Car Doctor Q&A: Batteries Could Be The Root of TPMS Woes

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Not all Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems are equal, and TPMS sensors from the early days of pressure monitoring are causing some significant issues today.

Q. I have a 2004 Chrysler Crossfire and the tire pressure light comes on. I have had my car’s tires checked every day for proper inflation and the TPMS light still won’t go off.

The shop that adds air tells me I would have to go to a Chrysler dealer to have the system reset. I know these systems are for safety but this is stupid, I know the tires are properly inflated. What can I do to get the light to go out?

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Direct TPMS systems can tell you which tire is underinflated.

A. Tire pressure monitoring systems were put into place after the massive Firestone Tire recall that affected millions of Ford Explorers. It was thought that many of these Ford Explorer crashes were a result of underinflated tires. When a tire is underinflated it will build up heat, over time the excessive heat causes the tire to fail.

Since drivers check their air pressure about as often as they check the batteries in their smoke detectors, the TREAD Act intervened to provide a visual warning on the dash that indicated low pressure.

Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems started to phase in around the 2005 model year and by 2007, TPMS would be mandatory in all models produced.

There are two types of tire pressure monitoring systems: direct and indirect. The direct system uses sensors in each wheel and the indirect system measures wheel speed in conjunction with the anti-lock brake system.

One advantage of the direct system is in many cases this system will identify which one of the tires is underinflated, saving a little time with a gauge. The indirect system will only tell you that one of the tires is under inflated, but not which one.

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Your Chrysler Crossfire it uses a sensor located in each wheel and can be tested with a TPMS test tool. There is no reset procedure on this car, once the tires are properly inflated and the car is driven for a few minutes at over 20 miles per hour the system will reset. The only time you need to retrain the TPMS system is when a sensor is replaced or if the tires are rotated.

One issue that we are seeing is these sensors have about a seven year battery life and are now starting to fail. Originally these tire pressure sensors were well over $100, but in the last few years there are aftermarket replacement parts that are much cheaper in the $35-$50 range.

If your Crossfire’s TPMS sensor batteries are failing, you’ll to have them installed and the system retrained.

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John Paul

John Paul