How to avoid TPMS sensor signal transmission limitations

How to avoid TPMS sensor signal transmission limitations

Focus on tool positioning, try not to block the signal, avoid RF clashing and double-check the make, model, year and frequency.

Can the response time of a TPMS sensor tell you anything about its battery level?

Ha! April fools, we got you… the actual answer is no. Whether a sensor responds rapidly or slowly to the activation tool, it basically consumes the same amount of battery power. As a result, the response time does not correlate with the remaining battery life of the sensor. Let’s talk more about TPMS sensor signal transmissions and how to avoid limitations.

When a sensor is activated by a diagnostic tool or a pressure drop, the signal it transmits is just a fraction of a second long. Whether that response is lightning-fast or a little sluggish, the amount of battery power used doesn’t apply. The sensors are designed to operate within strict FCC regulations, which means their signal strength and duration are standardized. With that being said, an aftermarket sensor is no more powerful than an OEM one when it comes to transmitting.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t factors that can impact response times. Positioning the tool too far from the sensor, interference from other RF signals or even the wrong communication protocol selected on your tool can all lead to delays in getting a reading.

Let’s go through a few tips to ensure you’re getting the quickest response possible, every time.

First up, focus on tool positioning. The sensor cannot reply to an activation signal if the signal doesn’t reach the sensor in the first place. The closer you can get that activator to the sensor itself, the better. Aim for the sidewall just above the valve stem, or if you’re dealing with an offset wheel, try positioning it over the tread area directly above the sensor location.

Also, try not to block the signal. Objects or materials positioned between the tool and the sensor can impede or block the signal, leading to a “sensor not found” message. Metal, in particular, is known to obstruct signals and placing the tool on the valve stem tip or rim enhances the issue. Additionally, the tire type plays a role. Differences in sidewall ply, such as 13-ply versus 7-ply, can create further obstructions, hindering the sensor’s response to tool activation signals.

RF clashing, or the inability to decode RF signals due to simultaneous transmission from multiple sensors within range, is also a common issue to avoid. To avoid this, conduct vehicle relearns and sensor testing in a location away from other vehicles and make sure no other TPMS sensors are nearby to avoid “cross-talk” between the sensors and your tool.

Finally, double-check that you’ve got the right make, model, year and frequency selected for the vehicle’s specific TPMS protocol. If you’re on the wrong settings, you might see some odd behavior or delayed responses.

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