Depending on how you drive your Corvette, run-flat tires may or may not be the best thing to happen since sliced bread. Corvettes now come with run-flat tires for several reasons, mainly because it removes the need for a spare tire. Whether you’re a fan of the extra firm sidewalls of zero-pressure tires or not, we all can attest to the benefits of having the proper tire pressure keeping our Corvettes on the road.
To that end, Corvettes since the C4 era have been offered with Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensors (TPMS). The reason they have become a necessity is due to the run-flat’s ability to still keep the car suspended properly without any air in the tire. The problem arises when the driver isn’t aware of this situation and continues to drive the car for an extended period, or in excess speeds than recommended for this condition.
Unlike many other manufacturers, Chevrolet has blessed the Corvette with corner-specific TPMS, which means that you not only get a warning that a tire has low pressure, but also which tire is affected. This saves you from walking around the vehicle with a tire pressure gauge, checking each tire to determine which one is low on air.
But, like the tires when they are mounted to our Corvettes, this means they are corner specific. The C4 Corvettes started splitting tire sizing from front to rear, and with directional tread, that meant that the driver’s side front tire could not be swapped with the rear tire due to size differences, or the passenger’s side due to directional tread.
All that breaks down when you get new tires mounted to your Corvette. Many shops will dismount the entire set of wheels and then mount the new tires individually. This works fine, so long as they mark which wheel goes in what position, because remember, your Corvette knows which wheel is where. Or, they can re-set the TPMS system and tell it the location of each sensor again. Some places will, while others simply don’t know or don’t take the time.
The result would be the DIC showing the front, driver’s side tire is low, when actually, the passenger’s or rear tire might be the culprit. The number of enthusiasts asking about how to re-set their TPMS system shows how prevalent this issue is among Corvette owners.
We ran a story highlighting Corvette Central’s Tech Series about how to re-set your Corvette’s TPMS system and it’s not all that difficult. For the most part, you’ll only need a magnet and some time (C5s and early C6s) or a special TPMS tool for C6 and later cars. C4 owners with the banded TPMS sensors are at a disadvantage, as their sensors are mounted to the inside barrel of the rim and are not accessible with a magnet. Here’s a video of re-calibrating our own project C5 using this method. If a sensor battery, or the sensor itself has failed, Corvette Central also has replacements available.
Check out the story on how to re-set the TPMS and the next time you get a new set of sneakers on your Corvette, you won’t have to worry about whether the tire technician cared enough, or knew enough to keep the sensors in synch or to re-calibrate the system. It’s good to know, and certainly worth repeating.