Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (Solar Powered): Unreliable & Faulty


Thread Starter #1
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I drive a Lancer GT here in Dubai. Ownership report can be found here.

Now, this car comes with pretty low profile tyres and it is pretty hard to judge if any tyre is low on air pressure. I have lost one good tyre because of that - the tyre was on 18 Psi and I drove it a good 50 kms unknowingly. By the time I realized, the tyre has scraped the wheel and shredded itself on the inside seam. Had to spend pretty big bucks to get that one tyre replaced!

Later on, I bought a digital and an analog tyre pressure gauge and I keep monitoring the pressure once in a month. But I still had that thought lurking in my mind that what will happen if the air pressure falls because of a tiny leak or puncture and I do not realize it.

I wanted a TPMS which will continuously monitor the air pressure on all tyres and warn me if there is a leak or if the pressure gets low. So my search began online for a good TPMS and requirements were as follows -

  • System should show air pressure on all tyres via a legible display
  • The display should be solar powered, so that I do not have to continuously charge it and occupy the sole charging point in my car!
  • It should not be ridiculously expensive!
  • Should automatically switch on-off, else it defeats the purpose of having a TPMS!
My search led me to many products on Amazon and Aliexpress and I finalized on this one because it fulfilled all my requirements.

Now, there are two types of aftermarket TPMS units which you can buy -

  • One with internal sensors - Requires removal of the tyres and re-balancing
  • One with external sensors - This is just DIY and needs no re-balancing
Another reason why I chose the unit with external sensors is because it is easy to replace the battery just in case one of them conks off.

Coming to the product I bought, the brand name is SPY (!!) which is of course of Chinese origin.

The likes and dislikes are as listed below -

+ Surprisingly well built for a Chinese unit
+ Display runs on solar power. They have provided a charging cable just in case you mostly drive at night!
+ Display is clear and legible in sunlight.
+ Display is coloured and not bland (black and white).
+ Sensors are feather light and hence causes no additonal vibrations at high speeds. I have driven till car at 140 kmph with these sensors installed and did not observe anything different.
+ Display can be adjusted to show pressure in PSI or BAR.
+ Display shows tyre temperature as well, alternates between pressure (50 secs) and temperature (8 secs).
+ Warns by an audible beep if it detects a leak or low air pressure. The minimum and maximum air pressure for warnings can be adjusted. Also warns if the tyre temperature is too high.
+ Has a theft proof mechanism to ensure the external sensors simply cannot be unscrewed and stolen.
+ Display switches OFF automatically 30 seconds after the car is switched off and switches ON automatically as soon as you sit in the car (pressure change in tyres detected).

- Since it has the above mentioned anti-theft mechanism, filling air in the tyres need an additional step. You need to unlock the sensors in each tyre using the provided tool. On the upside, since you already know the pressure in each tyre, you only need to do this when the pressure gets low.
- Log term reliability is unknown.
- I am not sure whether the sensors are waterproof. I am assuming it should be! In a dry country like UAE, I have no worries but in India, buyers should check this first.

Coming to pictures of the product, I have taken pictures from the internet so that it is more clear -

* This is how the packaging looks like:

2222.jpg

* The contents of the box:

55555.jpg

44444.jpg

* The display unit:

111.jpg

* The display as it looks on the dashboard:

33333.jpg

Apart from the contents shown in the above pictures, they have also provided a 3M tape for securing the display on the dash and some TPMS warning stickers.

I am not a DIY person and I could install these sensors with ease, it is child's play. The system does not need any configuring for first time use. Just use the sensors in the position as marked. Just in case if you need to use different sensors in different position, the manual (which is in English!) clearly states the procedure to do so. You can also adjust the brightness of the display with 3 preset options.

Overall, I am happy with this purchase as of now. It cost me INR 5,850/- and I think it is worth the piece of mind and convenience it offers. I only hope it works as intended for atleast 2 years!

I will update on the accuracy of the readings of the sensors, very soon...
 

bhvm

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Re: Tyre Pressure Monitoring System - Solar Powered

what is the process of installing sensors in tyres bro?
some. pics shall help.
 
Thread Starter #4
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Re: Tyre Pressure Monitoring System - Solar Powered

I can now confirm that the sensors are waterproof.

UAE received unexpected heavy showers in the beginning of this week. I drove my car at speeds of above 100 kmph and the sensors did not malfunction or show any error. It has been 3 days after that and the system is working without any glitch.

Next test - High pressure car wash! [:)]
 
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Re: Tyre Pressure Monitoring System - Solar Powered

As already mentioned by Iron Rock, I am using a similar Solar Powered TPMS (Link) which I got for USD 90.00 and sharing my observations after 5 months of usage in my Pajero Sport (Link to Ownership).

Positives:
+ Small but readable display providing all the desired information
+ Size of unit and placement of Solar Panel allows it to be mounted directly on the front windshield
+ Automatic backlight for night driving
+ Beep alerts for communication failure, low / high pressure as well as high temperature with customized levels for each
+ Bar / Psi as well Celsius and Fahrenheit units
+ Automatic Turn-on as soon as door is opened alongwith automatic turn-off after a certain time
+ External Sensors seems to be sturdy and water proof as I have taken them off-road
+ No air leak from the Sensors or any sort of damage to the original valves
+ Anti-theft nut for each sensor making it theft proof theoretically
+ Small sensors do not require any balancing

Negatives:
- Battery time in night is around 1.5 hours after which external supply (Micro USB connector) is required
- The Left Front Sensor is experiencing communication issues in Pajero Sport
- Air-filling is now not a simple task
- Swapping sensors is possible but not really usable as the sensors are labelled for their positions

Initial Impressions:
The box came with 4 sensors with anti-theft nuts, 1 monitor unit ready to be installed, 1 anti-theft nut spanner and extra accessories (3M tape, lock nut, O-ring).

Sensors installation was a 5 minutes job but before installation, I bumped up the pressure by 1 psi to compensate for loss of air during installation. Tested the unit for it’s functionalities and changed the low / high limits for pressure and temperature before pasting it on the windscreen.

With-in a month of install, the unit warned about a pressure loss during driving which enabled to top-up the air and continue safely. Also noticed that the air pressure goes-up by 1 Psi for every 4 to 5 degree C rise of tyre air temperature during driving.

The Box
DSC_3069_Small.jpg

Display + Sensors
DSC_3073_Small.JPG

Spanner for anti-theft lock nut
DSC_3618_Small.jpg

The Box shows colour display while the actual display is monochrome
DSC04012_Small.jpg

Tyre with sensor installed
DSC04006_Small.jpg

Close-up of sensor with lock nut
DSC04008_Small.jpg
 
Thread Starter #11
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Re: Tyre Pressure Monitoring System - Solar Powered

- Battery time in night is around 1.5 hours after which external supply (Micro USB connector) is required
Did you face this issue since the time you bought the product or it started off late? Because mine has no issues at night. I have done a lot of night driving for long hours and never has it needed any help from the charger.
 
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Re: Tyre Pressure Monitoring System - Solar Powered

^^
That's the maximum time on battery I got when the unit was new. Probably due to the smaller size of the display unit, the battery must be having smaller capacity.
 
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Re: Tyre Pressure Monitoring System - Solar Powered

Update: The battery of the display unit is behaving much better now and the unit ran for 4 hours in the night and still had juice left. The only change I did was to charge the unit once with the external charger and since then the battery has been behaving in a much better way.
 
Thread Starter #14
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Re: Tyre Pressure Monitoring System - Solar Powered

A quick update on the TPMS.

One of the sensor was leaking air. Initially I suspected that the tyre had a puncture, but later the sensor was found to be faulty.

I contacted the seller in AliExpress and he immediately dispatched a replacement sensor free of cost. Had to do a small procedure for the unit to "learn" the new sensor, which is accurately mentioned in the user manual. Took barely a minute.

Fixed the new sensor and the unit is working like a charm, as before.

A couple of observations -

  • The sensors readings are quite accurate
  • Solar panel on display works well, I have never had the need to connect the display with the power outlet, even during extended night driving
  • The locking mechanism is not very fool proof, the sensors can be removed with brute force
 
Thread Starter #15
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Re: Tyre Pressure Monitoring System - Solar Powered

A quick update on the TPMS.

One of the sensor was leaking air. Initially I suspected that the tyre had a puncture, but later the sensor was found to be faulty.
Update -

Please avoid buying this TPMS system.

One of the sensors started leaking a few days back. Since all the other sensors were working fine, I thought it can be a one off case and gave the unit a benefit of doubt!

That sensor was replaced under warranty and now another sensor has started leaking air.

In short, this unit is not dependable at all.

I have burnt my hands with this and I request all members to buy a better unit from a more reputed manufacturer or go for the one with internal sensors. I will request the MODS to update the thread title so that all members are cautioned against this product.
 

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