The Dreaded Tire Pressure Sensor

The Dreaded TPMS:

If you have a car built after 2007 you know exactly what a TPMS sensor does, but,  may not have known the technical name. The “Tire Pressure Monitor Sensor” is what causes your low pressure tire light to come on.  It can definitely be a pain every time the weather goes through seasonal temperature swings. In our shop we will see at least 2 people a day stopping by to ask for some air because their tire pressure light is on.

What we need to understand is that this sensor was mandated because of the thousands of people that drive on under or over inflated tires. Correct tire pressure is an important factor in safe driving. People take the risk of fatal accidents driving on tires improperly inflated. Studies have shown that since the TPMS was mandated fatalities have dropped. In fact in some states the testing of the TPMS sensor is part of their yearly testing for vehicle registrations.

So how does this all come together?  Where is this technology heading? Since some of these sensors are now getting to the end of their life span, drivers and auto repair facilities will need to keep an eye out to make sure the TPMS is still working as intended. Most of these sensors will soon need to be replaced. Besides damage from normal driving conditions, the batteries inside were only meant to last 10 years.  There are several aftermarket sensors made that will do a great job on replacing the original sensors. With the right diagnostic tools these sensors can easily be replaced and relearned to work with the vehicle’s computer.

So, what to do? Anytime you get your tires changed, fix, or rotated sensors will need to be relearned so that they know what is going on with the tire pressure. If your tire low pressure light flashes and does not stay lit you may need to get your sensors check by a qualified repair person. Remember that these sensors were developed to help prevent accidents and also get longer tire wear and better gas mileage.  A diagnosis should cost in the area of $30.00 – $40.00. Most repair facilities will wave the cost if you have them do the needed repairs. A new sensor installed should be in the $100.00 range, of course this may vary. The replacement of the sensor will require the tire to be taken off the rim, new sensor installed, remounted, and rebalanced.

Drivers must remember that this is a necessary evil. No one wants to pay for these repairs, especially when they did not ask for the sensors. But, the same thing could have been said when seat belts became mandatory.


Dave McKee

All Kar Service Center