead of loss if the terrain is loose (sand, mud, snow), more surface area means tire digs less into ground. There is a reason why tractors have huge tires.

2EV-Family | 13. September 2012

.............also on Cougar Mountain here *S* Just gonna park the Tesla when we get a snow forecast. Gotta have the 21"s!

Teoatawki | 14. September 2012

I'm not sure when I'll swap the 21" for the 19" seasonally. The 21's are really only intended for dry roads, so their wide footprints and shallow tread patterns are much more susceptible to hydroplaning in wet weather.

Epley | 14. September 2012

So us western-washington types will only be sporting our 21's a couple months each year...

Jhall118 | 14. September 2012

Once upon a time, 4 years ago, I sold tires to help pay for college. I sold them in Salt Lake City, UT and Seattle, WA where I currently live. My opinion:

Unless you have to traverse a big snowy hill/ canyon or you have a steep driveway, I would NOT get snow tires assuming you are fine driving with 19's all year round. If you are going to swap tires anyways, then it probably doesn't matter all that much. However, if you are going to be driving with 19's all year round, then good quality all seasons (especially premium Michelin tires) last a long time and have ample traction for the snow. For most people they will do fine.

In Seattle, I personally am going to keep the 21's on all year long. I won't be driving much the one week every two years where we actually get snow- like everyone else in the city. I am a perfectly fine snow driver, but I don't trust the other idiots on the road, not worth it to me. The amount of rainfall we get and the roads I drive on does not make me worry about snowfall. Seattle does not get HEAVY rains like a lot of East coast cities. It's a light sprinkle throughout the day and I wouldn't worry about keeping the 21's on.

I am going to get Michelin Pilot Sports probably. They will do just fine.

Jhall118 | 14. September 2012

Err, I said "does not make me worry about snowfall" but I meant rainfall. IN Western Washington, the rain doesn't pour, it sprinkles. I seriously would not hesitate leaving the 21's on. More water will accumulate on the roads in Orlando Florida in their random downpours than Seattle.

Oliver in Seattle | 14. September 2012

JHall: plus there are many performance tires that work great in the rain.

For myself, I don't have the option of passing on the snow tires. I'll be going the 19s in the winter with snow tires, and the 21s in the summer.

BYT | 14. September 2012

I plan on running on the same tires all year long, winter, spring, summer or fall the 21's will answer my call.

Epley | 14. September 2012


We're both in soggy Seattle, what performance tires are you going to run in the rain?

brianman | 15. September 2012

@BYT - I 'hear' what you did there. ;)

Manta | 15. September 2012

I found this article and thought it may help answer some of the questions that have come up.

I live in the Philadelphia suburbs, and over the past few years, our weather has been all over the place--from a practically snowless winter last year to snowmageddon in 2010. Initially I wasn't thinking about getting a set of winter tires (to go with my 21s), but after doing some research, I'd rather pay $2400 for a set of 19" wheels and winter tires than a $500 deductible.

jerry3 | 15. September 2012


Bear in mind that not all all-season tires are equal. Some have a severe service rating and you'd be hard pressed to find a traction difference between them and the best "real" winter tires. Other are "Texas all-seasons" and are really summer tires with enough low temperature flexibility to not turn to wood at freezing temperatures. They're there to get you by in areas where there is only a few days of snow on the road and the rest of the time is either dry or raining.

However, 21" 35% aspect ratio tires are a very poor starting place for a winter tire. The wider the tread width of a tire the less traction in most winter conditions it will have (and the 21" tires have a wider tread width than the 19" although both are really too wide for winter conditions in my opinion).

Best winter traction is obtained with a long narrow contact patch rather than a short wide one.

jerry3 | 15. September 2012

I would strongly recommend a second set of tires and wheels for winter if you live in an area with a real winter, or if your summer tires are the 21" tires.

Manta | 15. September 2012

@jerry3 - Thanks for your input and sorry for the confusion. I'm planning on getting the 21" performance set for the summer and this 19" set for the winter.

jerry3 | 15. September 2012


That is certainly what I would do if I was getting the 21" tires.

Michael23 | 15. September 2012

Can someone tell me if the tires are rotatable at all? I assume no. How would a ranger rotate them? I'm talking 21s.