A tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) check is as easy as getting into the car and turning the ignition on. If the TPMS indicator light turns off, the tire pressure monitoring system is functioning properly and you’re on your way. If it remains on or flashes, you may have an issue.
SOLID TPMS LIGHT – If the light stays on, check the tires for proper inflation or damage.
FLASHING TPMS LIGHT – There is a system failure and more than likely a bad sensor. Further TPMS diagnostics will need to be completed.
How TPMS sensors communicate
TPMS sensors wirelessly transmit a protocol specific to the vehicle and a unique ID serial number that identifies the tire location. A replacement sensor must match the original protocol and the vehicle needs to learn each new sensor’s ID – this typically requires a relearn process.
What can cause TPMS sensor failure?
- Collisions, potholes, curbs, and other road hazards
- Sensor battery failure – sensor batteries are not serviceable or replaceable and will become discharged and fail – with a life expectancy of approximately 7-10 years or over 100K miles
What can trigger a TPMS light?
- When any tire is 25% over- or under-inflated
- Rotating tires without resetting the TPMS
- TPMS sensor failure in one or more tires
What are the risks of ignoring the TPMS light?
- Poor fuel efficiency and shorter tire life
- Compromised vehicle handling
- Diminished braking performance
- It is a violation of federal law to render a TPMS inoperative
TPMS sensors require service
These items wear out and are intended for a one time use – valve stem, seal, washer, nut, valve core, and cap. Just like your wiper blades, there are parts of the TPMS sensor that are made of rubber and break down over time. Failure to replace these parts can lead to slow tire leaks or catastrophic tire failure. Industry leading professionals like TIA & RMA as well as the OE vehicle manufacturers recommend that every time a tire is removed from the wheel, the TPMS sensor is as wear item and should be replaced.
How Auto-Relearn Technology Works
Auto-Relearn automatically identifies each TPMS sensor, determines its position on the vehicle, and then wirelessly transmits the information to the receiver for display on the dash — all without human intervention. For a better understanding, here are two popular Auto-Relearn technologies.
Phase Angle Location (PAL) Technology
Phase Angle Location uses additional ABS data along with TPMS sensor data to transmit tire pressure, temperature, position, and directional rotation while the vehicle is being driven. Vehicles equipped with Phase Angle Location systems utilize the data to accurately identify the TPMS sensors’ location and pressure, which is displayed on the driver display.
Wireless Auto-Locate (WAL) Technology
Wireless Auto-Locate systems use advanced TPMS technology along with RF signal strength to determine sensor location after installing a new sensor or tire rotation.
Check out all the relays, sensors and switches
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA Auto Parts Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.