For those of you with cars registered new in the last few years, you may well have been unfortunate enough to see a little light on the dashboard letting you know that your tyre pressure is low and you should top up with air. All good so far.
This is called the ‘Tyre Pressure Monitoring System’ TMPS for short and is an EU directive aimed at new cars and even more so with the expanding use of run flat tyres. We’ll talk a little more about these later.
Just what is the TMPS and why has it been deemed a requirement for our vehicles?
It’s an electronic transmitter fitted to the valve of the wheel where the air is pumped into the tyre. What it does is measures the air pressure within the tyre and sends a signal to the dashboard when it drops below a certain level, so far so good!
Yes, a great system to keep you safe and ensure that you have every chance to protect those expensive run flat tyres. Done, that’s all you need to know, a quick blog on a subject you have no control over…………only, do you want to know the pros and cons? Let’s look a little deeper then.
When the vehicle is supplied new, then the TMPS will be functioning correctly. But as time passes and you start to change tyres or have punctures, you run the risk of damaging the sensor. This is because it is usually sat inside the rim and tyre and any loss of pressure or rapid deflation of the tyres creates un-natural movement. Should the sensor become damaged, then it will need to be replaced for the system to function correctly and to turn out any warning lights on the dashboard.
Filling a tyre with expanding foam following a minor puncture could also damage the sensor and stop it from working. As there isn’t any air pressure in the tyre, the warning light will appear in the car. If the sensor becomes coated by the foam, it may not be possible to clean it up to function, so a new one will be required.
Some sensors can just be fitted to the rim, new tyre fitted and drive away and within 20 minutes or so the car has found it, linked to it and understands the signal.
Other sensors require programming prior to fitting to the wheel/rim so that it is matched to the vehicles unique transmission codes. The cost of these sensors, averaging around £50 plus VAT, and the programming equipment can be very expensive and push the cost of a replacement tyre up. On some occasions, the sensors can only be bought from the main dealer and they will programme to the car based on registration number.
The next potential issue is for those who like to change their wheels and tyres for winter use. Now you are going to need a second set of sensors for these unless you just swap the tyres on your original wheels, then there shouldn’t be an issue.
So they are expensive, troublesome, a pain to fit, programme and make work with the car, there’s the cons!
Not looking good is it, another system from the EU that cost money and is a pain, but….is it really worth it, have they given us something that we truly need as motorists?
The answer fairly and squarely is, yes.
Consider driving down the motorway at 70mph and you have a slow puncture, the TPMS will alert you so that you can safely pull over before it goes flat. This could mean the difference between a shredded tyre and losing control and having to replace the tyre or just change it for the spare or foam fill and save it for possible repair.
That fortnightly trip to the petrol station to wait in line to check your pressures, gone, the car does it for you as it alerts you to slow punctures or leaks from the rim bead.
This system can quite easily save you the cost of a tyre or two over the time you own the car, and that has to be good. It also encourages the maintenance of your tyres and ensures that your local tyre dealer does a good job and keeps your car safe. And that’s what’s important here, tyre safety and keeping our ever more powerful and technically complicated vehicles moving.
If you have the TMPS fitted then what questions or what should you look for from your tyre dealer?
Have they got the up to date equipment?
Can they supply or do they stock the right sensor?
Can they programme the sensor?
Do they actually know the difference and whether it needs programming or is it the self-learning type?
If the answer to the above questions is yes, then you have found a good one.
We think that it’s a good system and only now that tyres are wearing and accidental damage is occurring more regularly are we finding out more of what’s required.
Ensure that if you have a winter set of wheels and tyres that you know what system is on your car, ask the dealer for information, you’ll need this should you have to change a tyre or if you damage a rim.
All of the winter packages that are sent out by ourselves are all set and ready to use on your vehicle.