2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited September 2014 in Tesla

image2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

Tesla hasn't warned owners about extreme rear tire wear, and our long-term Model S tires are shot. The sunroof's broken again, as well.

Read the full story here



  • cotakcotak Member Posts: 89
    So about the same high maintenance needs as other 100k+ cars...
  • duck87duck87 Member Posts: 649
    I'm going to skip the snark about "problems" and "quirks" in an expensive car, I've had enough from your SLS and Dart posts =D

    Too much rear camber+low profile tires? One of the posts in the forum link is that the rear carries -2 deg camber, which is quite a bit for street use (especially since the car already has a multi-link rear). No provisions for adjustment in the links?

    Then again, your impromptu leadfoot driving probably didn't help matters. I guess the techs dropped the ball on tire rotation if it's not on the invoice. But... this is a pretty big problem if they wear like this after 10K miles. Do you really think with this level of wear that tire rotation would have made much of a difference?
  • yellowbalyellowbal Member Posts: 234
    I'm guessing it's a toe issue. Having more toe-in helps with turn-in and makes the whole car feel nice and tight. But it drags the tires to death.
  • zimtheinvaderzimtheinvader Member Posts: 580
    looks like they are almost ready to be replaced anyways. Maybe next time less of this: http://www.edmunds.com/tesla/model-s/2013/long-term-road-test/2013-tesla-model-s-burnouts-burnouts.html
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    Holy crap. Edmunds should have wondered what the rotation schedule was - maybe even though there is no oil to change it still needs tire rotation, and not just new wiper blades as PM - ? This would have revealed the issue before now, but the wear itself is definitely a problem. Other than that, it seems from reading that thread on the Tesla Motors website that this is a very common issue and that cars are coming from the factory with the alignment all over the map. Also it's kind of suspicious that even though it was getting a half-dozen posts per day, that thread abruptly ended on June 27...? Final thought is that this John O'Dell certainly has turned up quite a few issues with the car that nobody else noticed. Typical Edmunds "nobody's baby" issue.
  • quadricyclequadricycle Member Posts: 827
    Look at the amount of wear on those tires, you could have rotated them and you still wouldn't have much more than two thousand miles left on them. How hard have you guys been driving this thing?
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    Well, quadricycle, we can't see the fronts here to see how badly they are worn, so we can't make that assumption insofar as total tread wear is concerned. These are Conti DWs that have a UTQG of 340, so based upon that I would estimate they should see roughly 23,000-26,000 miles on a set, but Tesla has designed in a rear-alignment spec that even with rotation will kill them in maybe 17,000 at the most, due to the rear camber they're chosen. Pity the owners who have the performance package with staggered PS2s...they can't rotate them and the UTQG on those is 220...so call it $2,300 worth of tires every 10k miles - ? -2 degrees of rear camber and no camber adjustment...gotta be a better way.
  • quadricyclequadricycle Member Posts: 827
    @fordson1: I'm aware that the camber is not ideal, but that really (in my mind) can't be the only thing at work here. I've got memories of a 545i with the sport package that seems to be know for its tire eating camber, but I don't remember the tires getti
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    Oh, agreed. I was just saying that if the fronts are like half-worn and with no uneven wear, then they could maybe have gotten 17k if they'd rotated them. What I got from reading that thread at the Tesla website is that cars are being produced with alignment that varies widely from specs. Many, many owners with under 10k miles with tires that look just like these, though. But for sure many burnouts.
  • noburgersnoburgers Member Posts: 500
    Looks like alignment is off..but wow 10K and tires are shot. Even with proper alignment you don't have far to go before the wear bars on the outside of the tread. PEP Boys find''t notice this???
  • dunning15dunning15 Member Posts: 0
    It's a bleeding edge car. First year car from the first year of production ever. Do your research. Frequent the forums. I've known about this for 6 months. Why don't you? Be an informed buyer. This ain't buying a Camry where everything you ever wanted to know was spelled out in the 40 page user manual.
  • drcomputerdrcomputer Member Posts: 82
    I have 10K on my S and if I hadn't rotated the tires at 5K they would look just as bad. Unfortunately the car begs to be driven hard and the tires are just casualty of having fun. The Roadster is even worse going thru a set of rear tires every 4-5K miles.
  • shatnershatner Member Posts: 176
    This is not quite living up to the 99 rating in CR!

    But it is expected that Tesla's will have a lot of little issues since they are new and small volume.
  • agentorangeagentorange Member Posts: 893
    They must have F1 amounts of rear camber to chew up the rears like that. What a goat rope of a manual that tyre rotation is NOT in the maintenance section. Duh!
  • rysterryster Member Posts: 571
    "Both Nik and a service tech at the Costa Mesa center told me that such wear is common on Model S's that are equipped with 21-inch wheels, as is ours, and that haven't had a tire rotation at 5,000 to 6,000 miles.

    Interestingly, we can't find anywhere in the Tesla manuals or official online material a warning about that."

    Honestly...you admit that the manual suggests tire rotations every 6,000 miles, then you make a statement like the above? You really think Tesla is going to make a statement such as "Excessive tire wear is common on vehicles equipped with 21-inch wheels and tires. Owners should anticipate replacing tires more frequently than owners of vehicles with smaller diameter wheels and tires."

    No automaker is going to freely advertise such an issue and suggest that their $100,000 vehicle (or even a $20,000 vehicle) is going to have excessive maintenance expenses. If I knew going in that I would potentially be replacing tires at 10,000 miles simply because I missed one tire rotation, I would think twice about even buying the car.

    That being said, the $375/tire price at the Tesla service center seems reasonable if that includes mounting and balancing. These tires are $288 each on Tire Rack, then by the time you add in shipping and getting them put on at an installer you are just about at the same price.

    What surprises me is that given all of the tech in this car, it can't sense when the diameter of the tires drops 8/32" and display a warning. The tires start with 10/32", and the wear indicators show at 2/32". The tire essentially loses 1/4" in diameter by the time it is worn out. The car could use a sensor to detect the tire is operating at a smaller diameter than a new tire of the same size.
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    Yeah - this is a FEATURE, not a liability! Be COOL with it!
  • voshinskivoshinski Member Posts: 6
    I'm just spitballing here, but could the tire wear but the result of burnouts?

  • dunning15dunning15 Member Posts: 0
    Oh snap!
  • shepskishepski Member Posts: 45
    Sheesh- isn't it common knowledge to rotate tires every 6K miles (i.e. at every other oil change, even if the 3K oil change interval is outdated)?

    Meanwhile the Model S is so much prettier with the base 19" wheels - and the ride presumably so much better - it's beyond me why anyone opts for the 21"s.
  • quadricyclequadricycle Member Posts: 827
    @shepski: Sure, it might be common knowledge to you and me, and a lot of other people who have some idea of how cars work and what wear items are, but I'd bet that there's plenty of car owners who don't know/care/understand that. That's the whole point of
  • allthingshondaallthingshonda Member Posts: 878
    Very good example how one customer service issue can sink a product. Tires that wear out every 10,000 miles is not normal wear. Model S buyers obviously are going to be wealthy but even they will balk at buying tires every 10,000 miles. This will probably be the last Tesla they buy if the company doesn't address this issue. I think the original design was never intended to have wheels this big. It is an electric car and weight is a serious concern so the engineers probably did not intend to have wheels this big. Marketers on the other hand saw that all the competitors had 20+ inch wheels available and said we gotta have it also to complete. Marketers won and now you have a 21" wheel attached to a suspension not designed for it.

    GM had an issue with heated washer fluid system that would overheat and possibly catch on fire. They could not figure out how to fix it. They discontinued the option recalled the cars with the option disconnected the system and gave owners a refund for the cost. This is what Tesla should do. Recall the cars with the 21" wheels replace them with the 19" wheels and give customers a refund.
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    The powertrain of the car IS rocket science...but there is nothing bleeding-edge about designing a RWD multilink suspension so that you can adjust camber, nothing bleeding-edge about having all of your cars come off the line with at least nominally correct alignment settings, nothing bleeding-edge about incorporating 21" wheels into that design. Tesla dropped the ball here and while it's not the end of the world, they should have a response other than, "too bad - we're not covering it." None of the other items they're having checked (the sunroof, the dashboard cover, etc.) is unique to a car with this kind of powertrain, either.
  • duck87duck87 Member Posts: 649
    Honestly, I don't know if they need to eliminate 21" wheels from the lineup. They should be adding provisions for camber adjustment in the rear upper control arms and give the option of more static camber for those who drive "normal".

    @dunning15: "Bleeding edge" in some ways (to be clear- the most advanced part about this car is the chassis layout, even the battery/electric motor pack isn't very complicated but the way it's all laid together in the vehicle is quite different in design), but the suspension is somewhat conventional, minus the odd lower control arm on the rear. It's not rocket science putting in some level of camber adjust on the upper control arm.

    @shepski: I have to agree with quadricycle. Unlike regular buyers of sports cars and such, I think the demographic that Tesla owners belong to probably aren't the type to do their own maintenance and simply take it into the shop. If the techs don't perform the tire rotation, they aren't going to know or think twice about it.
  • duck87duck87 Member Posts: 649
    That should read "less static camber"
  • greenponygreenpony Member Posts: 531
    Others have pretty much said everything I wanted to say. It looks like a combination of factors. These tires carry a treadwear rating of 220, which might get you 30-40,000 miles in non-aggressive driving. The alignment settings would appear to be exacerbating the problem, and judging by other comments, you don't know if the settings were even correct from the factory. Tesla does not include tire rotation service in their maintenance section, which seems like a pretty big oversight, especially considering that it seems to be common knowledge among the service techs that these tires wear prematurely. Given that both rear tires are effected, it seems improbable that a tire rotation would have appreciably extended tire life, even if your service tech remembered that it was required after 5-6,000 miles. Mr O'Dell, you are I rarely are in agreement, but I'd back you here if you thought something was fishy. Could the increased diameter of about 0.6", plus the increased width of about 0.8", coupled with the active air suspension, be just enough cause the tires to rub against something?
  • dunning15dunning15 Member Posts: 0
    This is not common to Tesla. These 20" and up wheels are ludicrous. They are performance-oriented so if you want 20K miles out of your tires just get the 19's. Read your own Edmund's test of the 2009 BMW 750. In one year you spent $1560 total on four tires and went through three tires in two weeks! Nail, pothole, one just delaminated, etc. That's because the 750 and the Model S are very heavy cars and are essentially riding on 1/2" of air at high speeds with aggressive cornering. The fact that you didn't check on these puppies for 9 months is disconcerting. I seriously don't get the bewilderment about this issue.
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    greenpony, these are the Dunlops, not the PS2s. These tires have a UTQG of 340. Dunning15...the tires on the BMW were run-flats, which may account for the delamination and general POS-ness of them, and they were toasted because of punctures and potholes, not misalignment or an unworkable alignment spec designed into the car. The first tire problem they had with the BMW was at just short of 20,000 miles and all the rest occurred between then and 28,000 miles, when they got rid of the car. These tires on the Tesla never made it to 10,000 miles, never mind 20,000. Yes, Edmunds shoud have checked them, and the Tesla service center should have checked them. Whenever my 2003 SVT Focus goes in for anything however minor, it gets a 50-point checklist done on it - you'd think that maybe somebody at the Service Center would give this $100,000 car a once-over when it was brought in? Sounds like somebody is taking the EV-means-nothing-to-go-wrong mantra a little too seriously.
  • gslippygslippy Member Posts: 514
    It's a combination of toe and camber, gummy tires, no rotation, plus a heavy right foot. I recently saw a Focus with tires worn like that due to a bent control arm - you could visually see the toe-in.

    Here in western PA, I'm lucky to get 1/2 of the treadwear lifetime, even if I rotate.

    In this case, I put most of the blame on Tesla.
  • greenponygreenpony Member Posts: 531
    fordson1, how can you tell these are Dunlops? From what I can tell the P+ Model S comes with PS2's... but information on the OEM tires is sparse.
  • greenponygreenpony Member Posts: 531
    fordson1, I took a closer look at the tire in their photo. I can clearly see a "DW" on the inner sidewall, and I can barely see "...ME CONTACT" before that. So these are neither Dunlops nor Michelins... they are Continental ExtremeContact DW's, with a treadwear rating of 340.
  • quadricyclequadricycle Member Posts: 827
    greenpony: There is an easier way... in the bar at the top of the page but under "2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test", click on "Performance" then scroll down to "2013 Tesla Model S: Track Test". On that post it lists the tires. You don't need to hurt your eyes.
  • unclenick2004unclenick2004 Member Posts: 1
    Tesla has known about these tire issues long before the car went on sale to public. I am manager a repair shop in South Florida and one day last spring (early 2012) a Tesla S showed up in my parking lot with a rep from Tesla driving and wanted us to do an alignment to the car because it wore out the rear tires prematurely ....I have pics but will not give out due to legal reasons......
  • dunning15dunning15 Member Posts: 0
    Well there's the smoking gun we've all been waiting for UncleNick.

  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    Yeah, I meant Contis - got the D in DWS mixed up with Dunlop. Whatever. I was right about the UTQG of 340. That wear pattern is just weird - if I didn't know better, I would say they looked like they were rubbing on something.
  • bbteslamsspbbteslamssp Member Posts: 1
    I have a Tesla Model S Signature Performance with 16,000 miles on it. I got the car in November of 2012 and drove with snows for 4 months. I have about 10,000 miles on the original performance tires on the original 21 inch low-profile rims. To date, I have replaced the rear tires once (at 9,000 miles). I have had some silly maintenance issues that I associated with being an early adopter (I got the 350th Model S delivered), but on balance, I have had very minor issues and nothing compared to issues I had with Audi's, a Porsche or a VW.
  • al2travelal2travel Member Posts: 13
    What brand of tires are these?

    Also, looks like the inside flange is really beaten up from curbs...
  • oscaroxoscarox Member Posts: 4
    John at Edmunds, you needed a mechanic to tell you the cords were showing on your tires? I have to call you and Edmunds out on this. Perhaps test cars change hands often. Perhaps it is someone's job, and not yours, to look after the basic maintenance on all Edmunds' vehicles. True car enthuasists inspect their vehicle as they approach it. You should also know that this vehicle is heavy, powerful, likely fun to use the skinny pedal and has large wheels with low profile tires - all fuel for high tire wear.
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