Continental: the eight most important tips for using tire pressure monitoring sensors
- Original quality and top-grade service units are crucial
- Ensuring compatibility of sensor and rim
- Continual training and servicing play an important role
Frankfurt, September 2016. Up on the lift, undo the wheel nuts, change the wheel, retighten the nuts – done: tire servicing used to be a quick job. But today, the increasing provision of tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) in cars presents garages with new challenges. Experts from Continental provide practical tips here on what's important when fitting and teaching tire pressure monitoring sensors. Under its corporate brand VDO, the international automotive supplier stocks spare parts in OE quality from the fields of mechatronics and electronics – including an extensive range of TPMS sensors and matching accessories. In its spare parts business, Continental is also offering in addition to model-specific original sensors the VDO REDI sensor. It is glued with a rubber case into the inner surface of the tire.
Tip 1: Check the compatibility of the sensor with the rim!
"Before fitting, the garage must make sure that the tire pressure monitoring sensor is compatible with the rim. Only then can it be correctly and safely installed", stresses Christoph-Emanuel Zinke, TPMS Product Manager in the Aftermarket at Continental. If for example the rim hole dimension doesn't fit the design of the sensor sealing ring and the union nut, leaks can occur. As a TPMS expert, Zinke therefore advises sellers and garage mechanics to always consult the manufacturers of the rims about their compatibility with a sensor before fitting it. They generally keep lists with this information and make them available to garages.
Side note: The VDO REDI sensor can be combined with any rim.
The VDO REDI sensor, which is about the size of a 50 euro-cent coin, is not attached to the valve on the rim like conventional sensors, instead it's seated in a rubber case that's glued into the inner surface of the tire. "Thanks to its position inside the tire, the REDI sensor can be combined with any rim. Inside the tire it's also better protected from mechanical damage", explains Zinke. The VDO REDI sensors are supplied already pre-programmed. The garage can install the sensor just like an original sensor, with vehicle-specific programming being superfluous.
For more information on the VDO REDI sensor and for a video showing correct fitting, go to
Tip 2: Only install spare parts of OE quality!
"We recommend to garages that they only ever use service parts of OE quality", says Zinke with some emphasis. "In components made to the standards of the vehicle manufacturers, it's simply that the quality is there." As an example, he mentions the corrosion resistance of OE parts. After all, valve sensors in particular are exposed to the weather all the year round. This is why only nickel-plated valve inserts may be fitted. In the same way, only valve caps made of plastic must be used. "What's more, the fitting precision of components in OE quality is simply perfect", as the TPMS expert from Continental well knows: copied parts can therefore have minimal design differences. Given the enormous forces acting on a sensor at high speeds, it can suffer damage if it doesn't fit perfectly. That also endangers driving safety.
Tip 3: Keep the most important sensors in stock and ready to hand!
Sometimes tire servicing just has to be done fast. So garages should always keep the most important sensors in stock and ready to hand so they can react immediately in emergencies – for satisfied customers. Lists from the manufacturers tell us which sensors should be on the shelf, and there should be at least four of them in each case. Garages can just request these lists from their wholesalers. "As manufacturers we have an excellent grasp of which sensors are needed particularly frequently. The lists make it easier for garages to select them and ensure the right service", says Zinke.
Tip 4: Follow the directions given in the fitting instructions!
Before fitting, garage mechanics not yet fully familiar with the sensor type must always read the fitting instructions from the manufacturer. "In the case of sensors from Continental, the fitting instructions are always included", says Zinke. They summarize on one page all the important information on how to correctly install the unit. "For our VDO sensor TG1D, for example, it's important first to pull the rubber valve through the rim hole correctly. Only then is the sensor body pushed onto the metal pin of the rubber valve and clipped into place", explains the expert. To ensure that the TG1D is correctly fitted, Continental always supplies the valve and sensor body for this model unassembled in the package.
But TPMS expert Zinke knows this too: when other sensors are fitted, other directions need to be followed. "For screwdriver valve sensors, so-called 'clamp-in' models, for example, garage mechanics must always use a valve screwdriver with torque limiter", explains Zinke. Because over-tightening damages both the valve and the union nut. The product manager concludes: "Anyone who wants to fit sensors correctly and safely should always familiarize himself with the supplied fitting instructions."
Tip 5: Use a high-quality TPMS unit for teaching!
Since every vehicle is equipped with different electronics, the teaching process for tire pressure monitoring sensors can vary from vehicle to vehicle. "Garage mechanics have to follow the manufacturer's specifications. A service unit like the TPMS Pro from VDO is a huge help to the mechanic, because it guides him confidently through the teaching process", says Zinke.This handy device has an OBD II interface with which the tire pressure monitoring sensors can learn from the vehicle electronics.The TPMS error memory too can be exported and deleted.What's more, the TPMS Pro contains an extensive database with plentiful information on tire pressure monitoring sensors, such as spare part numbers and torques.This is a persuasive concept:the smart unit was picked by readers of the German trade magazine "Freie Werkstatt" as "Product of the Year" for 2015.
Tip 6: Note the pH value during cleaning!
The following applies when cleaning wheels with TPMS sensors prior to putting them into storage: only use neutral cleaning agents with a pH value between four and nine. "Agents with too high an acid or alkaline content attack the material of the sensor", warns Zinke. "That can cause damage to the sensors, and in a very short time lead to unpleasant surprises for the customers."
Tip 7: Continual training is essential for the TPMS field too!
Electronics and sensor systems will continue to gain in importance as vehicles are increasingly linked up. "Regular training courses are a must for garages if they want to provide top advice for their customers about the TPMS field too, and reap the full benefits from this sales potential", stresses Zinke:the international automotive supplier currently offers, as part of its aftermarket training scheme, three modules on TPMS, including general information as an introduction to the topic and practical training that also covers the selection and fitting of sensor.The module on improved profits thanks to sound garage planning also deals with organizational aspects, such as the planning of work procedures at the garage, obtaining sensors including accessories, and the use of service kits.
With the new online portal of the aftermarket training center, morecontinental.com, it is now possible, for the first time, to register for courses and manage bookings with the click of a mouse.The current program of courses can be viewed online at morecontinental.com/training.
Tip 8: It's the overall package that counts!
"When choosing the manufacturer of TPMS sensors, garages shouldn't go by price alone", advises Zinke. What's also important is the service offered for the product. And that can differ widely: are the tools for easy and correct fitting available, and is there somebody to contact who'll provide assistance quickly and reliably if there are any questions? "A service hotline like the one VDO has set up provides garages with the sound advice they need", says Zinke. It has the experts to answer every question relating to sensors, TPMS service units, special tools or work sequences connected to TPMS.
The VDO service hotline can be called on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. A call costs 0.14 euros a minute from the German land-line network and a maximum of 0.42 euros a minute from the German mobile phone network.