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TPMS stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System. As part of the TREAD act passed in 2000, all MY 2008 and later vehicles must include a TPMS, although some Ford SUV's had a TPMS as early as 2003. The TPMS is basically a system of wireless pressure sensors inside each wheel that monitor the tire pressure. If the tire pressure is too low or too high, they will signal the instrument cluster to illuminate the TPMS light:



If you see this light come on, the most likely cause is because one or more tires are too low. This does not necessarily mean your tires are leaking. Tire pressure is proportional to temperature (Gay-Lussac's law), so if it suddenly got cold out the tire pressures will drop, hence why most people encounter this light in the fall or early winter when the temperature dips. Check the pressures of all four tires with an accurate pressure gauge, and adjust pressure to the recommended value, which is found on a sticker inside the driver's door jamb. Do not try to fill the tires until they look 'full', it is extremely inaccurate and it's easy to dangerously over-inflate your tires. If you are at a gas station and do not have a tire gauge, as a rule do not add air to any tire for more than 15 seconds. After filling the tires, you must drive at 20+ MPH for two minutes before the TPMS light will go out (sensors do not update right away).

The TPMS sensors do periodically report the pressure to the SJB/BCM every few hours when the car is off (verses every few minutes when the wheels are spinning), but they will wake up and send an alert as soon as they detect a sudden pressure loss. If this light comes on suddenly in the middle of your drive (as opposed to shortly after starting your drive), I would recommend pulling over as soon as practical to check for possible tire damage.

FYI you can monitor tire pressure in each wheel using FORScan (if you have a SJB you need a MS-CAN scan tool to read the parameters, see FORScan topic for more info). The locations will only be accurate if you have not rotated your tires since the TPMS sensors were trained (see below).

Depending on the age of your vehicle, you may have to retrain your TPMS sensors if you change wheel sets. Newer vehicles with snap-in valve stem sensors will do this automatically (new sensors must still be programmed), but the older banded-type sensors will require the use of a Ford TPMS tool, available on eBay.



To train the TPMS sensors, you must put the vehicle in TPMS learning mode using the following procedure:

  1. With the key OFF, press and release the brake pedal
  2. Cycle the ignition key from OFF to ON three times, ending in ON
  3. Press and release the brake pedal, turn key to OFF
  4. Cycle the ignition key from OFF to ON three times, ending in ON
  5. If you are successful, the horn will honk and the cluster will say "Train LF tire"
  6. Get out of the car and hold the TPMS training tool by the sensor and press the button. When the sensor is successfully learned the horn will honk and the cluster will display the next tire to be learned (proceeds clockwise, so RF>RR>LR). Note banded sensors are located opposite (180º) the valve stem.
  7. If you are successful, the cluster will display "Tire training complete" after all four sensors are trained.
For vehicles with push-button ignition, the procedure is the same except you need to use the push button to turn the ignition on and off instead. It seems like the earlier push-button systems require two presses to reach on (OFF>ACC>ON), while the newest systems only require one press (OFF>ON) due to the omission of a pushbutton-activated accessory mode.

For more technical information on sensor types, tire mounting, and training refer to the following Motorcraft documents:

http://www.motorcraftservice.com/vdirs/ServiceTips/RimTPMS.pdf
http://www.motorcraftservice.com/vdirs/retail/search/pdf/valvestemtpms.pdf
 

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Gen 5/6 Forum Moderator
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3,017 Posts
I'll just add that on G6 (13+), these functions are monitored within the BCM and thus accessible via high speed CAN/FORScan. No ELM327 modifications are required.
 

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Administrator
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Yes you're right. You don't need a modified ELM for the newer cars. I just found this out the other day on a 2014 Focus ST!
 
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