The Snow Tire Search

This is part of a series that covers my experience with a Tesla Model Y.

I’ve been looking for winter tires for about 6 weeks, checking the local inventory and the online places. It’s been hard to find tires, or at least any that are rated well. I found 3 of a few brands, but no sets of 4. My plan had been to get 4 tires and swap them on the same wheels for 4 winter tires. I’d do the same thing again in the spring and use these tires.

I haven’t been in too much of a hurry, mostly because it’s been 50s and 60s in Denver, and it doesn’t seem like snow is coming. However, we got a surprise sleet storm the other day as I was leaving for the gym. Not too bad, but definitely moisture coming down. I could see a white surface on the paved roads as I drove through the neighborhood.

Turning onto the main road was tricky. No cars coming, which was good, because I need to accelerate from a hill, and the car slipped. Not a lot, but enough that I know these tires aren’t going to be good.


I’d been looking for a few different brands. The Continental Extreme Contact DWS, the Pirelli WINTER SOTTOZERO 3, and the Michelin X-Ice 3 tires were on my list. A few local people recommended some others as well, but those were the main ones I was searching for from places.

The Tesla uses a strange size, 255-45-R19, which is not good for a time where supply chains are messed up. Even looking at Nokian and Bridgestone, I wasn’t finding much.

After my incident, I searched a bit more and saw that there might be some at Big O Tires, so after the gym I swung by the store.

Big O Tires

They didn’t have them, but the salesguy and I had a good talk. He told me the inventory system online doesn’t always track well with what is in the stores. He also had a Suburban he was restoring and needed tires that were hard to find, and I mentioned I owned one as well. He showed some pictures of his and became a bit more invested. He said they had swapped tires a few times for Tesla owners and always struggled to get tires in, but he’d look around more.

I got a call to come back later and we talked a bit more. He noted that he had found some 245-45-r19 tires, so slightly narrower, but they’d fit on the same wheels. These were the Michelin X-Ice 3 ones, so I just bought them.

I paid for the tires and made an appointment to drop the car off the next day. I got a ride with my son and we left the car there about 945. I went home and then headed back out to a doctor’s appointment. At 11:15, I got a call the car was ready.

They had bagged up the old tires and left them in the back of the Model Y. I’d lowered the seats and 4 tires fit in there fine. Without the wheels, they also weren’t too heavy, and I put them in the shed with the BMW summer tires when I got home.

Performance and Noise

I have no idea about snow performance as its still 50F and dry in Denver. Even the day we went out for a long drive (about 90m) in 10F weather, it was dry.

However, the car seems to drive the same, and my wife didn’t notice any noise difference. I hadn’t told her I had swapped tires, so I was curious if she’d see a difference. We got up to 90mph on the highway at one point and no real noise difference.

We’ll see how they perform in snow, hopefully, but I’m confident as quite a few people run these tires.

Total cost was about $1500 for the tires, mounting, and a warranty. After the issue with the nail, I think $150 for a tire shop warranty makes sense.

Now, hoping we get some snow so I can test the tires.

A video of this post is available.

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6 Responses to The Snow Tire Search

  1. JeffModen says:

    You said “He told me the inventory system online doesn’t always track well with what is in the stores.”

    Sound like they might need a “DBA”. 😀 You should tell the guy you spoke with that “I’m not trying to give you a “snow” job nor trying to “tread” to deeply into the business but your customers must get “tired” of having to “slide” in and out and “wheeling” all about just to 4 tires for what is becoming a common vehicle”.


    • way0utwest says:

      I’ve never seen an online inventory system that matches up perfectly with stores and physical goods that are moving in and out of warehouses. It’s why many places have physical inventories because there are always discrepancies. Not the computer system, but the people and data entry work, not to mention things falling off a truck or being defective, that cause issues.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. JeffModen says:

    There should be almost no data entry work in this day an age. Arrival is a barcode event. Being defective is on arrival or during a sale should be a barcode event. Something “falling off a truck” should cause the inventory problem you were talking about. Still, I agree that inventory vs what is on a computer will inevitably be different but it shouldn’t be an excuse for items like tires. Supply chain problems? Sure. Physical inventory being that far out of whack? There’s a large problem there that can and should be fixed.

    And, yes… I see it happen a lot and I always ask myself “WHY”? IMHO, it just shouldn’t be as prevalent as it is.


    • way0utwest says:

      There’s always data entry. Unreadable bar codes, stickers come off, etc. There are plenty of reasons, and when you think untrained staff, weird customer requests, being in a hurry, etc. and stuff gets lost. Plus there’s timing. I could look online, see something, and in 5 minutes it’s gone before I could get through a line to the store.

      Expecting perfection is an engineer’s mentality, but it lacks appreciation for the chaos of the real world.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. JeffModen says:

    Heh… I did say that I agreed that there wasn’t going to be any data entry. I said it should be almost none. 😉 And I did say that “I agree that inventory vs what is on a computer will inevitably be different” but my point is getting lost in all of this. While I shoot for perfection and settle for reality, I’m amazed at, even before the pandemic causing supply chain issues, how many people end up having to explain to customers about how “the computer inventory system” is wrong. Before the supply chain issues, I’d hear it in person and I’d see it a lot online and it wasn’t just occasional or at least it didn’t seem so to me. Perhaps it is a perception issue on my part but I’m thinking there’s more than just keypunch errors and stuff falling off the truck here and by “here”, I mean “in the code”. 😉


  4. Pingback: Driving the Tesla in a Little Snow | Voice of the DBA

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