The Tesla Y Model comes with an off-road assistance mode, making it seem like a great option for those tough terrains, but the ground clearance leaves some drivers questioning whether it’s ideal for off-roading. The Y Model started hitting the roads in March 2020 and is often described as the popular Model 3’s larger counterpart.
The Tesla Model Y has a ground clearance of 6.6 inches, which is 1.1 inches more than the Tesla Model 3. If you want to increase the ground clearance, there are a few options, including larger tires and Tesla-specific suspension lift kits. With these upgrades, you can increase the ground clearance of the Model Y to roughly 11 inches.
Without proper ground clearance, you can expose the underbelly of your car to unnecessary scrapes and tears. While Tesla’s are still predominantly catered towards the city’s roads, with the Model Y off-road assist feature and an increased ground clearance, more options open up for handling tougher terrain. Read on to find out how to increase the Model Y ground clearance.
How to Increase Your Model Y Ground Clearance
There are 2 ways to increase ground clearance on the Model Y:
- Install Larger Tires. This will provide more space between the road and the bottom of the car, providing a slight lift. This will also aid in the tires’ ability to absorb shock, enabling them to be better equipped for rougher terrains.
- Install a Suspension Lift Kit. A suspension lift creates more space between the frame of the car and wheels, raising the vehicles body. This modification can be combined with the larger tires for maximum ground clearance.
While these modifications are relatively simple to install, it’s always best to leave mechanical work to professionals. You can even purchase the materials yourself and bring it to an auto shop to install for you.
Install Larger Tires and Rims
The easiest option to increase the ground clearance on your Model Y, is to install taller tires. You may want to upgrade your rums while you’re at is, for a more sporty look of course.
If your Tesla Model Y has 19 inch or 20 inch rims, your factory tires will be 28 inches tall.
If your Tesla Model Y has 21 inch rims, your factory tires will be 28.6 inches tall.
The maximum tire diameter you can put on a Tesla Model is 29.5 inches before it will start rubbing when you turn the wheels 100%. For the sake of safety, it’s best not to go over 29 inch diameter.
With that said, your best bet is a 29 inch off-road tire. This will give you about .5 inches of increased ground clearance if you’re upgrading from the stock 19 inch or 20 inch rims, and a lot more grip off road.
A good off-roading tire that will help accomplish this, is the Toyo Open Country A/T III 255/55/R18 tire (as shown above). This tire is exactly 29 inches tall, so it’s the largest diameter recommended for a stock Model Y.
If you do choose this tire size, you will need to buy 18 inch rims to go with them (as shown above).
Install a Lifted Suspension
If you’re serious about increasing your Model Y ground clearance, a lifted suspension kit may be right for you.
There are Tesla Model Y specific suspension lift kits, like this kit made by Unplugged Performance, that will increase the ground clearance by roughly 4 inches.
This upgrade is not as simple as slapping on new tires and rims, so you’ll want to make sure you have the experience, or have a local shop do the install for you. With that said, Unplugged Performance offers a 30-day money back guarantee just in case you’re not satisfied.
No matter what size tires come on your stock Model Y, this suspension lift kit will increase your ground clearance by roughly 4 inches. This is the best bang-for-your-buck when it comes to increasing Model Y ground clearance.
Still Want More Ground Clearance?
If the larger tires, or the suspension lift kit, we’re not enough for your needs, you can combine both options for maximum Model Y ground clearance.
Although the suspension lift kit opens up more room in the wheel wells (for larger tires), it only increases it vertically. This means the Model Y is still restricted on tire size to 29 inch diameter because of the front and back of the wheel well.
However, installing the suspension lift kit, and 255/55/R18 off-road tires, will increase the Model Y ground clearance to nearly 11 inches.
Why Is Ground Clearance Important?
Ground clearance is the amount of free space between the road and the underbody of a vehicle. Many people who predominantly drive through cities or highways may not find ground clearance particularly important when choosing a car.
The more ground clearance a vehicle has, the more the vehicle can drive over, or through, when going off-road.
Some reasons for needing more ground clearance could be:
- Rough weather conditions like snow
- Steep hills or driveways
- Rockier terrain/dirt roads
- Muddy slopes or creeks
We’ve all been on the occasional road trip to the beach, camping excursion, or taken that quick shortcut through the dirt path to get home quicker. These are the times when a bit more ground clearance comes in handy. More space between the bottom of the car and the road makes for a more capable driving experience when it comes to steep inclines and off-road obstacles.
Even in large cities, there are the occasional gravel roads and parking lots with steep slopes.
However, for all these benefits of more ground clearance, it also means that the vehicles center of gravity higher. This can increase body roll in turns, and loosen the overall handling a bit. The larger tire upgrade alone will not likely alter body roll or handling, but the suspension lift kit may. Luckily, the kit from Unplugged Performance is adjustable, so you can lower it when not off-roading.
The driving experience of a car with more ground clearance also might not be as aerodynamic or smooth. With that in mind, the overall range of your Model Y may decrease as a result. We’re not talking a crazy amount, but just something to be aware of.
Ground clearance is an important factor to consider depending on where you typically plan to drive your vehicle and what sort of driving experience you prefer.
Model Y Also Comes with Off-Road Assist
As a crossover, the Model Y was built with light off-roading as a valuable option for drivers. Drivers who require more legroom are often traveling with kids or larger groups and plan to go on more adventurous excursions.
Therefore, along with an increased amount of ground clearance compared to the Model 3, the Model Y also comes with the Off-Road Assist feature. This feature is meant to make the car more suitable for those off-roading moments.
According to Tesla, “Off-Road Assist is designed to provide overall improvements when driving offroad. In addition to allowing the wheels to spin, Off-Road Assist balances the torque between the front and rear motors to optimize traction. Off-Road Assist improves traction on rough and soft surfaces where one side of the vehicle may lose traction while the other side still has traction. When Off-Road Assist is on, the accelerator pedal provides more gradual torque, which is useful for crawling at low speeds (for example, over rocky surfaces). When enabled, OFFROAD displays on the touchscreen above the driving speed.“
All of these settings are designed to make those off-roading moments gentler on the car and provide a smoother driving experience.
This new feature is particularly useful for those gravelly dirt roads that many drivers naturally encounter during road trips. We all know about those occasional handy shortcuts through dirt roads—the Model Y off-road assist makes these paths way more enjoyable and less rough on the car.
Model Y Brings Efficiency and Function Together
Long behind us are the days of needing an overly-large, gas-guzzling, off-road vehicle just to enjoy the adventures that live beyond the pavement.
There are plenty of videos circulating online of Tesla Y drivers taking their vehicles for a spin through the dirt, mud, and rocks to show that it can handle those off-road environments. These examples are making a huge difference in the way people perceive the capabilities of electric vehicles.
While Tesla’s have often been targeted towards city drivers who can find easy access to a charging station and smooth roads, the Tesla Model Y shows that the brand intends to create a car for every type of driver.
Should I Take the Tesla Y Off-Roading?
While a suspension lift and other modifications that spark your fancy can make the Tesla Y more off-roading ready, the car is not ultimately designed to take to extremely harsh terrain.
You don’t want the car to get banged up too badly, as the motors and battery can become easily exposed on the underside of the car.
For the occasional shortcut through a dirt path, steep driveway, or lightly rocky terrain to the campsite, you shouldn’t have any problems. But make sure not to push the car too much. The Tesla Y is versatile and can handle rougher terrain than the Model 3, but by no means is it a hardcore off-roading vehicle.
If you’re eagerly waiting for a seriously decked out off-roading option from Tesla, you’ll most likely have to wait until the Cybertruck is released. This vehicle looks as futuristic as it can get and is apparently designed to handle those extremely tough terrains and meet the needs of traditional truck drivers while maintaining that luxury feels that Tesla is known for.
The Tesla Model Y ground clearance is 6.6 inches from the factory, but with a few upgrades, it can be increased to 11 inches.
Installing larger off-road tires is the easiest way to increase the Model Y ground clearance, and can account for about .5 inches of increased ground clearance.
The best bang-for-your-buck way to increase the Model Y ground clearance, is with a suspension lift kit, which will increase the ground clearance by nearly 4 inches.
Combining a suspension lift kit and larger off-road tires will provide the maximum ground clearance increase, adding roughly 4.5 inches.
When increasing the ground clearance, it’s good to remember that Model Y also comes with Off-Road Assist, which improves the vehicles off-road performance.