Tires with a “sixth sense”
It was November 1, 2014, when all newly registered vehicles were required by law to be equipped with tire pressure measurement systems (TPMS). Since then, the offer on the market in terms of sensors, programs and diagnostic tools has undergone major developments. Here are the proposals from some of the main manufacturers of sensors and diagnostic systems
Try standing on your toes and then walk and after that start running. Imagine doing it with a backpack on your shoulders. The comparison may sound odd, but it is quite fitting if you consider the size of a vehicle and the relatively small footprint of the tires. A rubber patch no larger than a hand is in fact called to support a body of a few tons in motion. This is why tires plays such an important role in road traffic. Hence, it is crucial that parameters such as temperature, tread thickness and internal pressure are always respected. The latter, in particular, plays a decisive yet often neglected role in the performance of a tire.
Low pressure increases the risk of aquaplaning as well as braking distance, makes manoeuvring the car less comfortable and wears the tread unevenly. Approximately 40% of tire damages are due to insufficient pressure. On the other hand, an over inflated tire is noisier and unsafe as part of the tread is lifted reducing the contact area and therefore the tire’s grip, increasing the risk of losing control of the vehicle with dire consequences. As a rule of thumb, therefore, incorrect tire pressure will affect safety, fuel consumption, emissions and a tire’s service life. Conversely, when all the tires have the correct pressure, the weight of the vehicle is evenly distributed benefiting the overall performance of the vehicle.
According to recent estimates, at least one out of every three motorists in Europe drives with inadequate tire pressure. Recognising the importance of this issue, from November 1, 2014, the European Union made it mandatory by law - following Regulation (EC) No. 661/2009 - to equip all newly registered cars with systems suitable for tire pressure monitoring, otherwise known as TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems).
Integrated into a vehicle's on-board electronics, TPMS have the task of monitoring the tire pressure.
There are two types of TPMS: indirect or direct. In the first case, the TPMS uses ABS sensors to measure, indirectly, the level of air pressure inside each tire. The operating logic is based on the assumption that an incorrectly inflated tire will have a different diameter and consequently different rolling speed than one that respects all the parameters. When the system detects that one or more tires are not working as they should, it generates an alert. In the case of indirect TPMS, the detection is not as immediate as with a direct TMPS. In this second case, the air level is measured by sensors installed directly on the tires, which are able to detect and send, in real time, the pressure values of each tire, whether moving or stationary. The sensors can also measure the temperature inside the tire.
There are mainly three types of sensor: TPMS clamp-in valve, where the valve stem is an integral part of the sensor and is placed in the valve; TPMS snap-in valve, longer and to be fixed differently from the previous one; band sensors mounted into the cradle and attached to the rim trough metal bands.
Furthermore, we can find original TPMS sensors, i.e. pre-programmed according to the specs of the vehicle they are destined to, or universal sensors that can, instead, be programmed "just in time". The recognition of the sensor by the vehicle can be done by self-learning (or self-resetting) after having travelled a few kilometres, manual learning with reset while stationary or programmed "On-Board Diagnostic Interface" (OBD-II) reset. In the latter case, the sensors are associated, establishing a connection with the on-board diagnostic device of the vehicle.
There are also specific programming and diagnostics tools for both original and universal TPMS. Work around TPMS must always be carried out using specific tools, available as maintenance kits that must be replaced at each procedure. Finally, a TPMS sensor has an average life span of about five years, equal to the battery life.
ALLIGATOR has developed a single TPMS sensor, sens.it, that meets the needs of (almost) every vehicle available on the market. ALLIGATOR sens.it can be programmed "just-in-time" in the workshop, thus becoming, from time to time, a suitable replacement for several vehicles. This option drastically reduces the complexity and costs associated with managing large stocks.
The installation procedure is also simple: just download the specific application software on a PC or laptop, connect the programming device to the computer via USB port and then start the program. ALLIGATOR sens.it follows two serial ID number assignment paths: in just a few "clicks" it can be programmed with a new serial number or as a "clone" of the original sensor to be replaced, optimizing the re-learning procedure.
ALLIGATOR sens.it is available in RS3 434 MHz with aluminium valve or Sensor RS4 434 MHz with rubber valve.
The new VT56 by ATEQ – a true reference point in the production of devices for measuring and activating TMPS sensors – is a 360 degree solution for vehicles in America, Europe and Asia. The database is constantly updated and can include all new vehicles and TPMS sensors as soon as they are introduced on the market. Among the functions of the ATEQ VT56, some stand out: Select make, model, year via VIN scan; Comprehensive make, model, year specific relearn procedures; Programs all leading aftermarket programmable sensors; Display OBD2 location on tool screen; TPMS reset via OBD2 on more than 60% of car models; Retrieve TPMS DTC codes on applicable vehicles; RKE testing function; ECU unlocking for Toyota family of vehicles; TPMS sensor part number look-up (OE and aftermarket); Saves TPMS service history on-board and on PC ;Built-in TPMS service help and training; Multi-lingual, 23+ languages; Worldwide TPMS technical support.
Always with a keen eye on market trends and industry news, Autel offers its TPS 218, a universal TPMS sensor able to read in double frequency: 315 Mhz and 433 Mhz. Special features of the Autel TPS 218 TPMS sensor are an adjustable stem and a new "Screw-in" system. Thanks to a screw, the Screw-in system holds the TPS 218 sensor firmly in place and at the same time facilitates installing and dismantling procedures. The interchangeable rubber and metal stems also make the Autel TPS 218 suitable for all types of cars.
In addition to sensors, Autel has also developed a complete line of TPMS devices with reprogramming capability and diagnostic functions. MaxiTPMS is the line of tools able to read any universal sensor, reprogram all Autel sensors (MX, One sensor and TPS 218) and turn off TPMS warning lights. Tools in the MaxiTPMS line, offer a complete maintenance service and dedicated technical assistance.
BH SENS - a brand launched by Shanghai Baolong Automotive Corporation (Baolong) and Huf Hülsbeck & Fürst - develops and manufactures tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) for some of the most popular car and truck brands. Alongside the production of TPMS sensors as standard, BH SENS developed also the BH SENS IntelliSens universal sensor.
The latter is offered in two frequencies and four valve versions, in metal or rubber, and covers almost the entire range of vehicles that, according to the law, must be equipped with TPMS devices.
Quick and easy to program, the BH SENS IntelliSens universal TPMS sensor is the ideal solution for garages that aim to optimize their stocks. The protocols of all common tire pressure sensors are already stored in the BH SENS IntelliSens universal sensor. In addition, thanks to the update function, future sensors can also be easily added.
The latest addition to the range is IntelliSens UVS01HD, a universal TPMS sensor designed specifically for commercial and industrial vehicles.
Tire pressure measurement sensors (TPMS) represent a recent introduction to the aftermarket by HELLA. At present, the brand's range consists of 44 codes covering some of the most popular cars by top automotive brands, with an offer that the company intends to expand taking into account new vehicles ready to be launched on the market. Each TPMS offered by HELLA is specific to the vehicle on which it will be installed; therefore, it does not need to be re-coded before installation making it easier and faster.
As with all HELLA products, TPMS also benefit from a comprehensive technical support service for workshop professionals. HELLA's recommendation for them is to always check the battery supplied with the TPMS sensors, as the battery runs out 5-10 years after installation, requiring the pressure sensor to be replaced in order to ensure safety in every situation.
Just one year after the launch of italsensor 3.0evo, Italmatic presents Italsensor 3.0evoST (SmartTouch NFC), which confirms the levels of performance and reliability that have decreed the success of 3.0evo, but also marks a step forward in the TPMS sector. Like its predecessor, Italsensor 3.0evoST is configurable and programmable via RF/LF, it shares the same list of vehicles coverage and the function Ready4_BMW/Mercedes; however, unlike the previous 3.0evo, it is programmable/configurable in a few fractions of a second thanks to the integrated NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, commonly available on smartphones.
The key advantages of NFC are the speed of data transfer (the sensor is configured in 0,5 sec) and the total absence of interferences or errors.
To program Italsensor 3.0evoST, just install the free Italsensor app (from August on Google Play) on any NFC-enabled Android device. The sensor can then be programmed without having to invest in dedicated tools. Alternatively, it is possible to use the Italsensor solution for PC programming with a connected NFC pad. This option is dedicated to industrial users who need to program a large number of sensors every day. The speed and absence of interference guaranteed by NFC technology allows the integration of this solution directly into the wheel assembly line, maximizing the efficiency of the process.
Lasertyre is the new TPMS solution by Laserline. With Lasertyre you can check the tire pressure with a simple glance: the sensor in fact turns red when the air pressure inside the tire is insufficient.
Lasertyre can be easily installed on cars and motorcycles thanks to standard valves (ETRTO): it is in fact sufficient to screw it on the valve where the cap would normally be. Once installed, Lasertyre can be removed only using a special anti-theft and anti-sabotage key.
Each Lasertyre sensor is manufactured in Italy and consists of 31 components made with high quality raw materials. The product is covered by six international patents, TUV certified and THATCHAM accredited.
Born from the recent partnership between Mak Wheels and Orange Electronic, the new brand ECOSENS MATE by Orange offers the ECOSENS MATE TPMS sensor. Designed to encompass quality and simplicity, the new ECOSENS MATE is the 5.0 version of the previous Simple Sensor. The main novelty relates to the internal chip that brings with it five improvements (hence the name "5.0"). Vehicle coverage is now about 96% of the vehicles in circulation. The total number of vehicles able to recognize the sensor in Auto-learning has been increased by 18%. Programming times have been reduced from 55 to 12 seconds. The possibility to program up to four sensors simultaneously is a further improvement. Finally, ECOSENS introduces on the market sensors already programmed for most vehicles currently running on our streets, and therefore ready to be installed as original sensors without the use of diagnostic tools thus avoiding self-learning errors. Of course, programmed ECOSENS sensors, can be reprogrammed as many times as you want for any vehicle.
Based on a remarkable experience in the production of vehicle safety systems, Mobiletron UK has developed a range of aftermarket programmable or direct mount TPMS sensors. Mobiltron’s range includes a universal TPMS solution in the form of multiple sensors that can be configured using the company's specially developed programming tool. The Direct Fit line, on the other hand, offers a range of sensors that are already programmed according to a vehicle’s specs and therefore ready for immediate installation.
Both sensors are compatible with all major brands’ scanning tools and are ISO and GB compliant. Mobiltron sensors use a low frequency signal to communicate with the ECU to accurately identify any pressure loss in the tires. They also offer a battery life of more than 3 years and are covered by a 2-year warranty.
Among the pioneers in the development of tire valves, Schrader has several specific TPMS solutions in its portfolio. The EZ-sensor is a universal TPMS sensor that can be programmed and mounted on 96 percent of all vehicles currently in circulation, meeting the quality and functionality standards of OE components. The sensor is available in PN1210Snap-In, PN2210 and PN2210B (BLACK) Clamp-In Fixed Angle, with aluminium and rubber valve.
Schrader EZ-sensor GO is pre-programmed for most Audi, BMW, Mini, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Smart and Volkswagen vehicles manufactured since 2016. The software on the sensors works as a "plug & play" device with automatic learning and localization. The EZ-sensor GO can however be reprogrammed and installed on the same vehicles where the universal EZ-sensor can be installed. EZ-sensor GO is available in PN220-GO1, PN 2200B-GO1 and PN 2200T-GO1 only with aluminium valve.
The Schrader EZ-sensor family is compatible with all existing TPMS technologies as well as all independent TPMS programming and diagnostic tools. In any case, Schrader has also designed its own handheld/desktop, PAD PN 7028, for exclusive EZ-sensor programming and diagnosis of all OE TPMS sensors.
TECH Europe is expanding its TPMS portfolio with the upcoming market launch of a new NFC (Near- Field Communication) enabled universal sensor. T-Pro Hybrid NFC expands the range of OE sensors, valves, service kits and diagnostic tools offered by TECH Europe, bringing with it the benefits of introducing NFC technology in near-field data exchange. Thanks to NFC technology, the new TECH sensor can be configured simply by using an NFC-enabled Android device and a free and intuitive application, soon available on Google Play as a free subscription.
NFC technology ensures fast and very accurate operation: users can program the new TECH T--Pro Hybrid NFC, or even a group of sensors in sequence, with a simple touch, avoiding interference with other sensors in the vicinity.
The new TECH T-Pro Hybrid NFC sensor will finally be available with four valve stem options, including a graphite clamp, which perfectly matches the finish of alloy wheels.
Tecnomotor offers a qualified and universal TPMS diagnosis tool:TPM-02 measures the tire pressure reading of TPM sensors, reprograms and verifies universal sensors such as Alligator, Huf, Italmatic, Mobiletron, Orange Electronic, Schrader, Tyresure, VDO.
TPM-02 allows operators to check sensor operation before tire maintenance; determine correct operation of the TPMS system; determine the reason why the “Tire pressure” (TPMS) warning light comes on; make sure that the sensor provides accurate pressure and temperature readings; activate safe and fast repair actions with reference information (such as rotation torque values or parts codes) always available to avoid damage because of incorrect procedure; program/test programmable universal/multiprotocol sensors, for replacement of a faulty OEM sensor; code the vehicle control unit after replacing a sensor; indication of the operations to be performed in case of sensor replacement.
TEXA, on the other hand, has developed TPS2, a complete device that guarantees simple and fast communication even with sensors that, especially during activation, require higher power. TPS2 is equipped with a 5 megapixel HD camera with AF and 4 GB expandable internal memory. TPS2 can work on three categories of vehicles: cars, motorbikes and trucks. Communication with the sensors is made possible via two modes: manual selection or TWS2, which represents the evolution of the TWS function of TEXA TPS.
The latter stands out for its high coverage of brands and models. Once the vehicle has been set, TEXA TPS communicates with the valve of each wheel and, once approached, activates it if in stand-by mode and checks its efficiency, displaying pressure, temperature and battery charge, as well as further diagnostic information. In case of sensor replacement with a universal spare part, TEXA TPS is able to program the latter, assigning it the same identification code of the one replaced, in order to restore the connection with the receiver or the vehicle control unit.
Tyresure offers a full range of original and aftermarket TPMS sensors, including the one-to-one OE-R replacement sensors and the universal T-Pro Hybrid 3.5 sensor.
The OE-R sensors are pre-programmed for specific vehicles and fully functional following the standard vehicle teach-in procedure. The new Tyresure T-Pro Hybrid 3.5 universal sensor can be configured in 1-3 seconds with diagnostic tools from leading manufacturers and then fitted to 99% of new TPMS-enabled European vehicles.
Both the OE-R and T-Pro Hybrid 3.5 sensors include Maxell battery and NXP chipset in a durable and lightweight housing. A laser welded back cover guarantees a total weight of only 26 grams. In addition, the housing is designed for maximum compatibility with OE and aftermarket wheels, while housing the Snap-In aftermarket valve.
Continental’s VDO brand offers TPMS sensors specific for each car model, identical to those used for OEMs, as well as the relevant service kits for maintenance, or moving sensors from one rim to another.
The VDO range also includes diagnostic tools such as VDO TPMS Pro. This device simplifies and speeds up shop floor tasks with a universal, compact and programmable TPMS sensor tester suitable for most car models. Thanks to state-of-the-art scanning technology and an OBD interface, the sensors are read, checked and possibly re-encoded very quickly.
The 4.3" high resolution colour screen further simplifies the use of VDO TPMS Pro: the multilingual menus and navigation buttons allows the operator to work quickly and efficiently. Acquired data can be stored and downloaded to a PC via Wi-Fi, USB cable or SD card. The device is also available in a TPMS PRO Print version, complete with integrated infrared printer and docking station.