When to Replace TPMS Sensors?

By Vlad Samarin December 3, 2023
TPMS sensor TPMS sensor mounted inside the rim.
Wondering when to replace your car's TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) sensor? Here's the simple answer: you replace it when it's not working as it should or leaking. The TPMS sensor is designed to alert you when tire pressure is too low, enhancing safety and performance. But like any gadget, it can malfunction.

Pay attention to the TPMS warning light on your dashboard. If it's consistently illuminated, blinks, or if you receive a TPMS fault message, it's time to check and possibly replace the sensor. Many modern cars are equipped with direct TPMS, which uses sensors inside each tire. These sensors can wear out over time, leading to inaccurate pressure readings. On average, new TPMS sensors last for 7-10 years.

Replacing a TPMS sensor is a relatively straightforward task. Costs typically range from $50 to $100 per sensor, but prices may vary depending on your vehicle make and model.

Exploring Deeper into TPMS Sensor Troubles

The TPMS sensor plays a crucial role in warning you about too low or too high tire pressure, contributing to your vehicle's safety and fuel efficiency. However, it's not invincible and may need replacement under certain circumstances.

The TPMS sensor in direct TPMS systems has a small battery and a wireless transmitter built inside. When the sensor comes on, it transmits a wireless signal containing information about the tire pressure and in some cases, the temperature of the tire to the TPMS receiver module.

Vehicles with indirect TPMS systems don't have TPMS sensors. Instead, the system relies on the wheel speed sensors of the ABS system and monitors the difference in the rotational speed of each tire.

TPMS sensors can wear out over time. If you notice the TPMS warning light consistently on, blinking, or receive a TPMS fault message, it's an indication that the sensor might be malfunctioning. Often, the sensor stops working when the battery inside the sensor becomes bad. Inaccurate tire pressure readings can compromise your safety and the performance of your vehicle.

Is it OK to drive with TPMS light on? If the TPMS light is on, the system doesn't know if the tires are properly inflated, and so, the first step is to check and adjust the pressure in all tires. While you can technically drive with the light on, it's not a situation you want to ignore. If the light stays on, it might indicate a malfunction in the TPMS system, which should be addressed to ensure accurate tire pressure monitoring necessary for safe driving. Depending on the state's inspection requirements, a vehicle may be considered unsafe if the TPMS light is on.

Another common problem with TPMS sensors is when the valve stem of the sensor crumbles, breaks off or starts leaking due to corrosion. This problem is more common in areas where road salt is used in the winter. For some types of TPMS sensors, the valve stem can be replaced separately. In others, the sensor must be replaced as a complete unit.

When replacing a TPMS sensor, it's advisable to replace all of them simultaneously, because if one sensor has failed, others are not too far behind. Prices for TPMS sensor replacement typically range from $50 to $100 per sensor, but costs may vary based on your vehicle's make and model.

In some cars, new TPMS sensors must be registered to the car using a special tool. In other cars, new TPMS sensors are registered automatically after driving the vehicle for some time.
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Do TPMS sensors have to be replaced when installing new tires? No, only if the sensors are bad or show significant wear or corrosion.

Regularly checking your tire pressure and addressing issues promptly can contribute to the longevity of TPMS sensors. If you notice that the tire valve cap is missing, replace it with a new one, as the stem and the valve of the TPMS sensor will corrode sooner without the cap. If there is a whitish corrosion residue on the valve stem, clean it up gently and check for damage.

Remember, a well-maintained TPMS system enhances your driving experience by keeping you informed about your tire pressure, contributing to both safety and efficiency. vehicle's service manual for the correct procedures.