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Above and Beyond: Knowing the Latest TPMS Technology Will Set Your Business Apart

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Picking up from where we left off in August, this month, we’re going to flip to the other side of the TPMS coin and see what’s going on in the aftermarket.

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The aftermarket was born from the creative minds of people who were able to adapt. TPMS is no different. Instead of being afraid of this technology, ask yourself, “How can I profit from it?”

When OBD-II was introduced, everyone thought that the repair business was over. But what happened? Those who adapted are now at the forefront of chip tuning technology as well as a host of other segments of the performance industry.

Many wheel manufacturers are making or have made running changes to the design of their wheels to accommodate a variety of TPMS sensors. In the case of a few, the wheel now has two valve holes.

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Above is a wheel from PCW. Notice that the standard 413 valve is at the bottom, while the OE sensor is mounted 180 degrees opposite and facing the rear. PCW isn’t the only manufacturer trying this, so train your tire technicians to start looking at both sides of the wheel and not to assume that, if a rubber valve is on the outside, there isn’t a sensor mounted on the inside.

Looking at aftermarket TPMS, here is where what’s over the horizon starts to come into view. We asked each manufacturer similar questions. Here’s what we learned.

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A relative newcomer to the U.S. is Orange Electronic (orange-electronic.com). You probably haven’t heard of this company before, but you will hear a great deal more in the future. Jeff Gunsch, sales manager for Orange Electronic, enlightened me about the scope of the company.

“Orange Electronic is the only manufacturer to be issued a license from the Japanese government to sell TPMS in Japan. Their rules for interference are very strict, and we are the only TPMS company that has qualified.”

The system is designed to be adaptive so that it can be installed in a variety of applications.

Gunsch goes on to say, “The system can be programmed based on the user’s requirement. We have a factory default setting, but the range of temperature and pressure alarms can be changed within a certain range.”

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The product, which is marketed under the name Orange‚ can handle four sensors at present, but two sensors for motorcycles and six sensors for one-ton dually trucks, as well as a commercial system to handle up to 18 sensors, are planned for the near future.

One important feature of Orange Electronic’s sensor is its two-piece design. If the stem breaks, then that is the only part that has to be replaced, at a fraction of the cost of replacing the entire unit like most other systems.

One big benefit of an aftermarket system, even over the OE in many cases, is that the aftermarket system indicates which tire has a problem. It doesn’t just flash a generic ‘check tire’ alert.

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“Many systems will stop when the vehicle stops or is turned off. Our system continues to monitor the tires, even when the car is turned off. Our battery life is seven years and uses military specifications. Even though our systems run for 24 hours, our battery life is still seven years. We do not believe other companies can do that,” Gunsch says. Retail price is $250-$300 and can be purchased from either of two distributors:

David Hinds at Vehicle Monitor Systems, 262-490-5607 (livetire.com) or Jordon Frazier at Wamsystem, 520-907-5897 (wamsystem.com).

Doran Manufacturing (doranmfg.com) offers the Pressure Pro TPMS, which is comprised of a receiver that can be plugged into a 12-volt power outlet or installed with a 2-amp inline fast blow fuse. These sensors are in-valve-stem caps that transmit pressure directly to the receiver.

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The install process provides you with the ability to set the pressure anywhere within the 15- to 150-psi range of the unit. In the case of a Mustang, you inflate the tires to 42 psi then install the sensors. The system baseline resets every time that the sensor is installed. During rotation, the sensor is removed and then replaced once the proper inflation pressure is applied.

The pressure can be reset for any front/rear variations, and when the sensor is placed back on the valve, it reads the new pressure and sets this as the baseline.

Another great feature is that the system alerts the driver when the pressure detected drops below 12.5% of the baseline. That’s half of the TREAD Act mandate!

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Doran offers complete systems for vehicles with two to 34 tires. For tractor/trailer applications, an external antenna is mounted at the rear of the tractor. Using 24 million codes, the system overcomes many of the problems associated with RF interference and provides an accurate, reliable reception.

Although external sensors can only detect pressure, if one tire was generating excessive heat, the pressure would be higher than the others, which would indicate a problem, such as an overload condition. A diagram of the vehicle is used to indicate which tire has triggered an alert, and the readout will indicate the actual pressure.

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If a sensor is damaged or lost, replacement sensors are available for a modest price. The program procedures for the new sensor are the same as with the original. Battery life is determined by how many miles the vehicle is driven per year. Expect a three-to-four-year life expectancy under average conditions.

The obvious benefit of the system is the ability to fit nearly any vehicle. If your customers sell their vehicles, they can remove the sensors and receiver and install them in their new vehicles.

One last item to discuss is the Dill valve tester. If the valve core isn’t installed at the proper depth, the Pressure Pro will receive inaccurate data. This is a simple depth gauge that you use before installing the sensor. If a problem arises with the test procedure, all you have to do is replace the valve core or, in the worst case, the valve itself. Since it’s a rubber valve, in most cases, cost is nominal.

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Reader Advice

And, finally, some advice. The SEMA Show is this month in Las Vegas. If you’re interested in learning more about TPMS technology and what the automakers and the TPMS manufacturers are working on, we encourage you to attend TIA’s Tires at Two TPMS seminars. Kevin Rohlwing, TIA’s senior vice president of training and education, will have representatives from various OEMs and TPMS companies speaking about what the future holds. We heard that standardization was in the works last year; it will be interesting to see how much progress has been made.

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One last note regarding the opportunity that we mentioned earlier. Every vehicle sold in the U.S. will have TPMS installed by the end of September 2007. What about all of the trailers that we haul?

Remember the image in the June issue that showed a trailer sitting off in a field after the tires blew out? A friend of mine was hauling his racecar trailer when a rear tire blew and took out most of the side of the trailer. Fortunately, no one was injured. But, what if someone had been beside this trailer when the tire let go? Don’t think that it’s always the tire’s fault. This trailer had a history of blowing tires, and we surmise that incorrect leveling may have overloaded the rear tires.

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Considering how most consumers are infatuated with technology, a few hundred dollars for a TPMS added to their tire/wheel purchases should be an easy sell, especially if you show them pictures of vehicles stranded on the side of the road with shredded tires.

What was once over the horizon should be in plain view now for those who have their eyes open.

 

 

 

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