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C5 and C6 Tire Pressure Monitoring System - Technically Speaking

Running Flat

James Berry Sep 24, 2014
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Q: I am a new subscriber to your magazine and love learning about all generations of Corvettes. I am the owner of a '97 C5 Corvette and am having a problem with my tire warning light, it has been on for about two weeks. I have adjusted the air pressures to the recommended pressures as stated on the sticker located on the inside of the driver's door.

I also had a similar problem with my '13 Chevrolet Impala. But when its lamp came on, adjusting the air pressures and taking the car for a short drive has corrected the problem. Not so with the Corvette. In fact, I took it to a local tire store and they wanted $90 to check the system.

Call me cheap, but I don't want to pay $90 just to cut off a light. Do you have any suggestions, and why do we have this ridiculous item on our cars anyway. If it is any help, this light came on soon after I had a new set of tires installed by the same tire store that wants to charge me $90 to check my system. Thanks.

Randy
Via e-mail

A: Randy, I don't blame you for not wanting to pay $90 to have your system checked, considering you just bought a set of tires from that store. I would expect better customer service.

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) sometimes needs to be calibrated or it is possible you have a damaged sensor(s) or one (or more) has an internal failure. We will go over the calibration procedure for the C5 and C6 Corvettes.

On September 1, 2007, a Federal law made it mandatory that every new passenger vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or less to have a factory equipped tire pressure monitoring system. This legislation requires a warning system to indicate underinflated tires below a preset pressure.

This Federal law additionally required that the Low Tire Pressure Warning System (LTPWS) be prohibited from being disabled. However, it is possible to disable the LTPWS system on Corvettes built prior to 2007.

Chevrolet implemented the LTPWS option (RPO UJ6) for the '87 Corvette model year. However, Chevrolet records show only approximately 46 units sold with this option due to signaling problems.

There are two types of monitoring systems. These TPMS are known as the Indirect and Direct systems.

Indirect systems use wheel sensors to compare the turning circumference of each tire to the other three. This system is not very accurate and will not issue a warning if all four tires lose air equally, which can happen over time or with temperature changes. Indirect systems were used on the first Corvettes to incorporate a TPMS but are no longer used.

Transmitting Wheel Sensor 2/5

The Direct system used in the Corvette employs sensors fitted inside the tire’s air chamber where they read the pressure directly. The early C4 systems used a transmitting wheel sensor that is held in place by a large band clamp. Each sensor has a separate identification color and frequency, which is transmitted as the wheel turns. The movement of the wheel provides the piezoelectric energy necessary to power the transmitter. If the tire pressure drops below 25 psi, the sensor will stop transmitting to the receiver and the service TPMS lamp will illuminate. These sensors require no batteries, and the receiver requires no reprogramming. There are several errors in the service manuals regarding the correct colors and part numbers for these sensors.

These are the corrected part numbers.
1989-’92 Model Year: Right Front (blue), PN 10098494
Left Front (green), PN 10098495
Right Rear (orange), PN 10098496
Left Rear (yellow), PN 10098497

1993-’96 Model Year: Right Front, PN 10161855
Left Front, PN 10161856
Right Rear, PN 10161857
Left Rear, PN 10161854

Tpms Wheel Sensor 3/5

The C5 and C6 Corvette TPMS uses a transmitting wheel sensor that has a separate sensor/transmitter in each wheel with a built-in valve stem. The sensor is inserted from the inside of the wheel, through a hole in the rim. It is retained by a nut and is sealed by a grommet. Each sensor contains its own lithium battery with a design life of 10 years. The TPMS shares the receiver with the keyless entry system. The receiver is programmed to recognize which sensor is at each wheel location: right front, left front, right rear, and left rear. If tires are rotated, a sensor is replaced, or the system simply loses its calibration, the TPMS warning lamp will illuminate. At this point, the TPMS receiver will need to be reprogrammed.

Driver Information Center Psi 4/5

If the wheel sensors need to be programmed, the Driver Information Center (DIC) will sometimes display a blank reading where the tire pressure is normally displayed. The sensors send a signal only when the vehicle is in motion above 20 mph. It also transmits once per hour when parked. If the pressure in a tire rises or falls outside the calibration limits, the DIC lights up with a warning to check tire pressure.

Tpms Sensor 5/5

Randy, it is possible that when your new tires were installed the tire mounting equipment could have damaged the TPMS sensor(s). Be sure that your tire center has the correct equipment so as not to cause scratches or damage to your wheels or wheel sensors. Good luck and let us know how it works out.

Programming the Tire Pressure Monitoring System

The C5 Corvette can be reprogrammed very simply by using a strong magnet. For the C6 Corvette you will need a wheel sensor reprogramming tool, which can also be used on your C5 Corvette or any vehicle equipped with a TPMS.

C5 Corvette Programming Procedure

General Motors has a special programming tool for this job, PN J-41760, which is a U- shaped magnet. However, a large speaker magnet will usually do the job.

The following is a step-by-step procedure to reprogram the C5 Corvette's wheel sensors:

1. Let the vehicle sit for two minutes, then turn the ignition to the "on" position.
2. Press the "Reset" button to clear any Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC) display warning messages.
3. Press and release the "Options" button on the DIC and scroll through the options until the IPC display is blank.
4. Press and hold the DIC "Reset" button for 3 seconds.
5. Press the "Options" button until the Tire Training message appears.
6. Press the "Reset" button until the following message appears on the IPC "Learn Left Front Tire."
7. Place a large magnet over the left front valve stem. The horn will sound indicating the left front TPMS sensor is programmed. If this takes more than 15 seconds, pull the magnet back and try again, it will give you three tries. If the procedure fails after three tries then you must start the complete sequence over.
8. When the horn sounds, the IPC will direct you to proceed to program the next sensor in the following order: right front, right rear, left rear. The programming can be canceled at any time by turning the ignition off. If the programming is cancelled with less than four sensors learned, it will only accept the sensors programmed up to that point.

C6 Corvette Programming Procedure

The following is a step-by-step procedure to reprogram the C6 Corvette's wheel sensors. This procedure requires the Wheel Sensor Reprogramming Tool.

1. Let the vehicle sit for two minutes, then turn the ignition to the "on" position.
2. Press the "Reset" button to clear any IPC display warning messages.
3. Press and release the "Options" button on the DIC and scroll through the options until the IPC display is blank.
4. Press and hold the DIC "Reset" button for 3 seconds.
5. Press the "Options" button again until the Tire Training message appears.
6. Press the "Reset" button until the following message appears on the IPC "Learn Left Front Tire."
7. Install the wheel sensor reprogramming tool over the left front valve stem. The horn will sound, indicating the left front TPMS sensor is programmed. If this takes more than 15 seconds, pull the reprogramming tool back and try again, it will give you three tries. If the procedure fails after three tries then you must start the complete sequence over.
8. When the horn sounds, the IPC will direct you to proceed to program the next sensor in the following order: right front, right rear, left rear. The programming can be canceled at any time by turning ignition off. If the programming is cancelled with less than four sensors learned, it will only accept the sensors programmed up to that point.

There are several TPMS programming tools on the market and most are simple to use and will take you through a simple step-by-step procedure.


Questions?

Got a question for our Tech Corner expert? Just jot it down on a paper towel or a lightly soiled shop rag and send it to us at VETTE Magazine, Attn: Technically Speaking, 1733 Alton Parkway, Suite 100, Irvine, CA 92606. Alternatively, you can submit your question via the Web, by emailing it to us at vette@sorc.com. Be sure to put "Technically Speaking" in the subject line.

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