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21" Wheels in Chicagoland. Am I asking for it?

Discussion in 'Model S' started by Mickie, Jul 16, 2016.

  1. Mickie

    Mickie Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2016
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    Location:
    Chicago
    I really prefer the look of 21s on the car, but I've heard the headache stories regarding them. Then just the other day, I spot a Tesla with 21" Turbines off to the side on the Laramie exit off I-290 (rough hood) with a flattened front driver's side tire.

    Does due diligence go a long way, or am I almost guaranteed to have problems? I really want 21s but they seem almost unfeasible given these stories.
     
  2. kirkbauer

    kirkbauer Member

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    May 31, 2015
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    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Short answer: I only live in Atlanta (we don't really get any snow) and upgrading to 21" wheels is the only thing I regret about my MS purchase.

    Long answer: I really preferred the 21" wheels especially because when I first priced out my P85D they were mandatory. But before I ordered I could have saved $4500 by going 19". Everybody talked about potholes but I almost never hit potholes. Sure if I hit 10-20 potholes every year (or month?) like in New England then I could understand but I decided I would simply drive carefully and avoid them.

    So for about 6 months I drove paranoid and did OK until I hit a pothole at night that I totally didn't even see until it was too late. It was on a turn onto an onramp, I was going about 35mph when I hit it, maybe less. I hit it, and then about 10sec later I got a low tire pressure warning. An then another. Yeah, one pothole, two tires. On top of that I was on my way back home after taking the kids away for the weekend to give my wife some time off. Well, one of my kids was in the rear-facing seats which means I didn't have a car seat for her. I was also about 100 miles away from home. Tesla couldn't get an Uber, but even if they could they may or may not have a car seat. Or I could ride with her on my lap in a tow truck on the freeway for 100 miles. Or I could call my wife while we sat on the side of the road for 1.5 hours. So yeah I did the latter. I had to pay for part of the tow, two new tires, and alignment, so I think it was about $1200.

    Then about a month later I walked out to my car and noticed something strange with a rim (NOT one of the ones that was involved in the pothole). Its outer lip was bent and the inside portion was completely cracked. It was either me or Tesla Service since nobody else drove it. I have no idea how I did it, assuming I did. New wheel: ~$1500.

    So I knew the 21" wheels wouldn't get along well with potholes, but I didn't realize that I could pretty much NEVER hit a pothole. There is just not enough sidewall for the weight of the MS in my opinion. If I could go back I'd save the $4500 and then spend $2k on aftermarket wheels instead.

    As for me, when I lost the wheel, I spent $1k on 20" aftermarket wheels and $1k on a set of four tires, or only slightly more than it would have cost to replace the one wheel. So I ended up spending $5500 more than I could have to end up in my current state. And now a full set of tires is $1k instead of $2k and they last twice as long. And I think there are some great looking 20" wheel options out there (check tirerack.com).

    And, finally, now that I have been using Autopilot a lot in the last 6 months, I think being really paranoid about potholes will take some of the benefit of AP away from you.

    PS - if you go 21" Chrome are you interested in buying 1, 2, or 3 extra wheels from me? :)
     
    • Informative x 1
  3. sorka

    sorka Active Member

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    I paid $940 shipped for 4 factory 21x8.5 wheels so if I destroy them on a pothole it isn't a huge deal. So far so good. I swap to the 19s for long trips so the 21s are pretty much used just on roads I already know.
     
  4. theslimshadyist

    theslimshadyist NashVegas!

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    Where did you find these at this price?
     
  5. sorka

    sorka Active Member

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  6. AMPd

    AMPd Active Member

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    eBay, lots of cheap repaired 21in wheels on there
     
  7. kirkbauer

    kirkbauer Member

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    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Lots of cheap 21" wheels from all of the people like me who can't handle them :)
     
    • Like x 1
  8. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    Do you have different tires for winter? Running the 21" summer tires in the winter would be a bad idea. They are all about looks (I have them on my car but can keep them on all year if I want to) and more likely to damage the rims on bad roads with winter damage like Chicago.
     
  9. Mickie

    Mickie Member

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    I ordered my S with 19s so they'd be for winter use, yep.

    Are forged wheels possibly more hearty and don't damage as easy? Or is it sort of a moot point as the tires will blow out anyway?
     
  10. Garlan Garner

    Garlan Garner Active Member

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    Great idea.
     
  11. sorka

    sorka Active Member

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    Forged wheels are far stronger but cost 3 or 4 times what cast wheels cost. I thought most of the blowouts occur at the same times as the wheels are bent and figured that the tires are jumping their bead because of the wheel damage. Is this wrong?
     
    • Like x 1
  12. Mickie

    Mickie Member

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    This definitely sounds legit. I've dealt with 3-piece Lowenharts and had flat tires due to potholes where the rims were bent but the tires weren't damaged at all.
     
  13. Mickie

    Mickie Member

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    Any other input from 21" forged wheel owners as to if they withstand potholes and the likes a lot better?
     

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