As my regular blog readers know, I have had a torrent of problems with my tires. I have had problems with excessive tire wear (which I hope to report an update on soon), but also just more mundane problems. My wheels have a fair amount of curb rash particularly the right rear tire due to the tire’s profile and the large size of the Model S. But I have not scraped a curb in a long time and I don’t fret over a few scratches.
My more mundane problem with this right rear tire is that I had a nail in the tire earlier this year. I had the nail torn out and a plug put into the tire by my local mechanic. The tire worked fine for several thousand miles. Then in a bit of a rush, I scraped the sidewall of the tire. Then a thousand miles later, the plug began to have a slow leak.
The Model S TPMS system does a good job warning you when a tire is less than 30-32psi. I consistently will get a warning when the tire is around that threshold. On the Model S, the software does not tell you which tire is leaking. Ironically the TPMS on the Roadster did tell you which tire leaked!
I have four tires of the same vintage with significant wear, so replacing one tire would definitely require replacing two tires. Tires are not free and they also use resources in manufacturing and shipping. So I decided to delay the replacement by pumping air in the tire. I did not look at a second repair of the plug. The first repair cost me $47.60. I live in an expensive neighborhood with an extremely reliable mechanic. I could likely find another shop that may be able to do a second patch for less money, but I decided to not investigate that option.
Instead for the last 5,000 miles, I have been simply pumping this tire with air every three days or so. The tire leaks about 2-3 psi per day whether or not the car is driven. So it is not that hard to top it off. I have used three different methods:
The first method is to drive to a conventional gas station. I only tried this method once as I was out and about when the tire pressure warning light indicated. In the San Francisco Bay Area, many gas stations charge for air. I found the process to be a hassle dealing with a charge based machine. If the air was free, the process would be faster.
I find this picture quite amusing. Not only are you buying air, which to me always feels ironic, you can use a pay phone to make a call at the same time. And if you are feeling generous, you can donate some clothes or shoes.
The second method is to use an electric pump that works on the 12V plug in the Tesla. I bought this kit online. It is not the Tesla branded version but it is the same basic kit. Using electricity it pumps air into your tire. The process is not particularly fast and your car needs to be unlocked to connect to the plug. I carry the pump with me in the car.
The third method is to use a standing bicycle pump. This third method is my favorite method. When I’m in the garage without my key, I can pump up the tire at the same rate as the electrical plug using this pump. I also leave the pump near the car, and it helps to remind me to add some air. Most cyclists own one of these standing pumps and they cost under $50. The standing pumps are much easier to use than the bicycle pump that you can carry on your bike.
With any of these three methods, it takes about five minutes to add about 8-10psi to a tire. My car is going to Tesla soon and I’m likely going to buy at least two new tires. Topping off the tire every few days is pretty painless but I think I’m ready to be pump free.