19" or 21" wheels?

19" or 21" wheels?

Does anybody have some strong opinions regarding the choice to go for 19" or 21" wheels? I live in Norway and our roads definitely don´t have a top standard, with risk of holes and lots of speed bumps etc. The 21" look great on the car, but for me it would maybe just be a waste and a great risk of wounds to the wheels larger risk of puncturing?

I have reserved a Performance-model, but then again maybe the 19" wheels with "winter-tires" don´t have the same friction at all, and the acceleration of 4,4s 0-60 could be more like 5,6s like the standard 85kw version or maybe even slower? Any other advantages or disadvantages I should consider before making the choice?

mikhaila | 8 March, 2013

19 is a smoother ride... 21 have great looks but id rather have less worries... Speakng of Norwegian roads... I ve been to Norway many times and if you think your roads are bad I dont know what to say about WA state roads lol

Captain_Zap | 8 March, 2013

We have the 21" wheels and want to get the 19" wheels for better winter performance, better ride and range.

We got the 21" because they look awesome and they came with the Signature Model resulting in no discount for getting the 19" wheels. I doubt that we would have paid extra for the 21" wheels.

We are looking around for 19" wheels that have the same turbine design as the 21" wheels.

We'd probably be less inclined to make the change if we lived in a warmer drier climate without all the cold and wet.

mcptwo | 8 March, 2013

With the low profile tires on the 21 inch rims, you are likely to experience more tire and rim damage from potholes and other road irregularities. Over a two year period, we have damaged 2 rims and tires on our 2008 BMW 535ix wagon with high performance low profile rims and tires. Cost about $1,000.00 each time. In California, the roads are reasonably good but with enough potholes, speed bumps to convince us to order our Model S 85, Air, with 19 inch rims. After 2,500 miles of driving I am very impressed with the performance.
I have noticed that the Air Suspension appears to "fly" over the occasional pothole much better than our non air suspension BMW did. Sorry to be so undecided, but the Tesla Air Suspension will probably protect the 21 inch rims from potholes better than any other car.
Until we hear from other Tesla owners with 21" rims and Air Suspension, the jury is out.

sagebrushnw | 8 March, 2013

Don't think that the air suspension makes any difference as the tires and wheels still hit the potholes and other road irregularities with the same force. The air suspension makes it smoother for the car and occupants, not the tires and wheels.

Captain_Zap | 8 March, 2013

+1 sage

gisleosaland | 8 March, 2013

Thanks a lot for inputs, I think I´ll have to stick to the original plan and hold on to the 19" wheels. Not sure if these are good enough for Norwegian winters though, hope not to find out the hard way...

TeslaOwnerBlog | 8 March, 2013
GeirT | 8 March, 2013

Been through the same deliberation and have finally decided on 19" for both summer and winter tires. The 21" looks extremely good, but looks is not all. Reliable rumours has it that alternative 19" will be offered shortly.

glaserud | 8 March, 2013


Be aware of a couple of things: the 19" rims do not count regards to their winter capability, this is a matter of what kind of tires you fit them with. I've (briefly) driven then model S on 19" with poor winter tires (type central european) and it behaved very well. I expect that with proper nordic winter tires, it will stick better on snow/ice, but be a bit more "wobbly" as nordic tires are much softer.

When it comes to acceleration, again, it's more a matter of your tires than the rims. And yes, when you put winter tires on the model S it will be much slower 0-60 than on summer tires. This is because winter tires are made to keep the car on the road when driving on snow and ice, not to maximize performance.

I live just outside Oslo, and I'm getting the 21"s. I've driven with low profile tires since I got my license, and have never had any issues with this. If you have a tendency to wreck your rims, go for 19". :)

RedShift | 8 March, 2013


Lighter, supposedly less noisier OE tires, more sidewall for a more comfortable ride,
Less expensive, and less chance of damage.

Only downside is the looks.

TeslaModelSOwner | 8 March, 2013

@Captain - Are you interested in trading your 21's for stock 19's plus some cash?

Captain_Zap | 8 March, 2013

@2013 Thought about doing just that. I'm a bit torn.
Might keep them and add 19's for winter.

But, I still may consider it especially since the spouse is pushing for it. They are silver and have almost 4000 miles on them now and no rashes. Where are you located?

Mark Z | 8 March, 2013

If you want to use car washes with guide rails, then the 19" wheels will reduce damage. One tap of a 21" wheel with a guide rail in a touchless car wash and paint damage can occur.

petmoell | 8 March, 2013

I have another but related question. I will definatly get the 19 inch becuase of comfort an cost. But I an in doubt wether to go Performance or not. Will 19 inch wheels be able to handle the torque? Or will the traction control reduce the acceleration so much that I have no gain vs a standard 85 . Have anyone any knowledge about acceleration test (both from 0 and with car already in motion) with Performane using 19 inch tyres? I am referng to dry summer condition and summer performance tires.

JoeBadge | 8 March, 2013

My car is 48 hours old and my 21" got stuck in the snow 4+ times in my driveway. Mostly my fault though - I had a foot of snow and I didn't plow. Thought I would be able to ride on top. Back wheels spinning on the snow and plenty of shoveling the first night I got my car.... waiting on 19s to arrive for this Chicago weather.

TeslaModelSOwner | 8 March, 2013

i am located in Fremont near the factory.

Bob Kroll | 8 March, 2013

Two nights ago, I was returning home from Treasure Island in the SF Bay. As I was rounding a corner on the road to the Bay Bridge heading east, I hit the triangular shaped 3" high orange road separators on the right side of my car and the 21" wheels rode alongside them (not on top) for maybe 20' or 30'. Immediately I heard a thumping and the "low tire pressure" warning on the dash came on. I pulled over. The front right tire was completely blown and the right rear had a large bubble in the side wall. Tesla towed me home. The next morning, I saw the large crack in the center of the front wheel. The rear wheel seemed okay, since that ruined tire retained its air. I'm a bit miffed about my driving over the separators but also very concerned about the future of these tires and wheels. They were a tastey "included" ("free"?) option worth $3500 that future buyers would have to pay for. But if they're not roadworthy, they're worse than worthless. I'd like a run flat tire on those wheels.

Alex K | 8 March, 2013

@Bob Kroll | MARCH 8, 2013: I'd like a run flat tire on those wheels.

Take a look at these Pirelli tires. They're not cheap ($527 each), but they fit the 21" wheels.

Amped OC | 8 March, 2013

I've read on several threads that 19" wheels should have slightly better range than 21" wheels. Now that there are so many Models S's on the road, can anyone comment on the difference in range with actual numbers?

epsp1 | 8 March, 2013

My model s 85 is sitting at the dealer awaiting the gray 21 in rims to arrive--they are on back order. I am interested in selling the 19 inch rims/tires with tpms as I will not need them going forward. At current, they have not been driven on. If anyone has interest, let me know. I am in South Florida.

danielccc | 8 March, 2013

I actually like the airy look of the 19" wheels. I don't know what the big deal with the turbines is. I mean, they are OK, but they look oversize to me.

19" is really quite large. People are treating rim size like CPU MHz a few years ago; always the biggest possible number with no regard to any other criteria.

And, if you absolutely, positively must have the turbines, there are some nice 19" turbines people have discussed at the Tesla Motors Club web site.

danielccc | 8 March, 2013

I actually like the airy look of the 19" wheels. I don't know what the big deal with the turbines is. I mean, they are OK, but they look oversize to me.

19" is really quite large. People are treating rim size like CPU MHz a few years ago; always the biggest possible number with no regard to any other criteria.

And, if you absolutely, positively must have the turbines, there are some nice 19" turbines people have discussed at the Tesla Motors Club web site.

Mocaptain | 8 March, 2013

Love my 21s. For those who have the performace and wishes to floor it with out spinning the tires, you will appreciate the 21s. The car handles so well with them as well. Very smooth and better cornering. I have been driving them around boston and on bad problems. I asked the service range servicing Boston how many 21 inch tires have been lost to this winter here in boston. He said only one and that was because he ran a curb. He also mention the continentals have a thick wall which protect it. Lastly mentioned that even with the 19s stupidity will pop your tire. | 8 March, 2013

I'm running on 19s till April-- then switching to the 21s. About 10 inches of snow predicted tomorrow.

Brian H | 8 March, 2013


19s are themselves considered quite large on most cars. Funny to see them dissed as little wee wheels here.

Vern110 | 8 March, 2013

Switching my 19 snow wheels for 21" tomorrow, crossing fingers, no more snow.

richard.m.judy | 11 March, 2013

The 21" tires give the car an incredibly sleak look. When I see the 19" alternative next to mine, I am very glad I got the 21". I have scraped the rims up a couple of times on a parallel park...but now just being more careful.

Captain_Zap | 11 March, 2013

I was wondering if anyone in warmer climates has found that the tires that come with the 21" option get "sticky" when warmed up.

carlk | 11 March, 2013

How old are you guys? I doubt anyone younger than 35 would not choose the 21". I'm not young but I know what my 33 year old son will say if I chose the wrong one. In the end it's just cost vs. the cool factor. It's a no brainer which one should win for people who buy the S especially the SP.

I had 35R side wall tires on my Porsche Cayman S for 6 years and never had any issues with it. The low profile tires made the car look 10 times better than the ones without.

Hills | 19 March, 2013

advantages of 21"
- better looking to most when new
- more grippy, thus better handling.

disadvantages of 21"
- $3500 more to start
- Tires won't last nearly as long, perhaps not even 1/2 as long as 19". Since the 21" tires are more expensive, the tire costs over the life of the car would be many thousands higher than 19".
- Ride a little harsher
- Mileage a tiny bit lower (3 separate Tesla employees told me this)
- Wheels somewhat easier to scratch, more expense, or terrible appearnce.
- Tire easier to puncture
- no snow tires. Even more expense in the snow belt.

It is interesting how many forum members choose looks over economics and safety. It is also interesting how many forum members write derisive remarks about the 19".

montewash2 | 26 September, 2013

Im in Texas, NO MO GAS!!:) I want to get a set of the 21inch turbines (grey). I'm willing to trade my 19 inch sliver wheels and some cash for turbines. Any takers?

crazybrit | 20 November, 2013

When I floor the accelerator on my P85 with 19in wheels, the tires squeal. Even if I am not at standstill (maybe 5-10 mph). When I test drove the P85 with 21's that didn't happen, they could take all the torque. Anyone else find this? My tires are not going to last long at this rate :)

mnaggar | 20 November, 2013

@Captain I just got the 19" Rial Lugano's in gunmetal titanium grey. They look very close to the turbines. Look them up if you are interested. I loved the 21 turbines but went with 19's stock when i found the Luganos. They look awesome on the car.

Lycanthrope P85 | 21 November, 2013

I also prefer the look of the turbines and the 21", but 19" is way lore practical for the crappy Belgian roads and all the cobbled streets in Brussels.

Those Lugano's look great, I wonder if they can be bought in Europe?

I'm planning to go with the stock 19" then buy a set for winter wheels. €2500 is ridiculously expensive for the 19" cyclone upgrade, I can't imagine they cost much more than the standard 19" so Tesla's taking the piss IMO.

andy | 21 November, 2013

A no brainer. 19" is by far the best option. You will look cool outside your house with the 21", but 19 is much smoother, way more quiet and you will not regret this choise at all.
Working partially w tires, i have the experience.
This also regards to other cars as well, my 20" on my MB-S is just not functional on the car and are for sale:) 18 for the Benz is what came out best and 19" is absolutely the best for the Tesla...

xradr | 21 November, 2013

Tradeoffs ... u need to decide what's best for you.

I have a set of 21's (grey) on P85. 12K miles on them with the conti's (but I probably should have replaced by 10K miles). The performance wheel + tire makes for rigid/tight cornering. There is little give, and pretty good "road feel". For a performance family sedan, this has been nothing short of spectacular.

I also bought a set of the silver Rial Luganos (19's). Also, 19 conti DWS (all season performance tires). The ride is much softer/quieter. The tire is vastly more durable and seems to handle the bumps in the road a LOT better. They work GREAT with routine driving. Driving straight on a well maintained road will give little perceptible difference. The difference is in higher speed cornering. There is more give, and you don't get quite the road feel.

I will keep both sets and change 'em out periodically (only $20 to mount all 4 wheels locally and another $20 for balancing!!!)

Mr. Hansen | 21 November, 2013

I choise 19" because of the bad roads in Norway and it is much more quiet then the 21". My first test drive was with 21", and I was surprised of the roadnoise in the car. The second time I tested the car it was with 19" and it was much more quiet. One of the best part of Model S is the quiet part.


Gizmotoy | 21 November, 2013

@crazybrit: A lot of that is the tires. Put the sticky summer rubber from the 21"s on the 19"s instead of the all-seasons and I bet most or all of the squealing is gone.

WattsThatGrin | 21 November, 2013


I'm in Switzerland and found out that Rial, a german manufacturer, produces the Luganos in Poland... They also did a specific Tesla Model S configuration for Tire Rack USA... but not for Europe so far (that should be coming in 2014). Knowing what might happen with snow and back orders I ordered four Luganos for my S (which isn't even here yet) in October when they must have been somewhere on a ship mid-atlantic westbound. Last week they arrived in Indiana and were FedExed back to Europe, by air this time. Just got them today and they must have 10'000 miles in the clock... though non from the road ;-)

Brian H | 21 November, 2013

andy, Mr. Hansen;

calbeach95 | 22 November, 2013

I LOVE my 21" wheels BUT I live in Denver and have to be practical. So I bought an extra set of 19" wheels (the local Tesla service center had extras they sold at a nice discount) and will have winter tires mounted on them - to drive safely and conserve the 21" rubber. I also had my 21" wheels powder coated a matte black to my liking, so I want to preserve the wheels as well. I have driven my car during the summer with both the 19" & 21" and both drive quite nicely but there is a definite edge toward the 21" for highway driving. Driving my 21" wheels in the season's first real snow today I felt they were not as sure footed as I would like to have for our winters.

ionline | 27 November, 2014

Anyone have experience with 21's and winter tires in harsh conditions? I'm about to order a D in Canada and would love to order the 21" winter tire package to compliment the summer performance 21's.

But the practical part of me is saying 21's are crazy, they'll get beat up on our roads - pot holes, slush, salt, gravel you name it. I'm pretty good at avoiding potholes, but I'll typically hit one good one every spring.

jim.wilson | 27 November, 2014

One of the down sides of owning a 911 Turbo was having to buy new rear tires every 7 to 9 thousand miles.

Some how it didn't seem right that I had to buy new tires twice as often as I changed oil.

More importantly it made the Porsche a very poor care for taking long trips, not counting the harsh ride my wife always objected to. There would be a good chance somewhere on the trip I would have to buy new rear tires.

Made the choice 19" wheels simple for me on the P85D.

DGEN4 | 27 November, 2014

I originally ordered 21" wheels and Tesla called me out of the blue about two weeks ago to recommend I instead get 19" wheels if I'll be doing any "winter driving." I think they're contacting anyone who lives in or near snowy climates (I'm in the Bay Area but they're obviously assuming I may travel to Tahoe, which I'll be doing). Anyway, I changed my order to 19" wheels. I actually like the regular rims. Also like the turbine rims, but not such a big fan of the cyclones.

JaneW | 27 November, 2014

It's really more a question of performance and handling than looks, and it's the tires more than the wheels. I've gotten really used to low-profile tires. I've used them for years with no more busted tires as far as I can tell. And I'd miss the better handling, not just when I'm auto-crossing, but cornering on normal roads.

Low profile, high performance summer tires are stickier, corner better and more smoothly, allow you to get the acceleration back on earlier in the corner, will accelerate without squealing or squiggling in a straight line. And are dangerous in the snow, even in real cold weather because they harden. Both Tire Rack and the manufacturers strongly recommend against winter use

Since the diameter of the tires on 19s and 21s are the same, I think they both fit the wheel well nicely. But that's a really personal choice. I'll use 19s and snow tires during winter because they stay flexible in the cold and have the right tread configuration for lousy weather.

That's my experience during 20 years in Colorado.