Testing is one of the ways to know the actual condition of the TPMS sensor battery. So, how to test the TPMS sensor battery? Do you have to take it to the manufacturer or are there any tools that can be used for testing?
TPMS sensor batteries are prone to malfunctioning and expiry with age and usage conditions.
If you have a TPMS system that does not offer a featuring mode on battery voltage/condition you will have to rely on external sources for testing.
Deteriorating batteries can weaken the sensor’s capability to transmit correct pressure readings. In order to maintain their condition periodic testing is essential.
In this post, you will learn the importance of testing and methods and instruments to test a TPMS battery.
How to test the TPMS sensor battery?
TPMS sensor battery can be tested using various tools including a TPMS scan tool, TPMS diagnostic tool, or a Multimeter.
These tools are designed to perform testing of TPMS functionality using the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) of a vehicle or using the wireless signals from the tire’s valve stem/sensors.
The working capacity of TPMS scanning tools is subjective to specific vehicle’s make and model as well as the compatibility of TPMS sensors.
Handling of TPMS scanning tool demands additional knowledge and cost so you have to first consider the importance of testing the TPMS sensor battery.
Do you really need to test TPMS sensor batteries? The importance of testing
TPMS sensor batteries have a limited shelf life. Most of them remain active for 5-7 years. This duration is exclusive of any abnormalities that take place due to external factors, driving, and environmental conditions.
If the batteries have exhausted TPMS may not function properly. Sensors work by taking power from the battery and this is the main source of transmitting the pressure data to the receiver.
To continue receiving correct pressure readings it is important to ensure the battery is keeping the system active. If the battery is weak or failing irrespective of the causes the TPMS system may not be able to detect or report the pressure information accurately.
Hence, regular testing of the TPMS battery is important to ensure the system is working properly which otherwise will lead to potential tire issues.
TPMS scan tool
A TPMS scan tool is one of the effective ways to detect and resolve sensor battery issues.
There are different types of TPMS scan tools available in the market. Most of them are capable of scanning the sensor IDs through ECU (Electronic Control Unit), manual input, ODB connection, and auto-creation.
The basic TPMS scan tool works on the following simple steps to test the sensor battery –
- First, configure the TPMS tool by selecting the make, model, and year of the vehicle.
- Next, use the TPMS scan tool to connect with the sensors. To do this, take the tool close to the sensor valves so that it is able to scan and identify the location of the sensors.
- With a successful connection and scan, the TPMS tool will provide details on the sensor ID, tire pressure, temperature, and battery performance.
- If there is a problem with the connectivity of sensors the tool will fail to display any data which means you will have to replace the battery.
Here is a small video on how to use a basic TPMS scan tool:
TPMS diagnostic tool
TPMS diagnostic tool is an extended version of the TPMS scan tool with some additional features. Such tools are equipped with relearning and diagnosis functionalities along with a scanning option.
A diagnostic TPMS tool can recognize the OEM and aftermarket TPMS sensors. The system can directly access the vehicle’s ECU to detect, troubleshoot, and diagnose the issues pertaining to sensors as well as any other technical malfunctions.
The steps to use TPMS diagnostic tool is similar to the TPMS scan tool listed above. However, it also offers multiple connection options such as OBD and auto-creation of sensor ID input.
Once connected, the tool will relearn, program, and display the sensor information using its sensor check feature.
On the flip side, some of the functionalities and information of these tools can be overwhelming for the basic mind. This means proper technical knowledge in the automotive segment is required for better interpretation.
Another drawback of these tools is their compatibility. Most of the TPMS scan/diagnostic tools work on specific car models only and on the sensors produced by the same company.
A multimeter is generally a measuring instrument used to measure electrical properties including voltage, resistance, and current.
Multimeters vary in size, display, features, and price. To test the TPMS sensor battery a common multimeter with volt meter and ohm meter features is enough.
Using a multimeter for testing is dependent on some manual effort. The process is not very simple as it is with TPMS scan tools.
To use a multimeter for testing the TPMS sensor battery follow the below steps:
- First, set the multimeter with DC voltage,
- Next, remove the TPMS sensor from the tire and locate the battery seal,
- On locating the battery, remove it from the sensor. As a precaution, make use of a rubber glove to protect your hands,
- Now connect the multimeter terminals with the battery terminals (positive to positive and negative to negative)
- As soon as the terminals are connected multimeter will start displaying the voltage reading. If the voltage is less than 12 volts that means the sensor needs replacement. (in case of battery failure the whole sensor is replaced)
- If the voltage is equal to or higher than 12 volts that means the sensor battery is working fine. Fix the battery back to the TPMS sensor and reinstall it on the tire.
Using a multimeter to test the TPMS sensor battery can be very effective however I personally don’t recommend using this method because it involves playing with the location of the battery which may impact other components of a sensor.
It is the battery that keeps a sensor active and functioning. It helps the TPMS system receive tire pressure readings to alert the driver through a display screen.
Testing the TPMS sensor battery is important to protect and keep your vehicle tires properly inflated and in good condition.
We have seen the methods and instruments to test a TPMS sensor battery. TPMS scan tool is the best option to perform the testing for their automated scanning option and diagnosis recommendations.
A multimeter is another effective alternative method for testing but lacks simplicity. Above all, I would personally recommend a TPMS solution that has a built-in mode feature that monitors the battery voltage on the go.
Related Read: What happens if you install tires without TPMS
If you cannot afford one then follow the information and guidelines from this post to test the TPMS sensor battery in a systematic and timely manner.