19 or 21 inch rims.?

19 or 21 inch rims.?

My S is about to go into production and I've orderd the 21 inch turbine wheels, but in looking at the pictures oft he 19 and 21 inch tires I now have concerns. Some years ago i had a porsche turbo with performance tires and ended up replacing a number of tures and rims from unavoidable pothole damage. I live in New Orleans where our potholes are the size and shape of other states.

Hasa nyone experienced damage to 21 inch tires and rims? (Or do your state taxes ensure butter smooth roads)

carlk | November 5, 2013

You have answered your own question already. I had a bent rim with my Porsche years ago but that's the only time I got it. I started to pay attention and it has never happened again. It's as avoidable as your ability to avoid any kind of accidents.

I have heard people send their repair bill to the city or sue the city in small claim court for the damages. That could be a way to recover the costs too.

Gizmotoy | November 5, 2013

You've hit on a hotly-debated decision, my friend. To 21", or not to 21".

One of the most prolific detailers of Teslas (140+ Model Ss last I saw) in the Bay Area just started installing Alloy Gators, as he'd noticed that a huge percentage of the cars with 21"s had curb rash or damage of some sort. Consider also that the cars can be little more than a year old at most, and the majority of owners visit him for OptiCoat installation when the car is brand new. Plus, potholes aren't really a thing here. That should give you an idea.

My current car has 40s on 18"s and I'm terrified of curbing or bending a wheel. I can't imagine stepping down to 35s.

My P85 is coming with 19"s, though I'll be swapping some decent tires on ASAP.

jat | November 5, 2013

Many threads on this. The 21" wheel/tire combo will have better traction, but you will wear them out faster, have more road noise, feel the bumps more, be prone to damage from bad roads, and be less efficient. If you like the traction/looks enough to offset all those, go for them.

I went with 19" wheels for daily use, and bought 20" BBS CH-Rs with BFG g-Force Rivals for track use.

Roamer@AZ USA | November 5, 2013

With 21's you can count on cut tires and scraped rims. I have 19's on my wife's car and 21's on mine.

My wife is world famous for cutting tires on curbs turning into driveways.

redacted | November 5, 2013

Yes, please search the forums.

The consensus seems to be: if you want low operating costs and lack of hassle, go with 19" wheels (which still look plenty hot to me). If you want the best traction and meanest look and your granddaddy is named Rockefeller (that would be Rockerfeller in Jerry Ford-speak), go for the 21's.

Eknight47 | November 5, 2013

Got the 21s (in Boston - also a pothole city) and bought a separate set of Model S 19's with winter tires on them. I liked the look of the 21s too much not to get them....I couldn't spend this much money on a car and not have it exactly how I want it!

That said, I just put the 21s in the basement for the winter and put on my 19s. The 19's are MUCH quieter and MUCH smoother, but the 21s just look so good and outperform the 19s.

Get both!

carlk | November 5, 2013

If people have not get what I meant hitting a pot hole is as avoidable as ability to avoid accidents I'll explaine it one more time. S$#t happens but that should not prevent you from getting what you want. Does the possibility of your beautiful car might be damaged in an accident prevent you from getting it? Of course not. Go get the 21" if you really like the look or the performance. The worst it could happen is you spend a thousand dollars or so to get a new one.

BTW for people who have not experienced the bent rim it usually will not make the car undrivable. In my case I did not even notice it until the service guy told me that when I took the car in for routine service.

Theresa | November 5, 2013

@Eknight47, I am exactly the same as you. Just put on the 19 inch winter tires and wheels. So much quieter, And after three days of driving it appears mileage is better too. But they do feel a little squishy/floaty feeling after having the 21s. I think had I started with the 19s I wouldn't notice.

But the 21s do look so much better. Gonna miss them for the winter.

rbergquist | November 5, 2013

Last weekend my wife and I took a 500 mile road trip. One of the 21" wheels developed a crack & had to be replaced. We know the 100 mile stretch of freeway it occurred, but neither of us could recall hitting anything so cause of rim failure is a mystery to us. The freeways have been mostly all repaved during last 4 years and are in good shape.

Nearest Tesla service center was 150 miles away so it required getting someone to bring it down to us since too late for shipping on a weekend. So it is not like just taking it to local shop to get replaced. Local shop also had a Tesla in the back awaiting replacement of two 21" wheels. Manager's comment was that the 21" are very prone to failure.

I sent an email yesterday to my brother saying he had made the right choice by going with the 19".

It has taken the fun out of running on the 21" so I'm getting the 19" Cyclones installed Friday for normal use.

I haven't decided if I'm keeping the 21" for Summer fun trips.

I had installed the Gators to prevent rim rash - if you get 21s you need the Gators.

JPPTM | November 5, 2013

Performance and esthetics vs. ride comfort, mileage and durability.

FWIW, I chose the 19's. I have ruined too many low profile tires and nice rims and the S is my daily driver.

rwatters | November 5, 2013

Thanks for the feedback. After reviewing the posts and other topics I changed my order to put the 19s on the car. Too many potholes here to make them entirely avoidable and I've seen how vulnerable perfornance rims can be to a sharp impact. If I have to have them I can always order post delivery.

fluxemag | November 5, 2013

Get the 19's, sell them and buy some aftermarket 20's. Best of all worlds.

Gizmotoy | November 5, 2013

The 40s that would go on a 20" are not immune to trouble, but they are significantly better than the 35s the 21"s wear. I did OK in Ohio and Chicago on 40s, though I was extremely careful.

nexnbax | November 5, 2013

Gizmotoy is on target.
If you live in colder climates, consider the keeping the Primacy set up for winter and then purchase some HRE 20" P101 wheels.
At 21.4 lbs, these tires will shave 5 pounds of unsprung weight off which in turn means ... More cars to dust off the line as you HIT IT!!!

nexnbax | November 5, 2013

Also, for summer performance tires, NO other tire can touch the Michelin Pilot Super Sport. They are Quieter, Much smoother and track like rails around corners. Wet weather handling is unmatched and the ride is pure silk. I've owned 911 Turbo, AMG, M5 and more fun cars. Each time I play around with rubber... I come back to the Super Sport. The Continentals are as bad as they come. Hard n Noisy.
BTW, they do not make the Super Sport tire in a 21" for our S. The 255/40ZR20 in (101Y) load capacity is the tire I use. And I twist my car up to 100mph each and every day. I like to make the batteries...squeal, with delight :)

asmerek | November 5, 2013

I just moved away from New Orleans and I'm scared to take my Model S back even with the 19's! We called them manholes, not potholes! You can actually lose an entire tire in some of them!

jat | November 5, 2013

@ivanbracic - the PSS are no comparison to the g-Force Rivals, but of course they don't last that long and aren't suitable for driving through standing water.

toddslack | November 6, 2013

I also live in NO - I've driven a friend's P85 with 21" turbines and ridden in another friend's S85 with 19"s, both in the streets of NO. My observations were that the 21s were superior in handling but had a harder ride. The 19s were very smooth. Having owned other vehicles with ultra-low profile tires in the city, I have replaced tires before from blow-outs caused by potholes. My S85 is being delivered next week and I went with the 19s for the same reason as you - its a daily driver and I want the smooth ride. Although those 21" turbines do look incredible...

ralsagoff | March 2, 2014


Did you ever get rid of the Michelins that came with the 19" rims?