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This simple service is something that most of us do without thinking much about, but with almost every vehicle out there with TPMS (Figure 7a, 7b, 7c) installed, the game has changed. When we rotate tires, first we check if the tires are different sizes, followed by if they are directional. Many vehicles have wider tires in the rear or directional tires that cannot be rotated the normal way. Directional tires have a one-way arrow on them that has to be installed only on the corresponding side of the vehicle that they are intended for. These type tires have a specific tread pattern that were developed for the vehicle, so it can handle better. A tire rotation with directional tires can only go front to back or back to front on the same side. Different size tire like the ones on my Corvette can only be rotated side to side since the rear tires are wider than the front. On vehicles with front wheel drive, move the front tires straight back on the same side and move the rear tires to the front on opposite sides. On the run of the mill rear wheel drive vehicle with the same size non-directional tires can easily be rotated. The front tires get moved to the opposite side of the vehicle in the rear and the rear tires are moved straight to the front.
|Figure 7b||Figure 7c|
That’s easy but if your thinking what about the spare? Let me tell you that if the vehicle does have a spare you have to dig it out since many owners have their trunk loaded with stuff. Or if you live in the real world and deal with rust, spare tires that are installed under a vehicle are a bear to deal with. Besides many vehicles have already replaced tires with different brand or style tires, so we don’t usually have to rotate them. However, if the tire valve is accessible we will inflate the tire to the proper pressure. Our next part of the rotation procedure is to look up the torque specification and select the proper torque stick (Figure 8) to get the wheel nut torque in spec. This is done before we lower the vehicle to the ground followed by manually torqueing all the wheels with our Snap-On torque wrench (Figure 9).
We are not done yet since TPMS has to be reset. The quickest way for us to perform this function lately is by using the Autel TS508 (Figure 10) that provides us a quick and easy way to reset the TPMS. This is to insure that the vehicle owner has the correct tire pressure displayed on their information system. The relearn procedure varies by vehicle, but the tool provides us with step by step directions.
Let’s take a look at a GMC Canyon TPMS relearn procedure that starts with the ignition on and turning the headlight switch off to on 4 times within 3 seconds. If the procedure was performed as stated, the horn should make a double chirp that indicates the relearn mode is activated. On the Autel tool and most others, the TPMS tool will display a vehicle graphic that displays the tire you should start at. On this Canyon, we start at the left front tire and use the tool to activate the sensor. In some cases, you may have to let air out of the tire or add air until you hear the horn beep before you move on to the right front, right rear and finally the left rear tire. Once the last tire is done the horn should sound twice indicating that the process was completed. Turn of the ignition and your set to go.
Of course, on some vehicle such as a Subaru Forester you have to add a test drive at speeds over 19 mph for 10 minutes before the TPMS light goes off. Now if you recall I wrote an article on a VW that was a real problem with adding a TPMS sensor. VW relearn procedures are usually automatic and reset just by driving the vehicle. However, the procedure is different if you have to replace one of the sensors. Audi/VW (Figure 11) has you start with the vehicle sitting 20 minutes ignition off, no door or any activity on the vehicle. If anything is turned on or open the system will not go into a new sensor learn mode. After the 20 minutes of wait time the vehicle needs to go for a test drive above 16 mph and not over 64 mph for 7 minutes. Once the test drive is completed the vehicle needs to be shut off and the tire pressure set to the recommended pressure. The parking brakes needs to be set, and the ignition must be set to the on position, engine off. Once this step is achieved hold the SET or ESP if it has one. The location varies from the console near the shifter to the glove box. On the VW Golf we had the procedure was totally different since it did not have a SET or ESP button. We had to confirmed that the tire pressure was correct and add a Tire Pressure Security Adaptation code in order to get the TPMS light off. To read more about this problem VW go to MotorAge.com/problemVW.