Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems
by Pat Goss
All cars now come equipped from the factory with tire pressure monitoring systems, and the majority of them use a sensor like this. This is the actual sensor; this is the valve stem. They go into the wheel like this-they fit through and you see the stem portion of it. The sensor portion is inside the tire.
They do a very, very good job, but they do have some problems. Number one is that many of these succumb to corrosion. The stem portion is made out of aluminum and it doesn’t take much in the way of moisture to cause the aluminum to deteriorate, and many times when you have to have tire service performed well, the sensor can’t be salvaged and you have to put new sensors in the car.
Well, you always had to put the entire sensor in until recently, and now Dorman Products has this unit right here. This is a two-piece unit. It has the sensor just like it always has, but the stem is replaceable. It’s held in place by a hollow screw. So, if the aluminum portion gets damaged, all you need to do is to buy the aluminum stem, not the entire sensor. This saves a lot of money. This comes in a kit with a whole variety of stems and repair parts and so on, and it is from Dorman Products.
Now, when you have service done-tire rotation or anything like that-in most cases, the sensors have to be re-programmed to the computer on the car. In some cars, it will simply require a round magnet like this that’s designed specifically for that purpose, or on others you may have to use an electronic unit such as this that interfaces the computer on the car. The big thing here is, if you’re going to have tire service done, make sure that the shop that you’re using has the proper equipment to do everything without damaging anything on the car.
And, if you want to prevent a lot of the moisture problems, here’s what you look for. You look for nitrogen, and you have nitrogen put in your tires just like they do on airplanes. Nitrogen from a good machine, like this Nitro-Fill machine, is completely dry, so you do away with all of the moisture-related problems. Not only that, but the molecules in nitrogen are bigger than oxygen, so what happens is, tire pressure remains constant longer and it’s more stable. It’s something that I would look for, because it can increase the life of your tires, it can prevent TPMS problems, and overall you might get a little better fuel economy.
If you have a question or comment, write to me.
The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.