Tread on me
(Click to enlarge)
New Tires
for our Model 3

Mark D Larsen

May 1, 2021

We owners often tout that our electric vehicle have “no maintenance.” However, that’s not entirely true: they require very little maintenance compared to a fossil fuel burner. One unavoidable requirement is that, just like all cars, they will eventually need new tires. I knew that the tires on my Model 3 were getting close to their 40K mileage warranty, but then “bad car-ma” precipitated replacing them before the threads were completely bald. Below is the full story.

NOTE: You can click on any of the following photos to enlarge them.

A few days ago, as we were heading home from running errands, I noticed that the "low tire pressure" warning appeared on the touchscreen. I opened the alert, and —sure enough— there was a problem.

I swiped over to the tire pressure “card,” and could see that both tires on the driver's side had lost air.

When we got home, I inspected those tires. I could see that one of them had something stuck in it toward the inner edge.

Sticking my iPhone into the wheel well, I managed to get a picture of the object. It was a strong-tie SD connector screw, jammed into one of the side treads.

The second tire also had one of those screws piercing one of the center treads. Damn! Some fool had evidently dropped a box of them where we had been driving.

I went to the Big O store that has serviced my tires for years to see if they could be repair the damage. Alas, although their general manager had ordered some Tesla jack pads, they didn’t yet have them in the store, and preferred not to work on my Model 3 without them. Since I already knew the tires would need replacing, I had them order a new set for me, which would arrive the next day.

I then went home and ordered a set of Tesla jack pads to keep in the car for just such emergencies. Luckily, they also arrived the next day so I could take them to Big O to have them mount the new tires that had already been delivered to the store.

The punctured tires has lost more air by then, so I got out my Tesla Tire Repair Kit to pump them back up. It was the first time I had used that kit, and when I removed its 12V plug from the Model 3’s outlet, the housing came apart from the tip —which was still stuck in the socket! “Bad car-ma” indeed! I managed to get the tip out, but the kit is now unusable in that condition. I’ve contacted Tesla about that plug, but have yet to receive a response.

Back at Big O, they could now jack up Correcaminos to swap the tires.

Here you can see how one of the jack pads provides the needed cushion between the car and the jack.

My new tires were stacked next to the stall, waiting to be mounted.

Yes, I had simply ordered a new set of the same Continental ProContact RX tires that had come with the car originally.

I had considered other tires, but these come with what the manufacturer calls “ContiSilent” foam inside to help reduce road noise. I liked the quietness of the original tires, and deemed that feature worth paying a bit more.

A hiccup with the installation was that one of the pressure sensors had broken off of its stem and needed to be replaced. Fortunately, Big O had a sensor that they could program for a Model 3 on that wheel.

Here is the odometer reading with the new tires mounted, ready to add to that tally.

As you can see, they look identical to the original tires.

Another instance of “bad car-ma” happened when the installers were mounting the new tires: their hydraulic equipment mashed a couple of spots on the wheel bands that protect my rims. They aren’t damaged enough to replace them, so I’ll just keep my eye on them for now.

Because one tire has a new pressure sensor, the car displayed an alert to reset those devices. Here are the instructions that I opened via the service control panel.

I followed the instructions to “learn new pressures”, and this alert appeared above the pressure “card.” It worked! All four sensors are now working properly.

The installer had put 42 psi into the tires per the tire sticker in my door frame, and you can see that the readouts are fairly close to that psi. I have used 45 psi in the past, and expect that the pressures might increase to that level as temperatures get warmer. I will say this much: the ride at 42 psi doesn’t seem quite as harsh, but perhaps that’s just a benefit of the new treads.

Correcaminos now has new shoes to get back to “hiking” the trails around the country. After more than a year of lockdown in the pandemic, I’m really looking forward to taking those roadtrips again. Let’s just hope some shitwit hasn’t dumped a box of screws on those roads!