Tire pressure sensor woes
November 7, 2017 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Local auto repair shop seemingly broke two tire pressure sensors. Is this a common problem? Help me convince the shop to cover the cost of fixing them or convince me this is a thing that happens.

I took in my Toyota Rav 4 to have four new tires put on. This is a local shop that I went to because they are walkable from my place.

Prior to having the tires put on, the tire pressure sensor light was not on and had not given me any trouble. After having them do four tires, the tire pressure sensor was on. I took the car back to the shop, they are now telling me I owe $120 to replace two tire pressure sensors. This feels like it is the shops fault.
posted by sewellcm to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Kinda never put a question in here. Do you think I should just pay it and be done? Can I make a case that this is their fault and they should cover the cost?
posted by sewellcm at 3:04 PM on November 7, 2017

How old were the sensors? Mine had to be replaced on an old car at some point (a Volvo). Parts on cars periodically need to be replaced and it's possible they were at that point before the change.
posted by handful of rain at 3:13 PM on November 7, 2017

Are you positive the tire pressure sensors are broken? If they're inflated correctly and there's no detected air loss, try resetting the gauge.
posted by Karaage at 3:14 PM on November 7, 2017

It kind of depends why and how they broke. If they ran out of battery and the shop trying to re-aquire the sensors to the car after fitting the tyres, this is maybe not the shop's fault.

I'm confused about the time line - was the fault light on when you picked the car up? If so, why did you leave the shop and not ask them to rectify it? I think if they did work and the car left the shop with that light on and they didn't try and rectify it, then that sounds like they screwed something up and were hoping you wouldn't have noticed. If it was off when you picked the car up, but came on quickly afterwards, it is less likely to be the shop's fault.

There are several ways the sensors may go bad legitimately. There are, however, also several ways the sensors could have been damaged in the tyre changing. It is absolutely possible to change tyres without damaging tyre pressure sensors, but without the actual failure of the sensor being known it's hard to make a conclusion.
posted by Brockles at 3:17 PM on November 7, 2017

There's a couple things here - did they get your go ahead to replace them? Cus that would be some malarkey.
Maybe entertain the option of keeping those sensors broken and checking your tire pressure manually every month or two.
I ask this because I'm sick as hell of my pressure sensors that reliably report 5 psi under the gauged pressure and I'd be just fine with seeing a 'check tire pressure' light on the car except that an audible alarm also goes off which is just the pits.
posted by Dmenet at 3:24 PM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I’m confused. Even new tires need adjusting pressure wise. Some shops forget to balance them out (or are too lazy to do so). If the light came on, it means you need to go to a gas station and take readings to see which tire is setting off the sensor. You probably don’t need to replace the sensors at all. That’s extreme.

I mean, hell, for my car it can take weeks for that sensor to resolve itself sometimes depending on the weather — I had mine stay on for two months during the dead of winter for no damn reason. As soon as it got even slightly more damp (I lived in the desert) the sensor reset itself and works fine now. It just happens. I’d only have the sensors replaced if I had a flat that neither sensor 100% did not detect. But I wouldn’t pay $120 for it, not if I was in the situation you’re describing.
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:20 PM on November 7, 2017

I've had ~4 sets of tires replaced at Costco, and for each tire, there's a ~$5-12 extra charge to replace the TPMS sensor. They just do it out-right, rather than re-use the old one (to prevent this issue). (And I'm assuming the tire pressure isn't low -- we had a cold snap this week, and one car's TPMS went on because it was ~3 PSI low)

Did the local place offer to put new sensors in when replacing the tires ? I'm assuming the $120 is because they have to take the tire back off the rim, fit valve stem etc -- it's all labor.
posted by k5.user at 7:28 AM on November 8, 2017

$5-12? Blimey. Sensors alone for my car are $85 (aftermarket). So I assumed that was sensor and labour and pretty damn reasonable.
posted by Brockles at 8:03 AM on November 8, 2017

(ok, it may be a "new batteries and service the sensor + rings", not a "replace it entirely" after some googling. )
posted by k5.user at 8:17 AM on November 8, 2017

How old is your RAV-4? I drive a 2005 Corolla, and an experience last winter taught me that my tire pressure warning light is not linked to sensors in the tire valve stems, but instead to sensors mounted on the wheel or brake assembly. They count the number of wheel revolutions, and when there is a significant discrepancy between wheels, the tire pressure light comes on. If you have the same system, then you never had any expensive tire pressure sensors in the first place.
posted by DeWalt_Russ at 9:50 AM on November 8, 2017

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