TPMS

29 05 2012

With all the acronyms out there it’s no wonder people have a difficult time keeping all of them straight.  Thankfully, TPMS is not brand new technology so there are a number of resources available (now including this blog) to better explain its importance.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, we found NHTSA (National Highway Safety Traffic Administration) and Schrader have done a fine job of illustrating this already, which is why the first part of this entry is going to use information each of them have published, respectively.

“As its name suggests, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System is more than a single part.  In fact, TPMS involves a valve and a sensor, and it’s also important to know that not all TPMS systems are created equal.  There are two kinds of TPMS technology – indirect and direct.”

Indirect TPMS:  approximates tire pressure indirectly by using data from the vehicle’s antilock brake system (ABS)

Direct TPMS:  provides a more accurate calculation of your tire pressure using data gathered directly from a sensor placed inside each tire

Source: 2011 Schrader International, Inc

Regardless of which TPMS technology your vehicle may have, if a tire is found to contain less than 75% its recommended air, an alert signal is illuminated on your vehicle’s dash.  The advantage, if it’s not already obvious, is with Direct TPMS that process happens much more effectively and rapidly.  Another thing to keep in mind is that Indirect TPMS cannot recognize when all four tires are low on pressure simultaneously, which often may be the case if the vehicle isn’t checked on a routine basis.

Flats, blowouts, skids, and longer stopping distances can all be the direct result of driving on under-inflated tires.  New laws required manufacturers to include a TPMS system in all cars and light trucks by 2008.  Obviously, all of this better technology will have an associated cost but the increased safety and effectiveness will far outweigh this small setback.  The costs are partially offset by savings in fuel and tire wear.  The net cost is estimated by the US Government to be between $25 and $100, but more importantly the cost of a life saved is somewhere between 3 to 9 million dollars.

Your safety has always been our primary concern.  In short, keeping your vehicles on the road and protecting your entire family is why we’re in this business.  We want all of you to be accident free, period.  We’ve traditionally provided things like tire rotations, snow tire mounting, and flat tire repairs at a very low cost.  In light of these new systems we’d like to educate and inform you on how some of these processes are now done differently.  Every time a tire is changed: taken off to fix a flat, a new tire installed, a snow tire mounted, etc; our service technician is going to have to deal with the TPMS system.  Even a simple tire rotation will require the monitor to be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire.  When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed.  TPMS sensor batteries will need to be changed and failed parts replaced.

The reason we even call your attention to this is twofold:  (1) update on regulated safety standards  (2) make all of you aware of differences in market value of specific services

Our ASE certified team has been thoroughly trained on various TPMS systems and updated tire-changing techniques.  All of this adds up to additional overhead cost to perform what was once a very inexpensive and routine service for you.  Please keep in mind these changes are due to government mandated safety equipment standards we must follow.  There may still be cases where this doesn’t change how we’ve done things for years, but for the most part shops like ours are now being forced to restructure some of these services.

Not unlike all our services, we’re committed to caring for your vehicle at a fair price and will discuss options should you be working with a limited budget.  These upgraded processes will help you avoid the most common types of vehicle failure, and possibly a catastrophic accident.

Albeit a touch outdated from an aesthetic standpoint, this video (courtesy of NHTSA) does a great job at breaking down these TPMS advances.  We believe you’ll better understand this to be another step in the right direction for vehicle manufacturers.

Click HERE for TPMS Made Simple by NHTSA

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