Maintaining proper tire pressure is important on any vehicle. While you can always manually check the pressure on your tires with a tire gauge, using the built-in Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is a quick and easy way to get a pressure reading. Despite the TPMS system, Tesla still recommends periodically checking your tire pressure manually.
To check your Tesla tire pressure via the TPMS will vary based on which vehicle you drive. For Model S and X owners, follow these steps:
Tesla Model S and X Tire Pressure Display
- Press down on the Left Scroll Wheel for a second or so, you’ll see an options menu appear.
- Using the left wheel control, scroll down to “Check Status”. This will now display vehicle status on the left-hand portion of the Instrument Panel.
Tesla Model 3 and Y Tire Pressure Display
If you own a Tesla Model Y or Model 3, this is for you…
It’s a bit faster to check the tire pressure on the Model 3 and Y. On the touchscreen for these models there’s a section in the bottom left called “Cards”. Simply swipe on this section until you get the card with the tire pressure display.
Safety and Saving Money (Proper Tire Care)
As stated in the Tesla owner manual, under inflated tires are the most common cause of tire failures. These failures can include the tire overheating which can result in severe tire cracking, tread separation, or blowout. Any of these results can lead to an unexpected loss of vehicle control and safety risk. Under inflated tires also reduce the vehicle’s range and tread life of the tires.
In an article by AAA, it further elaborates on the affects of low tire pressure:
Low tire pressure will affect braking distance and also cause less responsive steering and handling of your vehicle. This is obvious less than optimal condition if you need to break or swerve in an emergency. If an animal or another vehicle unexpectedly jumps in front of you, braking, steering, and overall handling are not something you want compromised because of something as simple as low tire pressure.
A tire with low pressure will also have the sidewalls flex excessively which generates heat. Moderate heat will accelerate tread wear, but high heat can lead to loss of tread segments or even blowouts.
Tires that are not properly inflated will also have a higher rolling resistance. Have you ever tried to push a vehicle in neutral that had flat tires or ride a bike with underflated tires? It becomes increasingly more difficult to move. On electric vehicles this reduces your range and your overall economy as you have to use more electricity.
Checking When Your Tires are “Cold”
If you read the print on your tires you’ll likely see a cold fill in front of the recommended PSI. Checking your tire pressure “cold” merely means a check when the vehicle has not been driving, typically for at least 3 hours. It’s not related to the temperature outside. You should always check your pressure “cold”. The same is true when filling since you’ll need to get a new pressure measurement.
Driving just one mile can warm up the tire enough to affect the pressure.
What Causes Loss of Tire Pressure?
According to Michelin, tires can lose up to 1 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure every month. Keeping your tires properly inflated is an easy, but also a critical maintenance item. We’ll cover tire pressure in more detail below.
Punctures and Cold Weather
Nails, screws, broken glass, and other objects along the road can cause punctures, but so can colder weather. As the temperature gets cold, the air molecules become less dense resulting in less pressure. A drop of every 10 degrees Fahrenheit can cause the pressure to drop 1 psi. If the temperature drops 20 degrees, you could see a loss of 2 psi and so on.
If there’s no sign of damage to the tire, there could be air leaks from the valve (the stem where you fill the air) or around the bead of the tire. The bead of the tire is the surface that makes contact with the inside of the wheel. Age of the tire, contaminants, and stress on the tire can affect how well it seals to the wheel. While valves can be replaced, if the tire has defects in the bead it might be time for a new tire.
Tesla TPMS Errors and Faults Reading Tire Pressure
Electronic systems and components can fail. The Tesla tire pressure system is not vulnerable to errors either. When you first
f a fault with the Tire Pressure
Monitoring System (TPMS) is detected, the indicator flashes. For a TPMS fault, contact Tesla.
Manual Tire Pressure Checks
Even though Tesla’s have the built-in TPMS, even the manual recommends a periodic check with a tire pressure gauge.
Portable Air Compressors
Since Tesla’s (and many other vehicles today) no longer carry a spare tire, at least in my experience, it’s come in handy to have an air compressor in the vehicle. If you have a slow leak, an air compressor can get you back up to the proper pressure until you can get to a near by tire shop.
The air compressor I went with is made by DeWalt. One of the main reasons I choose this compressor was the multiple power options it offered. It can use the same 20 volt battery as my DeWalt 20v tools, a 12v car outlet, or a 110 volt outlet like what you have in your house.
There’s also some manufacturer’s who make cases specific to this compressor. These type of cases can help keep your compressor from getting scratched up or sliding around. I originally kept my compressor in the frunk, but have since moved it to the back below the rear parcel shelf where I keep my charging and towing accessory bags.
After I had a slow leak in a tire a couple years ago, I decided it was time to buy a new portable air compressor after a previous one stopped working. If you go into a tire shop to have a puncture patched, they’ll frequently ask if you’ve used a sealant product such as Fix-a-Flat. This product will clog up your TPMS sensor and will likely permanently ruin them. It can also be difficult for the tech’s to remove it.
Conclusion (and a Few Parting Tips)
Properly inflated tires will improve your Tesla’s range, save on tire wear, increase safety, and help prolong your tire life. Get in the habit of checking your tire pressure regularly. Not only through the TPMS, but also manually to ensure no faulty readings. Try to check your tire pressure at least once a month and before any long road trips.
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