Tire Pressure Sensor: Why is it an important feature in your car?

Whether it is the result of a leaking tire nozzle or damage to the tire from terrain, we’ve all seen the tire pressure sensor fault sign. This article explains what it actually means and how to fix it.

Tire pressure sensor

Tire pressure sensors (TPMS) are microcomputers located inside of your vehicle’s tires. They are designed to warn drivers of under-inflated tires and have been mandatory for all the vehicles in the US since 2007. TPMS illuminate the low tire pressure warning light on your car dashboard display. This might indicate either low tire pressure or sometimes even a flat tire.

Fixing the cause of your TPMS warning light

It is the duty of a driver to ensure that all tires have air pressure according to the recommendations provided in the car manual. Some tire pressure sensors can illuminate the warning light if there is a little difference between the current tire pressure and the recommended tire pressure. You can find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle in the owner’s manual of your vehicle.

If your tire pressure is at recommended levels and the warning light still stays on, there might be a malfunction in one of your tire pressure sensors. The battery life of TPMS ranges from 2-10 years, so that might also be a factor worth your consideration.

Faulty tire pressure sensors can be diagnosed using vehicle-specific scanners or from your vehicle’s diagnostic system, which again varies by vehicle model.

Driving with the TPMS warning light on

It is advised that the driver stops the vehicle and checks for visible under-inflated or flat tires as soon as the warning light appears. In case of an under-inflated tire, the vehicle may move in the direction of the affected tire and the driver may lose control in worst cases. It is hazardous to drive in such circumstances and even more so under extreme conditions.

Driving on a flat or under-inflated tire endangers the affected tire and prolonged usage may cause irreparable damage to the structure of the tire itself, which may warrant a replacement later on. And let us tell you, tires are expensive.

In case of a faulty sensor, you will have to be manually attentive to your tire pressure since the reading from the TPMS is inaccurate. You should change it at your earliest convenience to ensure safety.

Sensor reprogramming/replacement

Once the faulty sensor is diagnosed, the tire with the malfunctioning sensor must be removed and dismounted from the wheel. Then replace the faulty TPMS sensor with a new one and remount the tire onto the wheel and then re-inflate.

Once done with the above procedure, you should now move on to the reprogramming process. Your vehicle’s make/model determines how the sensor is reprogrammed. Some vehicles might require the car to be driven a certain distance before the sensor is recognized by the computer. Other vehicles of different make require the scanner that detected the faulty sensor to reprogram the new one. Without reprogramming, the warning light stays on even after the replacement of the faulty sensor.

Replacement costs and personnel

Prices of TPMS vary according to their make and model. Sensors for luxury brands like Mercedes or BMW will have a significantly higher cost than budget manufacturers like Toyota, Mazda, or General Motors. Sensors can vary from double-digit prices to hundreds of dollars for a single one.

The cost of labor must also be considered when replacing a faulty TPMS. A famous dealership in the city will have a higher labor cost compared to a small repair shop in the country. The labor hours for the replacement of a faulty tire pressure sensor do not exceed more than 1 labor hour per sensor provided the crew is experienced and knows what they are doing.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide who you choose to have your faulty sensor replaced. It is advised that shady workers and repair shops be avoided and you choose someone you trust or have prior experience with.

There is no particular need to approach a popular and expensive dealership for the replacement of malfunctioning tire pressure sensors as most local tire shops should have the capable crew and equipment required to replace the sensor correctly.

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