Common Procedures For Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) have been mandatory in new vehicles for some time now. Though many repair technicians have encountered them, there are still questions about how they are serviced. There are differences in how TPMS function ranging from simple plug and play sensors to requiring special tools and programing. Different vehicles and OEMs require different steps or procedures when handling TPMS. Let’s have a brief overview of what can be required to repair these systems.

The first step in servicing the TPMS system is to reference the OEM service information. There may be special tools required in order to register a new sensor to work with the vehicle. Most OEMs use the same sensor for the entire vehicle line up, so the sensor needs to be shown what system and vehicle to communicate with. Keep in mind there may be several generations of these sensors that may have different requirements from one generation to the next.

Since a wire cannot be ran from the sensor to the vehicle, radio waves are used to send communication from the sensor to the onboard computer. Most scan tools are not able to communicate to with a new sensor because the scan tool cannot pickup the radio waves. For this reason, a special TMPS tool is used.

Most sensors will require the vehicle to be put in learning mode. There are a variety of ways this can be done, including with a scan tool or even doing a series of operations on the vehicle, like pushing the accelerator 3 times and honking the horn. When the vehicle is in learn mode the TPMS tool is normally brought from tire to tire in a particular order to learn that sensors identification/location which is then linked to the vehicle.

Keep in mind that some systems will require the location of the tire to be relearned even if the tires have only moved positions, while others will automatically relearn the tire positions as the vehicle is driven. On the systems that require a relearn, if not completed a low tire light can come on for the wrong tire.

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