How to Rotate Tires With Pressure Sensors

by David Stewart
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tires. wheels. image by Cristian Ilie Ionescu from

Rotating tires on vehicles can help them last longer, improve mileage per gallon and make driving safer. This is a simple procedure that you can do on your own by following the procedure specified in the vehicle's operating manual. Tires come with a tire pressure monitoring system that helps alert you to tire pressure levels. The older type of TPMS unit was indirect, based on the wheel speed sensors of the anti-lock brake mechanism. The present mandatory TPMS units operate on a different principle and hence, care has to be taken during the process of rotating tires fitted with such units.

Step 1

Understand the TPMS unit. Before you begin the procedure to rotate tires, study your operating manual to understand where the TPMS unit is located. This unit consists of a pressure transducer that is inside the wheel. It senses the tire pressure and transmits that data to receivers on the car body. This data transfer is wireless. In most cases, the TPMS sensor is attached to the valve stem base, but some systems may attach it by a band to the rim. Study your operating manual to know where the TPMS sensor is attached.

Step 2

Remove the tires. Make sure the tire sensors are working correctly by performing a diagnostic check. Jack up the front and rear of the car so that all four wheels are above the ground. Remove the lug nuts on each wheel with a lug wrench and then remove the wheels and tires. Take care during demounting to make sure the TPMS sensor is not damaged.

Step 3

Rotate the tires. Decide the rotation pattern based on whether your car is rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. For front-wheel drive, move the front tires back straight and cross the rear tires while placing on the front axle. For rear-wheel drive, move the rear tires forward straight and cross the front tires while mounting behind. Begin mounting the tires slowly at the appropriate position. Avoid movement of the rim without the tire as it can cause the sensor head to snap off. After the mounting is completed, tighten the lugs. Lower the car to ground level.

Step 4

Reset the TPMS unit. To enable the TPMS unit to indicate the correct position of the tire with low or high pressure, it is essential to reprogram the receiver. If you don't do this, the system will still indicate the faulty pressure, but in the wrong position. Refer to the instructions in your operating manual and follow the procedure specified to reset the TPMS unit.

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