What is a TPMS rebuild?
Tire shops recommend a TPMS rebuild when buying new tires. Some people think this is a scam. It isn’t. In the old days of rubber valve stems, shops routinely recommended replacing aging rubber valve stems. The theory was that the rubber valve stem deteriorated at the same rate as the tire. Plus, it didn’t make sense to have to remove the tire months or years down the road to replace a leaking valve stem when the part cost was so low and the labor to replace during a tire install was just about free.
The same reasoning applies to a TPMS rebuild. Whether the TPMS system sensor uses a rubber or metal stem, it still must seal to the wheel and that seal can deteriorate over time.
What’s in a TPMS rebuild kit?
If your vehicle has a metal TPMS sensor stem, the TPMS rebuild kit includes
a new metal washer, grommet, retaining nut, valve core and cap. If your vehicle has a rubber style stem, the rebuild kit includes a new rubber stem, core, cap and retaining screw.
TPMS rebuild cost
Charges for a TPMS rebuild vary by shop, but generally it’s around $12 per wheel. Since the kit must be installed from the inside of the wheel, it’s not a DIY project (unless you happen to own a tire mounting rig). You can buy a metal stem rebuild kit online for about $2. But the going retail price from a shop is around $5. So you’re paying around $7 labor for the technician to remove the old sensor, replace the washer, grommet, nut, core and cap (for metal stem sensors). Given normal shop rates, that’s a fair price to pay.
What happens if you skip the TPMS rebuild?
You can take your chances and skip the TPMS rebuild and nothing horrible will happen. However, if the rubber stem or grommet develop a leak, the shop will charge you around $35-$40 to remove the tire and perform the rebuild. But that’s just for one wheel. So, you’re exposing yourself to a total charge of up to $160 for rebuilds on all four tires over the life of the tires, versus a one time charge of $48 if you get the rebuild done at the same time you get new tires.
©, Rick Muscoplat