As winter arrives, Tesla owners face the challenge of cold-weather driving, especially the issue of decreased tire pressure due to lower temperatures. While not as severe as a flat tire, driving with insufficient tire pressure has its own safety risks and performance detriments.
Understanding Winter Tire Deflation
Exploring the scientific causes of tire deflation, we understood that warmer temperatures cause air molecules to expand, while colder weather makes them more dense. This, in turn, leads to slower movement, which implies less space being occupied by the same amount of air. And the result is more frequent tire pressure loss during winter.
Implications of Low Tire Pressure
Neglecting the low tire pressure warning on your screen can have severe consequences. For electric vehicles (EVs), like Teslas, maintaining proper tire pressure is even more critical. Let’s understand these step-by-step:
1. Reduced Driving Range: While tire pressure impacts both ICE and EV driving range, the impact is worse for EVs. Due to flatter tires, the vehicle experiences greater rolling resistance, exerting greater pressure on the motor. So, compared to warmer temperatures, in winter, more power is consumed to propel the vehicle forward. More frequent recharging is required to cover the same distance as higher rolling resistance drastically drains the vehicle’s battery.
Source: Machine Design
2. Reduced Vehicle Handling Responsiveness: Lower tire pressure also reduces the vehicle's responsiveness, which impacts its starting, stopping, and steering, making the drive all the more injury-prone.
3. Greater Tread-Wear: Low tire pressure also exposes them to greater or more rapid tread-wear, or even a sudden tire failure, making driving extremely risky..
Therefore, apart from the financial impacts of a reduced driving range, lower tire pressure can be a predecessor to severe safety risks on the road.
Why should EV owners take instant action to low psi?
Several factors make EVs more susceptible to low tire pressure risks.
- As EVs are heavier than ICE, they exert approximately 20% more weight on the tires. However, it’s the air inside the tire that bears the weight of the heavier vehicle. Therefore, maintaining the optimum psi is of paramount importance.
- Further, as EVs offer greater acceleration, they experience greater torque also, which is yet another factor impacting the tires.
- Finally, while regenerative braking is one of the best features of EVs, it also leads to more frequent torque reversal compared to ICE vehicles. This also adds to the tire wear.
Keeping these factors in mind, less than optimum psi requires immediate action by EV owners.
Recommended Tire Pressure for Teslas
One of the most important parts of maintaining the tire pressure in Tesla is where to look for the ideal tire pressure. While it may sound counter-intuitive, the psi mentioned on tires is not the way to go.
Instead, you must follow the pressure outlined on the Tire Information Label on the center door pillar.
Different Tesla models have different psi requirements, for example, Model 3, Y, and X are recommended to have 42 psi tire pressure, and Model S’ psi can range from 38 to 45 psi, the reason being, that Model S can have square or staggered tires, i.e. square when all tires are of the same width, while staggered when the rear tires are wider than the front tires.
Square tires can use 245/35R21/XL 96W tires which require 42 psi, but if you have 245/45R19 98W tires, then 45 psi should be maintained.
Staggered tires require varying psi on all four tires. If the front ones are 245/35R21/XL 96Y then 38-45 psi works but with 265/35R21/XL 101Y tires, in the back. 40-45 psi is optimum.
You must also ensure the right tread depth - at least 3 mm is ideal in wet conditions and at least 4 mm in snow and slush.
Checking Tesla Tire Pressure
According to the Tesla’s Tire and Car Maintenance manual, you can check the tire pressure in the instrument panel. To access the Car Status to check the pressure of each tire, use the right or left steering wheel buttons.
Pick either Bar or PSI from Controls > Display > Tire Pressure menu.
You can also check the psi in the Tesla mobile app.
However, while this is a good way to keep track when you are expecting low psi, it is not effective when you have recently pumped the tires up and expect the psi to be ideal. You might have to drive a short distance before you can see the updated psi on the display or the app.
Maintaining Tesla Tire Pressure
While conventional gas stations are an option, portable air compressors offer a practical solution, especially during road trips or camping where gas stations may be scarce.
Therefore, you must try Jowua’s Portable Air Compressor for Tesla & Tire Valve Caps Combo.
This portable air compressor offers:
1. Fast Inflation & Optimum Performance: Jowua portable air compressor reduces the inflation time by half. Additionally, on one charge, we were able to do 13 inflations. The tire pressure was increased from 36 to 42 psi in a minimum 76 and maximum 106 seconds, i.e. under 2 minutes.
2. Powerful Alloy Casting Cylinder: As the air compressor is designed especially for EVs, you need not worry about not meeting the EV’s high tire pressure requirements.
3. Large Screen & Compact Form Factor: Teslas don’t display the current tire pressure right after inflation; it does that after you have driven at least 25 km after reinflating. This is why, knowing the exact pressure after pumping is important.
Traditional compressors are not handy enough, so it is difficult to get the exact pressure reading while the air gets pumped. This may lead to over-inflation. However, as our air compressor is portable with a large display, you can easily hold it while it pumps and also see the exact reading during the process.
4. 60W High-speed Charging: Keeping portability in mind, we have designed the portable air compressor to support 60W fast charging. This means you can get it fully charged in just 30 minutes.
In conclusion, this portable air compressor efficiently combats low tire pressure challenges in a Tesla and other EVs, and while you are not using it, either charge it or store it away in the sub-trunk, to be easily accessed when needed.