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Show Me the Tire Pressures, Please - 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 10,059
edited August 2015 in Volkswagen
imageShow Me the Tire Pressures, Please - 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Long-Term Road Test

Not all tire pressure monitoring systems are created equal. Our 2015 Volkswagen GTI has the dumb one, apparently.

Read the full story here


Comments

  • seppoboyseppoboy Posts: 93
    I have a friend with a recent model car that shows individual tire pressures for each corner on their TPMS readout. When he ordered an extra set of wheels for winter duty, he found he had to also get a new sensor for each wheel, the manufacturer said not to try to re-use the sensors when changing wheels. The price tag was eye-watering, the sensors were roughly the cost of the tires. Maybe there are some customer advantages to a simpler TPMS system. Anyway, any car owner should have a good tire pressure gauge and be in the habit of regularly checking tire condition and pressure on a regular basis. Having the technology to alert to pressure imbalances should not change the fact that drivers and owners need to take responsibility for operating a motor vehicle in a safe condition.
  • mojo_mikemojo_mike Posts: 11
    edited August 2015
    This drives me insane too. I can rent a Chevy Cruise and it provides me with the real time pressure info for each tire. My wife's 2012 Q5 and my 2014 X1 behave the same way as the GTI.
  • dvanosdvanos Posts: 52
    edited August 2015
    I have a GTI MK6 and have ran into this issue myself, very annoying indeed. I swear every time the culprit is always the last tire I check. Seems like VW hasn't update it yet which is lame.
  • schen72schen72 Posts: 433
    My 9 year old Acura RL shows the tire PSI readout for each individual tire. It's very accurate, as it matches exactly what my old-school analog gauge reads. I find it incredibly useful to be able to monitor the pressure while driving. Never actually had the TPMS light come on, but if it did, it would also show which tire(s) is low along with the pressure.
  • zimtheinvaderzimtheinvader Posts: 580
    edited August 2015
    "My 9 year old Acura RL shows the tire PSI readout for each individual tire."

    Ironically, it is the newer system that do not tell the specific pressure. Some Acura's like the ILX have gone to the no-sensor in the tire method like above and some like the TLX still give individual pressures.

    "should not change the fact that drivers and owners need to take responsibility"

    It can be more frustrating than not having a warning since it doesn't tell you if the tire has just gone slightly below the correct level or if it is rapidly deflating with a chunk of metal in it and you have to stop before you get to that stretch of road with the construction barriers on each side and nowhere to pull off.
  • legacygtlegacygt Posts: 599
    I've had nothing but trouble with the TPMS in my Mazda. I've dropped $hundreds replacing broken stems and the ones with TPMS cost a fortune. A guy at my local shop said that about 70% of the cars that come in have a tire pressure light on that the owners have learned to ignore. These systems are fine for the 12 mos. or so that Edmunds has the car but I think their longer term reliability is suspect. In the long run it might be an even greater hazard if people are ignoring warning lights under the assumption that the system is broken.
  • dvanosdvanos Posts: 52
    I used to have a 2011 BMW and it showed you on the display exactly which tire needed air. VW really needs to update this.
  • schen72schen72 Posts: 433

    "My 9 year old Acura RL shows the tire PSI readout for each individual tire."

    Ironically, it is the newer system that do not tell the specific pressure. Some Acura's like the ILX have gone to the no-sensor in the tire method like above and some like the TLX still give individual pressures.

    "should not change the fact that drivers and owners need to take responsibility"

    It can be more frustrating than not having a warning since it doesn't tell you if the tire has just gone slightly below the correct level or if it is rapidly deflating with a chunk of metal in it and you have to stop before you get to that stretch of road with the construction barriers on each side and nowhere to pull off.

    This sucks, if this is true. Next time I'm playing with the new cars at my Acura dealer (while waiting for service) I'll check this out.
  • I own a Mk 6 GTI and prefer the simple tpms to the individual tpms. Individual sensors have batteries that must be replaced. Also, buying an extra set for winter tires requires reprogramming the system when you swap out the wheels twice a year at the cost of an hour's labor each time. I did that for one winter with my other car and lived with the faulty reading thereafter. They're also expensive to diagnose and replace if damaged.
  • schen72 said:


    This sucks, if this is true. Next time I'm playing with the new cars at my Acura dealer (while waiting for service) I'll check this out.

    It looks like I was wrong about Acura, but Honda has gone to the system that doesn't display pressures on some models. I guess they had to save the individual pressures for the higher end line.

  • I have a 2015 GTI and liked that I didn't need to buy additional TPM's when adding snow tires/rims, but they could easily tell you which tire was low... instead of making me do all the damned work.
  • The system that does not give you pressures uses the ABS sensor to determine wheel revolutions. When one tire is spinning at a different rate than the others the sensor assumes that a tire is low. That's why you have to press a reset button after filling with air. This method can be confused if all the tires deflate at the same rate, like that first cold morning. Sensors are far better and the sensors on my Acura are extremely accurate and reliable and no reset button necessary. Although they are still working great this summer the batteries are almost dead in them after 7 years. Last winter the "Check TPMS System" message popped up on cold mornings.
  • As a mk6 GTI owner who changes wheels over 20 times a year for autocross, this method is FAR superior. A buddy of mine has a 2014 Civic Si and every time he swaps wheels, he has to plug in his laptop and reprogram the ECU or the car won't move.
  • craigo7craigo7 Posts: 51
    There's a reason this was developed. The ABS type are simpler and less failure prone than the direct reads, reducing service calls and owner frustration. Checking tire pressure with a gauge is a good time to inspect tread and sidewalls too.
  • craigo7craigo7 Posts: 51
    legacygt said:

    I've had nothing but trouble with the TPMS in my Mazda. I've dropped $hundreds replacing broken stems and the ones with TPMS cost a fortune. A guy at my local shop said that about 70% of the cars that come in have a tire pressure light on that the owners have learned to ignore. These systems are fine for the 12 mos. or so that Edmunds has the car but I think their longer term reliability is suspect. In the long run it might be an even greater hazard if people are ignoring warning lights under the assumption that the system is broken.

    What year and model? Nowadays they're using ABS so no stem issues.
  • socal_ericsocal_eric SoCalPosts: 189
    seppoboy said:

    I have a friend with a recent model car that shows individual tire pressures for each corner on their TPMS readout. When he ordered an extra set of wheels for winter duty, he found he had to also get a new sensor for each wheel, the manufacturer said not to try to re-use the sensors when changing wheels. The price tag was eye-watering, the sensors were roughly the cost of the tires.

    Some are more expensive than others, and when the pressure sensor-based systems came out (that use a tire stem-mounted sensor assembly or sensor pack attached via a band around the wheel) the replacement are and can still be expensive. The the basic wheel speed-based calculation using the ABS computer to measure difference in overall rolling diameter of the wheel can't provide direct pressure measurement but is cheaper and doesn't require new sensors every 5-8 years.

    I personally like the sensor-based systems. If a tire is going to go low, especially on a car that only comes with an inflator kit, I want to know the severity of the leak. And for track cars it's nice to see an estimate of how temps are altering pressure. The sensors can be expensive but have come down quite a bit and there are decent aftermarket units as well. My GM sensors for example can be had from $25-40 each. Considering I got about seven years out of the stock ones on one of my cars that's a price I'm willing to pay for the added info they provide.
  • The sensor based system is great if you are not swapping tires much(or ever) and you'll be dumping the car before the sensors go bad. Otherwise it sucks when the sensors die, and they are expensive. I much prefer the system that works off the ABS sensors. Simpler, cheaper, and I can work a pressure gauge.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 128,430
    Yeah.. if you swap in winter tires, each season, buying the TPMS sensors for each wheel is pricy.

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  • millemanmilleman Posts: 19
    Earlier GTIs used the RF wheel transmitters but still only showed a single warning light and generic message, with no internal software options to display the actual pressures. In 2011 they went to the ABS-based wheel-speed sensors, which makes it impossible to accurately display tire pressure, but as others note, is a whole lot cheaper (for VW and owners) and not failure-prone.

    If VW will only display a warning, the ABS sensors are fine -- I check my tires regularly anyway. But for all the expense of the RF TPMS sensors in each wheel, it's plain cheap to not display the actual readings somewhere on the dash displays when requested. Frustrating.
  • Should it really matter which type a car has? The TPMS warns drivers of a problem long before a tire is visually low, so it's generally ok to drive on it for a few days until it's convenient to check and adjust the pressures.
  • socal_ericsocal_eric SoCalPosts: 189
    banker43 said:

    The sensor based system is great if you are not swapping tires much(or ever) and you'll be dumping the car before the sensors go bad.

    The tire stem-mounted sensors require a little more care when removing and remounting tires, but I've three different sets of tires swapped onto an OEM wheel/sensor combo and one or two tires off an additional time to patch and never had an issue. I know some tire shops like to gouge customers for an added expense and had heard some manufacturers suggest changing sensors but it isn't always required, especially with band/strap-mounted sensors. Some of the systems are also serviceable for things like new valve and mounting assemblies if required.

    While I can also work a tire pressure gauge, it is nice if you're driving a lot of miles to be able to track the pressure at each wheel from inside the car, especially so for slow leaks. And when the warning light goes off I'd want to know if I need to stop immediately and hope to save the tire or if it's just low. With how often tire pressures fluctuate and with the trigger point on some systems being so low the check tire pressure warning can come on occasionally. And I personally hate potentially bad/erroneous/missing data as much as not having it in the first place.

  • One thing I don't like about the ABS sensor system in my GTI is that the light stays on even if the pressure falls or climbs back to normal, which happens all the time on a cold track day or just a big change in ambient temperature. You would think it could be programmed to keep reading the speeds and turn the light off if it's corrected. The reset button could still be used to set the desired pressures.
  • gslippygslippy Posts: 514
    The reason for this is that rotating tires mixes up the unique location originally programmed into the car's computer. Without reprogramming the car's tire map, a low TPMS will indicate the wrong tire on the dashboard.
  • I wonder if they changed something in the 2016 car. I got a TPMS warning on my last trip and it actually told me which tire is (supposedly) low. I rechecked after with a gauge and it was a false positive, which happens with my MK6 also. The ABS wheel speed based system is probably going to err on the conservative side and trigger false positive more than not warn you at all.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,094
    Indirect systems have a fatal flaw. While they can alert you to an event where one and maybe two tires have an issue, they cannot detect when all four tires are low (or too high). As far as needing to change sensors from wheel to wheel that is no longer the case and hasn't been since programmable sensors hit the market. These sensors can be cloned to have the same ID's as the original sensors so no retraining is required on a lot of systems, especially the ones that don't identify which wheel is incorrectly inflated anyway.

    There is more to know when it comes to TPMS systems then most want to know. Things like which cars require retraining for even a simple tire rotation and which ones don't. Which ones require a TPMS tool, and maybe even a scan tool as compared to which ones don't. Which cars used banded sensors, hard stems, soft stems, sensors mounted in the tire itself (like a tire patch). If that's not enough techs have to contend with some systems that self identify using the ABS and motion sensors inside the TPMS sensor to determine wheel speeds, and other systems that use initiators that command the sensors to report and the controlling module learns the location of each sensor that way. That BTW brings up another whole level of sophistication. Which module on the car receives the wireless data from the sensors, and then how is that data transmitted to the instrument cluster or driver information center?

    The best part of all of this is how few people really understand exactly how to check the air in their tires anyway. (Hint: What is "cold"?)

    Which BTW since it is a safety system TPMS isn't going away, and it only turns on the warning lamp when a tire is significantly under and on some cars over inflated. (+/-25%) That means people should still be checking and setting the tire pressures on their cars on a regular basis and not just when the MIL comes on.


  • Glad to know that my cheap grand caravan has the same read out as the not so cheap audi's and gti's. The biggest issue I have with tire pressure is finding a place to get air. In the great white north most gas bars (notice I did not say stations) have these crappy stand alone pump which you now have to pay for. When the temps drop well below freezing in the winter, tires leak especially especially if you have been repaired. At this point these stand alone pumps become even more of a pain as they performance drops dramatically and sometimes completely. Since the vehicle is on the road 24/7 often getting air at night is even more impossible. Portable pumps work somewhat buts still are pain.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Have you tried swinging by a Canadian Tire? I've had luck at tire stores here in the US with getting my tires topped up, especially if the shop doesn't seem overwhelmed when I pull in. A Toonie tip would likely ease the skids.
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