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.