We Bought Snow Tires - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: We Bought Snow Tires

December 25, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

We don't plan on shying away from cold and snowy weather when it comes to driving our 2013 Tesla Model S this winter.

In the immediate future I'm driving it north to Oregon over the holidays. And we plan on taking advantage of the cross-country possibilities of the ever-expanding Supercharger network, which is scheduled to establish its first link across the northern plains states in time for this winter's auto show season.

But our P85 Model S Performance rolls on an uncommon tire size: 245/35R21, to be exact. Furthermore, there aren't many places to buy winter tires in Southern California. Tirerack.com is our best source.

Why did we go with Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 winter tires? They were the only ones they had in that size.

For its part, Tesla offers a winter wheel/tire package centered around a downgrade to 19-inch rolling stick. But when we went looking they were sold out. And they charge a cool $4,000 for mounted and balanced assemblies.

Tirerack charges $333 each for these 21-inch Pirelli snow and winter tires. With tax and standard shipping (in 24 hours, no less), our rubber cost us just over $1,400. Add in another $100 for dismounting, remounting and balancing and we're still way ahead.

I'm a big advocate of tire switching for maximum performance all year, especially for anyone that deals with snow or cold temperatures regularly in winter. Summer tires are simply dangerous in places where it gets cold and snowy.

But we don't quite fit that mold. After all, it was 88 degrees here in mid-December, and it will never get bitterly cold in the L.A. basin all winter. But our hand was forced in the case of the Model S because nobody makes a 245/35R21 all-season tire. As for chains, which don't fit the bill for constant winter use and pair best with all-season tires anyway, Tesla only sells them for their 19-inch Model S wheels and tires.

Any Model S owner that plans to drive to Tahoe or Mammoth to ski needs to think long and hard and digest all of this. Might I suggest my snow-versus-summer-versus all-season tire performance test as required reading.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 14,701 miles


  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    "But our hand was forced in the case of the Model S because nobody makes a 245/35R21 all-season tire." This, plus the high price, plus the sensitivity of a 35-series tire to road imperfections, certainly makes the 19-inch seem more attractive.

  • dunning15 dunning15 Posts:

    Hopefully you won't have to drive with a bubble in the sidewall. LOL.

  • sodaguy sodaguy Posts:

    If you were not Edmunds.com, a rental car would have been the cheaper and more practical option.

  • nicad nicad Posts:

    Great that you will be venturing into winter with the Tesla. I have always found those Pirellis are a great compromise when you are on dry roads. Keep piling the miles on.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Winter tires in 35-section size. You're out of your minds. You could have spent another grand and gotten dedicated 19-inch wheels and tires. 45 series tires are not the best choice for winter tires, but they are light years better than 35 series. I understand you want to try this trip, but...with these ultra-low-profile tires, a car with a short refueling radius that becomes significantly shorter the worse the winter weather you encounter...you're putting a square peg into a round hole here.

  • Interested to see how much power loss you guys get in the cold? I know anything I have that runs on batteries always loses charge faster in the cold so I assume the Tesla would be the same, right?

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