Cost to Replace Tire Sensor (What are the hidden costs?)
Owning and driving a car can be a joy, but when sensors start going off it can become a pain. One of the most common sensors that go off and even fail are the tire pressure sensors. These sensors are a part of the tire pressure monitoring system or TPMS for short and most often one of the first parts to go bad in the system.
With all vehicles produced after 2008, at some point you are going to have to replace one of these sensors, so how much is it going to cost you? Typically, a sensor can cost anywhere from $60 up to $100, all depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Note that these prices do not include labor costs.
What Is a Tire Pressure Sensor?
A tire pressure sensor is as advertised, it is a sensor that measures the air pressure inside your tire. The purpose of this is to warn the driver of a dangerous situation in the form of a flat tire or potential blowout.
The sensors work by transmitting a low-frequency radio signal with the tire’s measured air pressure to the vehicle’s computer. From here your vehicle with have a read-out of the current tire PSI or it will simply have an amber warning light if pressures are out of the safe range.
Due to necessity, the sensors are wireless which means they have batteries, which brings us to the main reason for failure, a flat battery. Most air pressure sensors last for around ten years, at which point the battery fails and the sensor needs to be replaced.
There are a couple of other reasons why sensors fail, namely physical damage. Physical damage can come in a couple of forms; hitting a pothole, driving on a very flat tire, moisture in the tire, or even damage from a mechanic when getting a tire changed or repaired.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Tire Pressure Sensor?
For the most part, a tire pressure sensor will cost you around $60 to $100. These prices do vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Sensors for higher-end vehicles will obviously cost more and so will sensors that detect and transmit exact pressures.
Additionally, you will have to pay for labor to install the sensors. Labor costs will vary greatly depending on the state you live in and also where you decide to get the work done. A general rule is that larger companies and dealerships charge more than smaller, local auto and tire repair shops.
How Important Is a Sensor to Replace? Can You Drive with A Busted Sensor?
If one or more of your tire pressure sensors stop working, you are still able to drive. A bad sensor will not cause more issues in the short term, the long term however is a different story. If left unrepaired, a sensor could cause errors in your vehicle’s computer system which is a much bigger bill than just replacing the sensor.
Though possible, a computer problem is less likely to happen than the tire damage due to incorrect and unchecked tire pressures. After all, the sensor is there to help you maintain your tire pressure and keep your tire healthy.
Are There Any Hidden or Additional Costs?
Other than the labor costs, there are a couple of extra costs that you may incur when getting a new sensor installed. Some of these additional costs are necessary while others are recommended, either way, your mechanic will most likely try to push for some of these costs.
Additional costs can come in the form of common maintenance. When it comes to tires, common maintenance translates to performing tire rotations and wheel balancing. When you get a new tire pressure sensor then you will need to have your wheel rebalanced.
There is no guarantee that the tire will be balanced after a new sensor has been installed, even if the wheel was perfectly balanced before the installation. Furthermore, having balanced wheels is important because an unbalanced wheel will damage the tire.
Where wheel balancing is just about necessary, tire rotation isn’t as critical, especially if you get your tires rotated when you get your oil changed. Keep in mind that tire rotation is indeed important as it will vastly increase your tire’s life span due to evening the tires’ wear.
One potential unforeseen cost could be new tires. You may not notice that your tires are in fact worn to the point that you need a new set of tires. For the most part, the company performing the installation will simply try to sell you new tires, however, if your tires are deemed unsafe then you could run into some issues.
In some cases, a shop will refuse to hand the vehicle back to you if your tires are found to be hazardous while other shops will refuse to perform the work on your vehicle. If the tires on your vehicle are older, keep in mind that the shop may push for you to get new tires.
Can You Reset the Sensor?
Sometimes a sensor simply needs to be reset as opposed to being replaced. There are certain issues that can be fixed by resetting the sensor. These issues are commonly caused by tire rotations, temperature changes, and refilling your tires.
There are a couple of different ways to reset the TPMS. These ways can differ depending on your vehicle’s make and model. A TPMS reset can most likely be done from the driver’s seat, however, there is no industry standard here so have a look in your user manual.
Some common tips for resetting your TPMS are to manually check your tire pressures, drive the vehicle for around 30 minutes and then shut it off for the night. Often times doing these tricks will save you hundreds of dollars.
Is It Possible to Fix or Replace a Bad Sensor Yourself?
Technically it is possible to do the work yourself, however; the process isn’t as easy as changing your own oil. Firstly, you will need the proper equipment, especially because the tire has to be removed from the wheel itself.
Secondly, you will need the equipment to program the new sensor in order to link it to your TPMS. Even if you have all the tools, you need to have the knowledge as well. This includes how to remove and replace the tire on your rim and how to program the system.
All in all, it is possible but if you are not an automotive professional with all the right tools, it is probably not going to be worth it. Both in the sense of time and money.
To sum it all up, the cost of replacing a tire pressure sensor will vary greatly depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Expect to pay anywhere from 60 to 100 dollars plus the cost of labor which can total the cost upwards of 200 dollars.
There are a couple of ways to reset the sensors that will prevent you from dishing out the cash, however; tire pressure sensors lose their battery power after about ten years so if you have an older vehicle don’t be surprised when this happens.
Furthermore, you could replace the sensors yourself to try and save on labor costs, however, it is probably going to be cheaper and easier just to take your vehicle into your local tire service center. Remember, you can save some additional costs by staying away from dealerships and the larger big brand auto repair shops.