Scope & Scan - Service Repair

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It ain't always easy

It’s the challenges that help us grow as techs
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 06:00
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A 2008 Porsche Boxster with 18,900 miles came in with a TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) problem. It was not displaying all the tire pressure readings from its four wheels. Since the vehicle is seven years old, it’s possible the TPMS sensor batteries were dead. Most of the time, replacement of TPMS sensors is a routine service that can be easily done. That was not going to be the case on this Porsche, even when we installed an OE and then a programmable sensor.

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The problem was the TPMS sensor data would sometimes read on the dash and at other times it would not be visible at all. Michael and I tried one new Porsche sensor in the left front wheel to see if it would make a difference but it did not. Our next step was to connect the scan tool to view what was being reported to the TPMS controller. Unfortunately, the TPMS controller was not seeing the sensors even after we programmed the sensor IDs. One of the problems we were confronted with was that the sensor ID numbers would sometimes be displayed and would change from wheel to wheel. As we continued our diagnosis, we decided to change the TPMS controller since the symptoms were random and not making sense.

Still Not Done

We located the TPMS controller under the hood and installed the new dealer unit. As with many Euro controllers, it needed to be programmed before it would work properly. We connected our Autologic scan tool and programmed the controller without any problems. After the programming was completed we were able to obtain the sensor IDs on the scan tool but there was still a problem. The four TPMS sensors we programmed with our aftermarket TPMS tool were not displaying the same IDs as what was being displayed on the scan tool. Two of the sensors had the same ID number, while the other two had different numbers other than what we programmed. The frustrating part was that we tried all three TPMS tools that we own only to find out that one of the two could not even pick up the frequency of the sensors, while the other tool was only able to provide the frequency and one of the sensors IDs. The NAPA/Echlin tool read them all but the IDs that were displayed were not correct. This simple job was turning into a real headache with conflicting information from the NAPA TPMS tool when compared to the scan tool. This vehicle made us feel like we were on a merry-go-round, working in circles, and consuming hours upon hours of our time.

We called two of the TPMS tech lines only to be told that the tool should work (even though it didn’t). The vehicle had to be driven to make sure the TPMS sensors reported the proper information as the final part of the repair. Since nothing was working 100% after we installed the new TPMS controller, we thought the best way to proceed was to break down all the tires and program the IDs again using the NAPA tool. We believe since the TPMS computer was bad, it must have had an effect on the TPMS IDs. Once we reprogrammed the ten digits into the sensors, we installed the wheels back on the vehicle. We rechecked the TPMS IDs on the scan tool (now all reporting the same IDs we programmed) for each TPMS sensors. Next I test drove the vehicle to make sure the dash display would be able to display the tire pressure for all four wheels. Take a look at the dash (figure 1). That, thankfully, was finally displaying the correct information for this orange Porsche Boxster.

Figure 1
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