The UK-based developer of a drive-over system for tire pressure management has recommended that the public are made aware of alternatives to in-vehicle systems that have recently received criticism.
A report published by the campaign group Transport & Environment at the end of 2016 raised serious concerns about the validity and safety of in-car tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). Critically, the report concluded that when fitted to certain vehicles, indirect TPMS (iTPMS) was only able to pass laboratory-based type approval tests, failing consistently when exposed to real-world driving conditions. The tests were undertaken by an independent facility, which monitored the performance of standard iTPMS on two leading vehicle brands, under both lab and real-world conditions.
CEO of WheelRight, John Catling, believes that cost is the key issue facing iTPMS systems: “The safety and accuracy of indirect TPMS has been a thorny issue for manufacturers since it became a legal requirement in 2014. While direct TPMS is much more reliable, car makers have opted for the far cheaper indirect systems, which rely on the comparative analysis of rotational tire speeds to calculate pressures.
“Another issue associated with iTPMS is the lack of detail when it comes to tire pressure readings. Although the systems notify the driver of under-inflation, they do not provide an exact reading of a tire’s PSI. Typically, iTPMS alerts do not occur until a tire is critically under-inflated and not always in the most convenient location, making it harder for drivers to identify and deal with rogue tires. TPMS can also represent hidden costs for drivers, as it is subject to MOT testing, and can be an expensive item to replace.”
WheelRight has developed a drive-over, cloud-based, tire pressure monitoring system that gives drivers an accurate reading in seconds. The company’s instrument comprises two metal sensor plates that are mounted flush with the road surface. Vehicles driving over are identified using automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) and tire pressure data can be accessed in a variety of formats, including via a print-out for individual users, text messages, data to an app, or a comprehensive log.
As well as pressure in motion (PiM), the system also features weigh-in-motion (WIM) that meets the OIML R134 European WIM standard. The system was successfully trialled for 12 months at a services station on the UK’s M6 motorway, where it successfully measured more than 155,000 tires. The unit has also been installed at ‘The Ray’, a stretch of highway in Georgia, USA, that is used as a proving ground for sustainability and road safety innovations, making it the first trial of its kind in North America.
Catling concluded, “Tire pressure monitoring is an absolutely vital aspect of ensuring vehicles are roadworthy, and I’ve no doubt that drivers are doing the best they can with the technology they have fitted to their cars. However, drivers and policy makers need to know that there are robust, fully tested, drive-over systems out there that provide a viable alternative to iTPMS, which is currently not inspiring confidence.”
Top pic: WheelRight