While your local Tesla Service Center may be scrambling for factory 255/45R19 winter tire options to fit the Model Y, alternative sizing is always worth considering. We've previously covered running 235/50R19 on a Model Y but even that sizing can be hard to find at times as most other crossovers would typically run a 17" or 18" wheel with a 28.0 to 28.5" diameter tire.
The Model Y is a bit of an anomaly as it runs a fairly small overall diameter relative to the size and weight of the vehicle. This is also to emphasize the need to purchase XL (extra load) tires as tires that may match the original tire's dimensions may not have the necessary load rating for such a car.
When it comes to speed rating, this is typically not as important with a winter setup as many drivers are willing to sacrifice some top end performance with their winter tires. Not many drivers will actually need a V or Y rated winter tire as very few will exceed 200km/h (120mph) on their winter tires.
For this Model Y we went with a 18x8.5" +40 Replika R241 wheel made by Fastco. It's done in a satin black and pays homage to wheels like the Uberturbine or Induction wheels offered as an option on the Model Y. The overall offset is a bit narrower than stock but can be modified with spacers if the owner sees fit. We recommend H&R bolt on spacers for Tesla Model 3 and Y applications, they come in 14mm, 17mm, and 20mm sizes. Brake clearance is not an issue with the Model Y long range although we do recommend going with at least a 19" for Performance models due to the larger brakes.
For the tire we went with the 235/55R18 Pirelli Winter Ice Zero FR. This is an incredible value as it's a top-tier brand tire with mid-tier pricing in line with others like Kumho, General, and others. It's a 104T rated tire meaning it has a maximum rated top speed of 190 km/h (110 mph) which again shouldn't be a deal breaker for most commuters. Thanks to the XL rating, the tire exceeds OE requirements for weight/load carrying capabilities. As with any true winter tire, it is also 3PMSF (mountain snowflake) certified.
Is it safe to run a different size wheel/tire on the Model Y?
While your Tesla Service Center will likely not recommend this sizing as they have never tested it, we have run this winter setup on multiple vehicles with great results. Some drivers believe that the narrower tire will cut through the snow a bit better than wider tires but results may vary and ultimately there will be differences in the way the car drives on a 235/55R18 vs. the stock 255/45R19.
We do agree however that dry handling and warmer weather performance will be worse than the factory 19" all seasons compared to this skinnier 18" setup. The 18" setup does however benefit from a lighter weight and thicker sidewall which typically translates to a better ride which can be important for rough winter roads. The lighter weight and narrower tread may also increase range slightly.
In terms of sizing difference, these tires are only 0.2" (0.7%) taller than the stock 255/45R19 tires. The offset with this particular setup is 8mm retracted from the original position but we also have 18x8.5 +35 options that will have a virtually identical "flushness" as compared to the factory Gemini wheels as they'd only be 3mm retracted. There is certainly room to run a wider setup, especially in the rear but it's perfectly safe to run the narrower wheel as well. This will also put less load on the wheel hub and drivetrain of the car.
We always recommend fitting the factory Tesla BLE TPMS sensors on these cars to avoid any compatibility issues. These sensors work very well and are picked up by the car in a matter of minutes without requiring any dealer programming or special tools. Some users have reported issues with the car going into limp mode or some functions not being available due to the lack of tire pressure sensors. As with any Tesla vehicle, your mileage may vary and things may change with future updates.
We would not put it past Tesla to have software issues regarding their ABS, traction control, and other systems when installing different sized wheels and tires. However, in practice we have not seen or heard reports of such issues from various customers running alternate sizing. There will always be variations from tire manufacturer to tire manufacturer in terms of actual size, stiffness of compound, and handling characteristics, despite having the exact same size/speed/load specifications.
Much of the Tesla community likes to insinuate fear based on speculative keyboard engineering, but amidst a global tire shortage where factory sized winters are not readily available, we think it's important to drive with tires suited for actual weather conditions. We will always advocate for running proper 3PMSF tires in true winter weather.
Contact us today if you're looking for the definitive Lower Mainland Tesla wheel and tire experts! We offer the best pricing and keep many options in stock especially for the Model 3 and Model Y.