Issue: Sep 2007


Tire Pressure Monitoring System Mandate Drives Technology



by Rob White

Effective September 1, 2007, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 138 will require that all vehicles less than 10,000 pounds sold in the United States be equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). This standard was phased in beginning in April 2005, after Congress required the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop it as part of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act, passed in 2000 to help protect motorists.

EnTire Solutions, LLC -- a joint venture between TRW Automotive and Michelin that markets and sells direct TPMS to vehicle manufacturers in North America, Europe and Asia -- acknowledges NHTSA's findings and believes that the technology has the potential to help drivers avoid accidents, while enhancing fuel economy and reducing emissions.

According to EnTire Solutions, TPMS offer consumers real value in longer tire life, lower fuel costs and better vehicle handling. Michelin has shown that under-inflated tires have a 20 percent lower tread life than properly inflated tires. TPMS, by warning drivers when tires are under inflated, will save consumers money by extending the tire life, as well as disposing fewer tires in the nation's landfills.

Department of Transportation (DOT) studies have shown that 27 percent of cars and 33 percent of sport utility vehicles and light trucks have at least one under-inflated tire by eight pounds per square inch or more. Under- inflated tires have a greater rolling resistance than properly inflated tires and, therefore, consume more fuel. The DOT estimates that under-inflated tires cause consumers to unnecessarily purchase up to 4 million gallons of gasoline per day. By warning drivers when their tires are under inflated, TPMS will save consumers money by improving their fuel economy, as well as emitting less CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

Additionally, properly-inflated tires improve vehicle handling. The NHTSA has estimated that the widespread installation of TPMS will help to prevent or mitigate 8,373 to 8,568 injuries and prevent 119 to 121 fatalities each year.

EnTire Solution's TPMS directly measures tire pressure with a tire-valve mounted sensor. The sensor not only measures pressure, but also temperature and communicates this data to a vehicle-mounted electronic control unit. EnTire Solutions has engineered proprietary algorithms that ultimately illuminate the telltale warning light or malfunction indicator -- as required by FMVSS 138 -- when one or more tires are under inflated by more than 25 percent of the recommended inflation pressure.

The algorithms of the EnTire Solutions system minimize low tire pressure warning false alarms -- a source of driver dissatisfaction with TPMS -- and offer drivers extra value in providing features, such as slow leak early warning and dual pressure thresholds to accommodate vehicles with different recommended front / rear axle pressures.

In addition to sophisticated algorithms, EnTire Solutions offers vehicle manufacturers both a basic TPMS that meets the requirements of FMVSS 138 and an enhanced TPMS that exceeds these requirements. Enhanced TPMS are able to immediately alert a driver to a low tire pressure condition and to display in the instrument cluster the actual pressure for all tires and thus identify which tire is low.

Combining the safety electronics expertise of TRW Automotive and the tire knowledge of Michelin, EnTire Solutions provides component and system expertise to global manufacturers, such as Acura, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota and Fiat.

EnTire Solutions is proud to be major supplier of TPMS to the market and supports the NHTSA in alerting drivers to the complete implementation of FMVSS 138.

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