If you’ve become a Tesla owner in the past few years, then we know that you likely spent a great deal of money to do so. For the moment at least, Tesla remains in the higher-end bracket in bot price and technology, with some perhaps arguing that it stretches to quality as well. When you pay for a premium vehicle, you expect to get the “full package,” right? That might include additional technology, ADAS features, more luxurious interiors, extra drive modes and whatnot. Wouldn’t you also expect a spare tire to be included?
This last question may seem silly, but it’s one that many a Tesla is asking themselves after shelling out at a premium rate in order to join the all-electric car club, only to find that their chariot has no spare tire for if and when something goes wrong. In today’s piece, we’re delving into this problem, and the explanations that have emerged for it.
Top User Explanation: Weight and Space
Electric cars are already heavy enough thanks to the inclusion of the bulk of their battery packs. While that may improve over time, it means that an EV is already quite burdened as it is. The Tesla Model 3, for instance, weighs up to 4,000lbs, or about the same as a longer and larger Chrysler 300. A spare Tesla tire weighs in at around 29.5 pounds. Adding that to the bulk is a burden that you’re already well-laden Tesla can do without.
Besides weight, and perhaps even more crucially, is the amount of extra space within the structure a spare tire would require. That’s space that you can fashion into a more comfortable cabin or additional storage room, perhaps even more room for various technology that help to make the car so desirable among owners and potential buyers.
We mention here that the weight and space taken up by the spare tire are the top reasons given by drivers and enthusiasts to explain the lack of a spare tire, but the way we see it there’s another big reason for the missing tire.
Our Explanation: No One is Doing it Anymore
It’s a fact that fewer and fewer automakers are putting spare tires in their cars anymore. In fact, Tesla were the ones who started this trend after learning that as much as 85 percent of the time, old vehicles that are junked are found to have their spare tire in its compartment still unused. That means that, essentially, new tires are being put onto the scrap heap for no good reason. That’s wasteful.
Why should Tesla, or any other automaker, be adding these materials, storage and weight to their car models for such a small 15 percent fraction of the total market? It doesn’t make business sense, either. Below, let’s look at some further reasons that Tesla doesn’t include spare tires with their cars.
Further Reasons for Teslas Not Having Spare Tires
1. Technological Solutions
Instead of the clear waste of space and resources demonstrated by putting a spare tire in the Tesla car, the American electric car giant has instead focused its efforts on neat technological solutions like its Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). This system keeps an eye on tire pressure and will give you plenty of advance warning when a tire is in need of attention.
Let’s say one of your tires is experiencing a loss in pressure. When it crosses a pre-determined point of loss, but is still safe to drive upon, the system will warn you, giving you enough time to drive to a repair shop and have the tire seen to. That’s a neat solution that dramatically cuts down the chances of a sudden blowout or other unexpected failure while you’re driving in the middle of nowhere.
2. The Expense of Spare Tires
If drivers are so bothered by the absence of a spare tire, what’s stopping them simply purchasing a kit of their own and keeping it in the trunk? They have the freedom to make that choice if they feel the space/weight issues aren’t important enough to warrant not having a spare.
There’s another problem to overcome, however, which is the cost of these kits. Tesla, in a way reminiscent of Apple for its devices, is quite protective over its products and services, meaning that you can’t just slap any old tire or wheel on there and be done with it. You’d need a proper Tesla tire repair and inflator kit.
These kits can cost between $280 and $370 to purchase. That adds rather a lot of premium to the already not-cheap Tesla car. At the same time, you’d be sacrificing storage space and adding weight to the vehicle. Is all of that worth it just for the knowledge that you have a spare tire in the car? Does that trump the advantage of early warning systems like the TPMS? The cost of this kit will come again in another reason below. Watch this space!
3. Free Tesla Road Service
If you’re a Tesla owner and your car’s warranty is valid. That could be 4-8 years or 50,000 to 150,000 miles respectively depending on the exact model and cover. But you might be thinking now, “Tesla’s warranty doesn’t cover tires, so how does this help?” It’s true that the standard Tesla warranty doesn’t cover tire changing, but it does cover up to 50 miles of towing as part of the Roadside Assistance package. So, Tesla users with an active warranty can get a tow truck 24/7 to their location, which can then drop them off at the nearest Tesla Service Center to get repairs.
When you have this, why would you bother with a DIY kit or bulky spare tire taking up your valuable trunk space? This is surely an easier and more convenient way of dealing with the problem.
4. A Tesla Tire Repair Only Costs $285
Remember above when we said the cost of that DIY kit would be returning? Well, here it is. Ask yourself why a Tesla driver would bother shelling out up to $380 for a DIY kit that would then mean having to get into the mire and change that tire themselves on top of that, when they have a free tow service and a potentially cheaper cost of having the tire professionally fixed by a trained Tesla mechanic? Tesla charges $230 per tire, plus $55 for labor, that’s only $285 in total.
Perhaps even more relevant is the fact that using Tesla’s own repair and roadside services increases the chance of the tire being fixed at the roadside, which is even more efficient for the driver. You could be back on the road and on your way in near-to no time. The only drawback to roadside repairs is that they can’t do a proper alignment, just the balancing. At least you’d be able to drive yourself (for free) to a Tesla Service Center to get the alignment checked after having your tire fixed roadside.
Can You Buy an Official Tesla Spare Tire from the Dealer? Are 3rd-party Providers Off-Limits?
The official Tesla Shop sells a range of (expensive) wheel and tire packages either for enhanced aesthetics or function like winter driving (e.g. snow chains). They don’t sell a so-called “official spare tire.” You can get new tires and tire repairs, as well as balancing and alignment services at your local Tesla Service Center. This is a safe place to choose for repairs since the technicians are all specially trained to work with Tesla Cars.
This does not mean that 3rd party suppliers or repair shops are off limits, however. Tesla themselves have said that it is fine for drivers to use either a Tesla Service Center or a third-party provider. You can get Tesla tires from top-quality providers like Michelin from their online store.
Let’s say you do buy a spare tire from Tesla or a 3rd party, the final point is where do you store it? It seems the only option would be to take up valuable trunk space.
Conclusion: Why Don’t Teslas Have Spare Tires – They Don’t Need Them
Tire-related technology has come far in the past few decades, including our ability to monitor the conditions of tires and effect quick repairs before the conditions get worse. That’s the key to giving all manner of automotive components longer life — seeing to problems before they get past the point of no return.
This kind of monitoring system paired with Tesla’s provision of free roadside assistance to those with a warranty, plus the potentially equal or lower cost of having a Tesla professional see to your tire repairs rather than yourself, all make for the majority of drivers not really minding that they no longer have a spare tire in their Tesla. It seems to be a trend not likely to change as car makers seek to boost fuel efficiency, lower overall weight and increase storage space, too. Perhaps in the near future we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.