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Smaller and Lighter wheels make you faster, more efficient, and offer better road hazard protection.

There has been a lot of debate about what effects smaller and lighter wheels have on the Model 3 Performance. I am here to end that debate.

Stock the Model 3 Performance now comes with 20" UberTurbine wheels with 235/35/20 Pirelli PZ4 tires. Those wheels weigh 32 lbs and the combined wheel, tire, TPMS sensor, and hub cap weighed 56 lbs on my bathroom scale when I weighed them.

100% stock I was able to get my ¼ mile times all the way down to 11.43 @ 117+ mph and my best 0-60 mph was 3.23 seconds without the 1 foot rollout subtracted and 3.04 with the rollout subtracted. I was able to do a 25 mile loop around our 60 mph beltway at an average speed of 59.9 mph and an efficiency of 254 wh/mi. I didn't have any damage to my rims but I had to be extremely careful going over any potholes.

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Once I switched to the T Sportline 18" TS5 wheels(45.8 lbs wheels, tires, and TPMS Sensors) and 235/45/18 Michelin PS4S tires I was able to consistently run 11.32 @ 121 mph 1/4 mile times on the same track and my best 0-60 mph time dropped to 3.11 without subtracting rollout and 2.94 with the rollout subtracted.

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I even did an exact 1:1 comparison test at the Galot race track with the 20" Uberturbine wheels and the 18" T Sportline wheels being the only significant variable that changed. There I was about .08 seconds faster for 0-60 mph through the 1/8 and 1/4 mile. However, my absolute best 1/4 mile time is now an 11.271 @ 121.79 mph when I was able to optimize everything at the Rockingham Dragstrip. My only weight reduction was the 40 lbs I dropped by going with the lighter wheels and tires.

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My efficiency with the 18" T Sportline wheels was 227 wh/mi on the 25 mile loop with a 59.8 mph average speed. That was 27 wh/mi better than I could achieve on the 20" UberHeavy wheels. That would equate to about 37 more miles of range(~12%) on a full battery charge.

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Here is a video below explaining all of the things I have done to make my car so much faster. My next video will go over the changes that improved my efficiency.


I paid just over $3000 for the wheels, tires, and TPMS sensors. While the performance improvements alone wouldn't be worth that much when you factor in the efficiency and durability improvements then it starts to make more sense.

The most important thing to remember is that going to a lighter 20" or perhaps even 19" wheel won't necessarily show these kinds of improvements. You really need to go all the way down to the 18" wheel size to decrease rotational inertia significantly. That also gives you the best protection against potholes as well.
 
How are you determining what % of these differences are due to the wheels being lighter or smaller, vs the tires having lower rolling resistance, or the tires having better aerodynamics? The 18" wheels were half an inch narrower too right?

Napkin math, the given mass difference in the wheels, assuming majority of weight savings is near the outside of the rim, for a 1/4 run the wheel mass difference would be worth the equivalent of about 5 horsepower, with 2.8hp being due to just having less mass, and 2.1hp being due to inertia. The time savings of this should be about 0.05 seconds in the 1/4 mile

Highway range the difference would be about 1 wh/mile or 1 mile more range. But if the 18" PS4s is better about rolling resistance than the Pirelli 20" tire that could easily be worth the other 26wh you observed in your test. Or it could be due to any number of sources of error from wind to air density to driver variation. A possibly relevant confounding factor is any testing you did in the warmer summer time days would be facing less air density. So everything should look more efficient and faster.
 
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How are you determining what % of these differences are due to the wheels being lighter or smaller, vs the tires having lower rolling resistance, or the tires having better aerodynamics? The 18" wheels were half an inch narrower too right?

Napkin math, the given mass difference in the wheels, assuming majority of weight savings is near the outside of the rim, for a 1/4 run the wheel mass difference would be worth the equivalent of about 5 horsepower, with 2.8hp being due to just having less mass, and 2.1hp being due to inertia. The time savings of this should be about 0.05 seconds in the 1/4 mile

Highway range the difference would be about 1 wh/mile or 1 mile more range. But if the 18" PS4s is better about rolling resistance than the Pirelli 20" tire that could easily be worth the other 26wh you observed in your test. Or it could be due to any number of sources of error from wind to air density to driver variation. A possibly relevant confounding factor is any testing you did in the warmer summer time days would be facing less air density. So everything should look more efficient and faster.
Stock tires are 235/35/20. New tires are 235/245/18. Same width but yes they do have a different stated "tread width".

We could go back and forth on what individual component of the wheels made a difference. However, the fact remains that I did equivalent tests with both wheels and tire combinations. The temperature was 82 degrees F(2,051 DA) for the 18" wheels and 88 degrees F(2,600 DA) for the 20" wheel tests. Slight advantage for the UberHeavy wheels. There was a 5 mph tailwind with the Uberheavy wheels and a slight 5 mph headwind for the 18" wheels. Again slight advantage for the UberHeavy wheels.

The bottom line is that I have now done TWELVE 1/4 mile passes with the 18" Wheels.

EVERY SINGLE PASS WAS FASTER THAN MY FASTEST PREVIOUS BEST 1/4 MILE TIME WITH THE 20" WHEELS.

That included passes at the Galot track which is uphill and they were still faster than my fastest times on the downhill Rockingham track with the 20" wheels.

I went from just an average Tesla Model 3 Performance to actually setting the trap speed record at the exact same track. If you are trying to say the wheels don't make a difference I can't help you. All of the data is right there. The tests I did at Galot were as controlled as you could possibly get. I did rolling dynos for every run so I could track how the car was performing throughout the runs.

Dyno Graph.jpg


I challenge anyone to do more controlled tests than I have done. It won't happen.

The efficiency test was done on our circle beltway so it started and stopped at the same exact spot. Wind was negligible for both runs and they were in extremely similar temps. I measured average speed with a GPS app and that was down to the 10th of a mph. These tests were accurate and controlled.

My point is that the lighter wheel and tire combination makes the difference and that difference can have something to do with different tread type and tread width. However, the whole point is that swapping the wheels and tires makes the difference. Anyone can do the exact same experiment as I did and get the same results.
 
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Thanks for doing such a comprehensive comparison and sharing it with the community!
No Problem. I hope everyone uses this information to try it themselves. I hope they break my trap speed record too. This car has so much more to give. Honestly, we don't need a Boost pack for the Performance model yet. We haven't come close to seeing its full potential the way it stands right now.
 
Just a thought here, if I was going to make an attempt to go faster, I would see if any of the ultra low rolling resistance tires come in the right size at 225 (or smaller!) in 18" diameters. It looks like the MXM4 doesn't, it is too tall. I think even a garbage LRR tire should hook up fine at a drag strip, so you just end up with less drag and less rolling resistance..(AND less weight probably!)

If you wanted to get real crazy you could put LR brakes on it and downsize to 17"s maybe? narrow 17s with 205 mxm4s!
 
Here is an old comparison test of 15" to 19" wheels on a 2010 VW Golf. They use the same model of tire (although the largest sizes came in a higher speed rating) and the same model of aftermarket 16" to 19" wheel.

As the wheel size (and weight of wheel+tire) went up, acceleration and fuel economy got worse, while handling and braking got better. These results are not too surprising. They also make it not surprising that downsizing from 20" to 18" wheels on a Tesla Model 3 Performance would improve acceleration and electric economy, although there are more variables if a different model of tire is used.
 
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Here is an old comparison test of 15" to 19" wheels on a 2010 VW Golf. They use the same model of tire (although the largest sizes came in a higher speed rating) and the same model of aftermarket 16" to 19" wheel.

As the wheel size (and weight of wheel+tire) went up, acceleration and fuel economy got worse, while handling and braking got better. These results are not too surprising. They also make it not surprising that downsizing from 20" to 18" wheels on a Tesla Model 3 Performance would improve acceleration and electric economy, although there are more variables if a different model of tire is used.

That test got increasingly narrower with the tires as they downsized wheel diameter. From 235 all the way down to 195.
Really easy way to isolate the rotating mass if you want to test this stuff is wheel weights. Can stick them on and peel the off.
 
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Just a thought here, if I was going to make an attempt to go faster, I would see if any of the ultra low rolling resistance tires come in the right size at 225 (or smaller!) in 18" diameters. It looks like the MXM4 doesn't, it is too tall. I think even a garbage LRR tire should hook up fine at a drag strip, so you just end up with less drag and less rolling resistance..(AND less weight probably!)

If you wanted to get real crazy you could put LR brakes on it and downsize to 17"s maybe? narrow 17s with 205 mxm4s!
I went through every iteration of wheel and tire combinations I could find. I don't think any 17s will fit without some sort of modification. I wasn't prepared to do that. Maybe someone else will?

There are definitely lighter 18" wheels out there. Some cost more. Some cost less. The T Sportline were the best I could find that were plug and play, offered decent weight reduction, and fit in my budget.

As far as the tires go. I checked them ALL. I literally went through every single tire on Tire Rack and the PS4S were the 2nd lightest tires I could find in that size. Only the Pirelli PZ4 non EV tires were lighter by 1 lb. If I ever get new tires I am going to try the Pirelli tires below.


Traction can be an issue at the track. I started to squeal a bit as the night went on and the Stickiness wore off.
 
I recently switched from the OE 20" wheels and tires to 19" MW03's with 255/30R19's. One thing I noticed was that then seems to be more noticable with the new set up. This makes sense as lighter rotating mass would have less momentum so more of the Regen force would go to reducing translational motion. It's very minor, but was enough for me to notice.
 

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Stock tires are 235/35/20. New tires are 235/245/18. Same width but yes they do have a different stated "tread width".

We could go back and forth on what individual component of the wheels made a difference. However, the fact remains that I did equivalent tests with both wheels and tire combinations. The temperature was 82 degrees F(2,051 DA) for the 18" wheels and 88 degrees F(2,600 DA) for the 20" wheel tests. Slight advantage for the UberHeavy wheels. There was a 5 mph tailwind with the Uberheavy wheels and a slight 5 mph headwind for the 18" wheels. Again slight advantage for the UberHeavy wheels.

The bottom line is that I have now done TWELVE 1/4 mile passes with the 18" Wheels.

EVERY SINGLE PASS WAS FASTER THAN MY FASTEST PREVIOUS BEST 1/4 MILE TIME WITH THE 20" WHEELS.

That included passes at the Galot track which is uphill and they were still faster than my fastest times on the downhill Rockingham track with the 20" wheels.

I went from just an average Tesla Model 3 Performance to actually setting the trap speed record at the exact same track. If you are trying to say the wheels don't make a difference I can't help you. All of the data is right there. The tests I did at Galot were as controlled as you could possibly get. I did rolling dynos for every run so I could track how the car was performing throughout the runs.

View attachment 825473

I challenge anyone to do more controlled tests than I have done. It won't happen.

The efficiency test was done on our circle beltway so it started and stopped at the same exact spot. Wind was negligible for both runs and they were in extremely similar temps. I measured average speed with a GPS app and that was down to the 10th of a mph. These tests were accurate and controlled.

My point is that the lighter wheel and tire combination makes the difference and that difference can have something to do with different tread type and tread width. However, the whole point is that swapping the wheels and tires makes the difference. Anyone can do the exact same experiment as I did and get the same results.

I saw your video before seeing this post.

Bottom line, awesome and very thorough work.

Anyone that's trying to argue with you regarding physics needs to take physics again. The proof is in the pudding. It's all right there as you've thoroughly laid out.

I don't get why some choose to spend the energy to argue against physics. There must be another law in the universe called: Law of Keyboard warriors out or boredom lol.

Anyhow, keep up the good work and thanks for the data. Those are some awesome runs you dialed in. Kudos.
 
It is just stupid that people think bigger rims looks better. There are so many down sides like lower efficiency, rougher ride on crappy Wis roads, more cost to replace tires when needed, bigger chance of curb or pot hole damage and did I say they suck more energy so slow you down and eat range and speed like this thread talks about. All for Looks which are in the eye of the beholder.

I remember when 16 or 17 inch rims were the Performance option and normal cars ran around on 14 or 15 inch rims but back then, tires were $50/each or less so could afford to burn through a set, not like now.
 
I saw your video before seeing this post.

Bottom line, awesome and very thorough work.

Anyone that's trying to argue with you regarding physics needs to take physics again. The proof is in the pudding. It's all right there as you've thoroughly laid out.

I don't get why some choose to spend the energy to argue against physics. There must be another law in the universe called: Law of Keyboard warriors out or boredom lol.

Anyhow, keep up the good work and thanks for the data. Those are some awesome runs you dialed in. Kudos.
Thanks for the response. I appreciate that. However, I do like it when people challenge results. My motto is “Question Everything”.

It is healthy for discussion when people share their experiences even if someone else might not see those same results.

That being said, I definitely think these results are conclusive. I also had the chance to go through my rolling dyno graphs in greater detail yesterday. They are showing much closer torque and power figures for every run than I had initially thought.

It appears that I got lucky at Galot and just happened to get great preconditioning and heat in the battery there. Charging at the track and using the new technique with Track Mode to cool and then full Preconditioning definitely had an affect at the Rock. However, the wheels and tires appeared to have a more significant impact specifically on the downhill track at Rockingham than I had initially thought.

My hope is that other people will try the things I mention in the video and report their results back. I really think 122 mph and 11.1s might be possible with this car and the right setup.

Honestly, who needs a Model 3 Performance “boost pack”? There is so much potential in the stock Model 3 Performance that most people haven’t been utilizing.
 
It is just stupid that people think bigger rims looks better. There are so many down sides like lower efficiency, rougher ride on crappy Wis roads, more cost to replace tires when needed, bigger chance of curb or pot hole damage and did I say they suck more energy so slow you down and eat range and speed like this thread talks about. All for Looks which are in the eye of the beholder.

I remember when 16 or 17 inch rims were the Performance option and normal cars ran around on 14 or 15 inch rims but back then, tires were $50/each or less so could afford to burn through a set, not like now.
I agree with everything you said in this post. I hate the Uberturbine wheels that is why I typically refer to them as the UberHeavy(Play on Falcon Heavy) wheels instead.

I really like the look of the 18” wheels too.
 
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It is just stupid that people think bigger rims looks better. There are so many down sides like lower efficiency, rougher ride on crappy Wis roads, more cost to replace tires when needed, bigger chance of curb or pot hole damage and did I say they suck more energy so slow you down and eat range and speed like this thread talks about. All for Looks which are in the eye of the beholder.

I remember when 16 or 17 inch rims were the Performance option and normal cars ran around on 14 or 15 inch rims but back then, tires were $50/each or less so could afford to burn through a set, not like now.

Welcome to 2022. The 20" wheels today are the 17s of back then. I remember those days, a lot of good times at the track and car meets. We used to purposely use 15s (The ~18s of today) at the track as they were the popular size and light weight.

When it comes to looks it's very subjective. There are disadvantages with larger wheels, sure, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't serve a purpose.

It's apparent that you don't like the look of larger wheels and that's fine as it is your opinion. - There does exist something called proportions and depending on the car, almost always a larger wheel will make it look more appealing and proportional. Even an inch can throw off the look, so yes for those that care about the aesthetics of their cars it matters.

As for the price of tires etc... the last time I've checked we're in a forum with people who drive above average priced vehicles, avg ~$70K+. I don't think saving a few of those notes with past presidents on them will break the bank for the majority here. I'd be shocked if that was an issue and the bigger question would be, how the heck can they afford driving a Tesla.

It's like gas prices before the EV era. You don't hear people driving six figure sports cars whining about gas prices lol.

As the famous saying goes, to each their own.
 

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Thanks for the response. I appreciate that. However, I do like it when people challenge results. My motto is “Question Everything”.

It is healthy for discussion when people share their experiences even if someone else might not see those same results.

That being said, I definitely think these results are conclusive. I also had the chance to go through my rolling dyno graphs in greater detail yesterday. They are showing much closer torque and power figures for every run than I had initially thought.

It appears that I got lucky at Galot and just happened to get great preconditioning and heat in the battery there. Charging at the track and using the new technique with Track Mode to cool and then full Preconditioning definitely had an affect at the Rock. However, the wheels and tires appeared to have a more significant impact specifically on the downhill track at Rockingham than I had initially thought.

My hope is that other people will try the things I mention in the video and report their results back. I really think 122 mph and 11.1s might be possible with this car and the right setup.

Honestly, who needs a Model 3 Performance “boost pack”? There is so much potential in the stock Model 3 Performance that most people haven’t been utilizing.

I have a similar motto of "validate and verify," so I'm with you there. My emphasis was in outlining the thoroughness of your data that brought verification in validating your conclusion.

The math and physics behind 18s vs 20s are pretty conclusive. It's really a no brainer. That doesn't mean that one should not try to test for themselves.

I agree with you in that I think there's more in the M3P to be able to hit 11.1's with a 122 MPH trap speed. That will be pretty amazing to see. It's my goal to hit the tracks as soon as I can and I'm hoping for some good results.

If the M3P had a boost pack, it'll easy be a 10 second car, which would be insane. Ludacris mode Jr.
 

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I agree with everything you said in this post. I hate the Uberturbine wheels that is why I typically refer to them as the UberHeavy(Play on Falcon Heavy) wheels instead.

I really like the look of the 18” wheels too.

The 20" Ubers are heavy for sure, but the fact that people are still clocking in respectable times in the 1/4 is pretty impressive.

Here is a part of my post from another thread regarding wheels and load ratings for some data on the popular options out there.

20x8.5" & 19x8.5" 18x8.5" (Martian) ---- 24.5 lbs/21lbs/19lbs ------- Load Rating of: 2,200 lbs (Forged)

20x8.5" TS ------------------------------- 28 lbs ----------------------- Load Rating of: 1,433 lbs

20x9" EV001 ---------------------------- 24.6 lbs ---------------------- Load Rating of: 1650lbs.

19x8.5" TS ------------------------------ 24-26 lbs -------------------- Load Rating of: 1,980 lbs

To me it's impressive on both ends on how light the 20" rims can be along with how light the 18"s are weighing in at only 19lbs.

It's also interested how the TS 20" rims have such a lower load rating compared to the rest.
 
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It's not that I hate larger tires, rather the advantages (looks (subjective) and better handling) are not worth the down sides for normal cars. (costs (yes money still matters even if I drive a $100k MX), worse ride on our crappy roads, risk or damage AND RANGE HIT. Sure the Plaid and P series 3/Y could have large Rims. Give the LR cars smaller rims. For me, my LR MX would be better with 18 rims. I do run MS 19s on my MX winter tires and have 0 down side other than better ride, more range, lower costs. Wait those are all plusses. 😂
 
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It is just stupid that people think bigger rims looks better. There are so many down sides like lower efficiency, rougher ride on crappy Wis roads, more cost to replace tires when needed, bigger chance of curb or pot hole damage and did I say they suck more energy so slow you down and eat range and speed like this thread talks about. All for Looks which are in the eye of the beholder.

I remember when 16 or 17 inch rims were the Performance option and normal cars ran around on 14 or 15 inch rims but back then, tires were $50/each or less so could afford to burn through a set, not like now.
Car wheel wells were smaller back then and tires were shorter. When I had my 05 GTO 18’s were the upgraded performance option and looked huge and had pretty low profile tires. 18’s on a Model 3 look tiny and have monster truck tires on them. I went from 20’s to 19’s as a compromise but no way I personally would run 18’s on a Model 3.
 

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