NYC Area Potholes with 21" wheels | tire and rim insurance?

NYC Area Potholes with 21" wheels | tire and rim insurance?

Hi Everyone,

First post, just finalized my car #13565. Can't wait!
Forgive me if this questions has been asked/answered. I couldn't find search feature on the forums, which I find odd.

My current car (BMW 550i) has had terrible problems with pothole damage to the run-flat tires (and in one case, the rim) over the past 2 years.

Has anyone had any issues with pothole damage to the wheels/rims on the Model S? I know they're not run-flats, so that alone with mitigate a lot of the issues, but I'm also moving from 19" wheels on the BMW to the 21" on the Model S.

I'm trying to
a) get a sense from others if they've had problems or not
b) decide whether or not to buy tire/rim insurance
c) decide whether or not to buy a set of 19" wheels for the winter months

Thanks for any feedback!


christurbeville | 28 januari 2013

I've asked about this in another thread but no response. I suspect half the crowd isn't familiar with what /35s and >19" rims means. The tesla shop says $3500 a rim! My M5s have had about 4-5 rims and 6-8 tires each in the last 12 years thank god for those policies:) If you find a third party please post I'm looking too.

murraypetera | 28 januari 2013
Sudre_ | 28 januari 2013

I just read though my final paperwork earlier today and there is a note at the bottom that says the 21" wheels are more susceptible to road damage. It's Tesla's legal disclaimer saying it is your fault if you hit a pothole and blow out a tire.

jeremys | 28 januari 2013

christurbeville: rallye bmw was awesome. they really took great care of me through all of the wheel/tire issues, but it was first experience with run-flats and it was really a shock.

murraypetera: the tesla set seems cheaper $2.4k vs $4k. is the tunershop set much better?

Sundre_: i'm sure tesla wants to distance itself from the terrible road conditions outside of cali ;)

Hills | 28 januari 2013

For someone with passion for performance driving, 21" is the way to go. I don't know anything about insurance, but I chose 19" for safety reasons. After all, no spare, only a $50 kit.

My car was delivered in early December, and in the 6 months prior to delivery, I had multiple opportunities to ask Tesla employees about 19 vs 21 wheels. When I said I was afraid of tire/rim damage, everyone I talked to said to go with 19". In fact, both the Tesla employee in charge of chasis design, and the employee who was the primary test driver (this was before the public was allowed to test drive) said they would choose 19" themselves.

Also, 21" cost $3500 more, plus the tires will last only 1/2 as long. If a person only cares about pushing the car to the max,21" is the choice. 19" will be much cheaper over life of the car due to upfront cost, tire costs, and even milage (according to yet another Tesla employee, but not quantified).

archibaldcrane | 28 januari 2013

Whoa, you've smoked multiple M5 19" rims on potholes...and now you're going for 21" tires? You sir, are a glutton for punishment...

Hills | 28 januari 2013

FYI, here is how my conversation went with the Tesla Test driver back in early summer.

me: "I am worried about the 21" rim"

He: "you should not be, it performs great"

me: "Our roads are bad...".

He: "I have driven the Model S for months. No problem if you are careful. Tesla engineered the rims to perform well"

me: "which rim will you get when you get your model S?"

He: "19 inch"

jeremys | 28 januari 2013

Hills: The 21" are included with the Performance car. I'm thinking about buying the 19" wheels to swap in/out during the winter :) this is my first car purchase (i've leased for decades) and i'm thinking of holding onto the car longer than i normally would so swapping sets would probably pay for itself by extending the life of the tires.

archibaldcrane: yes, yes I am. actually, i only bent one rim and that was on the cross island parkway with a sunken utility cover that was at least 6" deep driving my mother-in-law to the airport. the parkway had been repaved a month earlier and i wasn't expecting anything like that on a new road, but that's the shitty engineering we have here...

btw, can someone smarter than me please explain why the autobahn is pothole-free and our roads look like swiss cheese?

Brian H | 28 januari 2013

Adding chopped worn-out tires to the asphalt mix reputedly makes it much longer lasting, resilient, and pothole resistant, plus providing better traction. Should be done everywhere, IMO.

fridintl | 28 januari 2013

Two flat tires plus both rims had to be replaced on the left after hitting a pot hole on the BQE in NYC. Spend some quality time underneath the Williamsburg Bridge on Christmas waiting to be towed. Welcome to New York Brother. 21" rims in this neighborhood, the wrong choice, according to the service manager at Long Island City. Who knew? Tesla obviously protected themselves against pot holes. Thanks however to the insurance company which absorbed most of the damage.
(different subject) My electricity bill has almost doubled since i have my Tesla S-signature. )November & December over last year. Drove only 2,200 miles and paid #136 more in Decmber this year over last. Nov almost the same. Only difference is the electric car. Live in NJ - Tesla figures coast on 11 cent country average, in Nj after all is done it's 17 cents - average miles 76 per gallon using their estimate of 33 KWH per gallon - still Ican't figure out the enormous electric bill - anyone have an answer

jeremys | 28 januari 2013 that sucks, sorry to hear it. i'm leaning towards getting the 19" set for the winter months. i just have to figure out where to store the extra set of wheels when they're not being used...

L8MDL | 30 januari 2013

Regarding road conditions, the German fuel tax is just short of NINE times that of the US: 24.4 cents USA federal tax vs $2.07 Germany, per gallon (Feb 2011 per Forbes). I'd just buy insurance given your stated history...

Brian H | 30 januari 2013

What is the Nov-Dec kWh difference? Is it rational, given the driving you did?

aaronw2 | 30 januari 2013

To help protect my rims I bought a product from which protects them from curb rash. I plan to have it installed on my model S as soon as I get it. It won't protect against big potholes but it will at least protect the edge of the rim.

GeirT | 31 januari 2013


Made in Germany vs. Made in the USA ?

chadrchristensen79 | 31 januari 2013

Excluding Tesla right ;-)

TheAustin | 31 januari 2013

I live in NY (Hamptons area of Long Island)...Before finalizing my configuration, I was also trying to decide between the 19s and the 21s...Most people from Tesla said get the 19s for the northeast, but I had a hard time downgrading from the 21s that came with the performance, since theey came with them, and I really love the aesthetic of the 21s...That's what I first saw of the Model S, and that's what I fell in love with. Not so much with the 19s.

Since I was originally expecting my car late summer/early fall, I decided to get it with the 21s, and order a set of 19s for winter driving. However, when I finally received my car (December 30), they were backordered on the 19s...So, I've been driving around on the 21s, through all of this lovely snow, ice and rain that we've had over the last month, and I have to say, I've been very impressed with how they have handled the conditions. So much so, that I probably with not get the 19s now.

Of course, I understand that handling is different than comfort, safety, range, and longevity, and it's totally possible that one or several of the factors will eventually lead me back to the 19s. But for now, They ride pretty comfortably around town, although a trip into NYC was a little bumpy, but I noticed that more on the headrest, which didn't feel as soft as I would have liked it to be). Driving around NYC seemed fine, and I'm already used to avoiding potholes and storm drains anyway. I would like to drive someone else's Model S with 19's (maybe I'll do a test drive, as I've yet to see/meet anyone else with a Model S) to see if it really changes the feel of the ride.

Has anyone on here driven both 19's and 21s? If so, what can you tell us about the ride difference?

christurbeville | 31 januari 2013

jeremyshao: yes I had the same experience with Classic BMW in Dallas fixed everything with $0 on the bill. Just curious if there's third parties to help. I realize I'll probably have to pay Tesla and get reimbursed since it isn't done by them.

archibaldcrane: I've had 2 M5s and am buying a 100k car without ever seeing it or sitting in it. What do you think;)

I'll post if I scare something up on the intertubes.

jeremys | 31 januari 2013

L8MDL: would paying the higher tax also help increase driver education so people don't cruise at 45mph in the left lane? if so, sign me up! ;)

GeirT: good point. i'm betting that Tesla can start a new trend. this is only my 2nd non-german car (made an ill-advised decision to lease a lexus IS which BMW was able to help me get out of after one year)

TheAustin: i'm also in long island, manhasset, near the americana. i drive into the city a lot for meetings, etc and the potholes once you get into the five boroughs are horrific but i agree with you on the 21s vs the 19s aesthetically. thanks a lot for the info, my delivery is estimated for april/may, so i've got some time to decide on the winters.. i'm just stuck waiting for the car so there's nothing else to do but research and chat ;) i'd be curious how the tires/rims hold up for you through the rest of the winter.

christurbeville: i still need to have that uncomfortable call with my bmw dealer.. he's a great guy and i hate to break the news that i'm leaving. lol

L8MDL | 31 januari 2013

Jeremy - sorry but tax rate doesn't appear to help improve driver ability. To wit, your state, NY, has the highest rate in the nation at .69/gal (per API 2013) and I've not noticed that y'all are the best drivers...

jeremys | 31 januari 2013

exactly why we need more driver education! i keep trying to educate them, but flashing highbeams just seem to confuse them further...

portia | 2 februari 2013

I hit a pot hole last week (in California), and it sprayed gravel into the wheel well, (21") and I ended up with one of those rocks between the brake rotor making horrible noise, I had to have the car flatbed trucked to Tesla in Menlo Park to get it fixed (removed the rock). So that would be a hazard regardless of the size of the wheel. Tesla didn't charge me for the trouble though! and they covered the tow truck too.

GeekEV | 2 februari 2013

@christurbeville - It's not $3,500 a rim. It's for the whole set of four, installed:

echrismd | 26 maart 2014

Although this thread seems to be closed, I have just been looking for problems with the 21" tires too. I have had NINE, yes, NINE tires blown in 14 months. Three were from nails, one from wear, and the others from potholes or weird side wall damage. Its unbelievable! Any cost savings from no gas has been "blown-out" by the tires!

Mathew98 | 26 maart 2014

@echris - Wouldn't it be prudent for you to swap out to 19" rim/tires combo. Why would you continue to take a beating from pothole central on these 21" tires?

Unless you predominantly drive on the highway, do not get the 21" tires.

J.T. | 26 maart 2014

@echris I have just been looking for problems with the 21" tires . . .
You don't have to look for problems with the 21s, they'll find you. :-)

carlk | 26 maart 2014

Had low profile tires on my cars for the last 15 years and will take delivery of a P85+ with 21". I would not do it any other way but that's just me. I could just buy a Camry if I want to avoid "problems".

I have only once had to replace the rim of my Porsche. I did not notice anything after hitting the pot hole (I remembered that real bad one) until months later when I took the car to service and informed of the bent rim. It's still drivable but not at "high speed" per service. I replaced it anyway. So it has cost me an extra $1500 for 15 years of enjoyment. I think it's well worth it. What I'm trying to say is you don't really need to have them but you should not let the small trouble to stop you from getting them if that's what you really like.

BTW I don't think nail damages and blown tires have anything to do with low profile tires.

huzz1970 | 26 maart 2014

There is good "Click and Clack" discussion about NYC and low profile tires, and constant damage issues. Profile is very personal, so go with the look that you like. If you dodge the big holes, you should be OK- see carlk response. I do not like the low profile appearance- it is the balance of the black to silver ratio in the wheel well. My F40 uses a relatively high sidewall ratio (45), and it handles very well....

Olof | 26 maart 2014

I agree with most here that the 21s make the MS look a lot better its almost like a different car.
I have had both 19s and 21s on my P85 here in NYC.
My conclusion is it is impossible to drive with 21s in the city. I am very careful but the 21s were out of round within weeks.

No matter how careful one is, one will sooner or later miss that pothole in the dark/rain.

My 19s held up very well and are still fine even after the most tooth shattering potholes.

I made another important discovery; when I got the standard all season tires and I noticed that they unfortunately can't handle the torque of a P85. I think you need high perf tires on your 19" wheels for the car to make sense

mantin | 26 maart 2014

The "High" performance, low profile tires ought to be "Low" performance, low profile tires. If you are driving on a race track (I did this with my turbo jag), they are wonderful. My turbo jags all came with these tires and I was replacing 3-4 a year. My tire center sold me insurance for the tires $25 per tire for 2 years no matter what for replacement of tires, and then a wear percentage. Since the jag had a spare, AAA could service the flat and I could be on my way, But, the S has no spare and of course, you can't jack the car anyway, so what worth is there for 1-3 hours for a Tesla car carrier to take you to a service center to replace the tire. And 3-4 times a year? So, I have 19 inch tires and they don't go boom in potholes.

Brian H | 26 maart 2014

Anyone surprised by the 21s' problems hasn't been paying attention.