Winter Tires

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Winter Wheels InstalledA while back I wrote about the process of buying a second set of wheels and winter tires in preparation for the upcoming New England winter.

I waited until I saw the first flakes of snow and then scheduled to have the wheels put on and wanted to write about the experience.

Installation

Tesla Model S Tire Cheat SheetIn preparation for the install (and since i’m still nervous about having non-Tesla people touch the car), I put together a quick Tesla Model S Tire Cheat Sheet for the Tire guys that showed the jack points, had the recommended tire pressures and lug nut torque recommendations.

The installation was simple and quick. The tire place used two heavy duty hand jacks to lift the entire left side of the car, take the tires off, put on the new ones and then repeat on the right side. They used an air wrench to take the nuts off and put them back on before lowering each side.

The air wrench was limited to 100 lbs/ft torque and they hand tightened to the recommend 129 lbs/ft torque after all 4 wheels were on and the car was back on the ground.

TPMS Reset

TPMS ResetThe TPMS reset process is simple and has been covered before with some great videos that I found helpful. I also found that while the warning said the reset would take 10 minutes it only took a couple minutes for the reset to take place.

I realized after I did the reset that I was carrying the other wheels in the car at the time and was worried the system would be confused with essentially 8 TPMS sensors to find. Fortunately it correctly set for the new wheels and i’ve had no problems since installation.

New Driving Experience

Driving on the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2′s that I got has been a different experience — the tires feel “squishy”. From my research I expected pretty poor traction for the first few hundred miles (300 miles is a good rule of thumb) so I was extra careful with slower acceleration, tight turns etc for a while. They definitely were slippery in those early miles and my traction control kicked in more than i’ve ever seen it do, especially on wet roads.

After I got about 300 miles on the tires I started pushing them a bit harder and while they’re not as good as the standard Michelin Primacy tires that came on the car in the dry weather and the driving feel, they grip well.

Some owners have had concerns with slippage under heavy acceleration on dry roads and one owner posted a video of his experience. When the video was posted I was still in the break in period so I didn’t get a chance to test the tires until just recently, but when I tried to recreate a similar starting/ending acceleration test I had no traction control kick ins and no feeling of slippage. I took a short video (sorry for the poor quality — doing this while driving isn’t good or particularly safe):

Summary

Overall i’ve been happy with the new tires and I love the look of my TST wheels. I’m looking forward to testing them out in snowy/slushy/icy environments where they’re designed to excel.

Its not really correct to judge tires designed for winter conditions against the all season tires which are designed for a different objective.

From all the reviews and reading I did I fully expect these Nokians to get my Model S through the harsh New England winter months in one piece.

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