Partnering with an OE sensor manufacturer is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when it comes to your TPMS program. OE manufacturers simply know more than non-OE manufacturers, working directly with OEM’s gives OE TPMS suppliers an edge when it comes to bringing new OE technology to the aftermarket. An OE TPMS supplier can give you the latest technology sooner and with higher quality than a reverse-engineered aftermarket part.
The biggest differentiator between OE and non-OE quality sensors is that when a part claims to be “OE,” “OE quality,” “OE equivalent,” etc., it is claiming that it has been held to the same quality standards as what is put on a vehicle on the production line. OE manufacturers require certain standards for the vehicles they are equipping, and those standards have to be proven through extensive testing. The sensor or sensor components must achieve OE requirements all the way from the raw materials to the design and development within the OE production processes.
OE testing can include spin tests, pressure tests and temperature testing, which are extremely important in order for OE manufacturers to prove the sensors will withstand the challenging atmosphere inside of a tire. If a sensor manufacturer does not put their parts through this testing, they cannot guarantee the quality of their parts.
For TPMS, genuine OE replacement parts mean that the valve has been tested at high speeds to ensure that it doesn’t twist or turn inside of the tire. OE quality parts guarantee that the sensor is going to stay attached to the stem and confirm that the materials of the stem and sensor enclosure can withstand the heat and pressure of a tire environment. OE quality parts also ensure that the electric components of the sensor will perform correctly, and the battery is able to withstand all environmental factors.
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Validating an OE product goes even further with specific vehicle testing. Each vehicle is different, and they differ further when they are driven in different atmospheres. Variances in driving profiles like temperature, altitude, traffic patterns, speed, etc. will cause the sensor to act differently. An OE-qualified part will perform in every condition and guarantee the part will work properly for your customer.
Using an OE TPMS sensor partner is of utmost importance and should also be in combination with an OE TPMS tool partner. If you have an OE sensor but not an OE quality tool, then it is possible the part will be programmed or relearned improperly. OE quality tools understand LF (low-frequency transmitting) and RF (radio frequency reception). In the plant setting, too much LF will “wake up” the wrong sensors. Too sensitive of UHF (ultra-high frequency) detection results in cross-talk and vehicles getting programmed incorrectly. OE-based tools have that understanding of the sensor and the environment; as a result, they are more accurate and more reliable.
There is always a less expensive part, but the headaches and safety concerns that come along with low-cost products are never worth the immediate savings. The end cost of a returning customer is far greater. No amount of money can compensate for an unsatisfied and non-returning customer. Always opt for OE-quality parts and tools for superior TPMS service.
Jacki Lutz is head of global marketing and communications for Schrader Performance Sensors, the automotive aftermarket brand of Sensata Technologies. In addition to being a Certified TIA ATS Instructor, she is also vice president of the Automotive Communications Council and an active Member of the AASA Market Executive Council.