Even in temperate climates (such as the UK), many owners choose to fit their cars with winter wheels/tyres during the winter months. In Nordic or Alpine regions this is essential.
Why should I use winter tyres?
Even in mild British winters, winter tyres provide significant benefits through increased traction, better braking, and greater stability. For more information check out:
Tesla recommended – 2 sets of wheels
Tesla’s recommended approach to switching on to different tyres with the changing seasons is to use two independent wheel sets, i.e. two sets of wheels, two sets of TPMS sensors and two sets of tyres. Tesla sells winter wheel sets in 19″ and 21″ variants.
The advantages of having two complete wheel sets are that it is easy to switch between them, there is a reduced risk of damaging wheels and tyres (since tyres are not being re-fitted to the wheels twice each year) and, with two complete sets, you can either use one of your “off season” wheels as a spare in an emergency, or have the entire off-season set refurbished and repaired at leisure while they’re off the car.
The Model S can learn two sets of TPMS sensors so, when switching between wheel sets, the car automatically detects the new sensors.
Since switching between summer and winter wheel sets is simply changing four wheels, you can have this done at any reputable tyre fitting company or even do it yourself at home if you have a suitable jack and torque wrench.
If you buy a winter wheel set then Tesla will perform the first swap for you free of charge. Subsequently this is chargeable.
Staggered wheels – a complication
On P85+ and P85D models with staggered wheels, switching to winter wheels is considerably more complex. This is because Tesla does not supply winter wheel sets using staggered wheels (due to the limited number of tyre sizes available with winter compound). Since the rear wheels on a P85+/P85D are not only wider but also taller (increased diameter) than the standard wheels, switching between summer and winter wheels requires the suspension height to be adjusted and a wheel realignment to be performed, which adds a significant cost to the process.
For owners who have purchased pre-paid annual servicing packages, Tesla is currently performing the necessary wheel realignment service free of charge when switching between winter and summer wheels.
Alternative approach – 2 sets of tyres on one set of wheels
An alternative approach is to have just one set of wheels and TPMS sensors, and two sets of tyres. In this case, each time you want to switch to the other tyre set the current tyres need to be removed from the wheels, and the second set fitted, reinflated, and balanced.
This is more hassle than switching wheel sets and requires a professional tyre fitter to do it. Over time it is likely that the tyres and/or wheels may suffer minor damage during the re-fitting process