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Choosing Tires - Why would I want low profile?

Discussion in 'Model 3' started by djplong, Apr 3, 2016.

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  1. djplong

    djplong Member

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    Ok, I'll ask the hive mind here...

    Why would I want larger, low profile tires? From what I understand, the following are the pros and cons:

    Pro:
    - They look cooler

    Cons:
    - They wear out quicker
    - They're more expensive
    - They're harder so the ride is rougher

    What might I have wrong about this? What other factors am I missing? I''m not being sarcastic, I'm genuinely looking for opinions here.

    Full disclosure - I drive a 'normal' 14 year old Camry and it's been 25 years since I had a car with fancy wheels. I didn't like the sticker shock of moving from 14" tires to 15". Going to 19" sounds prohibitive!
     
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  2. EcoHeliGuy

    EcoHeliGuy Member

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    Low profile tires and larger rims lower your efficiency and range, heavily documented on this forum and on Tesla.com blog.

    Less flexing in turns offering higher level of sporty feel
     
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  3. Bimbels

    Bimbels GoldMember

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    I'm a chick and could give a crap about big tires - but I think they also give better performance for when you're showing off your P version with ludicrous. :D

    Another con: very prone to go flat if you hit a pothole. They would be out of the question for me (besides all the other cons) in the NE because our roads are crap.
     
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  4. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    You aren't missing a thing. Low profile tire's main advantage is profit to the wheel and tire manufacturers and the tire stores. They are kind of an environmental disaster because passenger tires have a potential life of 80K to 90K miles (based on the strength of the casing required to carry the load (18 wheeler tires have a potential of 500K miles based on the strength of the casing). Making the public accept tires that last, at best, half as long is not a good thing in my opinion.
     
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  5. Mad Hungarian

    Mad Hungarian Member

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    #5 Mad Hungarian, Apr 3, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
    As already stated there's a ton of info previously posted on this, but mug of coffee in hand I will add my 0.02...
    I work for an alloy wheel company and have an opinion that might run contrary to many of my colleagues. I'm actually a minimalist when it comes to diameter, I say run the smallest that will achieve the level of handling and appearance that you desire. The reasons are very simple: smaller diameter equals lighter weight. As a general rule of thumb, every pound you shave from the wheel (especially in the extremities like the rim barrel) will give you the same performance benefit as removing two pounds of dead weight from the body/chassis due to the reduced inertia. Of course you can find 19" flow formed or forged wheels that will be lighter than 17" cast ones, but then 17" flow-formed or forged ones are lighter than 17" cast ones, etc.
    There's also the matter of ride, and of course the taller tire that goes with a smaller diameter wheel will in general have better ride characteristics and offer better protection against impacts. It will often - although not exclusively - offer lower rolling resistance.
    On the downside, the taller tire will flex more and so have slower steering input response and usually less ultimate grip in dry cornering conditions.
    Car and Driver in conjunction with Tire Rack did what I consider to be one of the definitive pieces on the whole subject: Effects of Upsized Wheels and Tires Tested - Tech Dept.

    My rule-of-thumb:

    If you check mostly the following boxes:
    Drive moderately / Live in pothole country / Want smoothest ride / Don't obsess over wheel appearance / Want to maximize range / Plan to run same wheels all year round (if living in variable climate)
    - Get the smaller diameter

    If you check mostly the following boxes:
    Drive in "spirited" fashion / Live in a well maintained road area / Less concerned about ride / Like the sporty big wheel looks / Don't mind a little range sacrifice / Plan to run different winter wheels (if living in variable climate)
    - Get the bigger diameter

    Notice I leave wear out of the equation. Although it's true that as a rule lower profile tires wear quicker, there are now many 45 and lower series replacement models that offer 500+ tread wear ratings, so this is becoming less of a factor. And even if you pick the taller OEM size from the factory there's no guarantee they'll last a lot longer, OEM tires of all sizes are notorious for wearing quickly as the emphasis is on getting the desired performance, wear tends to come last.

    Of course you might have checked boxes from both scenarios, in which case you can often find a happy marriage in an intermediate size. Say Tesla winds up offering a base 17" and a premium 19", there's nothing that prevents you from splitting the difference and going with an 18" package sourced from the aftermarket (flipping your OE setup to subsidize).
    You can also play with the variables within a given diameter, like ordering the 19" setup but choosing a more comfortable and longer wearing replacement tires (flipping your OE setup to subsidize).

    On my current A4 I downsized from the OE S-line 18" wheels and 235/40 tires to lightweight 17" with good 235/45 performance tires and I LOVE how it improved acceleration and braking while giving up very, very little in dry road performance, and it drives far better on our bomb-cratered Quebec roads.

    Hope that helps shed a little more light.
     
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  6. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    Giant wheels and wide profile tires are one of my Tesla gripes.

    I live in the land of potholes. I wouldn't buy a car that forced 40 profile or wider aspect tires.

    The prototypes here have absurd 30 profile tires. I'd probably be buying new rims on a monthly basis if I had those.
     
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  7. Foxhound199

    Foxhound199 Member

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    I don't think it's too much of an issue as they were definitely showing the biggest optional size that you could pay extra for. Don't imagine they'll bump your order six months down the road just for wanting normal wheels.
     
  8. Zextraterrestrial

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    #8 Zextraterrestrial, Apr 3, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
    Less flex + less potential grip too. And you wouldn't want to run 21"s at ~40 psi as you would do with 19" s for the best cornering.
    Look at Indy car sidewall size ,but I think they have stiff sidewalls compared to street tires so that changes things.
    I have 3 sets of 19"s and the 21" s. Tried PSS, re-11, re71r, as2,pzero nero, conti and hankooks.
    RE71Rs are sick!.
     
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  9. Bipo

    Bipo Member

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    Well... Stiffer side walls mean less deformation while turning, so less heat (and energy) lost due to hysteresis.

    It makes sense in an electric car. BMW does so with their i3, but coupled to a really narrow footprint and a bigger diameter (equals less turns per meter, so less deformation).

    We'll see, though.
     
  10. ZAKEEUS

    ZAKEEUS Member

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    My first car in college had low profile tires. I hit a pothole and busted the tire and cracked the rim....I won't be doing low profiles anymore.
     
  11. tga

    tga Active Member

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    I've said this many times in TMC forums, but it seems to fall mostly on deaf ears:

    You can't compare the performance/tread life/range of the 19" and 21" options offered by Tesla and attribute it entirely to wheel size alone.

    The 19" come with all-season tires and the 21" come with high-performance, summer only tires. The tires used on the 21" wheels have much softer rubber and much shorter tire life.

    Comparing Tesla's 19" and 21" packages is an apples and oranges comparison. There are multiple variables here besides simply wheel size. You'd need to run tests of the same tire mounted on the different rims to get something closer to a true comparison.

    Much of these specific issues are due to the particular tire supplied with the 21's, not the size. Pilot Super Sports (the OEM 21" tire) are really soft, wear fast, and have higher stickiness/friction. I would expect half the life on these (or worse) vs the Primacy MXM4 (the OEM 19" tire), depending on how you drive.
     
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  12. Mad Hungarian

    Mad Hungarian Member

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    The large diameter of the i3 wheel does indeed mitigate deformation, and the narrow size assures a low sidewall height. However they're still using 70 and 65 series aspect ratios, among the highest of anything on the road today.
     
  13. Mad Hungarian

    Mad Hungarian Member

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    I agree completely, and that's why I pointed out that if you do like the larger diameter wheels but want longer wear and are willing to give up a small amount of grip you can simply choose a longer wearing tire, either by flipping them when new or when time to to replace.
     
  14. NeverFollow

    NeverFollow Member

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    #14 NeverFollow, Apr 3, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
    Yes, pothole seems to be a real killer. I saw many cars getting affected and get stranded, waiting for a tow truck, even on a freeway.
     
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  15. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    Agree, there is no wear issue, that is a red herring.

    But there are real downsides of big wheels with wide aspects.
    Higher costs
    Increased rim damage likelyhood
    Rougher ride
    Less tire choice.
    Heavier weight

    It's the style over substance choice IMO.
     
  16. CarlitoDoc

    CarlitoDoc Member

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    Most people buy/opt for larger diameter wheels for the esthetic aspect.....not for the performance! I've had several cars with both larger diameter and smaller diameter wheels, as well as combination of "summer wheels" and "winter wheels". IMHO stay with the smaller diameter 18 or 19, you will spend less and have a smoother ride.
     
  17. bollar

    bollar Disgruntled Member

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    The sole significant advantage is that the ContiSilent tire is only available on 21" rims. It's 10db quieter than the other choices.
     
  18. igorEV

    igorEV Member

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    I mainly see negatives with large wheels, and do hope they offer something saner:
    1. Buying a second set for snows will cost way too much
    2. Our roads looks like a surface of Mars after all the salt/ice and plows scraping them 5 months of the year. Low profiles are just asking for trouble.
     
  19. CuriousG

    CuriousG Member

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    It's been widely documented for Model S owners that has 21" they are very susceptible to curb rash, bent rim and flat tires. Some have even resorted to 19" rims due to the many blowouts.

    Remember BEV vehicles are much heavier due to the batteries.

    Model S 4647lbs
    Model X 90D 5271lbs
    Model X P90D 5381lbs
     
  20. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    I was speaking of low profile tires in general. I'm not even happy with the 19" tires, if there was a smaller diameter wheel that would fit, I'd be on them. Yes, the tires themselves make a difference, but you can't get away from the lack of sidewall height. Passenger car tires really should deliver 80K miles. That people accept 40K as good is an attribute to the power of marketing.
     

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