Question about 2004 Toyota Highlander

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I just came back from Toyota with the same problem!

History:
About every 5000 miles this light comes on - I had assumed and still beleive that this is tied into oil changes.
This time the light came on after I had a flat about 2 monthes ago. I had the flat fixed about 2 days later and about 4 days later the TPMS light came on again. I reset it and the next day it came on again. I checked tire pressure for 32 PSI and all OK. I reset it over the weekend and it came on again. My wife brought it in about 2 weeks later and to have some other work done also and told them of the problem. They documented that they checked tire pressure and reset it. The light came on as she was leaving the Toyota parking lot - now totally upset I checked the pressure when she came home. The light stayed on for the next month (1800 mile vacation trip) and I just came home from Toyota with the following.
My tire pressure was at 30 PSI and needs to be at 35 PSI - they scanned the sensors. Question arrose about a slow leak in the spare (I guess they did not check that tire pressure) and the mechanic said that if that was the problem then the TPMS tire sensor light would not reset at all.
I will see if this has fixed the problem.
I also have a 2004 Highland and that is why I was interested in your comments.
Meanwhile I have Goggled how TPMS works and according to my Toyota rep. the sensor is in the tire stem and not on the rim itself. I am a electronic tech for 35 years and was interested in this.
Some of the documentain states that these stems have Lithium batteries to power them and have a expected life of 5 - 10 years which would put both of our SUV's at the 5 year plus mark.
My Toyota rep. claims that their are no bateries in the sensors. OK. But from electronic experience how does that work?
Any further input that you may have let me know as I can be reached at hbbordelon@cox.net - subject heading TPMS problems.

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  • Master
  • 333 Answers

There are two different types of TPMS systems on Highlanders. One using battery powered sensors in the wheels, and one using ABS monitoring.
Some models actually use both systems as well.
For the record, a 2005 should only have the ABS monitoring TPMS system, not sensors.

If you have a reset button under your steering column, you have the ABS monitoring system.
If your valve stems are metal, you also have the sensor based system.
If your valve stems are rubber, you do not have the sensor system, and as such the spare is not monitored.

A sensor fault (dead battery, erroneous reading, etc) on the sensor system will result in a FLASHING TPMS light, not just lit.

A lit TPMS light on either system indicates a low pressure problem.

-

The absolute biggest issue I have seen with the reset button system causing recurring lights is improper reset technique.
When you reset your tire pressure, you need to run the reset button TWO times times to clear the system and not cause a recurrence in the next day or so.

The reason is this:
When your light comes on, indicating a low tire, you go fill all your tires up.
Then you push the reset button, making the light go out......this tells the system "Tires are aired up to whatever the old pressure was, turn the light out!." If they are not aired up exactly as whatever value they were set to XX days/months/however long ago when it was reset right, you have a problem!

Now you should push the button a SECOND time, the light will come on, flash several times then go out... This tells the system "OK, from now on, THIS is the correct pressure to look for, not the old pressure!"

It will now use that value as the correct "pressure" (ABS rolling diameter) to verify tire pressure condition.

Posted on Sep 12, 2009

  • Superbovine Sep 12, 2009

    Adding for clarity:
    If you have your oil changed and as typical your tire pressures are checked/adjusted, you will need to do this procedure again as well, since the set values are no longer valid! Often times oil change places, even dealerships with kids doing the basic oil changes, forget or don't know about resetting the system whenever air pressure is adjusted.



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  • Toyota Master
  • 1,861 Answers

The TPWS sensors DO have batteries in them. the batteries are NOT replaceable. The tire stem is part of the TWPS sensor. The sensor is a yes/no switch. It keeps the light off at any pressure above the rated threshold. It turns the light on when the pressure falls below the rated threshold. Each of the 5 sensors transmit information via radio waves to the TPWS computer.

The sensors are VERY easily damaged if incompetent tire changers replace your tires, and they are $197.00 each.

Posted on Sep 12, 2009

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