Where Are Tire Sensors Located – Is Your TPMS Not Working?

by Conner Mckay

Modern vehicles often have tire pressure sensors, but few people are actually familiar with how they operate. Many don’t even know where are tire sensors located.

There are a lot of myths about where are tire sensors located and how they interact with the ECU of your car.

Additionally, many people are clueless when their tire pressure sensor detects low readings or when the car sensor isn’t working properly. To learn more about how tire pressure sensors operate, continue reading.

It goes without saying that tire pressure sensors are placed close to the tires themselves. But where are tire sensors located?

There is a small gap between the wheel and the pressurized tire when it is attached to a tire pressure sensor wheel.

The sensor can be found here. This position puts it in constant contact with the tire, which is essential if you want to get accurate readings on the condition of your tires. The sensor, however, is firmly fastened to the wheel.

This guarantees safety and stability, even when driving aggressively.

TPMS Sensor

Where Are Tire Sensors

Now that you understand where are tire sensors located, let’s find out how they work, shall we? When the air pressure inside the tire drops, the vehicle’s TPMS will give off an alarm that will notify the driver (in which case, learning how to reset TPMS and what does TPMS mean on a car might help).

This is an electronic system that links the monitor on the dashboard of the car with the sensor that is mounted on the rim to display whether the tires are properly inflated or not.

The TPMS sensor and system will alert the driver with a flat tire warning light if the tire starts to lose air pressure.

This indicates that the tire’s proper inflation level is not being maintained for some reason; whether as a result of tire or valve damage, the tire will need to be reinflated and repaired.

These sensors make sure the tires don’t deflate to dangerously low levels, which, if one is not careful, could further harm the tire, the rim, and even the TMPS unit. Due to this, they have been a necessary component of vehicle production in the US since 2008.

The service life of tires will be shortened by accelerated tread wear caused by improper tire inflation. Such tire wear will explain what causes tire wear on the inside, as well as outside of the front tires wearing. The former is often described as inner tire wear or inside tire wear.

Lower inflation widens their footprint, endangering their ability to drive safely and increasing pressure buildup while they perform, which will ruin their ability to use fuel efficiently.

The tires’ wet weather performance will also suffer from a wider footprint, which will also lengthen the distance between stops. In other words, it will harm the car’s performance and safety while driving.

Types Of TPMS

On the market, there exist not one but two different kinds of tire pressure monitoring systems. In general, they perform a much similar role. That said, how they go about achieving them is entirely different.

The two varieties are:

The most prevalent TPMS technology is direct TPMS, followed by indirect TPMS. This type measures the inflation of each tire independently using sensors that are mounted onto the rims and inside the tire.

The sensor alerts the vehicle’s computer system when a tire’s air pressure falls below 25% of the level of inflation that is advised, and the low-pressure warning light on the dashboard illuminates.

The indicator in the car’s computer system and the four sensors mounted on each tire’s wheel (typically close to the valve stems) make up the five main components of direct TPMS systems.

Therefore, replacing a direct TMPS system will be a little more expensive when it comes time for the vehicle’s maintenance.

Direct TPMS systems come in two varieties:

  1. Low-line direct TPMS
  2. High-line direct TPMS system

In order to force the transmission between the sensor and the computer system, high-line TPMS systems are equipped with low-frequency transmitters close to the wheels.

These sensors are not always transmitting and are not always on. Instead, each time the ignition is turned on and throughout the drive, the vehicle will repeatedly ask the sensors for data regarding the levels of tire pressure.

Where Are Tire Sensors Located, TPMS Types #1: High Line TPMS

High Line TPMS

The high line system turns on the transmitters sequentially, making it easier to identify which sensor sent the low tire pressure warning in the future.

You can locate them using the sensors’ individual IDs, which display the sensor’s position. The benefit of this system type is that it preserves the battery of the vehicle.

Where Are Tire Sensors Located, TPMS Types #2: Low Line TPMS

Low-line TPMS systems transmit tire air pressure levels at predetermined or arbitrary intervals using units mounted on the wheels.

However, due to the lack of connection between the tires’ sensors, they might transmit at the same time. As a result, the pressure messages may collide, and you need to take precautions to ensure that the vehicle can correctly receive them.

One TMPS system may send the same message more than once to prevent message collisions.

Low-line systems ensure the TMPS units transmit more frequently when they detect a sudden change or high temperatures.

The sensors ensure that the vehicle receives the transmission in this way. Due to the lower cost, this kind of direct TMPS is common in the majority of vehicles.

The vehicle’s antilock braking system collaborates with indirect TMPS systems. The indirect TPMS system benefits from the ABS’s monitoring of wheel speed.

In comparison to the other tires, the tire will roll at a different wheel speed when the tire pressure drops. The low-pressure light turns on when the computer system detects this.

As it works with the ABS monitor, the Indirect TMPS system does not require any additional components to be mounted on the wheels.

As a result, additional mechanic labor rate and part costs won’t be incurred when the system needs to be replaced.

Where Are Tire Sensors Located, TPMS Types #3: Indirect vs Direct TPMS

The method by which they determine whether the tires are properly inflated or not is the primary distinction between direct and indirect tire pressure monitoring system types.

Which TPMS type, though, is the best?

The direct TPMS system functions better for customer requirements and common vehicles. This is a result of the nitpicky indirect TPMS systems’ control, which needs recalibration whenever you change the tire pressure or when you install a new set of tires.

As a result, these systems give the owner of the vehicle an excessive amount of control over crucial safety functions, which is probably not a good idea.

The biggest problem with indirect TPMS systems is that the low tire pressure light only illuminates when one tire has a different pressure level from the others.

The indirect TPMS won’t alert the driver if all four tires are sufficiently underinflated and operate in that way, though.

The indirect TPMS system won’t pick this up because it is still low inflation pressure, which will eventually result in a problem.

Reduced tire life, increased stopping distance, ruined fuel economy, and poorer traction are all effects of under-inflated tires.

Direct TMPS sensors are therefore more dependable for the typical driver and will cause fewer headaches while the vehicle is operating.

Tire Pressure Light

Understanding where are tire sensors located is one thing, but it is also a good idea to understand the tire pressure warning lights. The gauge cluster on a vehicle’s dashboard is normally where you find the tire-pressure warning lights.

The warning lights, i.e. seeing a tire sign in the car, typically have an exclamation point and/or the letters “TPMS” and look like a cross-section of a tire in yellow or amber.

When the tire-pressure monitoring system of the vehicle detects low air pressure in one or more tires, this small telltale illuminates to let you know.

The light typically illuminates when one or more tires have air pressure that is outside the ideal range.

Since the tires’ ideal performance and safety benefits only show within a specific range of air pressure, expressed in psi or pounds per square inch, a warning light could turn on even before low pressure is obvious to the naked eye—by as much as 10%.

Some of the more advanced tire-pressure monitoring systems will alert drivers to the out-of-range tire or show the air pressure in each tire in real-time, sometimes even for spare tires.

Never Ignore Tire Pressure Warning Lights

Tire Pressure

A tire’s tendency to lose around a pound of air pressure each month and a pound for every 10 degrees of temperature change can cause low pressure, as can leaks.

Therefore, even if your tires have enough pressure in the summer, they can be too low by the winter to trigger the tire pressure alarm.

Similarly to this, if the temperature rises high enough to raise the tires’ pressure to a safe level, a tire-pressure light that illuminates on a cool morning may turn off.

Another reason the TPMS warning may be on early in the morning and turned off later in the day is that as you drive, tires warm up and experience an internal pressure increase of roughly 3 psi.

Tire Pressure Gauge

It’s time to check your tires’ pressure with tire pressure gauges, which you can buy for as little as $5, whenever a tire-pressure warning light illuminates.

A monthly tire pressure check can keep all of your tires inflated to the ideal level and help you spot slow leaks early—possibly even before the pressure drops too low and the warning light turns on.

Find the nearest gas station or service center and check the tire pressure in all four tires (plus the spare, if applicable), adding air to any that are under the ideal range.

If your TPMS warning light does illuminate. After a few miles of driving, the light may turn off if the tires have the ideal pressure.

After around 10 miles, if the light still remains on, it may be necessary to reset the TPMS as instructed in the owner’s handbook of the car.

There’s a chance you have a broken tire-pressure monitoring sensor that needs replacing if the light turns on and all of your tires are within the allowed range. No matter what the problem ends up being, pay attention if the tire pressure indicator comes on; you’ll be safer and you might even be able to prevent tire damage.

Tire Pressure Sensor Fault

There are a few potential causes for the tire pressure sensor warning light to be blinking, mainly due to a tire pressure sensor fault. If so, you will need to consider a new one and a tire sensor replacement.

Where Are Tire Sensors Located, TPMS Faults #1. Low Tire Pressure

Low Tire Pressure

A TPMS light that is blinking may indicate that at least one tire has low pressure which will depend on the car. That should explain what does low tire pressure mean.

By pressing a button, you are able to view the air pressure for all four tires in some vehicles which allows you to check the pressure remotely from the interior.

Other vehicles won’t sound an alert until there is insufficient pressure. Then, you must check each of them outside using a tire gauge.

Make sure that you fill each tire per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Where Are Tire Sensors Located, TPMS Faults #2. A Failed Tire Pressure Sensor

Tire pressure sensors’ batteries can be dead. They frequently last for a decent amount of time, but if their battery dies, a dashboard alert will show up.

Other times, the sensors may grow corroded or old and stop functioning, producing a warning like this one.

In any event, the sensor needs to be replaced if it malfunctions. For more insight, check out our guide on the tire pressure sensor replacement.

Where Are Tire Sensors Located, TPMS Fault #3. Lost Sensor Connection

The computer in the automobile receives data from the TPMS system’s sensors. The system will broadcast a problem over the dashboard in case of a lost connection.

If you bump into something hard or in other situations, that could happen.

Where Are Tire Sensors Located, TPMS Fault #4. New Tires Or Wheels

If you recently installed new wheels on your car or put brand-new tires on your current set of wheels, you might need to reset the system.

This is a result of the need to reconnect the system with either the old or new sensors due to changes made to the wheel and tire setup.

Additionally, depending on the changes you make, the car can anticipate a different pressure than what you have set.

For instance, if you have moved from winter to summer tires, you might need to adjust the system’s pressure requirements.

Where Are Tire Sensors Located, TPMS Fault #5. Changing Conditions And Temperatures

When the temperature fluctuates considerably over a short period of time, many users experience problems with their TPMS sensors.

This is because air temperature will affect the pressure in your tires. The sensors will detect less pressure when it is very cold. Additionally, the pressure will rise as it warms.

TPMS Reset Button

After you’ve gone through the tire inflation process to get the correct pressure, you must reset your tire pressure light if it is still on.

You can turn off the TPMS light using the methods described below.

Try the following if your TPMS light is still on after filling your tires to the recommended pressure:

It would take 10 minutes at 50 mph. When you restart the car, the tire sensors ought to reset, so the TPMS light ought to be off.

Turn the key to “on” when the car is off, but avoid letting the engine run. When the tire pressure light blinks three times, release pressure from the TPMS reset button.

To give the sensors time to reset, start the car and let it run for 20 minutes.

Under the steering wheel is where you’ll find the reset button for the tire pressure monitor. Check the owner’s manual for your vehicle if you’re having difficulties finding it.

TPMS Sensor Replacement

Older Corvettes and Cadillacs with run-flat tires have had tire pressure monitor systems since the 1990s. And since the model year 2008, they are required on all passenger cars and light trucks.

Unless the sensor malfunctions and needs replacing, TPMS systems require little to no maintenance.

The typical lifespan of the tiny lithium-ion button batteries found inside TPMS sensors is 5 to 10 years. Many have an average lifespan of 7 years for many.

Driven miles affect battery life. The more signals a vehicle’s TPMS sensors transmit while driving, the more miles it travels each year.

In order to preserve battery life, the sensor only produces a signal at predetermined intervals (30 to 60 seconds or longer).

As a result, sensors in vehicles with high annual mileage typically malfunction before those in vehicles with low annual mileage.

Additionally, TPMS sensors may stop working at any time due to corrosion or physical harm.

The TPMS sensors in Asian-made autos have a major problem with aluminum stem corrosion. After exposure to road salt corrosion for a few years, the valve stem could unintentionally come off.

A TPMS sensor battery normally lasts as long as the tires that came with it when you bought them. Just make sure you’re wary of the cost to replace the tire sensor.

Sometimes the original sensors are still in good shape. Still, a new set of TPMS sensors will be necessary by the time the vehicle needs new tires. This is because a decent pair of tires should last between 60,000 and 80,000 miles.

When To Update The TPMS

You should update the sensors every time you mount a new set of tires. This is because they are likely to malfunction before you change to the next pair of tires.

They might cease or carry on for one or two more years. However, they most likely won’t start up again for another 5 to 7 years.

A TPMS sensor may also need replacing if it sustains damage during tire removal or rim mounting.

To reduce the risk of air leaks, you must use a replacement nut and grommets if you take out temporarily a clamp-on sensor that has a hex nut and also grommets near the base from a wheel for tire repair (such as figuring out how to plug a tire) or put in a different rim.

Service kits with new grommets, hex nuts, valve cores, and caps are available for this purpose.

When TPMS first came out, automakers used a broad variety of different sensor designs and types. This was in an effort to make things as difficult as possible for the aftermarket.

Universal Sensors

In order to overcome this issue, aftermarket vendors recently created a number of universal sensors that function with a variety of applications.

Because of this, there could be fewer SKUs in the market, and replacing and installing are also much easier.

Many TPMS systems require programming with a special TPMS tool after changing the sensors. This is for the TPMS control module to know which wheel sensor belongs to which. Even though some TPMS systems are capable of learning where each particular wheel sensor is.

This is essential for vehicles having individual tire pressure gauges on the instrument panel.

On cars that produce a low tire pressure alert, sensor locations typically don’t matter (no specific tire pressure positions or readings). The driver must identify the low tire by using a pressure gauge to check the pressure in each tire.

Low Pressure Tire

Similar to standard valve stems, rubber-stemmed, snap-in TPMS sensors are simple to replace. You will not require any particular tools.

You must methodically tighten hex nut stems with an inch-pound torque wrench or a TPMS valve stem tool to a precise amount.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Tire Pressure Sensor

The typical cost of a sensor is $30 to $75, and labor expenses range from $10 to $35. Consequently, the typical cost of replacing a tire sensor can range from $40 to $100.

What Does TPMS Mean

The air pressure in a vehicle’s pneumatic tires is monitored by a tire-pressure monitoring system. Using a gauge, a pictogram display, or a straightforward low-pressure warning light, a TPMS provides the driver with real-time tire pressure information. There are two main categories of TPMS: direct and indirect.

Where Is The TPMS Reset Button

Under the steering wheel is where you’ll find the reset button for the tire pressure monitor. If you can’t find it, consult the owner’s manual for your car. All tires, including the spare, should be inflated to 3 PSI more than what is recommended before being completely deflated.

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