This winter Los Angeles has received an enormous amount of rainfall, sorely needed, as the Governor comes close to finally declaring the drought “finished.” One negative effect of the large rainfall is the huge number of potholes that now need fixing across the Los Angeles basin.
My Flat Tire
On January 25, 2017, I experienced the issue first hand: on the way back home from Montebello, CA, I hit a pothole that was about 1.5 feet wide and 5 inches deep. The “thump” noise sounded enormous when my left rear tire hit the pothole. My tire immediately went flat. The onboard alert immediately told me that I had to stop. I had hit a double whammy: the pothole and a large nail. I was quite fortunate that a Shell station was near where I found enough space to park safely.
Next I called the Tesla Roadside Assistance toll free number 877-79-TESLA. This service is available during the first 4 years or 50,000 miles, whichever occurs first for vehicles covered by the New or Pre-Owned Vehicle Limited Warranty at the time of the occurrence.
In all markets, Tesla will arrange for your vehicle to be transported to the nearest Tesla Service Center. Tesla will cover up to 50 miles for a trained tow provider to assist you with a flat tire.
Notice that wheel and tire damage is not covered by the New or Pre-Owned Vehicle Limited Warranty.
In some markets, and that includes the Los Angeles area, Tesla has contracted with trained tow providers that carry a limited number of loaner wheels to quickly exchange for the damaged wheel so one can continue his or her journey.
After about 5 minutes of muzak, I was finally connected with a Tesla Roadside Assistance representative that immediately offered me the “loaner wheel” service. After about a 45-minute wait, a small van showed up, which had inside an entire set of all available tires for Tesla Model S and X, all mounted on wheels. My flat tire was a MICHELIN PILOT SPORT PS2 XL, 265/35ZR-21. The tow provider took no more than 15 minutes to do the tire and wheel swap, and put the damaged tire, still mounted on my 21” Turbine grey wheels, inside a large plastic bag and then in my trunk. In less than an hour I was back on the road.
The tow provider told me that he was also servicing Mercedes, Lexus and other luxury cars, but Tesla was the only one providing the loaner wheels.
My next steps were to simply arrange with my local Tesla Service Center a good time to drop in within a few days to exchange the loaner wheel for a new original wheel. I e-mailed my service center in Torrance, CA that I already had purchased a new replacement tire and was able to get an appointment for the next day at the opening time of the center.
Looking at several messages in the official Tesla forum, the “loaner wheel” service is not available in all markets, so you may want to call your local Tesla Service Center and inquire if your area is covered by the program.
In case of a flat tire, if you have not purchased a tire yourself, Tesla will sell you the tire at the time you get you flat tire replaced. There are two issues with that transaction. First, Tesla will sell you the tire at a relatively high price ($440 in the case of the MICHELIN PILOT SPORT PS2 XL, 265/35ZR-21 that I needed replaced), but more importantly tires purchased from a Tesla Service Center do not come with any “hazard warranty”, just the basic OEM warranty (from Michelin in this instance) that does not cover any type of road hazards.
When I purchased my Tesla Model S P90D I wanted to have at least one spare tire ready for each of my staggered tires and I found tirerack.com to offer OEM tires for all Tesla models at discounted prices, and provided “Tire Road Hazard protection”.
For example the MICHELIN PILOT SPORT PS2 XL, 265/35ZR-21 that I needed to replace is available from TIRE RACK for $344, a 22% discount on Tesla’s price.
According to TIRE RACK (emphasis added), “road hazard damage is damage that occurs when a tire fails as a result of a puncture, bruise or impact break incurred during the course of normal driving on a maintained road. Nails, glass and potholes are the most common examples of road hazards. These types of road hazards are not typically covered under tire manufacturers’ warranties.”
During the year that I owned my Tesla Model S, I had experienced a flat from both nails and potholes, and this time I was going to test the TIRE RACK program.
I called TIRE RACK prior to my visit to the Tesla Service Center and was told that:
- Tires are covered for 24 months from the date of purchase or until 2/32″ or less of tread remains, whichever occurs first;
- Repairs are reimbursed up to $25 per tire per occurrence;
- During the 24 month benefit period, I would be reimbursed for 100% of the original cost of the tire covered by the Tire Road Hazard Protection, if the tire could not be repaired;
- To demonstrate that the tire could not be repaired, I could either send pictures or alternatively have the Tesla Service center call them with the details. In the first case, TIRE RACK could ask to have the tire returned to them, at their expense;
- I would have to first purchase a replacement tire from TIRE RACK and/or pay for the repair.
Since I always wanted to keep a spare around, I went ahead and purchased a new tire from TIRE RACK.
I then went to the Tesla Service Center, where they took back the wheel loaner, and for $50 installed my replacement Michelin tire. They also called TIRE RACK and confirmed that my tire could not be repaired. Incidentally, I was told at the Tesla Service Center that when the “loaner wheel” program was started, waiting times used to be in 2-3 hours range, which made quite a few Tesla owners upset, but lately the wait time was less than an hour and comparable to the wait time when using AAA roadside service.
TIRE RACK accepted my claim and sent me a check for the full price of the original tire plus shipping.
In the end my whole experience of having a flat tire was the best I ever had in probably 40+ years of driving. Between the Tesla “wheel loaner” and the TIRE RACK “Road Hazard Protection,” I had spent just about 2 hours of my life on the issue and no money at all. Not a bad deal.