If the Corvette were a person, whom would it be? A world-class American athlete such as sprinter Carl Lewis is an obvious choice, but what about Benjamin Franklin, or Thomas Edison?
The comparison isn’t as strained as you might think. In addition to its role as GM’s performance flagship, the Corvette has long led the way in bringing advanced engineering concepts to fruition on the production line. From the pioneering use of fiberglass body components and fully independent suspension systems in the ’50s and ’60s to the more recent applications of carbon fiber and magnetorheological shock absorbers, America’s favorite sports car boasts a record of technological achievement that is unparalleled in the world of domestic production cars.
The downside to this ever-increasing reliance on technology can be seen in the level of complexity the car has attained in recent years, one that has effectively relegated the diagnosis and repair of even seemingly minor component failures to the province of professional mechanics. That said, there remain a number of fixes that can be performed by a reasonably competent DIYer, provided one simply knows how.
In this article, we’ll address a common failure among fifth-generation Corvettes, that of the tire-pressure monitoring system, or TPMS. For while the science behind the system’s operation itself is relatively complex, in practice it comprises only four sensors and a receiver, all of which can be replaced with a modicum of effort.
Since our subject Corvette was a ’99 model, we elected to upgrade its TPMS hardware to the superior ’01-’04 pieces. The latter may be ordered new from any GM dealer (the older units, while still available through eBay and certain specialty outlets, have been discontinued and therefore tend to be more expensive), and have the additional benefits of being more durable and reliable.
If you’re planning to perform this upgrade yourself, you’ll need to order the following GM parts:
- Receiver PN 10312535
- Receiver Pigtail PN 12102635 (includes butt connectors)
- Fob (1) PN 25695954
- Fob (2) PN 25695955 (Note: Having two differently encoded fobs will enable you to program separate “his and hers” settings for the power seats and other memory features.)
- Tire-Pressure Sensors PN 25773946 (quantity: 4)
As we have so often in the past, we relied on Greg Lovell, from Seffner, Florida–based tuning house AntiVenom, to perform the actual work while we snapped photos and feigned mechanical competence. (Note that Lovell sells all of the necessary parts in kit form, and will be happy to install them for you if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.) Follow along now as we take you through the process.
Programming the Tire- Pressure Sensors
1. Turn the ignition to the On (not Run) position.
2. Press the Reset button on the Driver Information Center (DIC). This will clear any existing warning messages.
3. Press and release the Options button repeatedly until the display goes blank.
4. Press and hold the Reset button for at least 3 seconds.
5. Press the Options button again until the message “TIRE TRAINING” is displayed.
6. Press and hold Reset until the “LEARN L FRONT TIRE” message appears.
7. Hold a magnet over the valve stem on the left front tire. (While GM offers a part specifically designed for this task, any large horseshoe-type magnet should work.)
8. The horn will sound to indicate that the left front sensor has been programmed. If more than 15 seconds pass without the horn sounding, remove the magnet and try again. If the sensor isn’t successfully programmed in three tries, you’ll need to start the entire process over again.
9. Repeat the process for the other sensors, following the order prescribed by the DIC (right front, right rear, left rear).
Programming the the Fobs
1. With the ignition in the On position and the radio off, press the Reset button on the DIC.
2. Press and hold the Options button until the display is blank.
3. Press and hold the Reset button for at least 3 seconds.
4. Press and hold the Options button until the message “FOB TRAINING” is displayed.
5. Press the Reset button again to start programming.
6. Press and hold both the Lock and Unlock buttons on the first fob for at least 13 seconds. The fob should now be programmed. Repeat these steps for the second fob.6.