This is more of an initial report of why I chose a certain set of tires for my Model 3 rather than a final account for lifetime cost. Hopefully it will take many, many miles before I’ll be able to add it all up.
Born For Sport
When I picked up my long range RWD Model 3 this summer, I did not make any note of what tires were fitted on the car. I just observed an incredibly stable drive with no wobble or softness of any kind from the standard 18 inch aero wheels. However, with 283 horses kicking on the rear wheels, it was possible to provoke the rear end of the car to drift shortly at any time. In wet conditions, a straight acceleration would also make the electronic power-to-tarmac circuits struggle to keep up.
The tires fitted from the factory were Michelin Pilot Sport 4 235/45 ZR18 98Y XL Acoustics (yes, they have foam in them!), and don’t get me wrong, they rock! In dry and warm conditions, they make this car shoot around as quickly as I have ever experienced. Small twisty backroads with hard accelerations or German Autobahns at top speed, same thing, maximum performance. I’ve had 10,000 miles of fun with these tires, but it’s getting cold, and the way these tires perform in the wet proves they are worthless on ice and snow.
Life In Comfort
An important point of investing in the Model 3 was to keep costs down, but in certain climates, you have this issue with winter vs. summer tires, so I was not sure how to avoid spending too much on extra tires, or even an extra set of wheels.
A couple of years back, Michelin tried to reinvent the all-season concept with its new CrossClimate product. Having not been too disappointed with a set of Goodyear Vector 5 all-season tires many years ago, I thought this might be the time to try this easy solution once again.
I read a lot of reviews online, and when I came across this one from tyrereviews.co.uk, I made up my mind. What I found interesting was the way the CrossClimate tires supposedly would keep up good performance all the way down to minimum tread depth (1.6 mm). That should make for a compelling case in terms of cost per mile.
I ordered a set of Michelin CrossClimate+ 245/45 R18 100Y XL. I chose the wider size for two main reasons: more rubber contact with the tarmac, and a more comfortable ride. Also, I think they actually fit the rims better and make the whole car look more complete — if that makes any sense.
The tires are rated a notch lower in noise than the Pilots, so I was hoping they would not make more noise despite being wider and without foam. They don’t. They make significantly less noise actually, especially at low speeds. However, they do affect range in a negative way, but not that much. Acceleration is unaffected, but actually much better in the wet. Handling? Well, I do sense they are softer than the Pilots, but at the end of day, they are still sporty enough for almost anything you throw at them.
What About Safety?
Last year, we had one single day with snowy roads in my area, and given the much better grip in the wet, which is the condition almost permanently from October through April, I think this is a sensible choice. Also, if you ride pure winter tires, they really are inferior in dry conditions in the summer.
We have hardly had any sub-0°C days, so I might regret this big time if we get an icy winter with lots of snow, yet after the first thousand miles on these CrossClimate in the wet and cold, I feel much better grip and control than I did with the Pilots. Many reviews also point out that they are quite capable in snow, should that eventually happen.
Oh, and one more thing: The good people at the tire shop (Tesla use EuroMaster here in Aarhus, Denmark) made sure the wheels fitted with the new tires where much more balanced than they originally were from Tesla. All vibrations gone!
I tried to make directly comparable runs before and after changing the tires:
- Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4 235/45 ZR18 98Y XL Acoustic
- Battery charge: 50%
- Outside temp: 12 degrees Celsius
- Road condition: Wet, no rain
- Noise: 61 dB at 80 kph (50 mph) with evident low pitch rumble at lower speeds (< 50 mph) and sensibility to tarmac type (e.g. concrete being very noisy)
- Consumption: 166 Wh per km giving 451 km range (267 Wh per mile giving 280 miles range)
- Tires: Michelin CrossClimate+ 245/45 R18 100Y XL
- Battery charge: 50%
- Outside temp: 9 degrees Celsius
- Road condition: Wet, no rain
- Noise: 60 dB at 80 kph (50 mph) with evident high pitch whining at higher speeds (> 50 mph) and more drumming (that hollow sound is completely absent in the foam prepped Pilots)
- Consumption: 179 Wh per km giving 419 km range (288 Wh per mile giving 260 miles range)
So, here’s hoping the next over-the-air (OTA) update will regain some of that lost range…
Below are a few photos to compare visually. Pilot Sport left. CrossClimate right.
All photos by the author
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