My Urban Car

Michelin Cross Climate 2 for snow on Model 3?

All season tyres for the Tesla Model 3?

The brilliant Tesla Model 3 EV comes with a variety of tyres when delivered new. These are approved by Tesla with a focus on reducing noise, maximum efficiency and high performance in the dry and wet. Being ”summer tyres” snow is not necessarily a priority. So, what are the pros and cons of swapping for All Season Tyres?

Standard tyres

In countries with regular sub zero Celsius temperatures and snowfall, standard summer tyres would be swapped out for winter tyres every autumn and back to the summer set in spring. In much of the UK however, snow is a less than regular occurrence, so a single set of tyres that handles all the seasons might be a better bet.

Why Swap for All Season Tyres?

Well my original Michelin Pilot Sport 4’s needed replacement after 26,000 miles so the question was… same again? The Pilot Sport 4 is a long lasting and brilliant tyre in all conditions except snow but how limiting is that really?

The snow test

Well let’s put it this way. I’ve always tested just about every car I’ve owned in snow somewhere near home so that I can judge how capable or incapable it is. At the top end of capability was my 1980s Fiat Uno 45 and Front wheel drive Skoda Karoq. At the incapable end of the spectrum was a BMW rear wheel drive 3 series estate.

My Tesla Model 3 is a 2019 dual motor “Performance minus” This means it looks like a dual motor “Long Range” with 18 inch aero wheels with the acceleration of a “Performance” model. The tyres may be slightly different to long-range models because of the increased performance.

So when I tested my model 3, where did it fit on the “capable to incapable” scale? Well at least, unlike the BMW, the Tesla did not end up at 90° to the original direction of travel if you tried braking on snow or ice.

Overall though the grip levels were every bit as bad as the BMW with these tyres. so incapable in fact, that if I was

  • planning a weekend away, a forecast of possible snow would have needed a postponment
  • if I was away somewhere and it snowed, I probably would’ve taken time off work to let the snow clear and avoided smaller roads

To put in perspective restarting on a mild adverse gradient was impossible and regenerative braking was sufficient to lose grip. Different standard tyres may perform better on snow.

It’s worth noting any cars using summer tyres in winter will struggle when snow comes as this video demonstrates very well!

The Michelin Cross Climate 2

Of all the “All Season” options the Michelin Cross climate 2 seemed from reviews (including on Model 3s) to be the outstanding option. It was available in the 235/45ZR 18 size I needed with a 98Y speed rating.

Most importantly these Michelins are rated good enough on snow to have earned a Mountain with a snowflake symbol which means you can use it in Alpine winter conditions. Chains may sometimes also be needed or legally required at times.

While at the Low Carbon Vehicle event in September 2022 I also met someone who had been involved in an extended test of this exact tyre on a dual motor Model 3. The feedback was that it was very hard to notice any negative difference between these all seasons, and the Pilot Sport 4’s. I decided to go ahead with this all season option..

First Impressions

Looks

Perhaps the first thing you notice is how pronounced the deep tread looks even from a side view. It almost looks like the tires have been borrowed off an army Land Rover. Personally, I think the standard tyres look better than the rugged Cross Climates.

First Driving Impressions

Having done a few thousand miles on the new cross climates these are my impressions

Handling

Noticed no difference on the London and motorway sections except that it seemed a little firmer on the ride although this maybe because the tyre fitters set the pressure at just over 3 bar. I’ll check if this is correct soon. It was correct in terms of being between min and max numbers.

I also need to test on wet and dry under full acceleration which is a challenge for tyres as the Tesla can accelerate from 0-60mph in around 3.3 seconds. My impression is that the Cross Climates won’t match the traction of the pilot sport’s especially in the 0-20mph section. This should not be a surprise as the Pilot Sports are a dedicated performance tyre while the all seasons are by definition all rounders. Again just an early impression but this seems to apply on damp muddy lanes as well, but the grip is fine for day to day use.

Noise

Having driven a few thousand miles with the Cross Climates, I would say my 2019 Model 3 gets noticeably more tyre noise on anything but the smoothest road surfaces. In the UK even most newly tarmac surfaces have a fairly coarse and therefore noisy texture. Is it a deal breaker? No but it is noticeable, especially when not playing music.

My impression is Tesla chose to insulate their approved tyres to cut the noise insulation needed on the car itself. Therefore in some other electric cars with more sound insulation on the car, there might be less or no increase in tyre noise.

Efficiency

On my first outbound journey from London to Lyme Regis this was a concern with Wh/ mile hovering above 300, compared to nearer the 260’s a few weeks earlier. However, 3 factors could have affected this. The very static traffic leaving London does affect my efficiency on this pre heatpump model. Also weather was cooler finally…for some unknown reason one of my aero covers kept popping out on one side.. making a complete mess of the aerodynamics.

Have to say the concern remained on the return with surprisingly poor efficiency on some 30 to 60 mph A and B roads to the Amesbury Supercharger. Again, on arrival the aero cover had popped open on one side.

At Amesbury I finally found a solution to the cover issue. I just swapped it with the cover on another wheel and both then stayed perfectly in place!

Aero cover fixed, something rather amazing happened. At a pretty steady 70mph on A303 I was getting 255Wh/mile while for some stretches the 15 mile average was down to 230s which was excellent. More testing is needed but this seemed much more promising so on efficiency so will need to test some more. My impression any effect on efficiency is too small to measure.. and certainly seems smaller than a higher or lower tyre pressure.

Performance on Snow!

December 2022 did finally see a cold snap in the Southeast including London. Where snow landed and settled it gave good opportunity to test like here on Putney Hill. I can confirm the cross climates transformed the Tesla on snow, in traction, braking and steering. However despite heading out to the Surrey hills to confirm this, the roads there were annoyingly snow free, as they had missed the snow dump. As a result a final conclusion on whether the Tesla can now manage a snowy hilly lanes will have to wait.

In my hands the Cross climates were defeated one on a steep incline up to a car park. To be honest I don’t think any vehicle without chains would have done any better as it turned out it was steep and sheet ice. I wouldn’t hold this against the cross climates. Judging by the angles on the tracks other cars had tried and failed. Cross climates are good but not magical!

Verdict

Too early to tell. I think they will be fine and definitely usable for snowy journeys. if you have a snowy driveway or lane on a slope that gets snow I would recommend them. With cross climates you will also be much more relaxed about a snow forecast. Do always remember however that ice remains a danger and other UK vehicles may block the road ahead of you if their tyres are not good on snow. They may also be an unpredictable hazard.

David Nicholson

David Nicholson Is the founder of Rivergecko Ltd & MyUrbanCar which provide consultancy and advice for drivers and fleets to speed the transition from dirty fossil fuel transport to clean vehicles powered by renewable energy on land water and air.

The @MyUrbanCar twitter feed is a source of news & reviews of electric & plugin cars and vans in the UK.
The @rivergecko twitter feed & www.myurbancar.com websites bring news and opinion on cleantech transport including cars, vans, buses, trucks, shipping, rail & aviation as well as autonomous vehicles & renewable energy, air pollution & motor industry news.

David Nicholson has worked as an underwriter at Lloyd's of London since the 1980's. His interest in technology goes back many years including interactive mapping, apps, green tech, boats, solar and cars.

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