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TPMS Sensor: What it is? How To Reset?

Want to know more about the TPMS sensor on your tires? You’re on the right page.

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What Is TPMS Sensor/Tire Pressure Sensor?

A TPMS sensor picks up information from your vehicle’s tire and relays it to the TPMS. If there’s a pressure-related problem the system will report it to you via the dashboard light. From there you can know whether it’s a case of an underinflated tire or a leaky one.

TPMS sensor
TPMS sensor

Types of TPMS Sensor

There are two types of TPMS sensors. The first type is usually located either on the rim or the tire pressure valve. A pressure monitoring system that uses such sensors is called a direct TPMS sensor. While it works fine in monitoring pressure, a direct TPMS is prone to malfunction because of exposure to bad weather conditions. It’s the most common TPMS sensor in the United States.

The second type of TPMS sensor is located either on the ABS brakes, the speed sensors or both. A system using these sensors is known as an indirect TPMS. Although it’s more durable, an indirect TPMS may suffer from accuracy issues. European-made cars use it more than the direct type.

Regardless of the type you use, a TPMS will bring the dashboard light on when there’s an issue. But how can you turn that light off? Hop over to the next section for that.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace TPMS Sensor?

There’s no one-answer-fits-all here. The amount of money you will spend on replacing TPMS sensors depends on the rates of your auto shop or dealership. However, a ballpark amount that you can work with ranges from $150 to $260 for each wheel. So if you own a four-wheeler you’ll be looking at any amount between $600 and $1,040 (labor inclusive).

Sounds pricy? There’s an alternative. Rather than depending on the mechanic to buy the sensors and do the replacement, you can buy them yourself and only hire a technician to do the replacement.

TPMS sensors can be as cheap as $19 or as expensive as $119. Needless to say, it’s not always a good idea to go with cheap stuff, especially when you are buying car parts. You need to be careful though because the TPMS sensors you buy SHOULD be compatible with your car’s on-board computer.

As mentioned already, if the TPMS fault was not caused by a damaged TPMS sensor then it’s either a dead battery, wrongly calibrated air pressure gauge or similar problem. To correct it you will have to rest the TPMS sensor.

How Do You Reset The Tire Pressure Sensor?

Resetting the tire pressure sensor will make it function properly again. Remember I mentioned that one way of resetting a TPMS sensor is by disconnecting and reconnecting the car battery. That resets the on-board computer and may also reset a faulty TPMS sensor.

There are other ways of correcting TPMS sensor faults and resetting the sensor:

1. Check battery

I’m talking about the sensor’s battery, not the car battery. Each TPMS sensor is powered by a battery, so make sure it’s not dead. After about 5 to 7 years the battery of a TPMS sensor will run dry and require replacement. If the sensor has a built-in battery you will have to replace the whole unit.

2. Recalibrate transponders 

Tires usually have transponders that communicate with the sensor. At times the sensor may fail to learn the new position of the transponder when the wheel is rotated. That calls for you to relearn the TPMS sensor. You can find the relearning procedure either on your TPMS manual or on various online platforms that deal with vehicle repair.

3. Use a TPMS Reset tool

Remember the TPMS tools that I talked about briefly when discussing how to turn the TPMS light off? Yeah, those too can reset a TPMS sensor. Most of them come with built-in instructions on how to do that.

Can You Remove TPMS Sensor Altogether?

Looking at the cost of replacing a TPMS sensor or the (somewhat) tedious process of resetting it, some people might be tempted to just chuck it out. Well, that’s possible, but keep in mind that doing that is dangerous and could be criminal.

According to NHTSA’s law, any car that’s newer than 2008 SHOULD be equipped with a TPMS. In essence, removing the device is breaking the law.

Besides, you might find it hard to detect problems related to tire pressure. Some problems, like an undetected leaky tire, can make it hard for you to control the vehicle. And if you can’t control it then you are at risk of getting an accident.

Is Regular Check Necessary?

Absolutely! Knowing what a TPMS light means and how to react to it is very important. But it doesn’t replace the good old method of checking tire pressure.

Why? Because a TPMS sensor has its limitations. For example, TPMSs are usually set to trigger the light when the tire pressure goes below a certain minimum. However, that minimum may not be enough to support a load that you want to carry in your car.

Additionally, the sensor may be inaccurate. Or it may fail to detect low pressure when all the tires are losing pressure at the same rate. Such challenges make it necessary to keep checking tire pressure manually. So don’t throw away that pressure gauge just yet.

Read more: Honest Review of the Best TPMS Reset Tools 2019

Tim MillerFounderOBD Advisor

I’m Tim Miller from Denver, Colorado. I’m the founder of obdadvisor.com, an automotive blog about "Diagnostic Tools and Auto Repair". My fan page is facebook.com/autozikcom. I've been working as an automotive mechanic and blogger for over 10 years writing articles to share my experiences and expertise.

Web: https://www.obdadvisor.comEmail: [email protected]
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