The Ascot Supply Distribution Network has become a distributor of Schrader Electronics Worldwide's replacement original equipment tire sensors for tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).
The replacement sensors include pieces and parts kits and will be available to tire dealers at a cost of $50 to $100 apiece, according to Steve Zimmerman of Akron-based Tuffy Manufacturing Industries Inc., an owner of Ascot.
Schrader is releasing six replacement sensors-three for General Motors Corp. vehicles, two for Ford Motor Co. and one for DaimlerChrysler A.G.-that together cover some 70 to 80 percent of the North American vehicle market, Mr. Zimmerman said. The official availability date for the sensors is June 1. ``We got the first shipments in yesterday,'' Mr. Zimmerman said May 26.
Ascot hopes to obtain distribution agreements with Schrader for other replacement sensors it makes, as well as with the two other manufacturers of sensors, Siemens A.G. and Beru A.G., according to Mr. Zimmerman. Until those are available, tire dealers will have to go through auto dealerships to obtain replacement sensors-which is what they've done up to now, he said.
The availability of replacement sensors underscores the growing problem tire and auto dealers are having in servicing tires on vehicles equipped with TPMS units. Improper replacement valve cores can cause both valve caps and cores to freeze on the valve stems, making servicing difficult and at times causing the valve to break off. In such cases, the only recourse is to replace the entire sensor.
Galvanic corrosion of the valve core is the problem, according to Mr. Zimmerman. Schrader uses either aluminum or plastic for its valve caps, and its valve cores are electroless nickel-plated. Its valve caps and cores are designed to resist corrosion.
Because of the corrosion problem, Schrader recommends that when a tire is changed or a valve replaced, tire technicians should replace the tire valve grommet, nut, cap and core at the same time, Mr. Zimmerman said.
At this point, there are 18 distributors of replacement original equipment (OE) tire sensors and two aftermarket sensors that have nothing to do with OE, according to Mr. Zimmerman.
When the Tire Industry Association (TIA) gets its training program for servicing TPMS up and running, the current problems should dissipate, Mr. Zimmerman said. ``Until then, we're trying to gather all the servicing information we can for our customers,'' he said.
Tire makers are reviewing TIA's plans for a TPMS training program, according to Kevin Rohlwing, TIA senior vice president of education and technical services. The association plans to announce the program this summer and schedule the first classes for the fall, he said.