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Tire pressure monitoring and your customers

once again the tire season is right around the corner and this means TPMS and the winter tire wheel issues will be back into the spotlight. Tire pressure monitoring will be even more evident as more and more vehicles equipped with TPMS will be rolling in the door. This time around it won’t be broken sensors or simple sensor location learning but it will be about replacement sensors.

Bob Greenwood

The challenges that most shops will face is the ability to properly service these systems especially when a sensor is replaced. Most tire shops do not have the ability to program new sensors into vehicles like Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Suburu, Nissan, Kia to name a few. They can learn positions on existing wheel locations but introduction of a new sensor can be a challenge.

In many cases you can simply transfer the sensor from the factory wheel to the new wheel you are installing and the system will continue to work. Some sensors are attached to the valve stem and some are attached directly to the center of the wheel with a band. Take extreme care when mounting and dismounting the tire so you don’t damage the sensor. In some cases the customer may want to keep the sensors in his old wheels. If so, you can purchase new sensors and install them in the new wheels and this is where the fun begins!

With replacement wheels, the design of the wheel may also interfere with a sensor. You have to make sure the sensor has room in the drop center of the rim to ensure it is not damaged when the sensors nut is tightened. This mainly happens with valve stem mounted sensors where the sensor and stem are a single unit. You can either buy a valve stem designed to hold the sensor at a different angle or you can install a band with a cradle that will hold the sensor inside the wheel. Both options should be available from your supplier and you may want to keep a set of each on hand.

In the USA, any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating less than 10,000 lbs (4,536 kilograms), sold on or after September 1, 2007, must be equipped with TPMS

After you have installed the wheels on the car, you will need to relearn the sensors. This just means that you are telling the vehicle’s computer which sensor is in which wheel position. Instructions are usually found in the owner’s manual. It is also a good idea to replace the valve core and seals on a valve stem mounted unit when you change the tire. Be aware some manufactures do not make this a straight forward procedure and can in most cases require special tools.

Latest TPMS courses from NSCC cover these procedures including the use of aftermarket programming tools to accomplish the learn procedures usually found only in dealer level tools. There are a few tools needed to properly service TPMS systems. The first thing you will need is a good service manual or information. ALLDATA has a quick reference guide under its “technicians reference” menu. This will give details as to how to reset and reprogram sensors including the do’s and don’ts of different systems.

Next is a TPMS tool, which is an electronic device used to test and reset sensors. There are several choices in different price ranges, so check with your supplier. There are also a couple of specialized tools for removing sensors. You can buy a kit with everything you’ll need in it.

TPMS is not that difficult but is constantly changing so this is one area where you really need to stay on top. Training is one of the best investments you can make, NSCC is starting to offer “TPMS hands on training” on late model Asian and Domestic vehicles that do not use conventional relearn procedures. These systems are not hard to service, but you do need to understand them. Scan tools and programming IDs can be intimidating for most and understanding where TPMS info is can also be a challenge.

Staying on top of changes, equipping yourself properly and attending training sessions dealing with TPMS can be some of the best advice for this upcoming tire season!

Dave Giles is a technical trainer with Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) and facilitates high tech training sessions for technicians throughout Atlantic Canada. To find out more about a upcoming TPMS training or any other technical training session in your area please contact Dave at NSCC directly at 902-430 2951, or Email him here

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