Tire pressure monitoring systems keep you informed about your tire pressure, but they aren’t available in every car.
Of course, properly inflated tires lead to a longer life, best fuel economy, quicker steering response, and smoother rides and it’s important to have a functional tire pressure monitoring system.
If your vehicle doesn’t have a working system, then you need a TPMS sensor device to perform various functions to your tire pressure sensors, such as reading, activation, resetting, and programming.
Below we review the best TPMS tool on the market.
These top-rated models vary in design and price but they will all keep an eye on your car tire pressure for your continued safety on the road.
Come with me.
Best TPMS Programming Tool: Reviews
Free Lifetime Updates
Easy to use and fast response
Best for swapping winter and summer tires
Having a tire pressure monitoring system or tool doesn’t mean that your tires won’t lose pressure; it just warns you before it’s too late. So you still need a portable inflator pump as seen at https://motoringessentialsguide.com/car-safety/best-portable-air-pump-car-tires/ to refill the tires when the pressure drops below the recommended threshold.
If you have a RV, see our review of the best rv tire pressure monitoring system.
We recommend the TekDeals EL-50448 TPMS if you’re searching for a device to help you get tire maintenance right in your GM machine.
It’s very effective and you will find the whole process a piece of cake.
You again simply insert a standard 9V battery, engage the learn mode and get down to work.
The tire pressure indicators will soon be in sync with the vehicle and you can drive off safe in the knowledge that your tires won’t pull a fast one on you.
Best of all?
It comes at a wonderful price.
6. AUGOCOM ST-TP V2 sensor Reset Tool/ Relearn/ TPMS Activation Tool for Toyota/Nissan/Honda/Mazda/Mitsubishi/Suzuki/Subaru
7. VXDAS Auto Tire Pressure Monitor Sensor Relearn/ Reset/ Activation Device- best GM TPMS relearn tool
8. VXDAS TPMS Reset Sensor Tool for Ford TPMS Relearn Programming Training Kit – best TPMS programming tool
11. KINGBOLEN Red EL-50448 Automotive Tire Pressure Monitor Sensor Tool for GM Series Vehicles (Chevy / Buick / GMC / Opel /Cadillac etc.)
Best TPMS Diagnostic Tool Buying Guide
Knowing what to look for when comparing TPMS sensor devices will make your job easier.
Here they are:
· Included functions
The more the functions, the better the value.
There are companies that manufacture combination tools that allow programming, diagnostics/scanning, activating, relearning, etc., at awesome prices.
· The question of compatibility
There’s no need to stress on this: it will be a complete waste of money if it’s not compatible with your vehicle.
On this, keep the following in mind:
- Make sure that the kit is tested for use on your vehicle’s make, model (including the year), and the tires too.
- If your vehicle came with a TPMS instrument, it’s easier to buy a direct replacement (OEM) if your budget allows.
- Universal tools have the widest coverage except for a few. Peruse through the product’s documentation to be certain that it’s suited for your car.
- The market doesn’t offer enormous choices for heavy-duty vehicles. Do your due diligence if you own a bigger truck (some automotive manufacturers have diversified to this market).
· Ease of use
Show me one person who is happy to use a tool whose design makes a hard work of the process.
In any case, I doubt you’re that person.
Subsequently, check that the gadget you pick makes short work of the warning light resetting steps.
And it goes without saying that the first thing to consider is the instructions (some make me laugh) followed by the interface, hand technique, time it takes to transmit the signal and receive the horn response, and such.
Still there, updating the software (where applicable) can be a challenge and you want to select a tool that’s quick and easy to update.
Obviously, a longer warranty is a vote of confidence from the maker and offers an assurance that the device will last for years.
Be wary of brands with plenty of negative reviews about support.
It’s almost given that you will have difficulties should anything go wrong with your purchase.
With the shopping bit out of the way, let’s now turn to general information about these vital machines…
What is a TPMS reset tool?
To use basic language, a TPMS programming tool is nothing else but a tool featuring an electronic system that’s used to reprogram/recalibrate an OEM or aftermarket TPMS sensors.
The equipment also helps you reset the TPMS warning light once it turns on (due to low tire pressure or improper sensor calibration).
A TPMS relearn device is ideal if you’re passionate DIYer and you won’t mind resetting the vehicle’s TPMS light by self (after changing or rotating tires, or even after replacing a faulty/dead TPMS sensor).
For the most part, you will reset the warning light by simply clicking a button in your car with the right reset tool.
Why you need a TPMS diagnostics tool
The tire pressure monitoring system raises the red flag when the tire pressure in your vehicle falls below safe limits or when going flat.
By giving you this information, you can act to restore proper inflation and we know what that means…
Improved car handling on the road, reduced tire wearing, improved braking distance, and even excellent fuel economy.
Besides, as mentioned previously, it’s important to reset tire sensors immediately after a tire rotation or tire changeover.
But you and I know that dealer shops charge a pretty penny for this service.
Investing in a TPMS tool will save you these trips and hefty bucks.
Indeed, having a TPMS is so crucial that years back, Congress passed a law requiring all vehicles marketed in the United States to have the kit built-in.
Functions of the TPMS sensor tool
The TPMS plays very fundamental roles in your tire standard maintenance.
As repeatedly hinted above, this is good for yourself and your finances.
Here is a summary of the functions of a TPMS tool and the various benefits:
(i) Collect data
The primary task of a TPMS instrument is to gather details about each tire and convey this to you via the dashboard in the form of a pictogram display, indicator light, etc.
A lot of information (besides the PSI reading) is learned by the tool including tire temperature, battery levels, wheel rotating speed, sensor ID, and more.
(ii) Reset the TPMS system
If your vehicle’s TPMS’s Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) comes on, you’re facing a tire issue such as pressure problem or an improperly performed relearn procedure after tire servicing.
A TPMS tool (compatible with your car) will be handy when it comes to turning off the TPMS light.
It’s inexpensive and time saving compared to visiting a service shop.
(iii) Relearning TPMS sensor
It’s mandatory to re-learn every TPMS sensor (genuine OEM/aftermarket) to your vehicle after replacement (you should follow the prescribed relearn steps).
Relearning (refreshing the sensor’s location) ensures that the new TPMS sensor functions as it should and that the car’s TPMS system runs properly too.
Admittedly, you can relearn the sensors in a couple of vehicles by observing the driving procedure but in the overwhelming majority of cases, only a relearning-enabled TPMS tool works.
(iv) Program TPMS sensors
Another typical use of a TPMS sensor tool is to code programmable replacement sensors before installation.
Programming essentially involves installing the relevant protocols/applications in order to get the sensors to work without conflicting with your vehicle’s ECM.
The best tpms programmer can do it all- from simple sensor ID copying to complete protocol plus ID setup according to the prescribed sensor coding instructions.
(v) Activating/triggering the TPMS Sensor
Sensors occasionally revert to a sleep mode – for example when the vehicle is not moving or becomes inactive – while you’re driving, to conserve the battery.
The sensor is not collecting information and you’ll be a risk since it’s not monitoring the tire pressure.
You wake up the ‘sleeping’ or ‘dormant’ sensor with a TPMS activation tool (or trigger tool) –presumably it’s not dead.
(vi) Decoding TPMS
A TPMS instrument with decoding function can complete a number of jobs including:
- Trigger (wake up) sensors.
- Receive assorted TPMS sensor information.
- Forward received information to the engine control unit (ECU).
Types of TPMS sensors
The market is flooded with two main types of TPMS sensors: direct TPMSs and indirect TPMSs.
So, how exactly do they differ?
Well, direct systems use a TPMS sensor in your tire assembly to correct and send pressure data to your vehicle’s ECU system in real-time.
Direct systems are most common in domestic cars.
On the other hand, indirect TPMS systems use an ABS (antilock braking system) system to track the speed of wheels and approximate (and report) the tire pressure.
The difference in the diameter of the tire is measured and used to predict tire pressure.
Indirect systems dominate in Asian and European cars.
Either way, a TPMS system will notify you when one (or more) tires PSI reading drops below 25% of the manufacturer’s specification under normal circumstances.
Manufacturers have different thresholds and this varies in a few cases.
TIP: If unsure about the type of TPMS system used by your vehicle, talk to a technician before you go shopping for the diagnostic.
Why do TPMS sensors have to be programmed?
You have to program new TPMS sensors – mostly the aftermarket brands- to have them match your car’s system specifications before proceeding with their installation and relearning.
As I alluded to earlier on, the sensor is fed with the protocol/application/system information specific to the vehicle during the programming.
This is a common practice for all types of sensors – universal, programmable, and cloneable- and you cannot wish it away if the vehicle’s TPMS system is to resume its operation.
The procedure is sometimes not that straightforward and expert input may be required.
In fact, technicians are in some cases forced to use additional specialized tools and sophisticated software to successfully program the sensors.
You need a TPMS tool for multiple procedures including when you want to activate a newly installed TPMS sensor, reprogram your vehicle’s ECU, switch from summer to winter (and vice versa), and other maintenance routines such as tire rotation.
Best of all, the best TPMS tool is damn easy to use and you will get it right the first time.
Besides, many of the companies publish instructional videos on their website to help you get the hang of them.
That being said, don’t trust your TPMS system too much—time and again it won’t give a hint that tire pressure is low until it’s too late.
For this reason, don’t overlook your monthly tire-pressure checks.