Wheel and Tire Tech

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Mad Hungarian

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#1
Hello all and welcome to the official M3OC Wheel and Tire Tech thread.
My objective here is to create a kind of one-stop-shop where we can all come to discuss any and all technical issues related to wheels and tires and I can chime in to help shine some light. As they tend to come up frequently but mutate like viruses and then re-appear all over the place, I thought it's be a lot easier if we try and keep it under one roof.
I will do my best to reply regularly and in a timely manner, but please be patient as my life at times (or just me, really) can best be described as chaotic.
Full disclosure: My day job is Director of Technical Services for Fastco, makers of Fast Wheels, Braelin Alloy and Replika as well as distributor for many major tire brands. As such I'm fortunate to be immersed in this stuff every day and have access to much smarter folks on just about anything related to the subject, and am happy to share whatever I can. However I do NOT intend to turn this into a rolling billboard for just our products. There are hundreds of manufacturers, distributors and retailers in this business, many of whom I know personally and have great respect for, and I intend to be as impartial as is humanely possible. I want people to get straight stories here, and if I can't deliver I'll do my best to find you someone who can.
 
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TrevP

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#2
Maybe you can start by telling everyone about your findings with Tesla TPMS systems. The info you gave me when I bought the wheels and snow tires from you was valuable but I'll let you tell the group :)
 

Mad Hungarian

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#3
Maybe you can start by telling everyone about your findings with Tesla TPMS systems. The info you gave me when I bought the wheels and snow tires from you was valuable but I'll let you tell the group :)
Sure!

First a nano-primer:

TPMS, or Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, have been around since the 90's but only went mainstream in the mid 2000's when the U.S. regulatory agency NHTSA decided they should become mandatory. The E.U. has recently followed suit, but they are not obligatory elsewhere (yet) so not all markets have them as standard or even optional. This is particularly confusing in Canada, where some models otherwise identical to the U.S. version have, and others don't, largely depending on where they were built.

There are two main types:

Direct: In this system each wheel has an actual pressure sensor inside it, almost always attached to the backside of the air valve except for Ford, who for a while had the mounted in the drop well (that deep trench inside the wheel's barrel that allows the tires to be fitted) and strapped in there with a giant hose clamp. Direct systems can be very basic (light on if pressure drops on any tire) or fancy (real-time pressure display and temperature for each tire). With this system you need to have sensors in all your wheels, summer, winter, track, whatever, for it to work. The sensors also need to be programmed to the vehicle, otherwise you'd be getting random pressure info from everyone around you! This can be joyfully easy (Tesla, some Hondas and Chryslers) to insanely complex, requiring special tools, computers or visits to the dealer (these OEMs shall remain nameless. You know who you are).
Aviso: In the U.S. you cannot knowingly disable the system without running afoul of the law, so good idea to make sure your new wheels have them. Not sure about E.U., and in Canada we can do whatever we want. Almost all cars can function perfectly well without the sensors, the TPMS warning light will then be on full time but it should be noted that on some models you may not be able to select some of the sportier Drive modes nor deactivate Traction or Stability controls. If you have an icy, uphill driveway, not being able to deactivate Traction Control can be a real bummer. You've been warned.

Indirect: A lovely and simple solution (thank you, nameless engineers) that uses the vehicle's existing hardware to figure out that a tire is losing pressure. This is done with the ABS sensors in each hub that monitor the speeds of each wheel. If one tire loses pressure it will get shorter as it goes flat, reducing its effective diameter, and basic math tells us it will have to spin faster to keep up with the other three. The computer can recognize that pattern and then set off a warning. Unfortunately the early systems had to have significant delays programmed into them so for it not to trigger every time you turned left or right, when the wheels will need to turn at different speeds. It also has a hard time with multiple simultaneous pressure losses, so most OEMs went with Direct where required. However some new versions with additional input for the more advanced sensors in the Stability Control system have allowed Indirect to function much more efficiently so it is slowly making a comeback.

Tesla uses the Direct system on all its models, the 3 included. The good news is since 2014 they essentially all use the same sensor, OE part number 1034602 and they all program the same way, no tools required, as follows:

Tesla TPMS Relearn Procedure

1. Ensure all tires are inflated to placard pressure
2. Get in car, making sure all doors and the trunk are closed
3. Turn vehicle on
4. On center screen select "Controls"
5. Select "Settings"
6. Select "Service and Reset"
7. Select "Tire Pressure Monitor"
8. Select "Reset Sensors"
9. Select the tire size
10. Drive for at least 10 minutes above 20 mph so vehicle can learn the new sensor ID numbers, or if this is after a rotation, learn where the old ones are now repositioned

I should note that after we switched from the 19" OE to the 18" winter setup on the Model 3 we couldn't get past Step 7 until we started driving the car. About 5 minutes it suddenly popped the Tire Size selection display onto the screen, and when we selected 18" it confirmed all was good and began displaying pressures immediately. Not sure if any of the S or X owners have ever experienced that. But it was still easy as pie compared to some of the other systems out there and makes it simple for owners to do their own rotations and summer/winter swaps.

EDIT 10/16/18: It appears that for Model 3 as of V9 (or possibly even late V8) the TPMS reset function is no longer available in the Service menu.
However the process is now even simpler, just install your new sensors, start driving and after 15 minutes or so you will get a pop-up asking you to select the wheel diameter installed. Select the correct size and you're done!
 
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4

4701

Guest
#4
Well written.

BMW uses indirect as default. Direct has been an option or maybe standard on upper end.
I love both methods. Though I would vote for indirect for cheaper vehicles. Using the same sensors on
many many models should make them cheaper (they started at way above 100€ each years ago). But the main
disadvantage of this direct system is that it is not kept working forever.
Sensors have battery that will die after 5-8 years and/or 150 000-200 000km. Can't be replaced, need new sensor, all 4 of them.
Sensor might fail prematurely due to salt, corrosion. It might start leaking, before battery runs out. At least there is no need
to change the regular valve step every 2-3 years (these rubber ones fail slightly faster).
Fix-a-flat foam might ruin sensor. Sometimes cleaning helps.

Dead sensor sensor error in EU will make the TPMS light come on. Which will fail you with MOT. But it can be "fixed" by coding.
For cheaper vehicles, I would prefer manufacturers to use indirect method. People will find a way to not waste money
on an old vehicle.
I would also agree that all performance vehicles that can hit 240km/h should have direct TPMS. It is more critical for these vehicles to
have not only pressure but also temperature reading (maybe EU only as US doesn't have very high speed driving anyway).

PS:
I've seen many Tesla videos with "awesome wheels" with "temporarily" no TPMS sensors:D
 

Frank99

Model 3 owner since May 3, 2018
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#6
Is there an industry standard strength requirement for aftermarket wheels? How does it compare with oem wheels? I've got to assume that some wheel mfgs 'cheat' a bit on strength,especially in the realm of lightweight wheels; how do i determine that the wheel I'm buying won't break on the first pothole?
 

Mad Hungarian

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#7
Who manufactures the standard 18" Model 3 wheel? I.e., if I wanted to buy a set so I can put my own winter tires on (not a fan of Pirellis) where do I go?
They would be built under license to Tesla's specs and sold exclusively through their stores. However you don't have to buy the whole package from Tesla, you could just get a set of OE wheels and get the tires of your choice elsewhere.
I'd keep a eye on eBay though, as more cars get delivered I suspect we'll see more and more people selling off their OE wheels to fit the aftermarket ones. We've even seen the odd set of factory-new ones mysteriously show up there.
 

JWardell

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#8
BMW uses indirect as default. Direct has been an option or maybe standard on upper end.
I don't think BMW has used indirect for years, at least here in the states. My 2004 MINI was indirect, that was nice when buying new rims etc not to have to deal with and pay for TPMS. But it's probably not as accurate or quick to detect a flat.

My 2009 BMW and 2013 MINI both had TPMS sensors.
 

Mad Hungarian

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#9
Is there an industry standard strength requirement for aftermarket wheels? How does it compare with oem wheels? I've got to assume that some wheel mfgs 'cheat' a bit on strength,especially in the realm of lightweight wheels; how do i determine that the wheel I'm buying won't break on the first pothole?
Hey @Frank99 haven't forgotten about you, just haven't had time to catch up here and this is one that needs some detail.
Stay tuned!

EDIT: Still not going to have time to answer this topic for another few days, my apologies. Lots to talk about here and I'd rather do it right.
 
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Mad Hungarian

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#10
I don't think BMW has used indirect for years, at least here in the states. My 2004 MINI was indirect, that was nice when buying new rims etc not to have to deal with and pay for TPMS. But it's probably not as accurate or quick to detect a flat.

My 2009 BMW and 2013 MINI both had TPMS sensors.
Almost all BMWs in Canada are Indirect, but most U.S. went to Direct for the reasons I described. Pretty sure E.U. models are indirect as well...
 

LUXMAN

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#11
Any idea what size lug nuts would be for the Model 3?
I want to put Gorilla Lugs and Locks on vs the standard Nut type lugs.
Thanks
 

Frank99

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#13
Mad Hungarian - No problem at all on the delay. I was mostly throwing those out as ideas for you for future posts, although I am interested in the answers. I figured those would help give the thread the proper tech focus.

/frank
 
4

4701

Guest
#14
Just a remark about lug nuts: NEVER LUBRICATE.
Torque values will shift dramatically to unsafe territory (either metal stretching or coming loose).
And about painting the wheels:
Paint may not be applied on conical surfaces. It can ooze out loosening the nut.
Same story for brake disc and wheel mating surface.
 

mishakim

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#15
Just a remark about lug nuts: NEVER LUBRICATE.
That should apply for pretty much all screw-based fasteners. If you need lube, something is wrong, and lube will only compound your problems. (Unless of course the design calls for lube, and you are using it in the exact manner specified)
 
4

4701

Guest
#16
Well, sometimes bolts are made out of stronger metal and can accept more load.
And sometimes more clamping force is better (and no additional torque is available).
That doesn't apply to cars.
 

Fredbob711

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#17
@Mad Hungarian I'm going to show my ignorance when it comes to this topic and probably make someone cringe.

I've always had a pretty simple requirement for my wheels/tires... there need to be 4 on my car, the tires need to be inflated, and they need to be round. I've never worried about having a separate set of winter tires or anything. So this is all new territory for me.

How about a quick explainer on what's needed and the process to switch out a set of wheels on the Model 3? (swear I read somewhere that the torque requirements for lug nuts on the 3 were pretty extreme to the point of not being a DIY job?)
Maybe some tool recommendations for the job? I don't need professional grade tools, but I'm willing to spend a bit more for sturdy/reliable and I have absolutely no reference for where to start.
 

Mad Hungarian

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#18
@Mad Hungarian I'm going to show my ignorance when it comes to this topic and probably make someone cringe.

I've always had a pretty simple requirement for my wheels/tires... there need to be 4 on my car, the tires need to be inflated, and they need to be round. I've never worried about having a separate set of winter tires or anything. So this is all new territory for me.

How about a quick explainer on what's needed and the process to switch out a set of wheels on the Model 3? (swear I read somewhere that the torque requirements for lug nuts on the 3 were pretty extreme to the point of not being a DIY job?)
Maybe some tool recommendations for the job? I don't need professional grade tools, but I'm willing to spend a bit more for sturdy/reliable and I have absolutely no reference for where to start.
Glad to help.
At the simplest level, you need:

- An 18" or longer 1/2" drive breaker bar with a long 21 mm impact socket
- A 1/2" drive torque wrench that goes up to at least 150 ft-lbs
- A 2 ton hydraulic floor jack

If you shop judiciously you can probably find all this in decent quality stuff for $300 or less. Potentially half that or less if you go the Craigslist route.
A cordless impact gun is a nice addition, but as you point out the torque value specified for Tesla lugs is 129 ft-lbs and the guns that'll reliably remove that tend to be pricy. Note that loosening or tightening to that value by hand is cake as long as you have a long enough bar.
But as long as you're not going for a pit lane record, the above tools are plenty to get the job done with ease.

As for the process:

- Park the car on level surface
- If equipped with 18" Aero wheels with covers, remove the covers by grasping the inside edges of the vent holes pulling off straight toward you
- If equipped with 19" Sport wheels, using the hook-shaped cap removal tool that comes with the car and insert the end of the hook into the small hole at the bottom of the "T" logo and pull
- Take the breaker bar, install the 21 mm socket and loosen lugs on all four wheels. Don't remove them! Just get them loose enough to turn by hand
- Take the floor jack and position it so that the lifting pad is directly underneath the jacking point nearest the wheel you're removing. The hardened jack points are located here:
upload_2018-3-2_15-27-14-png.6080


- Jack the car up until the bottom of the tire is at least an inch or two off the ground
- Remove the lug nuts and the wheel
- Install the new wheel and thread on the nuts until they are snug, but don't try to fully torque them yet
- Lower the jack, set your torque wrench to 129 ft-lbs, install the 21 mm socket and then finish tightening the lugs. Tighten them by following a criss-cross star pattern, like below, going around several times until your torque wrench "clicks" firmly to signal each lug is fully tightened

upload_2018-3-2_15-26-22-png.6079


Repeat for the other three wheels

NOTE: These instructions assume you are installing a second set of OE Tesla wheels, or aftermarket wheels that fit exactly like OE and re-use the OE lug nuts.
However many aftermarket wheels require hub-centric rings to center them on the hubs and/or different lug nuts to fit inside the wheel's lug pocket. If so, be sure to use these correct accessories every time you run the aftermarket wheels, and remove them and use the OE Tesla lugs to re-install the Tesla wheels.
 

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Jongaud

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#19
I own a Leaf in Canada (where TPMS are not mandatory but winter tires are) and my current winter wheels do not have TPMS. The car simply displays an icon on the dash saying they are missing but it has not effect on other systems.

Is it the same for the Model 3 ? Can we drive without TPMS or there is some drawback like a button to click on the screen every time you start the car ?