Welcome to the first (and possibly last, if everyone thinks it sucks) installment of the Corvette Online Reader Mailbag! Today’s question has to do with the Tire Pressure Monitoring System sensors integral to the valve stems on all C5 and C6 Corvettes. These sensors are powered by batteries with very long service lives, but when they die, the usual fix is to simply replace the whole shebang. Reader Michael B. writes:
I saw your video on training the TPMS for the C5 and I was hoping you could help me. I own a 1998 C5 convertible with about 10k miles. The right front TPM sensor indicates that the tire is flat (0 pressure shows on dash warning system). I checked the pressure in the tire and it is fine. I suspect that the battery is a long way past its useful life after 13+ years and needs replacement. The problem is this – the manual said it can be replaced, but the dealership said that I must purchase a new sensor because the battery cannot be replaced. I am confused as to what to do and thought I would ask if you could shed some light on the problem.
If I have to spend $189 + tax on the unit I will, but it seems absurd when the battery is probably no more than a $3-$5 lithium disc type.
Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.
Some research reveals that while the batteries TPMS sensors aren’t exactly easy to get to, it is possible to successfully replace them yourself if you are handy with a soldering iron and not afraid of a little digging around. Check out this series of videos we found on YouTube:
For those without the patience to sit through all 4 parts of the video, in a nutshell the process involves digging out the potting compound that seals the battery in, removing the old one, soldering in the new one, and sealing it all back up with silicone.
After replying to Michael, he indicated that he had found a new sensor for a little over $100, and since he wasn’t equipped to remove and remount the tire himself, he was going to do the replacement instead and try this technique on the old sensor to see for himself whether it worked or not. Michael also went the extra mile and located a source for the appropriate replacement battery!
Shown actual size... No, just kidding. It's way smaller than it looks. Retail price is $3.68, plus shipping.
Keep in mind that once the sensor is replaced, you will have to go through the retraining sequence for all four tires, because there isn’t a way to select just one. Fortunately, as we mentioned before, the process is pretty easy.
Thanks for your question, Michael, and for letting us share it with the Corvette Online community. Have a question of your own? Send it to email@example.com and you might get a vague answer culled from an internet search from us just like Michael did!