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Discussion Starter #1
I finally took the plunge on a pre-Black Friday deal and bought the Autel TS501. Some of the reviews had me concerned about product quality, but let me quicky skip ahead with a small spoiler and say that it worked perfectly.

So here's the issue. I had the sensors replaced in one of my 2009 CR-Vs, and the shop did not program the sensors--not a big deal as I have a neighbor with a shop who would do it for me free or at a lower cost than the tire dealer. (I have read of some mechanics or dealerships charging in excess of $100 for a simple TPMS sensor reprogramming!) In addition our second CR-V has been having random TPMS light issues.

First, a clarification for those following along. The TPMS system uses two dashboard lights. The first is the low tire pressure warning light:

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The other is the "TPMS" light, which is roughly the equivalent of an engine's "Check Engine" light (or in Honda-speak MIL--malfunction indicator light). This light alerts us to when there is an issue with the system itself.

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For my CR-V, the system uses 315 MHz sensors that transmit tire data to the vehicle's ECU. Honda's system is very basic in that it has a preset threshold for minimum safe tire inflation (I believe this is 24 psi) when it triggers the light. But as you'll see, our sensors transmit more data than that. The most important beyond tire pressure is the sensor ID number.

The Autel TS501 has a few capabilities. It can activate and read sensor data. It can send tire ID codes through the OBD-II port to the TPMS system, either through saved codes from sensor scans or by manual entry of the ID numbers. If you buy Autel's own MX-series sensors, you can clone the ID numbers already stored in your ECU (or taken from your old sensors) onto the new sensors. Autel even sells a kit with this scanner plus four of the MX sensors. I preferred to go with the Denso, as I knew they would work on any TPMS scanner in the future.

I won't go into specifics of the entire procedure just yet, but I will follow up with a video once the weather improves here in a few months. For now, I will show you the basics on how this scanner works.

The first thing to do after buying the TS501 is to immediately connect it to your computer and update its internal software. (Many buyers in the past failed to do this, and would have issues trying to work with their sensors or vehicles.)

When you are ready, you go out and scan your sensors. The TS501 has a "four wheel" mode that will send you, in sequence, around the vehicle in a clockwise direction to activate and read your sensors. To trigger the sensor, you hold the TS501 right at the valve stem and press the trigger button. The TS501's prompt then highlights the next wheel to scan, until you complete all four. I scanned our CR-V with the intermittent TPMS warning and this is what the screen shows me:

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As you can see, it shows us the tire pressure at each wheel (I need to top them up again since it's gotten colder), and it also shows that the left front sensor has a low battery. You can then look at a detailed summary of each wheel through these two pages:

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As you can see, the sensor can provide sensor ID, tire pressure, ambient tire temperature and battery status to the vehicle. When I read my other CR-V's sensors earlier in the day, all four of the tire temperatures were the same, so I would tend to not trust the FL (Front Left) sensor with the weak battery quite as much as the others. Although I find that tire has always not held air quite as well as the others (ever since it was installed), so this is a good excuse to take it in, replace that one sensor for now and have them check the tire.

The TS501 also can give you information on your vehicle's sensors, including Honda part numbers:

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Note that the "Number On Sensor" is like a model number of sorts--this is the model that matches the number printed on the side of the sensor. Mine is for alloy wheels, and I think the number for the steel wheels is PMV-108M. "Relearn Type" here is "O," meaning that your ECU relearns its sensor IDs through the OBD-II port.

Finally, you can access a file called "RECORD.HTM" on the SD card in the TS501. This is an HTML file you can read in any web browser, and you can fill it in, print it out and give it to a customer to show them your diagnosis, or keep it yourself as a record of your sensor IDs.

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The final step: If you are installing new sensors, you proceed to the Relearn function. Attach the tool to the OBD-II port with the provided cable, step through a couple of menu choices and the TS501 will quickly program the sensor(s) to the ECU. Once that is done, your TPMS light should turn off. In my CR-V, the low tire pressure warning light kept flashing, making me wonder if I did the procedure correctly. But once I drove about half a block at low speed, the flashing stopped, and now my sensors are properly programmed to the ECU.

Bonus feature! (Or in TV-speak..."But wait! There's More!") The "RKE & RF" function lets you test your key fobs. Select the function, then hold your key fob next to the TS501. It will give you a percentage reading of the strength of the radio frequency transmitted from the key fob, and (with my Civic's fob as the test unit) shows me the frequency is 433 MHz--it can check fobs that use the 433 MHz and 315 MHz frequencies.

So far this TS501 has been easy to use, and it performed both tasks I needed it to do. They are not inexpensive (mine was under $200 briefly), but they are helpful to have around if you can swing it. It's also a different way to check your tire pressure...provided you have a full sensor battery, of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I went to lunch with a buddy of mine yesterday who is a Ford engineer. We didn't talk too much about the TPMS system, other than saying the government mandated it for all new vehicles from 2008 onward due to the Explorer/Firestone rollovers. I certainly don't recommend trying to disable the system--it's there for a reason and especially in our high-center-of-gravity CR-Vs, a soft tire is an accident waiting to happen.

He did have a couple of interesting stories regarding emissions systems and diagnostic codes, and how creating these codes and the tolerance limits of each sensor are actually partly the results of negotiations with the EPA, especially with items like the evaporative control system. His work at Ford is mainly in emissions, as well as NVH (noise, vibration, harshness).
 

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That's great. I was just about to order the TS401 tonight for $189cdn, and came across this post. Looks like the 2 are quite similar with a couple extra options on the 501.
It's too bad the hand scanners cant disable the TPMS all together or at least turn it off for a few cycles a time like the ODB system.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The TS501 had all the features I was looking for. There are many different TPMS tools out there, and not all of them can perform both tasks--1) reading the sensors and 2) writing sensor IDs to the ECU via the OBD-II port. The TS401 can only read sensors--it cannot program IDs via the OBD-II port, and that is something that I needed to do on one of my '09s. Anyone who swaps summer and winter tires themselves would have need for a tool like this.

Another company sold two separate tools that together would have cost the same amount as the TS501. Their OBD-II module, though, connected to a computer, and would let you transmit the codes only if you had written them down first. This tool handles all of that.

Personally I'd pay extra for the TS501 since I don't really see a use for a tool that can only read codes.
 

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I messed up and bought the TS401 as a used piece. I should have checked back into the forum.
At Autel's website I must day it is misleading with their letter coding to if you can actually write to the ODB or not. They tell you it will "C" for copy. Thanks Autel.
So you're right. It doesn't do a damn thing other than tell me the sensor ID numbers.
Now I'll be on the lookout for a TS501, and selling my 401.
 

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I just looked at my order--it was $190, with free shipping. I'd never seen it that low, which is why I jumped on it.

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ebay apparently has it for $199, New. I'll leave to the shopper to verify its authenticity.

 

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Discussion Starter #11
I just noticed something interesting about my sensor readings.

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Position FL (front left) is the weak sensor. Notice how different the ID number is? This makes me think that there is a different brand of sensor in that wheel. For what reason, I don't know. Maybe the original wheel was damaged/stolen, or the original sensor failed?
 

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How would this work on a tire without a sensor as in later year(s) Indirect TPMS ?
Calibration is done from the system menu but recently when we replaced several tires (all 4 on multiple late model Hondas), did not even have to calibrate system. from FAQ.... Indirect TPMS frequently use the anti-lock brake system (ABS) speed sensors to calculate pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
This tool isn't for that type of TPMS system--it is only for those that have RF-based sensors inside the wheels.
 

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Since you have to deflate the tire and break the bead to replace the sensor, the smart thing to do would be to rebalance the tire. JM2C.
 
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