Are you trying to decide the best way to protect your Tesla rims? Been there, done that, and I know it’s a challenge. There are several options, and each one has its pros and cons.
Some are more effective but require professional installation. Others are easy to install at home but aren’t as durable. The cost is similar, which makes it even harder to pick.
As a car nut for decades and an owner of a Tesla Model 3 with aftermarket wheels, I’ve tried many things. I’ll share my thoughts on all Tesla rim protection options out there, and hopefully, this will help you make the right choice.
You’ll learn about the benefits and drawbacks of:
- Wheel Covers
- Rim Protectors
- Rim Cases
- Ceramic Coating
- Tires with Rim Guards
Before jumping into it, let’s clarify why avoiding damage is important.
Why Do You Need Tesla Rim Protection?
Optical illusion, Autopark feature, cameras not detecting the surroundings, wife was driving, etc., the Tesla owners I know come up with all kinds of excuses when they hit a curb. But excuses won’t make the repair any cheaper.
The Cost of Fixing Your Tesla Rim Rash
No matter what caused the curb rash, it’s expensive to fix it. I haven’t dealt with it in the last couple of years, so I checked the current prices for the sake of this article.
According to Rim Blades USA, Repairing a curb rash can cost as much as $150 per wheel. I received some quotes from different shops exceeding that price.
That was your number one reason to consider some rim protection. Here are two more:
Preserving Your Car’s Resale Value
Whether you roll on the factory Tesla wheels or you bought a cool set of aftermarket rims, keeping those in good condition will preserve your car’s resale value.
Maintaining the Aesthetics of Your Tesla
Last but not least, no one will enjoy the look of their precious EV if the wheels have tons of scratches. So, instead of looking for excuses after the damage is done, it’s better to focus on preventing it.
The Options for Protecting Your Tesla Rims
I’ve already mentioned the five Tesla rim protection options we’ll discuss. Here, I’ll cover the pros and cons to help you choose the right one. There is no particular order, so let’s start with the most common one.
While there are limited options in the official Tesla store, aftermarket wheel covers come in various designs. If you want to dive deep into the topic and learn what to consider when buying wheel covers, check out this article.
We’ve had a set on our Tesla Model 3 for about 12 months before getting the BBS wheels. As I mentioned in my Tesla cold weather driving guide, we have the factory 18s back on for the winter, along with the same wheel covers and a set of snow socks in the trunk.
Wheel covers are very easy to install and remove. They’re made of ABS plastic and won’t add extra weight, negatively impacting your Tesla’s range. Some wheel cover brands like Kavanic even claim their products will make your Tesla more efficient.
Hub caps protect your wheels from scratches, unlike most other options. A convenient solution for a winter setup or if you want to change the looks of your car often without spending too much.
Not all wheel covers are designed to cover the entire rim, thus making those not so effective in protection against curb rash.
Manufacturers have come up with many different styles to stand out. If you ask me, most look awful. Find a photo of the hubcaps installed on a car, and see if you like the looks before buying.
Since hub caps are made of plastic, certain parts break easily during the installation. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about that. You need to be careful and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Aftermarket hub caps are much cheaper than the limited options in Tesla’s official store. However, there are a lot of poor-quality products selling for less than $100.
The good quality Tesla wheel covers for Model 3 and Model Y are in the $150-$200 price range. You can see the best ones available online in this round-up post.
Rim protectors, also known as wheel bands, are popular among Tesla owners. I haven’t used any, as my Conti tires have a pretty good rim protector (more on that later).
During the research for my Tesla wheel accessories article, I only found one product worth recommending. Keep that in mind, and if you want to go for rim protectors, choose a product specially designed for Tesla.
Made of rubber or silicone, the rim protectors are super lightweight and properly fit over the edge of the wheels. They hide existing wheel damage caused by curb rash and serve as a buffer, effectively protecting your rims.
Rim protectors are available in any color you can think of. It gives you options for customization while keeping your Tesla wheels safe. My neighbor has yellow ones matching his brake calipers, for example.
Most vendors selling rim protectors will tell you installation is effortless. After watching some YouTube videos, I can tell you that’s not exactly the case unless you’ve done it before.
Another drawback is that you’ll have to change the rim protector once you hit a curb. I’ve heard from many people that the band becomes loose and comes off at high speeds.
A variety of rim protectors are offered online. Still, from what I see on forums, most perform poorly regarding customer satisfaction. I’m trying to say that the highest price doesn’t equal the highest quality here.
You can find everything from cheap $15 rubber seal strips to plastic or aluminum rings in the $50-$100 range and so-called premium wheel bands worth north of $200. My advice is to pick wisely and make your choice based on feedback.
At the time of writing, this is a relatively new product. It was introduced in the summer of 2023, and I haven’t had a chance to see how it feels and looks in person yet. I spoke to a few guys and did some research to give you an overview and share my thoughts.
The rim case consists of multiple plastic pieces that you need to mount around the perimeter of each one of your wheels. It only covers the rim; thus, it hides existing damage and serves as a shield against new curb rash. I think it will do a pretty good job.
The rim case is specially designed for Tesla Model 3 and Model Y wheels, which is a big plus on my watch. It also matches both the shape and the color of your factory rims.
Similar to some hub caps, the rim cases cover more of the tire, making your wheels look bigger. They clamp on the underside, which seems a lot more secure when compared to all other options.
What I see as the biggest advantage of this product is that you can replace just the damaged pieces after hitting a curb. And the best part is you can do it right on the spot.
The company says installation is easy, and it takes minutes to upgrade all your wheels. Things look slightly different in the videos I watched.
The fact that you need to press hard to clamp each piece also worries me a bit. The material might be sturdy, but it’s still plastic.
These bad boys cost $300 per pack. For another $40, you can get an extra 10-11 pieces to replace those that have been damaged. As of yet, I can’t say if it’s worth it.
So far, we focused mainly on avoiding or hiding curb rash. The ceramic coating won’t help you with that, but it’s still a protection, so I had to include it. I used to powder coat my wheels back in the day, but I went for ceramic coating on my last couple of cars.
It’s a liquid polymer applied to the wheel’s surface and then cured to create a rigid, protective layer. It will defend your rims from scratches, salt, dust, etc., and make them shiny.
The ceramic coating is also UV resistant, which is useful if you keep your Tesla outside. It won’t let your rims fade and will keep them looking new for a long time.
I appreciate having my wheels ceramic coated the most at the car wash. I always wash my cars by myself, and cleaning the rims is a piece of cake.
The curb is your biggest enemy if you have ceramic-coated wheels. If you hit it, the coating will be gone, and the repair won’t be cheap. In most cases, you’ll also have to redo the coating.
Having your rims ceramic coated by a pro will cost around $500 for the faces and another $200 if you want to have them off and do the barrels. You might get a better price if they’re coating the whole car. The cheapest option would be to DIY the coating using a spray.
Tires with Rim Guard
I’ve been buying tires with rim guards for years to protect my alloy wheels, and that’s what we have on the BBS 19s on our Tesla Model 3. We have Continentals, but all major tire brands have low-profile models with a rim guard for protection.
There are a few different designs, but regardless of your choice, tires with rim guards serve the same purpose – protecting your alloys from curb damage. This TireRack article covers the topic in-depth if you want to learn more.
That’s the best shield for your everyday driving in the city. There’s no need to bother installing rim protectors and then replacing those every time you hit a curb.
To be honest, I don’t see any disadvantages of using tires with rim guards.
I had to pay an extra 10% or so back in the day to get tires with rim protectors. Almost all low-profile tires from reputable brands have it nowadays, so no need to worry about your budget.
What is the Best Way to Protect Your Tesla Rims?
When it comes to protecting your Tesla rims, no single solution will be perfect for everyone. Each option we discussed in the article has its benefits and drawbacks. Here is a quick summary to help you decide what’s best for your needs.
- While tires with rim guards have been my choice for many years, I’m using wheel covers for the winter setup on our Tesla.
- Colorful rim protectors will shield your wheels and make them pop, but you’ll have to replace the protector every time you hit a curb.
- If you’re happy with the factory Model 3 or Y wheels, you may want to give the newly introduced rim cases a try.
- For those who drive carefully or mainly out of the city, ceramic coating is probably the best way to keep your wheels in shape.
Can Tesla Rims Be Repaired?
Yes, in most cases, Tesla rims can be repaired. Depending on the extent and type of damage, repair options may include sanding, polishing, filling, and painting the affected area. While there are some DIY repair kits, I’d recommend going to a professional auto body shop for any significant damage.
How Do You Fix a Scratch on a Tesla Wheel?
Minor scratches on your Tesla wheels can be fixed easily using a touch-up paint pen or a small brush to apply paint to the affected area. Deeper scratches can also be fixed at home using sandpaper and filler before applying the paint.
Does Tesla Cover Wheel Damage?
Tesla’s warranty does not cover wheel damage like scratches or curb rash. Some owners purchase additional coverage through a third-party warranty company or insurance provider. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.