As the winter comes, car owners make personal decisions to switch to proper winter tires to ensure safety. Along with this decision is the question of whether it is necessary to install Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) sensors or not.
Legally, TPMS sensors are required for your winter tires as the law mandates them. TPMS has been a requirement for every vehicle in the United States since September of 2007, after it became law due to a series of accidents brought by insufficient tire pressure.
However, vehicle owners have opposing thoughts about whether to get TPMS for winter tires. Some say it is a must, and some say it is completely unnecessary. It is another personal decision you would need to make when you switch to winter tires.
Read on to get some ideas on how much it would cost to have TPMS sensors for your winter tires.
What TMPS Sensors Are and What they Do
A TMPS is an electronic device that allows you to monitor the air pressure on your tires. It provides real-time information on the vehicle’s dashboard using either a pictogram display or a low-pressure warning light. When the driver notices the low-pressure warning, the driver must increase the tire pressure to avoid unwanted accidents.
Simply put, a TPMS is an electronic system that provides extra safety precautions while you are driving. It works the same as the gas monitoring system on your vehicle’s dashboard that tells you if you’re running out of gas.
A TPMS can be Direct or Indirect.
Indirect TPMS works alongside the Antilock Braking System (ABS) wheel speed sensors. This type of TMPS reads the motion on each tire and analyzes the differences as they move. The principle is: tires rotate differently if the pressures are not uniform.
Unlike the Indirect TPMS that are installed outside, the Direct TPMS are put inside each tire where they directly read the air pressure inside the tire. This type of sensor is programmable using a unique code or ID.
These sensors come with batteries to power and allow them to monitor the pressure level on each tire. When the sensor detects a low pressure on the tire, it warns the driver through the dashboard indicator.
Among the advantages of the TPMS are added traffic safety, enhanced fuel economy, and improved tire tread life. Drivers who claim to be “responsible drivers” argue that this added safety feature is unnecessary if you are responsible enough to check your tires’ air pressure now and then.
My stand on this is that TPMS provides you with many good things, so it is indeed a helpful feature. Therefore, it is but right that you equip your vehicle with this device.
Can You Transfer TMPS Sensors to New Wheels?
You can certainly transfer your old TPMS sensors to your new wheels. However, it would help if you consider a few things, including the cost of the transfer process, the compatibility, the life span of your TPMS.
On average, the process of transferring your old sensors to your new wheels would cost around $20 per tire. This price is a rough estimate – it may vary depending on where you get the service. You will have to prepare around $80 to $100 to get it done.
Why is this costing you such an amount? The process is not easy as the mechanic or the shop technician would need to dismount your existing tires to remove the TMPS sensors.
Another thing to consider is compatibility. Generally, compatibility is not a big problem. However, it is best to ensure that the wheels you are purchasing are compatible to avoid regrets. Get some expert advice at the shop where you buy the wheels to rule out compatibility issues.
Lastly, pay attention to the age of your TPMS sensors. In most cases, vehicles use Direct TPMS. These TPMS are battery-operated, as mentioned in the earlier section. The lithium battery inside these sensors could only last between 5 and 10 years. If you would proceed with transferring your TMPS, consider replacing the batteries. Of course, it is an added cost.
Cost of Getting a New Set of TPMS Sensors
If it is your first time replacing your TPMS, you might think that it would not cost you that much because it is a small piece of device. However, please don’t be shocked when you find out that it will cost you between $50 to $100, depending on your vehicle. On top of this, you also pay the labor cost, which is between $15 to $20.
The cost issue is why many vehicle owners want to transfer their old TPMS to their new sets of wheels. There is no problem in transferring your existing TPMS to your new wheels. What is essential is that the device functions as intended.
Transfer Your TPMS Sensors or Buy a New Set?
Well, you’ve learned the difference, mainly in the cost you incur. Getting a brand-new set of tire sensors is an excellent idea because you know that it will give you premium performance. However, transferring your existing sensors to your new wheels is not a bad idea either.
Some questions for you to answer to make a sound decision are: Is transferring more economical? Am I sure that the TPMS is compatible with my new wheels? Will the TPMS still last long on the new wheels?
If your answer to these questions is mostly yes, go for it.
However, if you think you can afford a new set, go ahead and get a new set. After all, this concerns your safety. You cannot question if it is worth it because it is worth it.
Is Disabling or Not Using a TPMS Legal?
Breaking the law is illegal. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stipulates in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (49 USC 30122(b)) that manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and motor vehicle repair shops must not make this safety device inoperative regardless of the owner’s request.
Thus, disabling the TPMS on a vehicle is a clear violation of the law and will have legal consequences.
Why would car owners request to disable this feature? Well, there are just some people who don’t like the idea of the tire pressure sensors, and they trust themselves instead in monitoring their tires’ air pressure.
As stated above, TPMS should be working when a vehicle gets out of a shop. This statement sounds like the responsibility to ensure this safety device is working lies on manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and motor vehicle repair establishments.
So, don’t wonder if a mechanic or shop technician asks you all the time if your TPMS is working when you bring your car to them for a service or maintenance. It is their job to keep it working for legal reasons, and if you insist on getting it disabled, the shop will ask you to sign a waiver. This waiver is for them not to be held liable for whatever TPMS-related accident when you go out of the shop.
The bottom line is, TPMS requirement came about for a good purpose: to protect you. I think the simplest thing to do is to follow the law and ensure that your vehicle’s tire sensors are correctly working.
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Why TPMS Servicing is Important
If you have read the previous section of this article, you have already learned how costly it is to replace your TPMS sensors. You probably have also known already that ensuring that your TPMS is working is required by law.
Therefore, it makes sense to do regular servicing for your vehicle’s TPMS to prolong its life. Like any device, it deteriorates and loses its efficiency if not properly maintained.
Generally, TPMS sensors could last between 5 to 10 years, but you would likely suffer the cost of replacing them earlier without proper care. Road salt and dirt could cause damage to your sensors. Sealants or fix-a-flat could also affect the functionality of your tire sensors.
Regularly get your TMPS sensors checked to avoid corrosion within the valve and ensure an air-tight seal. If you do this, you can be confident that your TPMS is running efficiently.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires all light vehicles manufactured from 20027 onwards to have TPMS sensors. Thus, you need TPMS sensors for winter tires – you need them all the time to adhere to the law and ensure your safety.
Although you have the liberty to decide whether not to use TPMS sensors, dealers, shops, and repair establishments will ensure that you have a working TPMS because they can be legally liable.
TPMS sensors also require maintenance and servicing to ensure that they are well-calibrated and they last longer. Corrosion caused by road salt could damage your tire sensors.
Getting a new set of TPMS sensors is costly. It would cost you up to approximately $50 to $100 per sensor plus the installation cost. Therefore, you can consider transferring your tire sensors from your old tires to the newly purchased wheels.