Best TPMS Tools: Reset Tire Pressure Sensors Yourself and Save Money
Get a TPMS tool to identify tire sensors and relearn the system after repairs and maintenance.
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BY Richard Bowen / LAST UPDATED ON December 20, 2019
The number-one method to obtain maximum fuel economy and superior performance from your tires is to make sure the pressure in all four tires is correct. Most newer cars and trucks now have a tire pressure management system, or TPMS, which automatically checks tires for the right pressure and alerts you if they need attention. Check out our picks for the best for TPMS tools so that you can reset the sensors yourself after repairs and maintenance.
Activates all recognized universal and OEM TPMS sensors. Provides direct access to the car or truck’s engine control unit (ECU) via OBD II, or the on-board diagnostic connection. Allows for retrieving and clearing diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and reprogramming of sensor IDs.
- TPMS relearn gives access to the vehicle’s ECU for quick diagnostics and reading and writing of the sensors’ IDs
- Sensor Check feature allows viewing of TPMS data such as the sensor’s ID, battery, and position, plus tire pressure and temperature
- You’ll need a device to store the included sensors
- Programming may be a little awkward for some users
This is a hand-held unit that the maker claims functions on 98 percent of cars and trucks. It works by scanning the TPMS sensor’s ID, then you input the IDs directly into the device. Alternatively, you can manually input the ID.
- Activates all tire deflation-triggered and magnetic-triggered sensors found in TPMS units
- Lifetime of free updates included
- Key-fob testing establishes the correct key frequency
- Does not read the battery level of the old sensors (if replacing sensors)
- May not work on sensors that are not Autel brand
This easy-to-use, economical tool works fast with only the touch of a button. Use it on a wide variety of vehicles, including most GM and Ford cars and trucks.
- This tool saves you money and a trip to the tire shop because it’s a simple DIY unit
- Works on after-market as well as OEM tire pressure sensors
- Illustrated instructions included
- Written instructions could be more complete
- Sometimes the tool does not reset the malfunction indicator light (MIL)
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Benefits of TPMS Tools
- Enhance safety. If you have the best TPMS tool you can maintain correct tire pressure at all times. Avoiding tire underinflation is a surefire way of increasing control and getting to all your destinations safely.
- Better fuel economy. Underinflated tires increase your car’s fuel usage. To curb this, make sure your tires have the correct pressure so your car can make the most of every gallon. Your car can cover more miles per gallon when the tires are in good shape.
- Reduce costs. Other than lowering fuel consumption, a tire pressure management system helps prolong the lifespan of your tires. This means you’ll buy fewer replacement tires, saving money in the process.
- Better insurance premiums. If an insurance evaluation confirms that you monitor your tire pressure and practice safe driving, you can gain some leverage and obtain better car insurance premiums. Maintaining general car safety makes you more appealing to your insurance company.
- Stress-free tire pressure monitoring. Checking the tire pressure manually is a long, tiring process. With the right TPMS tool, the process becomes shorter and more efficient. You also get more accurate results.
Types of TPMS Tools
These are the tools you use to get all kinds of information about your tires. These tools display information such as the ID, temperature, and pressure. They also display the battery level. These TPMS tools will help to keep your tires in top condition so you can drive in any weather.
Programming tools can program tire pressure monitor sensors before you install them in your car. They are very helpful when you have just installed new sensors in your tires or when you’ve changed the tires. These tools are usually confused with relearning tools. They also have a higher price tag.
Relearning tools are used to locate new sensors. The Engine Control Unit (ECU) needs to know the location of the sensors if you have new ones installed or if you’ve installed new tires. Relearning tools also activate the sensors if they are in sleep mode.
Autel is a well-known outfit associated with aftermarket automotive diagnostic tools. Since 2004, the company has focused on creating TPMS tools that serve drivers with different budgets and preferences. The MaxiTPMS Complete TPMS Tool, one of its best products, is a premium tool that is compatible with European and Asian cars.
ATEQ has a long history of providing automotive solutions. It began its operations in 1975. It has a noticeable presence in North America with offices in Canada and Livonia, Mich. The ATEQ TPMS Reset Trigger Activation Tool is a testament to the company’s commitment to quality.
JDiag Electronics Technology
JDiag was established in 2015 and manufactures affordable and professional aftermarket automotive diagnostic tools and accessories. It has lived up to our expectations by releasing one great product after another. Its innovation and dedication to high standards can be seen in its JDIAG TPMS Relearn Tool.
TPMS Tool Pricing
- $10-$20: In this price range, you will find tools that will automatically tell you whether your tires have a pressure monitor. The relearning tools in this range are simple, typically battery powered, and may be limited to specific vehicle brands.
- $25-$50: If you like smart devices, this range has a variety of tools. Some of the TPMS tools here are voice controlled and solar powered. They fit on the vehicle’s dashboard and display a set of different values—including tire pressure—on an LCD screen.
- $50-$100: You’ll find plenty of options here. You can choose wireless systems that come with sensors and bigger screens. They can either be solar powered or rechargeable, depending on which end of the price spectrum you explore.
- $100-$200: Tools in this price bracket offer many advantages, such as compatibility with most vehicle brands. The more innovative products let you access the details about tire pressure from your smartphone.
- $200 and up: TPMS tools in this category have all sorts of bells and whistles. Their high price is justified by their multifunctionality. They can program, read sensor data, reset sensors, and activate them.
Tool and sensor compatibility is a major factor to consider when buying a TPMS tool. Some tools are meant to be used with particular car models, while others can be used with a wide selection of vehicles. If you want a TPMS tool you can use on multiple vehicles, get one that’s compatible with American, European, and Asian cars. Most brands fall within these categories.
Tire sensors are either external or internal. Their placement will dictate the tool you get to monitor tire pressure. Tools that work with external sensors tend to be more simplistic in their design since their functioning system is older. However, TPMS tools that read internal sensors may have more futuristic features since they have to read through the tire wall.
The functions of a TPMS tool guide its design and price. While some TPMS tools are basically monitor-only systems, some have more than four functions. They can check the tire pressure, relearn sensors, reset codes, and program sensors. They display this data in real time on an LCD screen.
Battery powered, solar powered, or rechargeable? The power source is an important feature when choosing a TPMS tool. While some tools have nine-volt batteries that last a long time, there are newer products that have rechargeable batteries or use solar energy. It is also important to know the status of the battery, so you know when it’s time to replace it.
- Display. All the TPMS tools on the market have something different about them. One of the main ways manufacturers differentiate their products is by giving them unique displays. TPMS tools on the lower end of the price scale don’t usually have display screens, while those on the higher end have LCD displays. The top-end ones have bigger, full-color display screens.
- Design. The design of a TPMS tool influences its handling and ease of use. You need a device you can manipulate with one hand. It should also give you all the readings you want. A TPMS tool that’s ergonomically designed ensures your hand stays comfortable, while one with a great button layout makes your work easy.
Best TPMS Tool Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Check the compatibility of the TPMS tool you’d like to buy with the make, model, and model year of your vehicle, as well as the tires. While many TPMS tools are universal, some are designed to only work on a specific manufacturer’s vehicles, i.e., GM, Ford, or Toyota.
- Do your research. Prices of these tools vary widely, from under $20 to around $500. Capabilities vary widely, too. Simple tools read and reset the sensors only, while others connect to your vehicle’s ECU for additional diagnostics and allow you to program store and print information.
- No wire connections are needed to use TPMS tools. They sense information through your tires’ sidewalls, rims, and even heavy-duty wheel covers.
Q: What does a TPMS tool do?
This tool identifies the types of sensors in your tires and the information that the sensors contain. This information is necessary for the sensors to work correctly after you have performed maintenance such as a tire replacement or rotation. You use the tool to perform the proper relearn procedures to reset the system.
Q: Do all vehicles have a TPMS?
No, only newer cars and trucks. Manufacturers began to install TPMS in vehicles in the 1980s on a few luxury cars. Rollover problems on some vehicles in the late 1990s prompted laws mandating TPMS on U.S. vehicles. As of 2012, all vehicles sold in the U.S. and EU must have a TPMS.
Q: What does a TPMS do?
A TPMS has sensors that monitor the pressure in each tire. If the pressure is low, the TPMS sends this data to your vehicle’s onboard computer. The computer lights up a malfunction indicator light (MIL) on your car or truck’s dashboard so you can refill the tire(s) with air to the proper inflation level.
We chose the Autel MaxiTPMS New Generation Diagnostic & Service Tool as our top choice overall because it recognizes sensors universally and connects directly to your vehicle’s ECU.
The hand-held Autel MaxiTPMS TS401 is our choice for best value because it works on 98 percent of today’s cars and trucks.