Every car owner has their fair share of struggles regarding their car tires getting deflated without noticing. This problem happens because tires tend to lose air pressure over time due to osmosis, weather change, or damage within the tires. However, there might be an even bigger indication that the battery of their TPMS sensor is broken, which means that the TPMS sensor was inactive and can not correctly report the condition of the tires. So what is a TPMS battery, and how crucial a TPMS sensor is to the life expectancy of your car?
What is a TPMS Battery?
TPMS battery is an integral part of any TPMS sensor. A 3-volt lithium battery is hardwired into the sensor, encased inside its plastic, making it irreplaceable. Maintaining the TPMS battery is the key to preserving the TPMS sensor and, in turn, the safety of your vehicle.
What is a TPMS sensor?
To properly understand the role of the TPMS battery, first, we must learn about the fundamental part of a TPMS sensor and how it operates. Within the tire, located in the inner part of the rim, there exists a device called a TPMS sensor. Remove the tire from the car rim, and you will notice a device on top of the rim. That device is the TPMS sensor. As indicated by its name, a TPMS(tire pressure monitoring system) sensor serves as an alarm system when one or more tires have lower air pressure than usual. Since driving on an underinflated tire can cause puncture and severe internal structure damage, the TPMS sensor is crucial for any car. It is in the driver’s best interest to properly monitor and maintain their TPMS system.
The TPMS sensor was invented out of necessity. It is the result of years of collective uncertainty about car tire pressure and severe car accidents that could be preventable had the drivers known that their car tires were deflated. Even now, statistics show that many vehicles are operating on the road with underinflated tires. For that reason, proper maintenance of the TPMS sensor can prevent many disastrous accidents that may otherwise occur.
Different types of TPMS and how they affect the placement of TPMS batteries?
Not all TPMS sensors operate the same way. The evolution of the TPMS technologies has separated the TPMS sensor into two categories: Indirect TPMS and direct TPMS. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.
An indirect TPMS
An indirect TPMS relies on a wheel speed sensor to measure the tire’s air pressure. It measures the rotational rate of the wheels. A computing system can be used to compare the rotational speed of each wheel, which in turn, can interpret the relative size of the tires on your car. When the rotational speed of one tire is faster than the other, the sensor will presume that the tire is underinflated. And alert the driver by the use of noise or light.
An indirect TPMS can have certain advantages. Such as when compared to its direct counterpart, indirect TPMS sensors are much cheaper and require much less maintenance over the years. However, the disadvantages of the indirect system are proven to outweigh its advantages. First of all, the measurement accuracy is heavily correlated with the size of your tires. If you install a bigger or smaller tire, the calculation may become inaccurate. Secondly, the measurement is also affected by the quality of the tires. The sensor will become unreliable if the tires are damaged or worn out. The final downside of using an indirect TPMS is that it has to be reset after properly inflating the tires, which can be tedious for many car owners.
The direct TPMS sensor
Between the two systems, the direct TPMS sensor is commonly referred to as the better, more refined of the two in terms of technology. It uses a monitoring system; direct TPMS sensors can measure the pressure level of the tires directly instead of solely relying on rotation speed like their indirect counterpart. When the tire pressure is lower than usual, a signal will be transferred to a centralized control module in your car. The car owner can quickly identify the underinflated tire thanks to the different serial numbers on each sensor. The direct TPMS sensor is much superior to the indirect one in terms of accuracy since it collects actual statistics of your tire pressure. It is also much less susceptible to tire size and tire conditions. This means that you can conduct your tire replacements and tire rotations without causing the TPMS sensor to become inaccurate. When it comes to the direct TPMS sensor, the disadvantages mostly come from the maintenance cost. A direct TPMS sensor is more expensive than the indirect one, which means that the parts required to fix a damaged one will be costly. Most direct TPMS sensors are also distributed with proprietary systems, making the process of installation and replacement confusing for car owners.
However, one significant advantage that the direct TPMS sensor has over the indirect one is a stronger and more resilient battery. Battery from the direct TPMS system can last for a decade, always suitable for people who do not want to constantly monitor their car. Though the batteries can still be damaged or run out, you still have to replace the whole sensor when it happens.
In which way can I detect that the TPMS Sensor battery is damaged?
Generally, every TPMS sensor has a warning system installed, so it is elementary to notice when something is wrong. When a battery dies or gets damaged, a malfunction message will appear on your dashboard, a TPMS blinking light. The light might stop after 60 to 90 seconds; however, sometimes, it will continue to flash, and you have to make a service appointment to reset it manually.
Replacing your TPMS Battery without changing TPMS, is it possible?
As mentioned above, the TPMS batteries may last for a decade or more, generally speaking, the life expectancy of a TPMS battery is around 5 – 12 years or up to 100,000 miles. However, batteries are also entombed within the sensor, So it is impossible to replace the battery without changing the entire sensor assembly.
How often to replace the TPMS battery?
Generally, most issues regarding the TPMS system stem from their batteries. A TPMS battery can last for a decade, so you are definitely not expected to replace it frequently. However, if one of the four TPMS sensors in your car runs out of battery. There is a strong chance that the remaining three are close to death since all four were probably installed simultaneously during your car’s manufacturing process.
TPMS preservation methods and storage
To prolong the battery usage of the TPMS and ensure a proper monitoring system for your tires, after changing new tires or wheels, you must follow the specific steps provided by the manufacturers to reinstall and reprogram the sensor. A dedicated tool can be provided by the TPMS service to put the vehicle into learn mode, which will trigger the wireless scan and relearn the sensor. For that reason, it is much better to contact a specialist to ensure that the process goes smoothly. The tire should be removed since any corrosions might damage the sensor’s electronics. If your car accidentally hits a curb, the TPMS system might also get fractured. To prevent this, pour dielectric silicone grease into each of the stems. If you have a deflated tire and want to repair it using your own air pressure system, make sure that it is safe for the sensor since you could potentially cause extensive damage.
TPMS resetting method
Sometimes the TPMS light comes on even after all the tires have been appropriately pumped. It might be a good time to consider resetting your TPMS sensor. Here are some of the steps to reset the light:
- Drive the car 50 miles for 10 minutes to reset the tire sensor.
- Turn the key toward the “ON” button, and Press and hold the TPMS reset button until it blinks three times. The reset button is located right under the steering wheel.
There are also many other ways that you can reset the TPMS. However, it is better to take your car to the TPMS service center, and they will take care of the rest.
The cost of replacing TPMS Battery
Depending on the geographical location and the vehicle types, replacing your TPMS battery will cost anywhere from 78 to 140$. Luxurious cars, such as the BMW, may cost up to 800$ alone just for TPMS replacement.
TPMS and the future of TPMS technology
Since its introduction, the TPMS sensor has become the key system for any vehicle. It is estimated that the market for TPMS will reach 21.7 billion dollars in the year 2027. The TPMS system has been mounted on passenger cars since 2007. However, recently, the European Parliament has revised the regulation of TPMS to include light, heavy commercial vehicles, trailers, and buses. Which makes them the 2nd largest TPMS market in the world behind the United States.
Overall, the TPMS system has become an integral part of any vehicle. After all, tires are the leading cause of any roadside problems, so it is only logical that the manufacturers should make more investments to prevent those problems from happening.
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