Car Doctor Q&A: The Eternal Expense of Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

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AAA Car Doctor John Paul fields a question about tire pressure monitoring systems. Thanks to America’s inability to monitor its own tire pressure, we’re all going to be replacing these verkakte things from now until the end of time.

Q. I own a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt purchased new and have not had any issues with the car up until now. Recently the tire monitor light came on.  The tires were checked and the left front TPMS (tire pressure monitor) sensor needed replacement.


My concern is that I will be replacing all the sensors in the near future at a major expense. My previous plans was to trade the car in the month of October to get something bigger and don’t know really if I want it fixed.

The light has been coming on, but shuts off; do I have alternatives, such as replacing the sensors with rubber valve stems?

A. What we are seeing is that the life of many tire pressure monitor sensors is 7 to 10 years and you, and many other owners of older vehicles including me, will be replacing these tire pressure monitors in the future.

It is a violation of the Motor Vehicle Safety act to “make a TPMS system inoperative”. This would rule out replacing all of the TPMS sensors with conventional valve stems. The good news is that there are universal sensors available that are much cheaper and a good economic alternative to the factory sensors and can be easily installed by a shop with the proper equipment.