The last time I ranted about TPMS system in vehicles was because they prohibit the use of the aerosol can flat tire fixers that sealed the leak and got you on your way. Yeah, I know -- the one called Slime says on the label that it's "Tire Sensor Safe." But the disclaimer says that after installation it may disable the sensor which would require the owner to have the sensor cleaned. Furthermore, the guarantee is limited to the replacement cost of the Slime. So it's basically for people who bought those cars that don't have spare tires, of which there are plenty.
Tire-pressure monitoring systems are required on vehicles sold after September 1, 2007, by legislation Bill Clinton signed into law as a feel-good measure after a rash of vehicle accidents resulted from some faulty Firestone tires back in the 1990s. Thanks for nothing, Bill Clinton.
But to the point. The TPMS sensors in the tires contain a sending unit powered by a battery. As everyone knows, batteries have a life span. And as it happens, those vehicles sold in the early days of the TPMS requirement already have or will soon experience sensor battery failure. It has happened to two of the four tire sensors on my 2007 vehicle, and replacing them is expensive.
The last time was a couple of weeks ago. I tried to cut corners, and I paid the price. Discount Tire lured me in with a tempting proposition. They would charge me $60 for the sensor and install it for free. What a deal!
Unfortunately, they had no way of programming it so that it would work with the vehicle's system. Apparently, they thought simply installing it was all that was necessary. So after a very long wait for them to install it, they handed me the key and the receipt, and ushered me out the door. The vehicle was parked behind the building. The first thing my eyes went to was the "Check System" light on the dash. The damn TPMS system was still not working, and Discount Tire was helpless in trying to correct the problem. Grrr.
Ultimately I had to get the local Toyota dealer's shop to install one that worked at a cost of around $155. Discount Tire refunded the money I paid them after returning their sensor.
By the way, the Toyota shop told me on the phone right off the bat that they couldn't program Discount Tire's sensor to work with the vehicle's system. If they knew that, how come the people at Discount Tire didn't know that?
So this is a warning to Toyota and Lexus owners. Don't fall for the siren song of the low price at Discount Tire when your TPMS sensors start going out.