Wheel size on Model 3

Wheel size on Model 3

What will be the advantages and disadvantages of the different wheel sizes (standard and large) on the Model 3 ? (Handling, tire wear, effect on mileage, etc.)

ejlada | 12. April 2016

In general, larger wheels get lower mileage (due to less-efficient acceleration) and they're easier to damage on a pothole. But they look good. ;)

MarlonBrown | 12. April 2016

I was told that large wheels (size 21) accounted for about 30% of the weight in a large cars. That is a lot. But Tesla always is amazing and they were able to deliver strong range even by placing those nice big and fat wheels. I was told that the Model 3 showed during the presentation had wheel size 20. I put 20'' in my BMW 3 and thing is big. You don't see too many BMW 3s with wheels size 20 around.Majority of nice cars size of BMW 3 would be mounted with size 17'' or 18''. In addition to the additional weight of the size 20'', car becomes more stiff to ride since the rubber portion is thinner. Handling is improved though. Riding with the original size 16'' or size 17'' is way smoother and safer as well against bumps on the road, etc.

yongliangzhu68 | 13. April 2016

@MarlonBrown: Hope that was typo and you meant "...30% of [forgot to type] UNSPRUNG [/forgot to type] weight..." Because 30% of total weight is not even in remotely close to being in the ballpark. :)

EQC | 13. April 2016

Larger wheels requires lower profile tires (for the same outside tire diameter).

In general, from a running-cost perspective, the "larger wheels" option costs more up front when you purchase the car, tires will wear out over significantly fewer miles, and replacement tires will be notably more expensive. Lower profile tires on big wheels also usually means more rolling resistance, which means your car will not go as far on a charge or on a tank full of gas. Additionally, a road hazard hitting a lower profile tire will be more likely to damage the wheel, necessitating replacement of that wheel.

The advantages of the low-profile tires are generally in performance and aesthetics. Bigger wheels with lower profile tires may yield a slightly lower 0-60 time, shorter braking distances, and better cornering. At least based on current trends, people also prefer the aesthetics of big wheels with low profile tires -- you can see an example of changing tastes by looking at the tires on, say, a 1980 Corvette vs. a 2016 Civic. The civic has notably less rubber height between the wheel and the road, despite being basically an economy car.

ColoDriver | 13. April 2016

I'm hoping for something reasonable like 16" or 17" wheels. I don't need 21" wheels, sure they look cool and handle well, but they're more expensive and less damage tolerant.

Frank99 | 13. April 2016

Sounds like a great $300 option - 17" rims on the base model, 21" rims as an option.

mos6507 | 13. April 2016

I think people have an unhealthy wheel size "fetish" these days. It's especially bad with concept art. No matter what the purpose of the vehicle being designed, designers always throw on wheels that look like conestoga wagons that look like you're running right on the rims. I guess it has to do with wanting your car to look like it belongs in NASCAR or F1, but it's form over function.

itsnice2be | 13. April 2016

Thanks for the above comments. I am now leaning towards the standard size tire. Sounds a lot more practical.

autoxer7 | 13. April 2016

In general the larger the wheel the more your 0-60 times and fuel economy will suffer. And, of course, larger wheels and tires will cost more. As long as you can get a performance tire in the "smaller" 17" size I expect the skid pad numbers to be similar to a larger wheel/tire combo.

PhillyGal | 13. April 2016

I suspect 18" will be standard, with a larger as an optional upgrade. My beloved Scion tC had 18s standard, and was a damn cute car for under $19k.

Upgraded wheels will almost certainly cost more than $300 if offered. Could be closer to a thousand bucks.

Supraman | 13. April 2016

"Lower profile tires on big wheels also usually means more rolling resistance" - does anybody know why this is the case, assuming the same rolling radius?

"In general the larger the wheel the more your 0-60 times" and "Bigger wheels with lower profile tires may yield a slightly lower 0-60 time" - which is it?

autoxer7 | 13. April 2016

Assuming you're using the same brand/model of wheels/tires a larger wheel will be heavier (increase unsprung weight) and have a larger moment of inertia... both factors that are detrimental to acceleration.

When paying attention to wheel weight, tire profile, tire weight, tire traction it may be possible to come up with a configuration where a 19" out accelerates a 17".

EQC | 13. April 2016

Rolling resistance -- usually the lower profile tires you can find are designed for higher speeds, and therefore might have a wider tread and a "sticker" rubber compound...which can tend to make the rolling resistance higher.

0-60 times -- you might get better traction out of a lower profile tire, which would decrease your 0-60 time *IF* your car has excess torque/power and can break traction on the smaller wheel/tire size. If you don't have excess motor power, though, then the heavier wheel/tire combo will hurt 0-60 times.

As far as aesthetics goes, it boggles my mind: if you look up dragster tires, NASCAR tires, or F1 tires, the rubber is much meatier than what gets put on "sporty" cars today. The lower-profile tires look "sportier" by modern trends...but actual race cars usually have much more rubber.

Red Sage ca us | 13. April 2016

Despite one-foot driving, I doubt Tesla Motors will use disc brakes that will be small enough to accommodate 17" wheels. It is very likely that 18" wheels will be the smallest offered, it they don't make 20" standard.

Supraman | 13. April 2016

Thanks for the answers.

Yes, F1 cars currently have 13" wheels! According to an article I just found (admittedly from 2008), the front tyres are 270/55 R13 and the rears are 325/45 R13. However, there is talk of moving to 18"+ wheels in the future.

Red Sage ca us | 14. April 2016

Meh. F1. Ayrton Senna is dead because those officious fools removed safety features from the cars including better tires.

Hi_Tech | 15. April 2016

My guess: 18" standard, 20" optional. I'll go with the 18".

slasher0016 | 15. April 2016

I think you're dead on Hitesh. 18" is pretty much the standard for an entry line luxury car. Tires are relatively reasonable at that size. 20" tires are really expensive.

MarlonBrown | 15. April 2016

I doubt the model 3 will support or offered with a 21 inches. It looks weird for that car size anyway.

yongliangzhu68 | 15. April 2016

Still the BIG question is the center locking hubs. Will that be offered and even standard? Seems a bit over the top and right off hand I can only think of 1 car that offers this, the $170,000 911 Turbo S. Are there others?

Red Sage ca us | 15. April 2016

wj: Elon Musk has already confirmed via Twitter that the center locking hubs will reach Production. What I really want to know is if the various windmill style wheels will be handed... My minimal case of OCD has a real problem with blades cutting into the wind on one side of the car, while flowing with the wind on the other.

lock123 | 15. April 2016

don't know what they had on the cars at the unveiling but they looked like they fit the car proportions well. I'm thinking maybe they were 18 or 19's I think that would be a good compromise between looks and economy

Red Sage ca us | 15. April 2016

lock123: There are photos and reports of the tire size being 20", but staggered. Wider in the back than in front... 30 aspect ratio on one end, 35 aspect ratio on the other. I'm surprised it hadn't been mentioned in this thread already... | 15. April 2016

I'm surprising no one has talked about the other two big differences, at least that we've seen on the Model S two sizes (19" and 21"). The 21" tires are louder and you feel most road cracks. Larger rims leave a lot less tire to cushion you from irregular road. The Model S suspension does a lot to minimize this, but there is a noticeable difference. You are not going to get a luxury ride (on any car) with low profile tires. On the other hand, the handling is better on the low profile tires, but that may be more about the very soft rubber they use for better traction. For low-profile tires expect about 10,000 miles of tread life, usually less than 1/3 the life of normal profile tires. Your milage will vary :)

lock123 | 15. April 2016

well if they were twenties that will certainly alter the looks of the car if they come with smaller. and doing that would have the potential to make the rear of the car look bloated

Red Sage ca us | 15. April 2016

OK, I found the designation:

FRONT -- Michelin Pilot Super Sport 235/35R20
REAR -- Michelin Pilot Super Sport 275/30R20

lock123 | 15. April 2016

Pretty sure the base model wont be coming with those.

lock123 | 15. April 2016

Pretty sure the base model wont be coming with those.

Red Sage ca us | 16. April 2016

My guess is that the base version of Model ☰ will come with 18" alloy wheels... And likely not the center-locking hub variety.

Supraman | 16. April 2016

What are centre-locking hubs?

yongliangzhu68 | 16. April 2016

@Supraman: Center locking hubs don't have lug bolts. It has one large nut that fits in the center and hold the wheel on.

yongliangzhu68 | 16. April 2016

Just to add: if they are center locking this totally mutes the spare tire wishing threads. :)

Supraman | 16. April 2016

wj - thanks for the explanation. What is the advantage to this approach and why do you think that it "mutes the spare tire wishing threads"?

yongliangzhu68 | 16. April 2016

Superman, here is a great youtube video about center locking hubs and the answer to the latter part of your question is done in the first 45 seconds.

https://www dot youtube dot com/watch?v=8Occky5wSB4 | 16. April 2016

Here's the direct link:

wj - Good video - didn't know it was so tricky! With tesla's electric brakes, it may avoid the need for the brake pedal bar.

Sounds like Tesla can shave more total vehicle weight by using center hubs. Every bit helps.

Bighorn | 16. April 2016

440 lb-ft of torque for the center lock!! And people complained about 129:)

yongliangzhu68 | 16. April 2016 How are you able to post a link and bypass the SPAM filter?

Also I use Photobucket photo hosting but can't figure out how to post a pic on this forum. I have read a picture posting thread and have tried numerous methods to no avail. The standard syntax on most forms is

[ i m g ][ / i m g ]

I have also tried (sans spaces to get past the SPAM filter)
[U R L =xxxxx.xxxl][I M G][/ I M G][ / U R L]
< a href=""_blank" >< i m g src ="" border="0" alt=" photo"/ > < / a >

Here is a direct link to a picture. What is the syntax to post it?

http://i38 DOT photo bucket DOT com/albums/e148/Julien321/Screen%20Shot%202016-04-02%20at%208.23.01%20PM_zps5zz5ytsp.jpg

Of course I can't post the link without butcher it. :( | 16. April 2016

wj - Not sure how the forum system allows/disallows url posts from some posters and not others. It got a lot more sensitive with the forum update in February, likely to reduce major spam problems Tesla was having.

Some possibilities: Could be time (I've been posting for 4+ years). Could be quantity of posts (I'm sure I've created several hundred threads and added maybe 1-2 thousand comments in the last 4 years. Could be I'm a Model S owner. An perhaps it's some combination of thresholds. Any maybe the love my cool name (ok not likely). | 16. April 2016

Any -> And

Red Sage ca us | 16. April 2016

Bighorn: Yeah. So much for changing a tire yourself on the highway... "Hello? Tesla Roadside Assistance...?" DIYs are not gonna be happy.

wj: Mollom (the automated SPAM filter here) works in mysterious ways. It has been randomly blocking my posts with a vengeance since I added the 'ca us' to my name a couple of years ago. Sometimes I can post pictures just fine. Other times I can't even post a basic link. Too many times I can't post plain text. The strange thing is that there are times I can't post links or photos that I know I have posted previously in other threads before without problem.

Supraman | 17. April 2016

wj - thanks for the video! All is clear.

mos6507 | 17. April 2016

The video showed the guy successfully changing a tire with center hubs. So why are people saying you can't change a tire? You'd need a spare wheel with a center hub to lug around, sure, but other than that, maybe it's a little more finnicky to unscrew a large hub vs. 5 lug nuts, but it's doable.

Red Sage ca us | 17. April 2016

Some people live in or travel through areas with a 'soft shoulder' that is narrow, on an incline, pitched toward a ditch or culvert. Not at all easy to change a tire on that side of the car. Might be easier on the road side instead. Some things are doable, but not advisable.

dachuyn | 17. April 2016

19" stock wheels please ... :-)

18" wheel should be the minimum for cars > $30000 ...

up north | 17. April 2016

I have 18s on my 2016 outback we don't need any more than that. We also go down a lot of gravel roads, and run our cars through the car wash with brushes every week in the winter just to get thE salt off, the car looks just as bad as it did before the car wash by the time we get home 1 mile Crome home. I think that's the main reason you don't see many people from California up here, the cars look pretty nice down there.