Whether the vehicle needs new winter tires or the tire sensor is flashing for attention, one important step in the repair process is replacing the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System). This system monitors the air pressure in a vehicle’s tires and alerts when they become too low for comfort. However, if the sensors are off, inaccurate information regarding air pressure, battery state, sensor location and temperature can be provided, and the owner can ignore a potential problem or become annoyed by the constant dash notifications.
The best solution is to make sure both tire service and sensor replacement is understood and completed correctly, including having competent technicians knowledgeable of all basic TPM systems, universal programmable sensors and the assistance of TPMS tools while performing diagnostics, sensor programming, and necessary relearn procedures.
Understanding TPMS Systems
Modern vehicles come with either an indirect or direct TPMS system. The indirect system utilizes an ABS that records accurate tire pressure readings by monitoring the car’s wheel speed. Normally found in Asian and European car brands, a relearn procedure is necessary when replacing this TPMS system. On the other hand, the direct TPMS system employs TPMS sensors situated within the vehicle’s wheel, which then transmit the tire pressure data directly to the car’s computer in real-time. The direct system is found in American car brands, as well as certain European and Asian vehicles.
Because of the differences, the best way to make sure the process is done correctly is to use the correct TPMS scan tool to program and relearn the TPMS sensors.
For instance, a MaxiTPMS ITS600 is a wireless, touchscreen Android-based tablet that provides overall TPMS diagnostics and service functions. These types of tools are compatible with all brands and can activate, read and relearn all known sensors, perform TPMS system diagnostics and includes four common maintenance services.
Autel, a leading developer in automotive diagnostic tools, has also developed a complete line of TPMS tools and an aftermarket best-selling sensor. Compatible with each other and combines both 315 MHz and 433 MHz frequencies in a universal programmable 1-Sensor with press release interchangeable aluminum and rubber valves, technicians often use this TPMS sensor to cover replacement on numerous vehicles found on the road today.
Completing the Process
When replaced, every TPMS sensor must be “relearned” to its vehicle, regardless of whether the sensor is genuine OE or aftermarket. The procedure is mandatory to ensure the overall TPMS system and replacement sensor both properly function. Other than several Chrysler and Mazda models that are relearned via a driving procedure, most vehicles require a TPMS scan tool to complete the relearn procedure.
During the process, it’s also vital to include sensor programming specific to the vehicle’s application specifications, including “cloneable,” “programmable” or “universal” sensors. Additional specialized tools, software and training may be necessary and always make sure all applications are updated in order to meet the specifications of a particular vehicle.
If multi-application TPMS sensors are used, such as the VDO REDI-Sensor, the extra programming step isn’t required because it has the proper programming already loaded. A multi-application sensor can help a technician reduce lost service time, cut down on customer complaints and comebacks and eliminate unnecessary expenses and training.
Any successful automotive shop will make sure to have qualified technicians with a complete TPMS solution to keeping their customers happy and safe on the road.