Have you or your employees given any thought to servicing tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS)?
Judging by the low turnout at the TPMS seminar during the recent Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, tire dealers don't seem too concerned about these systems, which soon will become mandatory on new cars.
But they should be. Once these devices start showing up on new vehicles in September, it won't be long before dealers see them in their service bays as customers come in for tire rotations, service and replacements.
As participants at the SEMA seminar pointed out, a dealership's inability to service these monitors could mean paying for damaged sensors, lost business or both.
While the Tire Industry Association (TIA) and the Rubber Manufacturers Association continue to bang away at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the latest proposed rule on TPMS, tire dealers should be aggressively looking for ways of getting their technicians trained to service these systems-now.
But even that task isn't so clear-cut.
As far as we know, there currently is no one central place where dealers can get the information and training they need to service the different monitoring systems that likely will be found on vehicles.
TIA is working on developing such training, however, and SEMA's Wheel Industry Council plans to amend its wheel servicing guidelines to include TPMS.
Still, there isn't even an industry standard regarding the design and/or placement of TPMS, seminar panelists said. As a result, TPMS servicing guidelines likely will vary by auto maker, with, as one panelist said, some requiring the direct, valve-stem-sited monitor be removed from the wheel before the tire is dismounted.
With TPMS still uncommon on vehicles, we suspect many tire dealers aren't paying attention to them or what they will mean to their dealerships once they become commonplace. But as the SEMA seminar pointed out, servicing these systems is fraught with issues.
Tire dealers, for example, will need to know which systems allow tires to be rotated without having to recalibrate the system.
They will need to understand that installing electronic accessories, such as stereos, could emit extraneous signals that might interfere with the operation of the TPMS.
They will need to be aware that extraneous material inside the tire could plug the pressure-sensing hole in the monitor and that plus-sizing a vehicle with larger tires and wheels could require resetting the system to different base-line pressures.
Had more tire dealers been aware of the gravity of the issues surrounding TPMS, we suspect the SEMA seminar would have been standing room only.