I decided yesterday I wanted to try to address the slow leak I have had in my passenger side rear tire for a couple weeks. I got on a support chat with Tesla to ask what their recommended course of action was. I sort of hoped they would offer to have a remote tech get the tire fixed for me. Instead their official recommendation was to take the car to the closest service center for them to look at it. I told them that it was over 100 miles away so that wasn’t a realistic option. The suggestion they left me with was I could call emergency roadside assistance and see what they say. Well I didn’t take that suggestion.
I chatted with my buddy and fellow Model 3 owner Matt about it. He said he knew of a garage that supposedly was familiar with Tesla tire work. Tesla’s are a bit weird in a couple ways. First, you have to be very careful with how you jack the car. There are very precise lift points under the car. If you just throw it on a lift without observing these points there is risk of damaging the battery. The second thing is the tires themselves. The tires on a Tesla have a thick layer of “acoustic foam” inside of them to supposedly reduce road noise. A section of the foam has to be cut away to do any repair.
When I called this garage they said that because of this foam, they don’t repair Tesla tires, they only replace them. The explanation they gave me was once some foam was cut out it makes the tire too hard to balance, which seemed sort of odd to me, a small section of foam should not make a huge weight difference. Well I told the guy I obviously wasn’t going to spend a few hundred dollars to replace a tire with 3000 miles on it with a small puncture.
I then called up our local Tesla store, hoping for some other direction. I asked them who they recommend locally for Tesla tire repairs. The answer I got was a bit surprising, Costco. The guy said he has had a number of people go there for repairs and it has been fine. Good enough, I hung up with them and called out local Costco auto center to arrange an appointment after work.
When I dropped off the car I was a bit surprised at the time estimate of 90 minutes to do the work since it wasn’t that busy. I handed over my key card and planned to just walk around the store for a bit to waste time. Before I walked in I looked back at the lot to my car and saw one of the young guys that works there trying to figure out how to get in. I laughed as I jogged over to him before demonstrating proper card placement to get access.
So after walking around Costco for maybe 20-30 minutes I returned to the waiting area of the tire shop. One of the installers came out and told me there was an issue. The brand new rim guards that I installed do not play well with the machine used to remove tires. He said the machine was going to damage the guard. I asked him if it was possible to simply flip the wheel over and remove the tire from the back of the wheel instead of the front. He looked surprised by my suggestion but he hadn’t considered it. He said they would give that try. I didn’t get to bask in the brilliance of my idea for long, they came back out and said even with it upside down it was going to damage the rim guard. Oh well, I told them to go ahead, I would just have to replace it. The timing of me getting a puncture no more than a week after installing the guards annoyed me.
I took turns sitting and pacing the area, waiting for the work to be complete. It wound up taking almost the full 90 minutes they predicted. The good news was the hole was plugged and it only cost $12 to do so. The bad news is I will have to buy another $80 set of rim blades if I want the car to once again look uniform. I made an impromptu video about the process utilizing my Iphone, not ideal but passable.