The tire pressure sensor (TPS) is responsible for measuring the pressure inside a vehicle’s tires and sending a signal to the onboard computer if the pressure falls below a certain level. The computer then uses this information to adjust the vehicle’s suspension and other systems accordingly. However, if the sensor is faulty, it may not send the correct signal, leading to problems with the vehicle’s handling.
Over time, tire pressure sensors can become corroded or damaged, preventing them from sending an accurate signal to the computer. In some cases, a TPS fault may be caused by a faulty connection between the sensor and the computer. When this happens, the vehicle may drive unevenly, causing the tires to wear out prematurely.
If you suspect that your vehicle’s tire pressure sensor is not accurately reporting information, continue reading to learn everything you’ll need to know to fix the problem. This guide will explain some of the common causes of a TPS fault, discuss how to identify a faulty sensor, and guide you through how to replace the part.
How Does a Tire Pressure Sensor Work?
Tire pressure sensors are typically located near the valve stem of the tire and consist of a pressure-sensing element, a transmitter, and a battery. The pressure-sensing element is responsible for measuring the pressure inside the tire, and the transmitter sends the signal to the computer. The battery powers the sensor and transmitter.
When the pressure inside the tire drops below a certain level, the pressure-sensing element detects the change and sends a signal to the transmitter. The transmitter then sends the signal to the computer, which uses it to adjust the vehicle’s suspension and other systems. Through this process, the computer is able to maintain a safe and comfortable ride for the passengers.
What Causes a Tire Pressure Sensor Fault?
Although sensors are built to last several years, there are many potential reasons why a tire pressure sensor may go bad. Some of the most common reasons include:
Over time, built-up dust and dirt can cause the metal components of the sensor to corrode, preventing the sensor from accurately measuring the pressure inside the tire.
The sensor can become damaged if it hits a curb or pothole. In some cases, the damage may be severe enough to cause a leak in the pressure-sensing element, which will prevent the sensor from accurately measuring the pressure.
A Faulty Connection:
A loose or faulty connection between the sensor and the computer can cause the sensor to stop sending signals to the computer. This can be caused by a loose wire or a damaged connector.
A Dead Battery:
Because the battery powers both the sensor and transmitter, if the battery dies, it won’t be able to send signals to your vehicle’s computer.
Low Tire Pressure:
Last but not least, it’s important to note that a tire pressure sensor will be unable to accurately measure the pressure inside the tire if the pressure is low.
The sensor is designed to measure the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the tire so, if the pressure is low, there will not be a significant difference for the sensor to measure.
How to Identify a Faulty Tire Pressure Sensor
As with most faulty sensors, you’ll likely know that there’s a problem long before it becomes a major issue. As soon as the sensor fails, your vehicle should issue some sort of warning. If not, you can still easily identify a faulty tire pressure sensor using the following information:
Uneven Tire Wear:
If your vehicle’s tire pressure sensor is not accurately reporting information to the computer, it will be unable to adjust the suspension accordingly. This can cause the vehicle to drive unevenly or pull to one side, which will cause the tires to wear out prematurely.
Activated Stability Control:
If your vehicle continues to pull to one side, it may activate the stability control system to help you better maintain control while driving.
A Warning Light on the Dashboard:
In most cases, when a tire pressure sensor fails, your vehicle’s onboard computer will illuminate a warning light on the dashboard. The light will likely be either yellow or red, and it may be labeled “TPMS” or “Low Tire Pressure”.
How to Replace a Tire Pressure Sensor
If you’re certain that the tire pressure sensor needs replacing, rest assured that it’s a relatively easy process that can be done at home with just a few tools. The most important thing is to check that you have the right replacement sensor for your vehicle by consulting with the owner’s manual. Once you have the right part, follow these steps to install it:
- Remove the old sensor: Start by removing the old sensor from the tire. To do this, you will need to remove the tire valve cap and use a tire valve tool to loosen the sensor. Once the sensor is loose, pull it out from the tire.
- Install the new sensor: Take the new sensor and thread it into the tire. Once it’s in place, use the tire valve tool to tighten it.
- Connect the new sensor to the computer: The last step is to connect the new sensor to the computer. In most cases, this will involve plugging the sensor into the vehicle’s Diagnostic Port. Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific instructions.
- Test the new sensor: Once the new sensor is installed, it’s a good idea to test it to make sure it’s working correctly. The best way to do this is to drive the vehicle for a short distance and then check the tire pressure. The pressure should be within the normal range. If it’s not, there may be a problem with the sensor or the connection.
The Bottom Line
A faulty tire pressure sensor can cause problems with a vehicle’s handling, so it’s important to identify the problem and replace the sensor as soon as possible. This guide has provided everything you need to know to identify a faulty sensor and replace it with a new one. If you’re unsure whether to replace the sensor on your own, you can also consult with a mechanic for further advice.