how to program tpms sensors

How to Program TPMS Sensors?

A Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is a crucial vehicle safety feature that helps drivers maintain optimal tire pressure and ensures better handling, fuel efficiency, and overall safety. TPMS sensors play a vital role in this system by monitoring tire pressure and alerting the driver if the pressure falls below the recommended levels. When it comes to TPMS sensors, programming is a key step in ensuring their correct functioning and compatibility with a specific vehicle. In this article, we will explore the process of programming TPMS sensors to make your vehicle’s TPMS system function flawlessly.

Types of TPMS Sensors

Before delving into TPMS sensor programming, it’s essential to understand the different types of TPMS sensors available on the market. The two main types are Direct TPMS and Indirect TPMS. Direct TPMS uses sensors mounted inside each tire to directly monitor tire pressure, while Indirect TPMS relies on the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system (ABS) to estimate tire pressure based on wheel speed. For aftermarket solutions, there are OEM sensors, which are specific to certain vehicle makes and models, and programmable sensors like Schrader’s EZ-sensor® family, which offer a versatile solution compatible with various vehicles.

Understanding TPMS Programming

One of the most common mistakes in TPMS service is confusing programming with relearning. Programming a TPMS sensor involves configuring the sensor to work with a particular vehicle’s make, model, and year. Programmable sensors like Schrader’s EZ-sensor® family come blank out of the box and need to be programmed before installation. This step is crucial; otherwise, the sensor will not transmit any signal to the vehicle’s ECU, and the TPMS light will remain illuminated on the dashboard.

To avoid this, make sure to use a compatible TPMS programming and diagnostic tool with updated software. This tool will guide you through the programming process for your specific vehicle.

Necessary Tools and Equipment

To successfully program TPMS sensors, you’ll need a TPMS programming and diagnostic tool. This tool should be compatible with a wide range of vehicle makes and models to ensure you can service various vehicles efficiently. Some tools, like Autel’s MAXISYS MS909EV and MAXISYS MSULTRA EV, are designed explicitly for electric vehicles, making them suitable for the latest EV models with TPMS systems.

Step-by-Step TPMS Sensor Programming

The process of programming a TPMS sensor involves the following steps:

  • Place the sensor in the programming tool.
  • Turn on the programming tool and select the vehicle’s make, model, and year.
  • Use the arrows on the tool to select the correct frequency and part number for the sensor.
  • Create a new sensor I.D. for the sensor.
  • Initiate the sensor program using the programming tool.
  • The programming process should be completed in less than 10 seconds.

By following these steps, your universal sensor will be successfully programmed and ready to be fitted to the vehicle.

Relearning the Vehicle

After programming a new TPMS sensor, it’s crucial to relearn the vehicle to ensure the system recognizes the new sensor. Relearning is a different step from programming and serves a unique purpose. During relearning, a compatible TPMS scan tool is used to “wake up” or “ping” each sensor, and the sensor’s individual ID is stored in the vehicle’s ECU. This process allows the vehicle to recognize the sensors in each tire correctly.

Relearning is necessary whenever a new sensor ID is introduced to the vehicle or when the tires are rotated. Most TPMS tools have this functionality and can guide you through the recommended relearn procedure for your specific vehicle.

Avoiding TPMS Sensor Relearning

To avoid having to relearn TPMS sensors separately, you can utilize certain methods during programming to copy the sensor ID from the existing sensors. Autel’s TPMS tools offer three methods for copying sensor IDs:

  • Copy by Activation: This method involves activating all tire pressure sensors, selecting “Copy by Activation,” and then choosing the wheel where the new sensor will be placed. The existing sensor ID, read by activation, will be programmed to the new Autel sensor.
  • Copy by OBD: With this method, you connect the TPMS tool to the OBD port on the vehicle, read the sensor IDs, select “Copy by OBD,” and choose the wheel location for the new sensor. The TPMS tool reads the TPMS module and programs the registered sensor ID for the wheel to the new Autel sensor.
  • Copy by Manual Input: In this method, select the “Copy by Manual Input” program method and enter the TPMS sensor ID imprinted on the sensor. Ensure that the correct ID setting, either Hexadecimal or Decimal, has been selected. Hexadecimal IDs contain letters and numbers.

Using these methods during programming can save time and ensure accuracy during TPMS sensor replacement.

Checking for TPMS Software Updates

To keep up with the ever-evolving automotive landscape, TPMS tool manufacturers frequently release software updates. These updates add new vehicle coverage and relearn procedures to the tool, ensuring you can service the latest vehicles with ease. To avoid any compatibility issues and to access the latest features and content, it is essential to check for software updates regularly and keep your TPMS tool up-to-date.

Common Mistakes and Troubleshooting

One of the most common mistakes in TPMS service is confusing programming with relearning. It is essential to understand the distinction between these two functions and ensure they are both performed correctly. If the TPMS light remains illuminated on the dashboard after performing TPMS service, it is essential to double-check the programming and relearning steps and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

Some troubleshooting tips include ensuring the correct vehicle make, model, and year selection during programming, verifying the correct sensor ID input during manual input programming, and checking for any software or tool compatibility issues.

Benefits of Proper TPMS Service

Proper TPMS service, including accurate programming and relearning, offers several benefits for both drivers and workshops:

  • Accurate Tire Pressure Readings: Properly programmed and functioning TPMS sensors provide real-time tire pressure readings, ensuring drivers can maintain optimal tire pressure for enhanced safety and performance.
  • Enhanced Vehicle Safety: TPMS systems play a vital role in vehicle safety by alerting drivers to low tire pressure, preventing potential tire blowouts and accidents.
  • Reduced Sensor-Related Issues: Correctly programmed sensors reduce the risk of sensor-related issues, such as incorrect readings or sensor malfunctions.
  • Improved Fuel Efficiency: Properly inflated tires result in better fuel efficiency, saving drivers money on fuel costs.
  • Better Tire Life: Maintaining the right tire pressure extends the life of tires, reducing the frequency of tire replacements.


Properly programmed TPMS sensors are essential for the efficient functioning of a vehicle’s TPMS system. Understanding the distinction between programming and relearning is critical for a successful TPMS service. By using compatible TPMS tools and following the step-by-step process of programming and relearning, drivers can ensure accurate tire pressure readings, enhanced safety, and improved vehicle performance. Regularly checking for software updates and staying up-to-date with the latest features and content will further streamline TPMS service operations.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

No, TPMS sensors need to be programmed to the specific make, model, and year of the vehicle they will be installed on.

If a TPMS sensor is not properly programmed, it will not transmit any signal to the vehicle’s ECU, and the TPMS light will remain illuminated on the dashboard.

Many aftermarket programmable sensors, like Schrader’s EZ-sensor® family, are designed to be compatible with various market-leading TPMS tools.

Yes, relearning the vehicle after installing a new TPMS sensor is essential for the system to recognize the sensor’s ID and position.

It is advisable to check for TPMS tool software updates regularly to access new vehicle coverage, relearn procedures, and additional features.

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