It’s two years since TPMS became a mandatory fitment for EU vehicles. It is almost 2 years since TPMS has effectively become part of the MOT test, so where does all this leave us? Has the TPMS tidal wave arrived? What has changed over these last years?
What is the TPMS tidal wave?
It is a phrase I coined earlier this year describing the combined effects of TPMS legislation, MOT testing and millions of new vehicles having millions of direct TPMS sensors fitted as standard. These sensors all have batteries that will almost certainly fail within the lifetime of the vehicle and many use metal clamp in valve stems that are particularly susceptible to corrosion and mechanical damage.
Are we there yet?
Has the tidal wave started surging? – Yes, we have millions of vehicles on our roads with sensors in them. This tidal wave effectively began between November 2012 and November 2014 as vehicle manufacturers selected their ‘weapons of choice’ to comply with EU legislation.
Is the tidal wave about to hit our shores? – Not yet I’m afraid but the TPMS tidal wave is building, it is getting stronger and larger with all those new vehicles hitting our roads every day and it has already picked off some unlucky, unprepared souls under the disguise of puncture repairs on a 2015 Ford Fiesta. So instead of procrastinating, completely ignoring or not prioritising TPMS, why not take a more proactive stance to deal with the inevitable.
Si, you are ready to get in the game… what do you need to bring to the table?
Our TPMS dealings with most of the largest and respected tyre retailers in the UK has given us a wealth of experience to draw from. It has helped us to develop an incredible support base as well as evolving our customer training, reporting and marketing tools. We don’t believe TPMS is a quick sale of equipment, or an opportunity to load our customers with stock and let them worry about how to sell it.
We have multiple elements to our TPMS training timeline and all we ask is for some focus, commitment and importantly internal ownership of the project. We believe in a partnership approach and will take care of the rest; reporting and guiding on next steps to maintain momentum and disseminate the core knowledge required to create a profitable, sustainable and increasing revenue stream.
Has technology moved on?
Technology has moved on and this has proven difficult for some rival providers out there as we had predicted and warned in 2012. All that marketing spin – is starting to get unspun!
The proliferation of original equipment sensors has proved problematic for certain universal aftermarket TPMS solutions. The problem stems around patents and the on-board memory of some TPMS chipsets. Configurable and multi-protocol sensors by their very nature have protocols pre-installed in them and there is no way of putting more protocols into these sensors post manufacture. As new vehicles with new protocols appear on our roads these old sensors are not compatible and the only way to deal with this is to supercede the old sensors with new ones or even worse keep adding additional sensors to which new coverage is then applied.
For example, with the latter scenario you may see that sensor #1 covers vehicles a, b, c. Then, sensor #2 covers vehicles d, e and f and sensor #3 covers vehicles r, s, & t. What happens when vehicle x, y or z reaches the market? – an additional sensor is required. Ultimately you must hold more stock of the newer sensors to deal with new vehicles coming onto our roads let alone need to know which sensor to use on which vehicle.
Fortunately for our partners our i-sensor® technology, from the outset, has allowed for new protocols to be programmed into the sensor by simply updating our programming tools. There is no need to purchase additional sensors from a coverage perspective.
Those pesky metal valves are now becoming pesky rubber valves!
Rubber snap in TPMS sensors have also hit the mainstream in the past few years with vehicle manufactures such as Ford and Vauxhall using them on their mass market vehicles.
Servicing these kinds of sensors is much easier than their clamp in metal counterparts BUT you need to be careful not to break them on tyre dismount and remount since they are harder to spot.
The good news for the consumer is that they don’t corrode and galvanise in the same way as metal valves do, but they have speed limitations and up to now high speed direct TPMS continue to use clamp in metal for the mainstream.
For our installer partners, we decided to release a snap in i-sensor® that has the same coverage as our market leading clamp in sensor and is externally aesthetically matched to the above
Installing all (original equipment and aftermarket) snap in TPMS sensors does require the valve stems to be pulled directly up through the rim hole. This avoids them being drawn across the edge of the wheel rim and potentially getting damaged. To make life simple we have introduced a handy tool to pull through these special, snap in valves.
Quality tech support now more relevant than ever.
With the increase in the number of sensors there has also been a trend to reduce the number of TPMS receivers on a vehicle to not only reduce weight but also cost. The way these sensors are programmed into the vehicle has become more sophisticated, as have the internal guts of the sensors themselves. For example, some vehicles need to be driven continuously at a certain speed for a certain amount of time, usually straight up a dual carriageway or motorway works best, though others need to be driven around corners to encourage the vehicle to relearn sensor IDs.There are many such nuggets of information that it would be unreasonable to expect a tyre technician to know them all. Their TPMS provider on the other hand has a duty to know all those nuances and be available to share them as and when required.
What about TPMS equipment – has that moved on?
The core equipment remains the same. What has moved on is the software within the diagnostic tools. Additional functions are available through simply updating tools. The premium tools have even more bells and whistles that are a true delight for us TPMS experts but may confuse those new to the category looking for the simplest solution with the least number of clicks to programme or diagnose a sensor. As well as a dedicated TPMS diagnostic tool it is still important to have the ability to fit TPMS sensors. Putting too much torque or two little torque through a TPMS sensor hex nut can result in an air leak, potentially damaging your customer’s tyres or worse still causing an accident. Not correctly torqueing up a TPMS fastening screw could result in the sensor becoming detached from the base of the sensor creating vibrations in the tyre at certain low speeds and also damaging the sensor body within the tyre over time.
We are very surprised to see so called ‘TPMS starter bundles’ being offered without the essential hand tool kit required to remove, service and replace ALL TPMS sensors whether original equipment or otherwise.
Winter 2016 more TPMS lights on than ever before.
Vehicle owners will be seeing more TPMS lights on than ever before. As the temperature drops, so does the pressure, many people who are entering their first winter with their new vehicles equipped with direct TPMS may have already noticed some TPMS warning lights by now. This awareness is a great customer engagement opportunity to discuss with vehicles owners when they come into the tyre bay. A quick conversation on the technology and what the different lights mean can instil confidence and sow seeds for future TPMS service or replacement business.
So there you have it, 2 years in the world of TPMS. What will the next 2 years bring? Watch this space…. We certainly will be!
AutoGEM Ltd Invicta