Wheel Alignment for Aftermarket Wheels... What do you do?

Wheel Alignment for Aftermarket Wheels... What do you do?

TL;DR... anyone have success getting Tesla to do wheel alignment with aftermarket wheels? My service center said "no", and local shops are telling me they can't do Tesla's. Where are you getting alignments done?

I have a 2013 P85 that came with 21" wheels. Those tires are crazy expensive and don't last long. I just had a blowout and was facing two new rear tires ($900 installed) and decided it was time to downgrade to 19" wheels with more affordable tire options. I already had an appointment scheduled with Tesla about returning a loaner wheel, but couldn't get anyone to talk to me in the service center about moving to 19" wheels. It's been well documented on the forums how impossible it is to talk to anyone in service and, with a flat tire, I didn't have the luxury of waiting 10 days until the next available appointment. I had previously talked to Tesla about downgrading and was told aftermarket was not a problem. "The avatar just won't match on the screen" is all I was told. So when faced with silence from Tesla service, I bought some nice aftermarket wheels and tires. Just had my car in the service center for an alignment and I was told "we can't do alignments on aftermarket wheels". Apparently their equipment is only calibrated for OEM wheels (or so I was told). The place that installed my wheels/tires doesn't do alignment. Next place I called, Firestone Complete Auto Care, said they don't have the software to do Tesla's. He started talking about all the sensors and I let him know my care is pre-Auto Pilot. Still he said they wouldn't do it.

I'm going to call around and see if I can find anyone who will do a basic alignment, but thought I'd ask... what are others doing with their aftermarket wheels? Any service chains you've had success with?

HgCoder | September 10, 2019

As an added bonus, the service center did try to perform an alignment as best they could and now my car vibrates at 80 mph when it didn't before they touched it. I wasn't charged, but I also wasn't asked if they should attempt it anyway.

Silver2K | September 10, 2019

Goodyear does all my alignments to perfection

2015P90DI | September 11, 2019

Don't really need a wheel alignment just because you changed wheels. If you feel the car is out of alignment for some other reason (hit a curb, pot hole, etc), then my suggestion would be, if you can't find a place to do it at a reasonable price, just put your 21's back on, take it to Tesla and let them align it, then put your 19's back on. If you have to, go on e-bay to find a cheap used tire to replace your damaged tire. Probably can find a used one with a enough tread to get you to the service center and back for $40.

Anyway, just a workaround option if you can't figure it out otherwise and better than taking to a shop that says they know what they're doing with a Tesla when they really don't.

The key point though is, you don't need to do if all you did was swap wheels and that's your only reason for doing it.

Silver2K | September 11, 2019

PS: Goodyear has a 3 year plan for 179.99. I do an alignment every 6 months :)

Silver2K | September 11, 2019

Recent Tesla alignment corrected by Goodyear!AihnWpuO55swiYp1b1gBpGjdKh8rYg?e=FEQ4rv

Daisy the Road ... | September 11, 2019

Vibration is typically a wheel balance problem, not an alignment problem.

HgCoder | September 11, 2019

Thanks for the replies. The rear tires on my 21" wheels showed severely uneven wear (inside worn through to belts, outside looked fine), so that's what prompted the alignment instead of the new wheels. I haven't had alignment in over a year and have had this vehicle go out of alignment many times. It was pulling a little to the right as well, so I figured I'd get an alignment while I was at Tesla for other warranty service. I've only had the new wheels/tires a few days, but didn't have any issues driving at freeway speeds before the attempted alignment Tesla did at the service center. I know unbalanced tires can also cause vibration, but figure the alignment was the likely culprit here. Glad to know others have had success with Goodyear, so thanks for helping point me in the right direction.

2015P90DI | September 11, 2019

HGCoder, Tesla Model S cars have a TON of rear camber in them. Has nothing to do with the alignment, just the way Tesla sets up their cars. They've taken some of it out over the years. If you're not aware, rear camber means how much the tire/wheel is tilted relative to 90 degrees from the ground. If you look at the rear tires, the top is tilted relative to the bottom. As such, this puts more weight and wear on the inner edge of the tire. This has been an issue on all Tesla Model S's. It's made worse by the fact that most owners set their cars to lower at highway speeds, which tilts the tire/wheel even more. Those that do a lot of highway miles, notice more wear than others. You don't have a problem, you just have a Tesla.

Best thing you can do is remember to rotate your tires if you have a straight up setup (same front and rear wheels/tires) to distribute the wear. If you really want to go crazy, at some point, you could have the tires dismounted and flipped around on the wheels to put them on the other side of the car. Doing this, will quadruple the miles you get out of the tires. I got over 30,000 miles out of my 21's by doing this as the inner edge is the reason most people have to replace the tires after 13,000 to 20,000 miles.

Based on that, you don't have an alignment problem. Wouldn't worry about it. Just stay on top of your rotation schedule. Would rotate them at 7,500 miles. Then at 15,000 miles, flip the tires on the wheels. Then at 22,500 rotate them again (front to rear, not one side to the other unless you flip the tires on the wheels as they are directional).

Hope that helps.

rm760 | September 11, 2019

EV tuning makes a kit to remove the OEM rear camber.

HgCoder | September 12, 2019

Finally got everything straightened out so figure I'll post an update. Thanks for the feedback on the rear camber. I had a feeling that was the issue. I had to call 3 places to get anyone to do an alignment, and it did need some adjustments after the attempted alignment a TSC. Most places said "our software doesn't have the data for Tesla". I finally got a Goodyear place to do it, although the first one said they couldn't and referred me to the other. At least around here (Nashville, TN), it's apparently still hard to get a Tesla alignment done outside the TSC, but not impossible.

Good news is that the alignment reduced the vibration I was feeling after Tesla changed the alignment. Turns out the wheels where also a little out-of-balance. So the alignment shift at Tesla appeared to just make the out-of-balance issue more noticeable. Good news is that now the car is buttery smooth on the highway and I like the drive better on these aftermarket wheels/tires better than the OEM configuration with the 21's.

I went with a staggered configuration to try to reduce tire slip in the rear, so no rotations for me. Hopefully now that I know to look for severe inside wear I won't have another blowout on the highway when my tires look fine from the outside. I'm afraid to do any real modifications to the car until I'm out of warranty (which is about 2 more years on my CPO).

Thanks again for all the feedback. It's a relief to finally have my car back in proper shape.

Silver2K | September 12, 2019

Daisy the Road ... | September 11, 2019
Vibration is typically a wheel balance problem, not an alignment problem.

Poor alignment can cause excessive inside tire wear causing the car to vibrate/shake