Replacing OEM Tires on the Model S

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It’s 42 and raining, so it must be spring in New England. With the rain and above-freezing temperatures comes a few annual chores for my car:

Usually, the tire swap is just like a rotation except I have to bring the other tires with me. Fortunately, they fit well in the Model S so it’s not a big deal. The cost for me for a tire rotation or tire swap is $20 at my local tire shop (I store my own tires).

This year, however, I needed new tires for the Summer so the process was a bit more involved and I wanted to share my experience.

When it’s time for new tires

I have to admit that, while I have a tire tread depth gauge and have read up on measuring tread depth, I still don’t get it. The tire is sloped, wear isn’t always perfectly even, the gauge has large notches, is mechanical vs digital, etc.

So I watch the tires and my mileage and ask each time I get a rotation how they’re doing. I have a good relationship with my local tire place and I trust their opinion.

When I pulled the summer tires off in the fall of last year the need for new tires was obvious:

In the picture above you can see the steel band coming through on the tire. The other tires weren’t quite as bad but they were all worn and evenly so.

I got 49,552 miles on the original OEM tires, Michelin Primacy MXM4 19″. Note that the 49,552 miles didn’t include the Winter driving I did on my other set of tires, my total mileage was over 70K. It’s important to track mileage on each set of tires.

From all the reading I’ve done, this is a really decent amount of miles to get out of the tires. The actual tread life warranty from Michelin is 45,000 miles on this particular tire.

Narrowing down the list

I’m no tire expert and there are an amazing number of tires that would fit on my Model S. While I did really well with the Michelin Primacy’s, I wanted to see if there was another tire I should be considering.

My first question was if I should get a true summer tire versus an all-season tire as I have a separate set of Winter tires. My worry would be miss-timing the tire swap and having tires that were really poor at the season edges. I spoke to people at Tire Rack, Tesla, and my local tire dealer and they all recommended all seasons, so that eliminated a whole pile of tires from the list.

After that, I read various Tesla forums, looked on Tire Rack and spoke to my local tire guy to narrow down the choices. I ended up with the following 3 options to consider:

The one on the far right is the original factory tire I had before. The other two were top pics recommended by various online sources.

Pricing the tires

I contacted my 3 tire sources to get pricing and recommendations on the tires and got the following:

Crothers is the local tire shop here. Tesla only offered the same OEM tires I had originally. Their pricing was a bit higher than the local tire shop and didn’t include the mounting, balancing and disposal of the old tires making them a few hundred dollars more than the local tire store and in a much less convenient location.

Tire Rack had decent prices but they excluded the costs of shipping and then the need to have the tires mounted and balanced. Even with all that, they were cheaper than Tesla for the Michelin Primacy tires but not as inexpensive as the local tire shop.

The local tire shop strongly recommended against the Michelin Pilot Sport as an “aggressive” tire that wouldn’t have a good ride comfort and would get less miles. Tire Rack was pushing them for some reason. While I like a bit of spirited driving occasionally, 99% of my driving is longer range and for safety and comfort, so the Sports didn’t seem like a good fit for me.

Final Choice

While the Michelin Primacy’s did well by me with almost 50,000 miles, the Pirelli Cinturato’s have an even higher tread wear rating and were $268 cheaper.

I wasn’t surprised that Tesla was a bit higher than the other choices, but I was surprised that my local tire shop was less expensive than the other options. I’m a big fan of supporting local businesses, especially when it makes sense, and I already used them for all my tire rotations anyway. I have a good relationship with them and trust them with my Tesla.

I’ve now had the Pirelli Cinturato’s on my car for 500 miles and they feel great, have a good ride and the grip seems good in dry and wet. I haven’t pushed them hard much yet as I wanted to give them about 1,000 miles before comparing them to the Michelin Primacy’s, but so far so good.

Next on my list is the annual inspection (a non-event) and then the annual service which is due and scheduled for next week:

Metrics thanks to EVTripping.com

More on that experience afterward. I’m really hoping Tesla finally gives me an AP-capable loaner (AP1 would be just fine, thank you)…