Driving in the Snow is Dangerous

Driving in the Snow is Dangerous

Drove my new Tesla Model S today to get home from the store in our neighborhood after it started snowing and the car skidded all over the road. Tried to make it up the last, small hill to my house and it barely made it. Actually went sidways for a bit going about 2 miles mph, straighted it and finally got up the hill that is a 4% grade and about 60 feet long. I would not recommend driving it in the snow as it was delivered. If my wife or perhaps someone else not as skilled had driven it, trying to make it a few blocks home from the store, I'm sure they would have crashed.

I can't speak about peformance with all weather tires but I can't see how it would be that much better. My Panamera Turbo, (which is all wheel drive) can make it up the hill easily, without skidding at all and does not have all weather tires. Also other neighbors who have two wheel drive cars without all weather tires can make it up this little hill easily in the snow.

So, the short of it is, please be careful if you are out in the snow without all whether tires because the car as shipped may certainly not capable of driving around town, even with an experienced driver.

Hills | February 14, 2013

This is the 21" wheels?

shop | February 14, 2013

if you have that much snow, get winter tires?

shawndrucks | February 14, 2013

I just received this from the service center (good they are responding late at night). I was certainly not told anything about the winter limitations of my tires upon delivery.

"The ExtremeContact DW (DW for Dry & Wet) is Continental Tire's Max Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sports coupes and performance sedans. The ExtremeContact DW is designed to deliver good ride quality and serious performance on both dry and wet roads. Like all summer tires, the ExtremeContact DW is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice."

If this was not made clear to you at time of delivery I am apologize. But please do not attempt to drive these 21" performance tires in snowy winter conditions The tires are not designed for it, and it is extremely dangerous to do so. If you would like to purchase a set of snow tires, I would be happy to provide you with a quote. The snow tires will make the vehicle excel in snowy winter conditions but will lack performance on dry/summer pavement. It would probably be in your best interest to run two separate sets of tires. I personally have 2 sets of tires on my car, and it really helps my cars drive-ability all year round.

shop | February 14, 2013

Good advice. Where I grew up in Canada, everyone, and I mean everyone, would make a twice year trek to their local garage to switch from summer/ winter tires. I'm a bit surprised Tesla isn't telling people in northern climates to consider buying snow tires.

noel.smyth | February 14, 2013

I drove my S in the snow several times and it handled very well. Better than my front wheel drive Accord. Standard tires. no slipping. Maybe its how you are driving it.

Amped | February 14, 2013

@shawndrucks, Are you trying to use a scare tactic & drum up business for yourself "I'll give you a tire quote"
I'm in Denver and the snow was nothing today.

Superliner | February 14, 2013

Hmmmmmm ?? Interesting posts thus far.

jat | February 14, 2013

The 21" tire are billed as summer performance tires, the standard 19" tires are all-season, and the store offers snow tires on 19" rims for people who have 21's. You can't get all-season or winter tires in the low-profile 21" size.

It may not be as clear as it could be on the ordering page, but the discussions on the forum made it completely clear that if you buy the 21" wheels you need to plan on swapping them out for 19's in the winter.

Brian H | February 14, 2013

Yes. All-season tires are a kludge, and should be called "No-season tires", btw. They guarantee sub-par performance in all situations. They're penny-wise, pound-foolish in the full sense of the saying.

GeirT | February 14, 2013

Sorry to say but this is a silly post IF it describes driving on snow and ice with 21" low profile summer tires. On top of that comparing the experience with an all wheel drive Panamera. This is the famous comparing apple and oranges. Living in a winter wonder land I know this from 30 years experience together with the rest of us here, summer tires for summer and winter tires for winter. All weather tires are not good on bare roads and are not good on snow and ice. It has to do with the thread and the rubber quality of course. Nokian, Blizzak, Continental etc. offers non-studded winter tires that give equally grip as studded ones. That tells you how specialised these type of tires are. So, to drive around on ice and snow on summer tires... not a good idea no matter the make of car.

Crow | February 14, 2013

Please drum up business somewhere else. Take your BS and go.

jat | February 14, 2013

@BrianH - I don't think all-season tires are bad if you live someplace like I do where there is maybe a week of snow a year. Performance tires might have better grip, but it isn't like I am on the track trying to maximize lap times and I care more about not replacing expensive tires twice a year, and the inconvenience of having to have a second set of wheels, store them and swap them, etc is pretty annoying. Even though I like the look of the 21" wheels, I wouldn't have taken them even if they were a no-cost option.

Mark Z | February 14, 2013

21" wheels are great for dry roads, but I avoid quick accelerations from a standing start in wet weather.

Switch to the 19" wheels and buy this Tesla accessory for the snow.

Robert22 | February 14, 2013

I had to drive home at the height of the blizzard in Boston last week. I've got the 19' tires and had no problem at all driving twice the speed of the few cars on the road. The only minor issue is the defogger that doesn't adequately defog the left 6-8 inches of the driver side windshield which is a known issue. It would also be helpful to have a way to lock the suspension in high mode regardless of speed. Until then, be prepared to plow some snow if accumulation is expected

Brian H | February 14, 2013

Then you get 51 weeks of sub-par summer driving. Is that worth it for the sake of borderline usefulness 1 week a year?

Robert22 | February 15, 2013

I've had two months of stellar performance on wet and dry pavement. I now routinely and comfortably take turns at speeds that would have put me in someone's living room with my prior autobahn-optimized Benz. My front seat passenger is sick of crawling out of my lap on right turns. The car tracks like it's on rails. My heart rate hovers around 140 when the spirited driving starts. Road noise is minimal and certainly not distracting. I'd rate the snow driving performance as uncompromising, certainly not "borderline useful". I consider the 21's unnecessary at this point unless you enjoy insurance surcharges. How often do you need to drive multiples of the speed limit?

Define "sub-par summer driving".

Brian H | February 15, 2013

Driving using summer tires. Those don't have to be 21s; they come in 19" too, you know.

Brian H | February 15, 2013

Corr: "sub par summer driving" = driving using other than summer tires. The S and TC/SC can compensate somewhat, but traction and wear are suffering for it.

Timo | February 15, 2013

BTW, has anybody measured yet what's the difference in range with 19 vs 21 inch tires? AFAIK 19 should have slightly longer range, but how much?

Differences between all season and summer tires would be interesting as well.

GoTeslaChicago | February 15, 2013


Your performance in the snow was so bad I have to ask, have you checked to be sure that traction control is on, because it would make all the difference in the world. You might not go very fast, but you should go straight.

MandL | February 15, 2013

I bought the 19s with all seasons for my Sig non-perf and put them on before the winter started. I figured I'd probably sell the 21s so I don't have to swap twice a year. But the all season tires do suck in the snow. I've had the same experience of the rear end sliding to the side when trying to go up a hill in a little bit of fresh snow.

So I'll be keeping the 21" wheels and putting snow tires on the 19s for next year.

Pungoteague_Dave | February 15, 2013


There is no practical difference in outside diameter between the 19" and 21" wheels. The difference is that the 21" wheels have much lower profile tire (narrower sidewall). That makes them ride more harshly due to the stiffer sidewall, and they are easier to damage in potholes. Apparently they are also more subject to curb rash because the 21" tires don't have the sidewall overhang found on the 19" tires.

I like the 21" wheels better from an appearance perspective, but after opting for the sport wheels and suspensions on prior MB and BMW sports cars and sedans, would never buy another car with such a setup. Also, the 21" tires last about half as long because they have a stickier tread compound. They do handle better and might be great for California driving, but in real world use, I prefer the 19's. Finally, there are no winter or all-season tires for the 21" rims.

RedShift | February 15, 2013

+1 P Dave.

In addition, bigger wheels (generally) add weight. That's why I went with 19".

I will however, be replacing the OE 19" tires with even lighter, more durable, quieter tires
After I get my car....

Ah, reminds me of the times when I used to do this for my very first car!

RedShift | February 15, 2013

Oh, one more thing. Agree with Brian about all seasons.

However, not all all seasons are bad for summer driving or winter driving.

They are a compromise, but there is a huge market for them, obviously.

Jewsh | February 15, 2013

I think it's rather rude to assume your wife's driving is inferior to yours. As others have mentioned you drove on summer tires...

At least no one got hurt.

GoTeslaChicago | February 15, 2013


He knows his wife better than you. (I hope)

Jewsh | February 15, 2013


"He knows his wife better than you. (I hope)"

Hey, if his wife admits she is a poor driver, that's a different story. Here's a guy who posts that summer tires don't perform well in the snow though. Irony abounds.

Dr. Bob Reinke | February 16, 2013

Before we bought the Signature P85 we have owned Toyota Supera's since 1988 (no longer manufactured)(or would have bought one this year) We have always said that a Supra could pass anything on the road or track, but if they saw a snowflake they ran for the ditch. The first year we owned one it came equiped with Rain Tires and was hell to drive on snow. We had Blizzak W60s installed and they made the Supra's as winter driveable as the best 4 wheel drive made. We now have W60 on our very winter drivable Signature P85.

Andrew18 | February 16, 2013

I turned off my traction control in heavier snow with my 19 inch winter tires; my tires spun a lot and the traction control kept stopping the wheels. When the traction control is off, the car still keeps itself from sliding side to side, but it gave me enough momentum to plow through the slippery snow and ice.