A common question we get from Tesla owners is: “What is the best tire to put on my Tesla Model 3 (or Tesla Model Y)?” That’s a very good question to be asking, however, best is entirely relative and depends on what your goals with your car are. Ultimately, the goal is to choose the right tires for your needs.
If you are looking for the fastest lap times, the lowest rolling resistance, the best treadwear, or the most grip on loose surfaces – the answer will be different for each scenario. Today, we’ll try and answer the “tire question” for the most popular scenarios and goals. To begin with, let’s cover the factory-installed tires to get a baseline and explain a little bit about special Tesla OE tires:
18″ Aero Wheels – 235/45R18 Michelin MXM4 Tires
The Tesla-Spec Michelin MXM4 has one superior characteristic – range. It’s a very low rolling resistance tire and Tesla clearly chose it to maximize the range on the Model 3. Unfortunately, when it comes to all other aspects, the tire fails to excel. Tread life is poor, and inner edge wear on the front tires and center wear on the rears is a common trait. Braking distances in both the dry and wet are below the category average, as is lateral grip. A difficult tire to recommend, unless range is your only priority – and more on that below in the “Tesla-Spec Tires” section below. Average Life: 20k-30k Miles
It is worth noting that Tesla has recently introduced the Hankook Kinergy GT tires as a factory-installed optional tire. We do not have enough data on this tire to comment at this time.
19″ Sport Wheels – 235/40R19 Continental ProContact RX Tires
The Tesla-Spec Continental is a surprisingly good all-around tire. Treadwear is significantly improved over the MXM4 without a dramatic increase in rolling resistance. Braking distances also improve as does lateral grip. To top it off, this is a generally decent all-season tire that works even in inclement weather, though it should not be used on snow or ice. Average Life: 35k-50k Miles
20″ Performance Wheels – 235/35R20 Pirelli P Zero PZ4 Tires
On the 2018-2020 Model 3, the 20″ Wheels included the all-star of Summer tires – the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. However, starting in 2021, Tesla moved to a Tesla-Spec Pirelli P Zero. While the Pirelli is by no means a bad tire, it fails to reach the pinnacle that is the PS4S. The Pirelli has mild improvements in range and noise but seems to sacrifice braking and lateral performance as well as wear. Average Life: 25k-35k Miles
Now that we have an overview of the tires that come equipped from the factory on the Tesla Model 3, let’s clear up what “Tesla-Spec” is. You can identify a Tesla-specific tire by the markings T0 or T1. These tires have been “tuned” by Tesla to meet specific requirements. This could mean the tire is narrower than the standard non-market tire, the tire includes foam inside to reduce noise in the cabin, the tread blocks may be different, etc – in essence, it’s not the same tire as the non-market ones, albeit they are similar. Generally speaking, Tesla makes compromises in other areas to decrease the rolling resistance of their Spec tires for the most range.
Another important topic that should be understood is the Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) Standards – effectively this is used to report what you see as a Treadwear Rating. However, it’s important to note that the tests are not conducted by the DOT, but rather performed by the manufacturer and then reported to the DOT. Additionally, there are many variables that can affect this test, and in essence, the UTQG is not effective for measuring the actual tread life of a tire, but rather categorizes it among other similar tires. So keep that in mind if you’re comparing treadwear ratings! A comprehensive analysis can be found here
How Tires Affect Range:
It’s easy to think that all tires will give you equal range. I mean, after all, they are just black circles of rubber, how different can they be, right? But the reality is that tires (and wheels, but that’s a story for another day), have one of the most significant contributions to affecting range of any changes you’ll make to your car. So we thought it a good idea to provide a quick explanation of why that is, and what characteristics affect a tire’s range. Firstly as we alluded to above, not all tires are equal, even if they are the same model. Manufacturer spec tires like the T0 and T1, or other EV-focused tires, will often be more range focused and have a significant improvement in range. So don’t think that an off-the-shelf MXM4 is going to give you the same kind of range as the Tesla special. We found that out the hard way! A tire resists rolling because it has to deflect to roll. If you’ve ever pushed a car, you’ll notice that when it is stopped it is noticeably harder to get the car to first start rolling. Once it’s rolling, it’s much easier to keep it rolling. What is happening here is the forward side of the tire has to flex as it flattens out, and the back of the tire will release or expand as it rolls away from the ground.
As this is happening, energy is moving into and out of the tire, and that process is not 100% efficient. It takes more force to flatten the tire than is returned when the tire relaxes. Heat is created inside the tire, and energy is lost. Raising the tire pressure reduces this deflection, which also reduces the energy lost. This is why higher tire pressures result in increased range – however at the sacrifice of ride comfort and grip.
Other aspects of the tread and internal design of the tire affect the efficiency as well, as tire manufacturers can design features to reduce this phenomenon. The tread compound, depth, and shape also play a role. A softer compound with large tread blocks (think snow tires) will generate more heat when distorted, and that heat comes from rolling resistance.
The shape of a tire plays a big role in its aerodynamics, and we suspect one of the reasons that Tesla opts to forego any bead protectors is to smoothly blend the tire with the wheel to keep the air as laminar as possible over the face of the wheel. This is bad news for curb rash, but good news for range. A smooth, slightly stretched tire will keep more airflow attached, have a smaller wake, and produce less drag than a blocky tire that is much wider than the wheel.
MPP Recommended Tires:
Next, we will look into tires we really like in each relevant category, and rate them based on the below parameters on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best). We will be taking into account sizing availability for the Model 3, as well as cost, and personal experience, among other factors. Please note this is in part a reflection of our opinions, and not necessarily based on hard data.
Wet/Dry Braking Distances
Top 3 Summer Tires:
Michelin Pilot Sport 4S – MPP Score: 9/10
The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, PS4S for short, is, and has been the king of summer tires for several years. An all-around excellent performer, this tire is great for daily driving, driving in the wet, and even on the racetrack. Additionally, its relatively long life helps offset the upfront cost. Lateral dry grip is the best of the bunch, and this tire is known as being the best street tire available in the wet. As with most street tires, this tire works well from almost stone cold, so it will work great if you’re doing drag launches five minutes after you pull out of your garage. Not that you would ever do that, right?
We used this tire on our Project Plaid for One Lap Of America, and the car produced well over 1G sustained even at low speeds, approaching 1.1 G’s on the skidpad. The car was also mega in terms of traction and braking, where these tires really seem to shine.
Truly a great tire for someone who cares a lot about road noise and comfort, but wants strong grip on the road and occasional track use.
Lateral Grip – 8/10, Wet/Dry Braking Distances – 8/10, Noise 7/10, Rolling Resistance – 6/10, Treadwear – 7/10
Goodyear Supercar 3 – MPP Score: 9/10
A fairly new contender, a great summer tire that is a strong competition to the PS4S. On our Model 3, we’ve been able to turn lap times on par with cars on R-Compounds, matching and beating Porsches on Trofeo R tires. The lateral grip is similar to that of the PS4S on the Plaid, and the street manners of this tire are really quite great. They produce little noise and the tire works from bone cold just like the PS4S.
You can’t go wrong with either tire, although, the PS4S has the upper hand in wet conditions, while the Supercar 3 is more affordable.
Truly a great tire for someone who cares a lot about road noise and comfort, but wants strong grip on the road and occasional track use.
Lateral Grip – 8/10, Wet/Dry Braking Distances – 7.5/10, Noise 7/10, Rolling Resistance – 6/10, Treadwear – 7/10
Continental ExtremeContact Sport – MPP Score: 8/10
The Continental ExtremeContact Sport is a decent alternative to the PS4S in the sense that the initial cost is lower and it offers similar driving characteristics. You’ll sacrifice a bit of ride quality, noise, and wet/dry performance. We’ve also found the rolling resistance to be slightly worse than the PS4S, but your results may vary. Their dry braking performance is excellent and may even surpass the Michelin PS4S.
Lateral Grip – 7/10, Wet/Dry Braking Distances – 9/10, Noise – 6/10, Rolling Resistance – 5/10, Treadwear – 6/10
Top 3 All-Season Tires:
Michelin Pilot Sport All-Season 4 – MPP Score: 8/10
The “sister” all-season version of the PS4S, the PSAS4 is likewise (in our opinion) the best all-around, all-season tire you can buy. It can be driven in freezing temperatures and can still handle the occasional autocross abuse in the summer. It can even be used with confidence in light snow!
Lateral Grip – 5/10, Wet/Dry Braking Distances – 6/10, Noise – 6/10, Rolling Resistance – 7/10, Treadwear – 7/10, Snow/Ice – 6/10
Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 Plus – MPP Score: 8/10
This is an impressive tire and a direct competitor to the PSAS4. It offers a hair of improvement over the Michelin in above-freezing driving scenarios and ice, but falls behind when driven in the snow. We would also expect the Michelin to last a bit longer and have slightly lower rolling resistance. The Michelin gets the win for its better-looking sidewall and tread pattern if nothing else!
Lateral Grip – 6/10, Wet/Dry Braking Distances – 6/10, Noise – 7/10, Rolling Resistance – 6/10, Treadwear – 6/10, Snow/Ice – 5/10
Vredestein Hypertrac All-Season – Value Pick – MPP Score: 7/10
We thought it would be important to include a more affordable option, and the Vredestein’s come well-reviewed by consumers and fair well to the above options. It is comparable to the Continental in the snow but falls behind both the Michelin and the Continental in dry and wet high-performance driving. Fortunately, stopping distances are comparable to the Michelin! If you’re looking to save a little money, but still get a high-performing tire, look no further!
Lateral Grip – 4/10, Wet/Dry Braking Distances – 5/10, Noise – 6/10, Rolling Resistance – 6/10, Treadwear – 6/10, Snow/Ice – 5/10
Top 3 Winter Tires:
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 – MPP Score: 9/10
The “Hakka” is the pinnacle of winter tires, and the winter tire that all other winter tires aspire to be. That’s our opinion, anyway. The Nokian offers excellent handling on the ice, snow, wet, and dry conditions, though this is targeted more towards heavy snow and ice than light snow. As with any serious heavy-duty snow tire, you will pay a price in terms of range – but that is less significant when the heating load of the car is the primary driver of range loss in cold conditions. If you’re regularly traveling in icy or snow drift conditions, this is a great tire to suggest.
Lateral Grip – 3/10, Wet/Dry Braking Distances – 6/10, Noise – 4/10, Rolling Resistance – 5/10, Treadwear – 5/10, Snow/Ice – 10/10
Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 – MPP Score: 8/10
Exclusive to the North American market, the WS90 is a notable competitor to the Nokian but doesn’t wear quite as well, and doesn’t quite have that Hakka magic in the snow. Otherwise, a really great tire and possibly more available than the Hakkapeliitta.
Lateral Grip – 3/10, Wet/Dry Braking Distances – 6/10, Noise – 4/10, Rolling Resistance – 5/10, Treadwear – 4/10, Snow/Ice – 9/10
Vredestein Wintrac Pro – Value Pick – MPP Score: 7/10
The Vredestein has higher rolling resistance than the above options, and isn’t quite up to the task of driving in the snow and ice, but is available at a considerable price reduction while still offering better performance over an all-season when driving in a snowstorm. This is a pretty good option if you are not expecting to see large amounts of snowfall.
Lateral Grip – 3/10, Wet/Dry Braking Distances – 6/10, Noise – 4/10, Rolling Resistance – 4/10, Treadwear – 5/10, Snow/Ice – 8/10
It is important to note that with any winter tire you will be sacrificing range when compared to an all-season tire. Winter tires naturally have higher rolling resistance due to the larger tread blocks, thicker tread depths, and softer tread compound. Therefore, if you live in a climate where you expect to see very little snow, despite below-freezing temperatures, you likely will be better off with an all-season tire.
Top Track Tires:
A note about track tires – there are two types of “track” tires – “Super 200” tires, and R-Compound tires designed for track use with a UTQG below 200. It should be noted that Super 200 tires are often as fast, or sometimes even faster than an R-Compound tire, however they will be peaky and usually only offer peak grip of one lap or so. These tires saturate easily, so if pushed hard, the performance will drop off quickly. An R-Compound such as a Pilot Sport Cup 2, Pirelli Trofeo R, or Supercar 3R, will not fall off as much, but is often not allowed in competitive 200 treadwear classes.
Goodyear F1 Supercar 3R – UTQG 100 – MPP Score: 9/10
The Supercar 3R is a great tire that warms up quickly (when used with a heavy Tesla) and has strong grip and endurance. As this is not a “Super 200” tire, it does not fall off nearly as much after one lap, but there is still certainly a fall-off in performance after the first lap or so. Pushing the tire too hard will result in a loss of grip, specifically the outside front tire as is always the case with these cars. The tire is predictable and consistent, with strong braking and corner entry performance that fades in the middle of the corner slightly.
We would argue this is a better value tire than the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 or Pirelli Trofeo R, offering similar performance at a reduced cost. For that reason, it is our recommended R-Compound tire. This tire is roughly one second per minute faster than the Supercar 3 (street tire), so if you’re not looking for absolute outright lap times, the Supercar 3 is a great tire to consider as it does not fall off much at all over a run, and it doesn’t heat cycle out at the same rate as R-Compound tires.
Lateral Grip – 8.5/10, Traction/Braking – 9/10, Stint Consistency – 8.5/10, Lifecycle Consistency – TBD, Noise – 5/10, Wet Performance – 6/10
Falken Azenis RT660 – UTQG 200 – MPP Score: 8/10
The RT660 is one of the fastest streetable tires on the market; however, they do get greasy after only a couple of laps, and longevity is only mid-pack. That being said, if you are limited to a 200TW rating in your class, this would be one of the fastest options when the tire is new and on its first hard lap. Competition like the A052 wears out far too quickly on heavy EVs, while overheating and getting greasy too quickly.
Lateral Grip – 9/10, Traction/Braking – 9/10, Stint Consistency – 6/10, Lifecycle Consistency – 6/10, Noise – 4/10, Wet Performance – 5/10
Other Track Tires:
We have yet to test some other super 200 tires, but the Nankang CR-1 appears to be a very worthy competitor in this space. We will continue to update this post as we gather more data
Important Consideration for Electric Vehicles: Since an electric vehicle has peak performance at higher voltage levels, and the state of charge declines quickly on track, finding a tire that warms up quickly is a highly important consideration. As a result, we cannot recommend slick tires or tires with slow warm-ups such as the Hankook RS4. Unless of course, you’re prepared to use tire warmers.
Top 3 Off-Road Tires:
Finding On/Off-Road Tires that fit the Model 3 or Model Y can be quite difficult, so we tried to limit the list to some that could fit on the Model Y without permanent modification, and on the Model 3 (with modification). We won’t be providing specific scoring for this category, as we have little personal experience and they are so dependent on your specific use case.
Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail – MPP Score: 8/10
The Falken manages to provide impressive on-road performance despite being an On/Off-Road Tire. Wet and dry handling is also impressive. The one area it isn’t quite up to par is in the snow. Likely one of the best options for a Tesla given the size constraints.
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A K02 – MPP Score: 6/10
This is one of the best off-road tires with excellent handling, low-noise, good levels of comfort, and low rolling resistance. Unfortunately, on-road performance suffers with long braking distances in both the wet and dry, and low handling grip. If you are primarily off-roading this would be a good option
Toyo Open Country A/T III – MPP Score: 6/10
On the bright side, the Toyo is very good off-road, has good dry handling, and has relatively low-rolling resistance. On the other hand, it’s not particularly good in the wet with high levels of aquaplaning. It is also noisy and not very comfortable. If you don’t mind the noise and comfort aspects, and aren’t going to be spending a lot of time in the wet with the tire, this could be a good option.
Please note, if you’re looking to go off-roading we highly recommend our 1.75” Lift Kit for the Tesla Model 3 & Model Y. We’d also recommend our “Smash Me” Front Skid Plate for the Tesla Model 3 & Model Y. This combination of modifications helps to give your Model 3 or Model Y some ground clearance, and protection for the high voltage battery pack!
Sources for Reviews:
Other than our own experiences with tires, we would like to share some of our top resources for finding information on tires. Tires are an incredibly subjective topic, and there are companies and people out there who spend untold amounts of time and money trying to differentiate one tire from another, gather all of the data, and make it available to people like me and you. Please support them!
Tyre Reviews on YouTube
Tire Rack Reviews
Grassroots Motorsports (Track)
Square vs Staggered Tires:
For all Tesla Models, we strongly suggest running square tire setups. Teslas are fairly prone to understeer from the factory, and running larger tires on the rear axle only exacerbates this condition. It is also desirable to be able to rotate the tires, which can help to extend the tread life of a set of tires. Given they don’t last too long on our heavy, high-torque vehicles anyway, this is an important consideration. The same size tire front and rear is the way to go if you’re concerned with maximum grip, and tire longevity.
Diameter: For most use cases, we generally recommend staying within 2% of the factory tire diameter to avoid issues with fitment or traction control. However, we can say that the absolute largest recommend tire size on the Model 3 is 27.2”, but this specifically depends on the tire width and offset. On the Model Y, you can fit as large as 29.5” before some light rubbing of the fender liner may occur while steering.
The smallest tire for the Model 3 should be no less than 25.9”, and on the Model Y no less than 27.5”. It’s worth noting that MPP suspension kits are designed for tires that are as large or larger than OEM diameter. Running smaller diameter 18″ tires is not recommended and will require suspension packers for aggressive track use.
Width: The minimum width for the Model 3 should be 225. The maximum is variable. Typically, for an otherwise stock car, we don’t recommend exceeding 255. For a lightly modified car with appropriate wheels and camber, you can easily fit a 275. It is possible to fit up to a 305 on stock body panels, however permanent modifications such as grinding the knuckle and pulling the fenders are the kinds of things that are needed. It’s also worth noting that every tire fits differently, and even the wheel width and diameter play a role here. So you cannot make a blanket statement that any 305 will fit on a Model 3. We know that is not the case.
On the Model Y, fitting 275 square on an otherwise stock car is doable given the appropriate wheels. We have fit 11″ wide wheels with 285 Trofeo Tires on our Model Y, but that was about the absolute limit in terms of an aggressive track setup that sits inside of the fenders, and does not rub.
Further MPP Reading & Suggested Products:
Extend Tread Life, Check Your Tesla’s Alignment, Improve Your Tesla’s Range
How To Adjust Your Tesla’s Alignment – Fix Your Steering Issues!
Arastradero Rear Toe Arms for Model 3 & Y
Arastradero Rear Upper Camber Arms for Tesla Model 3 & Y
3 Easy Ways To Improve Your Tesla’s Range (VIDEO)
Simply put, we do not recommend run-flat tires, especially on an electric vehicle. They tend to be very heavy with extremely stiff sidewalls which makes them rather unpleasant to drive on. In addition, you can only drive on them flat up to 50 miles at 50mph, assuming of course the sidewall has not blown out, which in our experience is the most common failure point on a run-flat. You are much better off bringing a tire inflator and a plug kit, or a full-size spare if that makes sense for your situation.
Everything is a Compromise:
If you take away nothing else from this article, understand that every tire is a compromise. Not all tires will do everything well, and when selecting the next set of tires for your Tesla please consider what it is your main goals with your vehicle are. Buying all-season tires, for example, in a climate that never drops below 50f may not be your best decision. On the other hand, trying to drive on 200TW track-day tires on your daily commute likely isn’t going to make you happy! Determine your needs, check your climate, then choose your tires!