Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.

Tire bulge - road hazard or defect?

Is this a...

  • Warranty covered defect

    Votes: 4 36.4%
  • Road hazard-just pay and move on

    Votes: 7 63.6%

  • Total voters


Moderator - Model S & X forums
My wife noticed this tire bulge after getting a low pressure warning on her Model X a few days ago. We/she hasn't had any hard impacts with curbs, pot holes, etc. that we recall. You can tell there's otherwise no sidewall or rim damage/wear. But when I reached out to our service manager he said they see this a lot and that it's not covered by warranty and is considered a road hazard issue. Says it's unsafe and the tire will need to be replaced at our cost.

Can someone confirm that that is accurate? For the record, we have a good relationship (the service manager and I), and I don't have any good reason to doubt him other than my gut instinct told me this was a manufacturing defect.
  • Like
Reactions: zmarty


Moderator - Model S & X forums
It's road hazard most likely. The lower-profile tires are much more sensitive to it, and if the car has air suspension you might have hit a significant enough pothole to cause it and never noticed.

Pay it, understand it is the cost of having low-profile tires, and move on.
I really wanted to click "dislike" to your post...but you're most likely right....I just don't have to like it!
For two seasons I used Pirelli Sottozero snows mounted onto the same 21" wheels I use for summer tires on my MS. After two winters the service center people pointed out that one of the snows had two serious looking bulges, and another had one. This past season I bought 19" wheels and winter tires and there have been no problems so far. I think very low profile tires are just not good on potholed winter roads. It's also possible that winter tires have weaker sidewalls than high-performance summer tires.
I'm pretty sure that's a defect. A pothole big enough to damage the wires in the sidewall to the point where they bulge should also cause a fair bit of damage to the outside of the tire in a much larger area than you're seeing.

If you're driving along, hit a pothole, and it deforms the sidewall enough to break the wires, there should also be some scrapes/etc ahead of and behind the bulge given how fast you would have to be going to cause that damage. It can come from hitting a curb too, but like you said you would also see damage to the wheel.

This pdf has a good example of separation causing sidewall issues under "Damage Induced Sidewall Separation".


If the tire is newer, I'd also use that to push it being a defect. You can reference this tirerack article.


If they still won't budge, and you still want to push it being a defect, have the tire replaced and make sure they give the old one back to you. Do not leave until you have it. When you do have it, check the inside, if there's no obvious damage/distortion there, that's just one more piece supporting a defect.

If they still won't budge, cut the sidewall open along that side. If there's no evidence of damage to the interior layers of the tire or the wire spacing is off, that again points to a defect. If they still won't budge after all this, you'll only be able to resolve it by either contacting corporate or by contacting the manufacturer to ask them if the damage is representative of hitting something like a pothole at high speed.

If you do find damage on the inside of the tire, it probably was a pothole. If the department of transportation lets you file claims for damage caused by unrepaired problems with the road, ask the shop if they can pull the logs and get you info on where the damage likely occured.
  • Informative
Reactions: efusco

Products we're discussing on TMC...

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.