Frequently Asked Questions About Tire Pressure Sensors

Thursday, May 16, 2013 by Doc Horvath

Starting with 2008 model year cars and light trucks, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) has been required for all new vehicles sold in the United States. While some vehicles (Audi and BMW most recently) use the ABS system (or indirect system) to keep watch for a deflating tire, most use a battery powered sensor (based in the base of the valve stem assembly) to give the most accurate read of your tire pressure. When replacing tires or wheels and tires as a complete package, the presence of these remote sensors can require a few extra steps in the purchase and/or installation process.

Why does my installer charge a "TPMS" service fee for installing new tires?

Many of our Recommended Installers will charge a TPMS service fee as part of new tire installation. When the old tire is being removed from your existing wheel, it's best to remove the TPMS sensor (and the attached valve stem). This avoids any damage caused by breaking the tire bead loose from the wheel as well as seating the new tire onto the wheel. Once the sensor has been removed, it will require a new "O" ring and/or compression ring to seal the sensor properly.

What happens if I do not add new TPMS sensors to my Tire & Wheel Package?

When we sell a set of wheel and tires, we're happy to mount and Road Force balance the tires to the wheels at no cost prior to shipment. Given the TPMS sensors are located inside the wheel (opposite the valve stem hole), the sensors (if requested) need to go in the wheel before the tires are installed. Without the sensors installed, most vehicles will display a warning light and chime upon engine start up (the light will continue to blink as long as the engine is running). Some vehicles may also limit your ability to turn off traction control if you need to "rock" out of a snow drift in winter or even limit engine output. In many states, an active TPMS system is required as part of the state's safety inspection, and any illuminated warning lights may cause the vehicle to fail its annual safety inspection. With your purchase, you can elect to add the correct sensor (at an additional cost) or choose to have your existing sensors removed from your old wheels and installed on the new wheel. If run-flat tires are being purchased with new wheels, new sensors are required.

If I purchase new sensors as part of my Tire & Wheel Package, what else needs to be done before use?

Many vehicles require new TPMS sensors be activated or initialized at an authorized repair facility or dealership. This process normally involves connecting the vehicle to a service computer (via the ODB port under your dashboard) and having a technician load the new sensor's ID codes into the car's computer. Most cars will need to have this activation service performed each time wheels and tires are changed out (like when changing from dedicated winter wheels and tires back to your summer/all-season set). As always, consult your owner's manual or contact your dealer for more information. 

Comments on Frequently Asked Questions About Tire Pressure Sensors

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 by Tam:
If I got a set of enkei raijins for my Scion FR-S, what kind of replacement valve stems would be compatible with the TPMS?
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 by doc:
Both the OE sensor and valve stem can be reused in the Enkei wheel if need be (you would need the service kit for the sensor to get new "O" rings needed for a proper seal).

We buy the sensor and the stem as one complete until, so we would not be able to sell just the stems themselves. We do have the service kits for approximately $ 3 each for reference.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 by Kirk:
New at this. Delivery of a 2014d 328 (no xdrive). Liking the anzio wheels and Dunlop 4D tires. Living in Germany so wheels are changed from winter to all season every Oct and April. What do you recommend I order to minimize dealer installation costs? Sounds like the tpms in BMW is less issue than other car brands.
Thursday, August 29, 2013 by Doc:
Kirk,
While the car will not recognize the new TPMS sensors automatically, there is a reset procedure that you can follow to reset the sensors yourself (that way you do not have to visit the dealership). By ordering winter tires mounted on wheels with the sensors included, you can make the switch in your driveway yourself.
Monday, November 11, 2013 by Manuel:
Hi I installed new set of winter tires on my 09 chrysler300.But i used the 06 model rims and the factory tpms on.the lights are on. Do i really add on codes or automatically car computer program can pick up.please advise me
Thursday, November 14, 2013 by Doc:
Manuel,
Not all of the 2006 Chrysler 300 models used sensors (mostly the Touring and 300C models used sensors) so your 2006 wheels may not have a sensor in them, and if they do they are wrong for the newer 2009 TPMS receiver. Assuming the wheel will accept a sensor (check with the parts department at the dealer), you're still going to buy the correct sensor for the 2009 model year
Friday, November 15, 2013 by George:
How much is the tpms for a 2011 BMW 328i with x-drive?
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 by doc:
George,
Blog posts last forever, pricing does not, so please call in for current pricing. At the moment, sensors are hovering around $ 50 each (plus the required stem)
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 by Ambarish:
I recently purchased Bridgestone Blizzak preferred package with rims and TPMS sensors for a 2011 Honda Odyssey from tirerack.com. Instead of going to a dealer, is it possible for me to activate the new TPMS sensors using a tool such as ATEQ-VT15? Also, can this tool be used every time I switch between the winter and summer tires? Thanks.
Monday, January 20, 2014 by Doc:
Ambarish,
VT15 works on General Motors applications (almost) exclusively. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find a tool we can resell that will work for Honda. Since the vehicle can only remember one set of sensor ID codes at a time, you will have to have the reset procedure done each time you change wheels. Sorry I did not have better news.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014 by Marshall:
Hi, I bought a complete package (rims, tires, tpms sensors) for my Nissan Leaf. I put these new winter tires on the Leaf, no problem. Now, I just switched back to the factory tires and the TPMS light goes on when I start the car. All tires are at recommended pressure. It should recognize the factory sensors. Any ideas?
Friday, May 9, 2014 by Doc:
Marshall,
Unfortunately the Leaf can only remember one set of sensor ID numbers, so you will need to have the dealership (or other garage that has the training tool) reprogram the car to recognize your (original) sensor set
Thursday, May 15, 2014 by Marshall:
Thanks for the reply. That was not a problem when I put on the new tires, rims (w/ new TPMS sensors ordered with the rims). I just put them on, the Nissan Leaf picked it up and no problems with the TPMS coming on. I do not understand what you said, (not arguing), but if what you said was true, putting on winter tires, new rims and tpms, the TPMS light should have come on, but it didn't. One would figure that the same would be true with the opposite, putting back on the factory rims....
Monday, May 19, 2014 by Kerry:
Hi, I am going to buy a complete package(new wheels with new tires and new TPMS mounted together). I wonder if the TPMS sold by Tire Rack is compatible with Honda Civic 2012? If so, the only thing I need to do after I receive the shipment is just to find a Honda dealer and let them reprogram the TPMS correct?

Thank you
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 by Doc:
Kerry,
All the sensors we sell are identical to the "Original Equipment" sensors to ensure compatibility. To be sure, Honda would be require that the car be reprogrammed by a dealer (or a repair shop with the same reset tool) each time you change wheels.
Friday, August 29, 2014 by Butch:
I want to have my tires rotated. Do I have to install a sensor on one tire that doesn't have one?
Saturday, August 30, 2014 by Doc:
Butch,
If you are using a spare wheel and tire as a "full timer", then you will need a sensor in that wheel
Thursday, September 4, 2014 by Dan:
Do you supply the tpms ID#s when purchased from you in a wheel/tire set?
Friday, September 5, 2014 by Doc:
Dan,

We can document the ID numbers upon request, but please call in the order to make sure the request is processed. Thanks !
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 by Hui:
If I buy the rim+tire package without TPMS sensors, will the tires come with stems installed? Thanks!
Monday, October 13, 2014 by Steven:
I have a set of new 2014 OEM Acura takeoffs which have OEM TPMS installed. I am re-installing on my non-TPMS Honda. Is there a compatible third-party display/controller that I can use with these sensors?
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 by jack bent:
What would happen if I just put regular rubber valve stems in my 06 Chevy ltz when I purchase new tires.
Friday, October 17, 2014 by Doc:
Steven,
I'm not confident you could find an aftermarket receiver that would accept the Honda sensor ID code range. You may have to check on some of the forums for advice. Sorry !
Friday, October 17, 2014 by Doc:
Jack,
Without the TPMS sensors present, you will see the TPMS warning light blink for about a minute and then stay on for as long as the engine is running.
Friday, November 7, 2014 by Donnalee Cooke:
I just installed snow tires on my 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe. The maintenance tire light and tire pressure light is on. Is this a problem? I was told by the garage that installed them I don't have any sensors. The light will be on all winter. Is this correct?
Friday, November 7, 2014 by Doc:
Donnalee,
Correct, light will be on while the snow tires are installed. Once you reinstall the "summer" tires, you'll probably need to drive around for about 20 min. or so for the car to "reset"
Monday, November 17, 2014 by Brian:
I have a 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited with the stock 17' rims and currently is in the market of getting snow tires. I have been told that it could be better for me to downsize my rims for the season. It'll be cheaper to get tires and supposedly give me a better ride. That being said, how will this affect my sensors? And is that even a good idea?
Thursday, November 20, 2014 by Kev:
I have a 2014 Scion FRS. If I buy Winter tires and have it installed on Stock OEM Wheel. Do I still need to have the TPMS recalibrated?
Friday, November 21, 2014 by Doc:
Brian,
In some states, you are required to have sensors in your (new) wheels. They are currently selling for under $ 25 each. (see http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=44#sensors&affiliate=FH3 )

Without the sensors installed, most garages or dealers will refuse to install the wheel/tire package.
Friday, November 21, 2014 by Doc:
Kev,
The sensors will not have to be initialized (again).

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