Top TPMS Tools for Under $250

Top TPMS Tools for Under $250

When even tire irons are being designed to be TPMS sensor friendly, advice on TPMS tools may be welcomed. Andrew Markel, editor of Underhood Service and Brake & Front End, offers his take on what to look for when purchasing new tools.

TPMS Torque Wrench Bundle
The nut and grommet seals are one-use items that have very specific torque specifications. These specifications are measured in inch-pounds and not foot-pounds, so a TPMS-specific torque wrench is your best option for making sure the range is right. These kits are typically bundled with the right tools for nuts, stems and self-tapping screws. If you choose to use the “feel” method and conventional tools, you’ll be stripping nuts, breaking sensors and costing your shop more than what a good TPMS torque tool kit costs.

A Better Tire Gauge
Buy yourself or the shop a quality tire pressure gauge. A quality tire pressure gauge should have a tolerance of ±1%. Anything beyond 2% can cause you to set tire pressures too low or too high. Also, treat a tire gauge like an expensive torque wrench. Dropping a gauge from only 4 feet can change the readings — this goes for digital and ­analog gauges.

Tub of Tire Paste
Soap is for washing cars, not mounting tires. Trade in the container of soap and water for a tub of tire paste. If you use the soap-and-water mix, you could be leaving enough water inside the tire to change how the pressures react under changing temperatures. Only use mounting paste. The price of a small bucket of paste is less than the cost of a comeback.
Dry air and humid air have different properties. TPMS sensors are calibrated to deal with normal ranges of humidity found in the real world. But, if water is trapped inside the tire, it can change how the pressure relates to temperature. Humidity or the amount of moisture in the atmosphere changes the density of air. Surprisingly, more moisture results in lower air density. At high humidity, the air density ­inside the tire decreases due to the reduced mass in a given volume. This will cause the TPMS light to come on sooner as the tire cools or heats up.

Shorter Air Chucks
The long-style air chuck is great for working on larger trucks, but should not be used on passenger vehicles with TPMS sensors. These chucks can create enough leverage to bend or break an aluminum stem.

Upgrade Your Changer
Existing tire mounting machines can benefit with an upgrade to the mounting heads and accessories to prevent TPMS sensor damage. Better mounting heads can reduce the possibility scratching rims and making contact with the sensor. Even new tire irons are being designed to be TPMS sensor and drop ­center friendly. 

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