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Tesla Model 3 Tire Wear: Is Yours Getting Bad? Here’s How to Solve It

You may have heard that Tesla Model 3 tire wear is awful, with people claiming you’re lucky to get 20,000 miles out of the stocks tires…

Question is:

Is this true?

If so, why?

And more importantly, what can you do to prevent extreme or uneven tire wear on your Tesla?

If you want to make the most out of your tires, read on to find out.

How Long Do Tesla Model 3 Tires REALLY Last?

Like everything in life (including how long my wife remains calm 😬), the #1 factor in the lifespan on your tire is… your attitude.

Although there are many uncontrollable factors, flooring the accelerator like you stole the car will inevitable wear your tires way much faster.

Material quality, tire size, road condition, and city vs. highway driving are also factors, which we’ll discuss later on.

To answer the question directly, here’s the expected tire lifespan based on an average from actual Tesla owners conversations:

  • Under regular driving, 25,000 to 30,000 miles is an overall reasonable expectation.
  • By driving gently on good roads and/or highways, some Tesla owners make their tires last over 40k miles, possibly up to 50k.
  • Spirited drivers may expect their tires to last less than 25k miles.

Keep in mind that this data may represent the lifespan of the stock tires.

And as crazy as this sounds, this is an improvement over previous Teslas.

Take the Model S, for example.

1,000 pounds heavier — and with an even more powerful motor,

Owners claim to have replaced their tires after as little as 10,000 miles.

For context, that’s 10 months for the average American.

10 freakin’ months!

That’s enough to offset any environmental or financial benefit of owning an electric vehicle…

Don’t get caught off guard — take steps to know beforehand how long before your tires need replacement.

Anticipating Your Tesla Model 3 Tire Wear & Saving Your Life

Braking distance (and therefore accident risk) is inversely proportional to your tire wear.

That is, the lower your tires’ tread depth, the longer the distance you car needs to brake completely.

Different Tesla Model 3 Tire wear measurements (by Bob Sumerel)
Stopping distance, measured in car lengths, based on tread depth. Credit to Bob Sumerel.

Tread depth is a quick measurement that tells you how long before you need new tires.

Instruments that measure tread depth cost very little.

I’d encourage you to keep a gauge in your glovebox to measure tread depth every few thousand miles.

Not only can this help you anticipate how many miles you have left (e.g. being halfway after 15,000 miles),

But by measuring tread depth on both edges and the center,

You may also detect uneven wear before it becomes a more costly expense.

Tesla Model 3 tire wear patterns by Research Gate
Potential problems depending on different tire wear patterns. Credit to ResearchGate.

Last but not least, there’s a tire tread depth limit for legal driving.

Most U.S. states require a minimum tread depth of 2/32″ (or 1.6 mm).

Although this isn’t something you’ll get a ticket for, you may be unable to claim insurance coverage in case of an accident —

And in the end, the requirement is meant to keep you safe.

Stick to it.

That’s Good And All… But Why EVs Eat Away Tires As Much?

Based on my understanding as an engineer — plus the opinion of experts and Tesla community itself,

There are some main factors that lead to faster Tesla Model 3 tire wear.

In no particular order, these are:

  1. Torque: EVs are still a small portion of the market. Not many tires are designed to withstand the instant torque Tesla and EV owners may put to the test from time to time.
  2. Regenerative Braking: Tires won’t wear based on where the braking originates from, but rather based on how fast you stop. With Tesla’s default, strong regen braking setting, though, you rate of deceleration may end up being stronger than, say, the average Prius cruising down the road.
  3. Vehicle Weight: Self-explanatory. Lithium-ion battery technology has gone a long way, but EVs are still at a disadvantage when it comes to weight compared to an equivalent gasoline car.
  4. Wheel Size: The bigger the tire, the thinner the sidewall, which implies less material available to absorb potholes and wear. This may be a minor factor but a factor nonetheless.
  5. Wheel Alignment: As seen above, misalignment may lead to premature and uneven tire wear in any vehicle. Although unfounded, some experts (and even many owners) suspect a factory alignment issue is to blame for the faster Tesla Model 3 tire wear. Some have even measure heat through a camera to validate the edges actually get warmer.
Model S’ excessive and uneven tire heat shown through a heat camera.

How to Get the Most Out Of Your Tires

Are there thing you can do to extend to average lifespan of your tires from 25,000 to 30,000 or more?

You bet!

Here’s some of the best advice from owners who successfully improved their tires’ life after being sick of replacing them so regularly.

  • Leave the torque tests to actual emergencies. Drive gently most of the time — and if you’re going to floor the accelerator, don’t do so from a standstill.
  • Measure your tires’ tread depth every few thousands miles using either an analog or a digital gauge.
  • Rotate your tires more often than Tesla recommends. Tesla’s Owner’s manual suggests tire rotations every 6,250 miles (10,000 km). Consider doing so every 5,000 to 6,000 miles, especially if you own a rear-wheel drive Model 3.
    • Although not as beneficial, consider side-to-side rotation if your front tires are different than your rear tires.
  • Maintain proper tire pressure. 39 to 45 psi is an acceptable range, depending on your preference. According to the man, 39 is better for handling and comfort while 45 maximizes range.
  • Consider smaller tires. Sure, 20″ sport wheels look sick — but they’ll require more maintenance and may not last as long. If you’re willing to compromise some comfort, handling, and performance for some tire life, stick to 18″ wheels.
  • Get yourself tougher tires. Tires with deeper treads exist. Whether these are for off-road applications, heavier loads or faster speeds, they’re likely to outlast your average tire. They may increase road noise and reduce performance, however.
  • Consider tires with mileage warranty — just so you can claim the warranty should they wear way too early. This doesn’t give the power to get new tires after, say, 49,999 miles because the tires have a 50,000-mile warranty… But they should provide some peace of mind.

Last but not least, if you’re coming from a gasoline vehicle, expect less tire life regardless of what you do. Period.

Tire wear is just a little-advertised fact most EV owners have to deal with.

Where to Find Tires That Last

I know you’re going to ask the question, so I’ve compiled Tesla owners’ recommendation when it comes to finding great tires.

  1. I’ve heard many Tesla owners mention Costco as the place where they replace their tires. Costco sells tires at a great price and gives you free rotations, which beats Tesla’s service fee.
  2. Discount Tire sells tires at a discount (surprise, surprise!), provides decent warranties, and their staff is usually more knowledgable than Costco’s. They may even match the price if Costco’s price is lower.
  3. TireRack has a very intuitive online shopping experience — and a vast resource to guide you to tires that fit your needs, considering road noise and many other important factors.
  4. Others have trusted Amazon itself to buy tires. (Yes, they have quite an inventory of tires available. You have to know what you’re looking for, though.)

You may also visit a local shop you trust to advise you on what tires to use.

In general, Tesla owners have had great things to say about the original Michelin Primacy MXM4 — as well as Continental’s Extreme Contact DWS.

Regardless of what tires you end up choosing, make sure to follow the tips described above to get the most out of your tires.

By Zac Ludicrous

Mechanical engineer by profession. TSLA shareholder before the hype. EV enthusiast all day long. Zac enjoys learning about the future of battery technology, autonomy, and EVs. He considers Tesla Model 3 the most important vehicle of the 21st century -- and is in a quest to improve the ownership experience of every Model 3 owner he possibly can.

2 replies on “Tesla Model 3 Tire Wear: Is Yours Getting Bad? Here’s How to Solve It”

Great article. Thank you.

I might add – from my experience. Filling tires with Nitrogen (costco) instead of regular air will increase tire life. Tire will deflate (winter) less, or expand less (summer) and maintain pressure.

Appreciate your thoughts, Ron!

That’s definitely a very interesting way to increase tire life I had never heard of.

Thanks for sharing it!
Zac

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