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What's next for TPMS technology?

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TPMS, like most technologies, are constantly evolving, and that’s a good thing. The more accurate the system and the more features are added to the TPMS system, the more likely the driver will find value in keeping her TPMS system functional. In the last ten years alone:

  • TPMS has gone from being an optional feature in new passenger cars to being a required feature.
  • From a crowded inventory of plug-and-play sensors, we now have programmable options.
  • We went from three programmable sensors covering the market to 99% coverage using one SKU.
  • Added options and extra value with wireless automatic location (WAL) and temperature readings.
  • We’ve added a 90 degree adjustable stem, color options and a new mechanical package to fit more aftermarket wheels.
  • We have developed a retrofit kit system that allows TPMS to be installed in almost any passenger car on the market today.

So what’s next?

Two major TPMS technological advances have already been developed that have a significant impact on both TPMS functionality and system services. These are Bluetooth Low Frequency TPMS (BLE) and Tire Mounted Sensor (TMS).

BLE TPMS technology helps improve vehicle safety, performance and driving experience. This enables remote diagnostics, which allows some repairs to be done remotely, saving drivers trips. Over-the-Air updates allow drivers to download new tire-related software updates to take advantage of new features. Its two-way communication capability also enables cybersecurity authentication, which is currently not possible with traditional unidirectional sensors on the market today, adding an extra layer of protection against hacking.

BLE technology is expected to be ramped up by OEMs over the next few years, and it will be years before it really hits the aftermarket. However, this technology has already been developed and requires preparation.

Tire-mounted sensors generally enable more sensing capabilities. By mounting the sensor directly inside the tire, the tire actually senses the road surface. It can detect tire tread wear, rough road conditions, and tire load. Tire-mounted sensors aren’t a new concept, but they haven’t had much success in the aftermarket in the last few years. This is because the sensor is glued inside the tire, making it difficult to replace the component. However, the technology is still being developed for OEMs, and aftermarket solutions to service TMS will be important.

The most important thing shops can do today is to stay connected with the players at the forefront of these technologies. Ask questions when these technologies start hitting the market, and seek understanding and training before they flood the market. It will be a hot market for shops ready to offer these new technologies.

Jacki Lutz is Global Head of Communications, Training and E-Commerce at Schrader TPMS Solutions, a global leader in TPMS. She is an instructor for her TIA ATS and participates in various industry committees.