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19 or 21 inch tires

I've got a Signature coming soon and opted to downgrade to the 19" tires. I live in Seattle and am worried about the driving conditions and got the feeling that the 19's would have a smoother drive and give better traction. I just couldn't find any feedback from Tesla or online as to the pros/cons of either option. I also heard the 21's can't take chains (not that I'd be driving it in the snow often.

Did I make a mistake on going with the 19's? Any advice would be appreciated!


Since I don't live where I have to worry about chains that is not something that I have looked at. But from the reading I have been doing on the forums it appears the outside diameter of the 19 inch tires and the 21 inch are nearly identical. So I would think with either set you would have the same issue with chains.

Thanks Longhorn92, I hadn't seen that thread. I'll check it out...

On dry roads, (and yes I get the joke, I live in Bellevue) the 21" tires will have much better traction because of their softer, "stickier" rubber. The difference in ride is probably mostly mitigated by the air suspension, but the taller profile of the 19" inch tires provides more cushion.

I can't find any rain or rain/snow tires in the 21" size, so I'm planning on adding a set of 19" wheels for winter driving.

The difference in the ride is due just to a 2" deeper air cushion when impacting bumps and holes. The air suspension will smooth those out for either tire, but there's a limit. And the rims of the 21" are obviously more likely to get bent in a severe "hit" on a protruding edge (the far side of a big pothole, e.g.) And a bent rim doesn't hold air all that well!

"the rims of the 21" are obviously more likely to get bent in a severe "hit" on a protruding edge"

That is what I am concerned about since the ride will be so nice, I may not realize the beating the 21's are getting on the road until I look at them and notice they have been squared off... :(

I am getting the 21's anyway, they just look too damn nice!!

Teoatawki, did you get a quote on the additional set of 19" rims? I hate giving back the $3500 upgrade. Might be worth buying the additional 19"s and then having the option later.

BYT, I feel the same way as you on the 21's - damn nice. I was hoping on getting the aero tires so I could go something not so blah as the 19's but they pulled those off the options. I really like the 21's but my practical side is telling me to stay with the 19's.

Rims are such an important aspect of the car. I feel you just have to get the 21 in rims.

21-inch wheels are equipped with low-profile tires that provide less protection against wheel damage from uneven road surfaces, debris, curbs, and other common obstacles. Model S does not come with a spare wheel and tire.

This has always been at the bottom of the options and pricing page.

Hearing the news lately that the Bay Area has the worst roadways in the country as far as potholes and uneven pavement is another concern.

If you live where there are lots of potholes and snow, you really should get the 19" wheels only, or as an option. 21" wheels only is a bad choice (IMHO). The post about overall diameter between the two being nearly equal is true. But there is a lot more to the equation than this. There really is an excellent post in the TMC that explains all this. Bottom line, you will most likely see little to no difference in take off or 0-60 times. The difference will be mostly shown in cornering with low profile tires. You can always get stickier 19" tires if you want better launch grip. As far as the softer ride talked about with the 19" wheels/tires though, when I did my test drive I drove a performance with 21" wheels, and then rode in a standard with 19" wheels. The ride in the perf version with 21" wheels was substantially smoother. I know this seems counterintuitive, but everyone I saw there who did the same thing had the same conclusion. The performance cars with 21" wheels were a MUCH smoother ride. This could be the result of a number of factors, so not good to jump to rash conclusions. it could be that the Perf. cars were just tuned differently. Wouldn't know for sure without riding in a perf. version with the 19" wheels. Could also be a result of differences between the tires. A number of variables here. However, I really think that most people would be very happy with taking the 19" wheels instead of the 21". I think it will largely be a decision for most on which looks best to them.

I have had multiple TM reps tell me that the range is slightly better on the 19" wheels. It was intimated like 2%.

Having said that, it was a conversations with product specialists not an engineer.

Dave, there should be a very minor range increase with the 19s. The "stickiness" of the softer rubber on the 21s which helps it hold corners better also increases rolling resistance slightly.

Can you get the 19"tires with the performance wheels?

I asked to get a set of 19" rims only and 21" tires and rims and was told that that the option to get additional rims would not be available at the time of delivery. I'm thinking they might be pressed for rims given the ramp up. I will ask again later but that was the initial response. Getting the 21" rims because the ride was so smooth during my test drive with them on a performance S even on fairly rough road. I paid for the 21" upgrade in my price which is separate issue. 19" will be for the dead of winter only.

Ignore my previous post. I realize it doesn't make sense. I too love the look of those 21" wheels but will probably go with the 19" (not sure I want to give up an extre $3500).

You might want to check out the life span and the cost of the 21" tires. From what I gather the softer rubber wears much faster and you could be looking at replacing tires every 12k miles or so. As I understand the 21s are also much more expensive than the 19s.

I live in sf but dark wheels are a must for me on a white car so performance it is!

I agree the 19” wheel and tires are better suited to your location but why not get something for the difference. If I were in your position I would speak to your local Tesla dealer’s manager and ask if they could help you trade your 21” wheels and tires to an “early P” for their 19” and $1,000 -$1,500 cash.

Personally, I would give you $1K and my 19" wheels/tires in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, my "P" is approximately 3,900. However, if you are easy on your wheels and you get no takers let me know and I will work it out with you.

Math tells me the 21" wheels will give you an additional 1" of ground clearance, compared to the 19"???
Also slightly larger diameter tire should give you slightly
more road contact, (square of the dia ratio)???
Why not get the 21"???

The diameters of both rims with tires are virtually identical.

The tires for the 19" rims have taller sidewalls than the tires for the 21" rims to keep the outer diameter the same. If they weren't, you'd need to have the speedometer recalibrated when you switched them.

Teoatawki | August 3, 2012
The tires for the 19" rims have taller sidewalls than the tires for the 21" rims to keep the outer diameter the same. If they weren't, you'd need to have the speedometer recalibrated when you switched them.

Indeed, exactly 1" taller, to match the reduced radius. It gives the 19" that much more flex and bounce range, of course.

I ordered the 21" tires and was told that a separate set of the 19" rims & tires would be orderable "later"'. You might be able to get some aftermarket rims for winter driving, but the look of the 21" 'ers is so good I went with those since they might be hard to match aftermarket.


Yeah the 21 rims look so good to me that I couldn't bare the thought of being without them.

+1 to that. I need the carbon grey 21" wheels to go with my blue S :)

But the silver 21" wheels I actually think looks a little "too big", like the Karma wheels. The cabon grey ones have a more muted and "mean" look and doesn't look so "big and shiny".

Yes dark all the way!

Would 'bare' ones be just rims, no hubs? I couldn't bear that, either.

Lol I need Brian H as my iPad Auto correct dictionary.

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