Of all the innovative safety features found on today’s modern cars, the tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) may be one of the most overlooked. While not as obvious as multiple airbags or a complicated electronic stability and traction control setup, a tire-pressure monitoring system is a vital invention that could save your life. Knowing your tires are properly inflated isn’t just about better fuel economy or preventing uneven tire wear; a leaking or low tire can fail at high speeds, leading to loss of control or an accident.
Since tire-pressure monitoring systems weren’t made standard on cars until 2007, many early models and classic cars don’t carry this feature. Thankfully, the aftermarket is full of affordable TPMS units, allowing buyers to quickly and easily retrofit their cars. One such unit is the Schrader wireless TPMS retrofit kit, which features four internal TPMS sensors that must be installed by a tire shop and a battery-operated LCD monitor. The system, which sells for around $150, displays constant tire-pressure readings for all four tires and alerts the driver when the tire pressure or temperature varies from set limits.
If you want to do it yourself, there are less complicated systems made by certain companies, like Steelmate and Rupse. These systems use sensor caps placed on top of the tire’s valve stem. The Steelmate system employs a monitor that plugs into any 12-Volt outlet, which might prove advantageous if you don’t use the 12-V outlet for other devices. The Rupse system offers a hardwired display specifically designed to fit into one of the empty accessory slots found on many Japanese cars. This setup eliminates the need to change the display’s battery and creates the appearance of a factory-installed system.