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Discussion Starter #1
I have a few questions about the 2008 models and the Tire Pressure Monitor Sensors (TPMS for short). If anyone can chime in on these questions it would be helpful. I called Lotus' Customer Service Line (and other selections off of the telephone menu) this morning and after leaving a couple of messages received no reply; maybe it's a British holiday I am unaware of. This was after asking the dealer BTW and being told that Lotus production is too low a volume and Lotus are exempt from the requirement. The 2008 Elise I saw looks like it has them, as best as I can tell, from the threaded nature of the valve stems and the 2008 catalog mentions this as an improvement of the 2008 models. Anyway here are my questions if the dealer is mistaken:

1. If you put on a set of track day wheels without the TPMS what happens? A warning light only or would effect the electronic performance of the engine, traction control, etc.

2. Are these sensors Lotus specific (big $) or will generics suffice?

3. What type of reprogrammer is necessary? Has anyone out there with a 2008 tried an alternate set of wheels and/or programmer?

I know with a 2008 Corvette that the on-board electronics go to the full "nanny" mode and limit top speed to around 120 MPH in answer to question one and the TPMS modules are about $220ish and the programmer a minimum of about $250.

Thanks for the answers in advance.
 

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1. If you put on a set of track day wheels without the TPMS what happens? A warning light only or would effect the electronic performance of the engine, traction control, etc.

2. Are these sensors Lotus specific (big $) or will generics suffice?

3. What type of reprogrammer is necessary? Has anyone out there with a 2008 tried an alternate set of wheels and/or programmer?
Here's what the Lotus Service Manual says about TPMS:

GH.6 - TYRE PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM (TPMS) - USA ONLY
All USA Elise/Exige models from ‘08 model year onwards are fitted with a tyre pressure monitoring system.
A sensor incorporated into each of the tyre valves monitors the air pressure inside the tyre, and supplies an
onboard control module with this data by radio transmission. If any tyre pressure should fall below 75% of the
recommended value, an alert message is sent to the instrument panel, and the tyre pressure tell tale
will light up amber. The fuel gauge display will then be overwritten with a message to indicate which tyre is
concerned, with text such as: LF Low (left hand front tyre low pressure). This message will show for 5 seconds
before the display reverts to the fuel level bar graph, but will repeat for 5 seconds at 30 second intervals.
The TPMS incorporates self-malfunction recognition, and if a fault is detected, the tell tale will flash for one
minute and then remain constantly lit. The LCD panel will also flash ‘TPMS FAULT’ for 5 seconds, and repeat
at 30 second intervals; no indication of low tyre pressure will be displayed.
Tyre fitters and service technicians should be made aware that TPMS is fitted, and that the tyre valves
include pressure sensors. If the emergency tyre inflator aerosol has been used, it will be necessary to renew
the tyre valve/pressure sensor. If a fault is indicated after wheel or tyre replacement, it is likely that a sensor
has been incorrectly fitted or damaged. If a tyre valve is renewed, or is moved to a different wheel position, the
TPMS will automatically identify the new configuration.
Note that the pressure sensors are powered by integral batteries, with an average service life of 10 years.
It is recommended to renew all pressure sensors at this time interval.
If renewing a wheel, ensure that only a TPMS compatible wheel is used, as the installation angle of the the
tyre valve is modified to accommodate the pressure sensor. Compatible cast wheels are identified by 'TPMS'
within one of the recesses in the hub mounting face. On TPMS compatible forged wheels, the profile of the
wheel rim outboard of the central well, is modified in order to allow local machining around the valve hole on
the inside of the rim to provide a shallower installation angle. If no machining is evident, the wheel is not TPMS
compatible. In addition, a batch code is engraved onto the inner rim in the form of 'PS123456'. The first three
numbers indicate the week and year of manufacture, and any wheel with a code of PS267### (week 26 of
2007) or later, will be TPMS compatible. TPMS type wheels may be fitted on all cars.
I'd say that the car is not affected by non-TPMS wheels, other than the display repeating the warning every 30 seconds. I'd also venture to guess that the sensors are not Lotus specific, but a standard sensor that needs to be mounted in compatible wheels. And it looks like no reprogramming is necessary when replacing TPMS sensors or wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for such a detailed answer. Has anyone with an 08 tried a non-TPMS set of wheels at an autocross or track day? I just don't want to be the guinea pig. Since I intended to at least get a wider front wheel for my track day set of tires, I wonder if the older LSS would be compatible with the angle necessary for TPMS mounting? Probably not. Aftermarket wheels? Probably not. I guess I'll just put tape over my flashing warning when on the track and it will remind me of the protection afforded by the fine people at the NHSTA. Thank you Joan Claybrook et al.
 

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Thanks for such a detailed answer. Has anyone with an 08 tried a non-TPMS set of wheels at an autocross or track day? I just don't want to be the guinea pig. Since I intended to at least get a wider front wheel for my track day set of tires, I wonder if the older LSS would be compatible with the angle necessary for TPMS mounting? Probably not. Aftermarket wheels? Probably not. I guess I'll just put tape over my flashing warning when on the track and it will remind me of the protection afforded by the fine people at the NHSTA. Thank you Joan Claybrook et al.
If you tape over the warning, you will have taped over your fuel level graph... just sayin'.

You're probably right that older wheels wouldn't be compatible with TPMS, but it's still worth checking. My 2006 BMW M5 has the sensors, so they have been around for a while. The manual seems to imply that at least Lotus wheels made since the middle of '07 are compatible.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well, I'll only tape over the fuel level on track. My 2005 Elise could go 3 1/2 to 4 track sessions on a full tank, so I would fill it after two. Thanks for the info again.
 

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I will add that the TPMS sensors need to be replaced with some of the same type. Also, you may need adapters for some wheels, depending on the valve stem interface.
 

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I wonder if the older LSS would be compatible with the angle necessary for TPMS mounting? Probably not. Aftermarket wheels? Probably not.
Nope, not compatible. Somewhere I read that they are not compatible - in fact the new LSS wheels are slightly different in that they have changed the valve stem hole/location slightly.

As for aftermarket wheels, older ones probably wouldn't be. Newer ones should be, or they should in the future since all new cars are going to have to have the TPMS of some type. Since the change is minor, they are going to do it for all rims at some time. Regular valves can be used in the new rims, just not the other way around (as far as i understand it anyway).
 

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Thanks for such a detailed answer. Has anyone with an 08 tried a non-TPMS set of wheels at an autocross or track day? I just don't want to be the guinea pig. Since I intended to at least get a wider front wheel for my track day set of tires, I wonder if the older LSS would be compatible with the angle necessary for TPMS mounting? Probably not. Aftermarket wheels? Probably not. I guess I'll just put tape over my flashing warning when on the track and it will remind me of the protection afforded by the fine people at the NHSTA. Thank you Joan Claybrook et al.
I put on a set of Cup wheels. (Note, they specifically say not legal for street use...he says with a smile.) I have entered two autocrosses and not noticed any degradation of performance. I do not think the car limps when a TPMS fault is detected.

I also thought to just tape over the warning light for the TPMS. Unfortunately the fault status is also displayed where the fuel gauge is, which also would not be so bad except they display the fault literally ever 30 or so seconds. The movement is eye catching and a distraction.

New sensors are $70+. The next time I break the bead on my original tires, I will remove the sensors, put three of them in an airtight can, and mount the fourth. Pressurized and tossed into the trunk may take care of the problem. Unfortunately I think there are positional antennas to detect the signal from the individual wheels and so this may not work. Rumor also has it the TPMS system can be turned off with the programming tool.

Michael
 

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The next time I break the bead on my original tires, I will remove the sensors, put three of them in an airtight can, and mount the fourth. Pressurized and tossed into the trunk may take care of the problem. Unfortunately I think there are positional antennas to detect the signal from the individual wheels and so this may not work.
I don't think it will work. Each corner picks up an individual sensor, and the system automatically figures out which corner it is located on - i.e. the sensors transmit a limited distance and there's an antenna at each wheel. Putting them in the boot isn't going to cut it...
 

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I don't think it will work. Each corner picks up an individual sensor, and the system automatically figures out which corner it is located on - i.e. the sensors transmit a limited distance and there's an antenna at each wheel. Putting them in the boot isn't going to cut it...
I don't know how they work in the Elise, so I could be wrong. But, I do know of people who have done that with success in other cars.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I received a call back from Lotus (yay!) after a couple of weeks and was told that there is no interface involving the alteration of performance without having TPMS on the car.

The pressurized PVC tube with TPMS works on a Corvette because each sensor is assigned a corner by programming even if it is not on that corner. My impression after talking to the Atlanta Lotus gentleman is that the Elise doesn't need the programming, it senses which corner the sensor is on. :( I could be wrong on this.
 
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