There are lots of ways in which the Model S is very different to mainstream (ICE) cars. However, its wheels & tyres are largely of standard design, and tyres in particular can be maintained, repaired and replaced by any reputable tyre fitting company.
What is included with the car?
In common with most performance saloons, the Model S is not supplied with a spare wheel. Tesla sells an optional tyre inflation/repair kit (see Useful accessories for a new owner) which can help you get back on the road for a short distance.
During the warranty period the car includes a Roadside Breakdown service which will assist if you should have a wheel or tyre problem. It will transport the car to a convenient repair facility and will take you on to your destination.
The 4 wheels are fitted with TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring Sensors) as standard, and the car will warn you if it detects low pressure in one or more tyres. If you replace the TPMS sensors (for example when switching to a different set of wheels) there is an option in the main settings menu to perform a TPMS reset which requires you to drive for about 10 minutes.
There are 4 wheel options with the Model S:
- 19″ standard wheels that take a 245/45R19 tyre
- 19″ cyclones that take a 245/45R19 tyre
- 21″ turbines that take a 235/35R21 tyre
- 21″ wide turbines (used for the rear wheels on P85+ and P85D staggered setups) take a 265/35R21 tyre.
Both types of 19″ wheel are supplied from the factory with Goodyear Eagle RS-A2 All Season tyres (245/45R19). These are a mid-spec, all season, performance tyre with low rolling resistance and therefore high efficiency. In the UK these are available online for around £150 each.
The advantages of the 19″ wheels are:
- lower cost of both wheels and tyres
- greater driving range
- long tyre life (many owners report lifetimes well above 20,000 miles)
- more robust/less prone to damage
- all season formula makes the car more capable in bad/cold/wet weather.
The 21″ turbines are supplied from the factory with Continental ContiSportContact 5 Silent tyres (245/35R21) which have been developed by Continental specifically for the Model S. These are a high performance summer tyre with a foam insert fitted inside the tyre to significantly reduce noise.
Cars fitted with staggered wheels (21″ turbines on the front, 21″ wide turbines on the rear) are supplied from the factory with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 Summer sports performance wheels in a mixture of 245/35R21 and 265/35R21.
The advantages of the 21″ wheels are:
- aesthetics (they look fantastic!)
- very low road noise (Continental tyres)
- best performance & handling (Michelin tyres and staggered wheels).
The staggered wheel setup (supplied historically on the P85+ and recommended on the P85D) is considered to be the gold standard for handling with the Model S. However, it does have two significant disadvantages:
- Since the front and rear wheels are different sizes they cannot be rotated to even out wear
- Tesla does not offer a staggered winter wheel option, so if you wish to use winter wheels with the car the rear suspension needs to be adjusted to take a smaller diameter wheel.
Detailed wheel, tyre & alignment specifications
Tesla provide detailed specifications for tyres, wheels, and wheel alignment in the User Guide.
A number of companies produce aftermarket (non-OEM) wheels specifically designed to work with the Model S. In addition to these there are many generic wheel types available in sizes that will fit the Model S.
Tesla does not recommend or advocate the use of non-OEM wheels and you should ensure that, if you choose to fit these, you do so with the advice and guidance of an expert.
Tyre replacement/repair/rotation work
Tesla recommends that all tyre work is performed by them at a Service Centre. However, in practice simple maintenance such as repairing punctures, replacing tyres, rotating wheels to balance out wear, rebalancing tyres, etc can be carried out very inexpensively by any reputable third party tyre fitter.
It is likely that the Model S’s specs will not be in third party fitters’ databases, so you will probably need to point them to the online version of the user guide to find out recommended wheel nut torque settings, inflation pressures, and to correctly identify the jacking points under the car.
On the other hand, wheel alignment is a specialist job and many independent tyre companies will not adjust the alignment on Model S due to the potential risks from getting it wrong. This is best done at a Tesla Service Centre.