It can seem when one TPMS sensor fails, the correct course of action is to simply replace the one sensor. Similar to headlights, TPMS sensor manufacturers meanwhile, recommend replacing all four sensors on each of the tyres. This is because when one sensor fails, it’s a safe bet the other three sensors aren’t far behind needing replacement.
Having your customers understand this point is important as it can result in customers having to come back, making them unhappy at the additional costs, while informing them about the benefits can help build trust and confidence in your service centre.
The reason for this relates to the constraints placed on the design of TPMS sensors. TPMS sensors have lithium-ion batteries that are encapsulated in resin with soldered connections and last from five to ten years. This is done to help them resist the harsh elements, the extreme vibration, and other powerful factors like the heat from the brakes, which makes a TPMS sensor without a door an unviable option.
TPMS sensors aren’t always broadcasting as it isn’t a permanent signal, but when the vehicle is in motion albeit intermittently to help sustain the long battery life. Cheap TPMS sensors, however, will broadcast at set intervals. Meanwhile for most sensors, data on temperature and pressure are broadcast when the accelerometer, a TPMS internal component, detects movement, which means information on tyres aren’t available to drivers until the vehicle starts to move.
Sensors also turn off based on timespan when a vehicle isn’t moving that can range from a few minutes and up to 15 minutes. However, when there’s a sudden loss of pressure due to puncture, then the sensor should activate immediately to inform the driver of the vehicle.
Shorter Trips Can Fail Sensors Sooner
It may come as a surprise that shorter trips can result in TPMS sensors failing sooner. For example, if two identical cars travelled 100,000 miles and one travel 10-mile trips and the other 100-mile trips, the one travelling the shorter 10-mile trips is much more likely to see their sensors fail sooner.
The reason for this is the automatic switching off the TPMS sensors since the one making 10-mile trips is going to see the sensors remain powered on a lot more frequently than the 100-mile sensors.
What is crucial to bear in mind is that when one of the sensors fail, the others have also endured the same conditions, meaning they aren’t going to be far behind.
How to Check the Battery of a TPMS Sensor
Checking the battery of a TPMS sensor is a tough task. While some TPMS sensors will provide an estimate based on the voltage of the battery, this is just a percentage that doesn’t provide the driver or service centre meaningful information that can be used to translate an estimate time or distance remaining of battery life.
Some specialist TPMS tools used by service centres can ascertain the signal strength, but the proximity of the sensor can heavily influence the result. And while a sensor can transmit ID and pressure information to the TPMS tool, the signal could be too weak for the antenna to receive. This is good in some ways in that the information can be copied to a replacement sensor.
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