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Old 14th January 2018, 14:09   #1
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Default FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS

Tyres are one of the most critical safety aspects of a car. Tyre burst at high speeds is one of the worst things that can happen to you. No amount of airbags or crumple zones can save you if you hit a tree, or have a head on with another vehicle or rollover into a ditch due to tyre failure at tripple digit speeds. One of the biggest reasons for tyre burst is low pressure in the tyres. Low pressures cause tyre sidewalls to flex more than normal and this constant flexing builds up heat. Overheating can cause the tyre to rupture (or burst). When this happens at high speeds the vehicle becomes difficult to control and can lead to accidents.

I drive a lot on highways and am always paranoid about my tyres. I make it a point to inspect tyres frequently and always make it a point to check tyre pressure using my own gauge before every highway journey (Most fuel station gauges are innacurate) . But what if the tyre suffers a puncture during a journey? One way to tell is by feel. Tubeless tyres do not lose pressure all of a sudden when they get punctured by a nail or a sharp object. With gradual air loss, a keen driver should be able to make out with vibrations on the steering wheel (if its on the front axle) or if the car is drifting to one side etc... But this is not a fail safe method, especially for premium cars that have excellent NVH and complex suspension systems that isolate you from the road surface. Agreed premium cars should have their own TPMS systems, but some cars don't get full fledged active TPMS systems. Instead they make do with passive TPMS systems that depend on ABS sensors to detect the difference in rotational speed of one tyre relative to other tyres and give out warnings. My BMW X3 comes equipped with such a system. The problem with such a system is that, at times, the system is unable to detect loss in pressure. I've seen instances where the system did not warn me even when there was a 10 psi drop in pressure.

On one of my highway drives I suffered a tyre failure. The front right tyre suffered a leak and got shredded at high speeds. Luckily I was able to control the vehicle and move it safely to the road shoulder. I had checked pressure before starting. So clearly the tyre started losing air during this journey and the in built TPMS system could not detect it. The incident left me a bit shaken.

I started searching on the net for possible after market TPMS systems and came across this product on Amazon. Fobo Tire TPMS is a bluetooth based monitoring systems that communicates with your smart phone and gives you relevant monitoring and warning information. You have to install sensors on the tyre valves. The sensors read the pressure and communicate with your phone via bluetooth. The phone app allows you to set the recommeded pressure and the threshold for warning, both on the minus side and plus side. The sensor also gives out temperature readings. At the time of my purchase the product was priced at Rs. 15,xxx/- . Although pricey I decided to invest in it in the interest of safety. Its been about 6 months since my purchase. I'll list out the positives and negatives

Positives
  • Works as intended
  • Pressure readings are accurate
  • Universal product. Supports all makes of cars as long as its got inflatable tyres.
  • Gives you round the clock monitoring
  • Easy DIY installation.
  • Android and Apple phones supported
  • Will not affect car warranty as no modifications required.
  • In the absence of phone, there is a separate in car unit that can alert you about drop in pressure.
  • Pressures of all 4 tyres are clearly displayed on the phone
  • No need to physically check tyre pressures every now and then. Just go near the car and check the app and you are done.
  • If you have multiple cars, you can manage with additional purchase of sensors only.
  • Sturdy build quality (seems to be weatherproof too)
  • Anti theft lock nuts provided.
  • Sensors are lightweight (10gms) and do not disturb your tyre's balancing.

Negatives
  • Pricey (current prices are higher)
  • Some may not be comfortable with sensors pressing on the valves all the time.
  • Removing sensors everytime you top up air, cumbersome.
  • Major negative - At times sensors are unable to communicate with your phone. Problem compounded in big cars where the wheels are far out.
  • Sensors are big and visible - makes them susceptible to theft, damage or vandalism.

Overall I am quite happy with the product as it is serving the purpose I bought it for very well. One major negative I found is that at times one or more sensors are unable to communicate with the phone and the display gets greyed out. This happens when you place the phone a bit too far away from a particular tyre. Say you are sitting in the driver seat and you place the phone in your right pocket. The left rear tyre sensor signal sometimes does not reach the phone. In smaller cars I guess this shouldn't be a problem. Overall I give a to the concept and execution of the product. I really wish Governments across the world make a proper active TPMS system mandatory in all vehicles. Will save a lot of lives.

Company's promotional video



Product packaging

FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS-img_0564.jpg

FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS-img_0566.jpg

Install guide

FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS-img_0563.jpg

Sensor installed

FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS-img_0561.jpg

Phone app screenshots

FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS-img_0567.jpg

FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS-img_0570.jpg

FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS-img_0572.jpg


Disclaimer : I have no commercial interest in FOBO Tire. Just a happy customer.

Last edited by Santoshbhat : 14th January 2018 at 14:13.
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Old 14th January 2018, 14:25   #2
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Default re: FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS

Mod note: Thread moved to Tyre & Alloy wheel Section. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 14th January 2018, 14:31   #3
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Default re: FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS

Short and sweet review of a very useful product.

I find external TPMS sensors on the tyre valves to be better than the ones inside, purely because any failure would mean that the ailing tyre would have to be taken off the rim and the sensor checked again.

These sensors are much more practical that way. They don't mess with the balancing either. However, as you have mentioned, vandalism, is what worries me. People these days are increasingly inquisitive especially when it comes to high end cars, and that curiosity might end up as vandalism.

BTW, do you need to recalibrate the sensors after filling air every time or removing them?

Regards,
Vishy
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Old 15th January 2018, 09:32   #4
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Default re: FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS

Quote:
Originally Posted by vishy76 View Post
BTW, do you need to recalibrate the sensors after filling air every time or removing them?
The sensors are basically just pressure gauges. They take the reading and convey it to the phone wirelessly - simple as that. Once you unmount a sensor you get an alert on the phone, as obviously now the sensor is getting a zero pressure reading. Once you mount it back again, the alert goes away if the pressure is within range. Unmounting and mounting the sensor isn't that easy since you have to unscrew the lock nut first using the small plastic wrench provided. Only if you remove all sensors together (say if you plan to visit the fuel station for an air top up) and mix them up, you will have to follow the reinstall procedure as you will not know which sensor goes to which tyre. A simple FL, FR, RL, RR labeling should have been provided.
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Old 15th January 2018, 12:59   #5
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Default Re: FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS

I have been using TPMS for the last two and a half years on my Honda city. I have tried all sorts of sensors both external and now internal ones too . I have tried ones with BLE and also with dedicated screens. Currently I have been using internal BLE TPMS from an Indian startup called SensAiry . It is a bluetooth low energy based system just like FOBO but with internal sensors and there own app . They cost Rs.7500/- with another 1000/- spent on fitting and balancing all 5 tires . There is a thread on team-bhp regarding this system .
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/modifi...ased-tpms.html (SensAiry : An app-based TPMS)
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Old 15th January 2018, 14:17   #6
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Default Re: FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santoshbhat View Post
It seems that every sensor has its own battery.

How long does the battery last?

Last edited by Nick_Wanderlust : 15th January 2018 at 14:19.
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Old 15th January 2018, 14:39   #7
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Default Re: FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS

Nice Review Santosh, Thanks

Well though i respect technology, sensors, apps etc but i still prefer the old fashioned way of checking the tyre pressures once in 15 days or before a long road trip.

Doing so is satisfying to another level IMO
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Old 15th January 2018, 14:53   #8
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Default Re: FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick_Wanderlust View Post
It seems that every sensor has its own battery.

How long does the battery last?
The sensairy claims to have a battery life of minimum 5 yrs. guaranteed according to their website . The Bluetooth sensors are always on and you can get a pressure and temperature reading even while the car is parked by just being near your car with the phone. The RF ones get activated when the car reaches certain minimum speed around 20 Km/h and use 315 MHz RF to send a signal to a dedicated receiver connected to your cars 12v power point and then displays the relevant data on a small screen . I think the RF ones last for some 2 to 3 years.
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Old 15th January 2018, 19:03   #9
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Default Re: FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS

Nice product. How exactly is this 'anti-theft' ?
I have had my regular dust caps (the ones we get for free from tyre shops) stolen. Not once, twice. Who steals that ?
Hence my question. If people can steal those, how long before these expensive ones get nicked ? The thief may not even realize their value and put them on some auto
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Old 16th January 2018, 09:40   #10
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Default Re: FOBO Tire Review: Bluetooth-based TPMS

Quote:
Originally Posted by karan561 View Post
Nice Review Santosh, Thanks

Well though i respect technology, sensors, apps etc but i still prefer the old fashioned way of checking the tyre pressures once in 15 days or before a long road trip.

Doing so is satisfying to another level IMO
Thanks Karan. You know what? I miss checking the tyre pressures with that ol' analogue gauge. Looking at the phone screen and trusting those numbers will take some getting used to. Luckily those numbers are dynamic. You can see what effect temperature has on the pressure. Drive at city speeds and the pressures go up by 2 to 3 psi. Drive on the highway and it goes up by about 6 to 7 psi and on hot days it will easily go up by 10 psi. If it was stuck on one number all the time, I'd start getting vary that something is stuck. 'Software hang' is all too common. They have smartly provided a separate In-Car Unit which also starts screaming if the pressure is below threshold.

Quote:
Originally Posted by venkyhere View Post
Nice product. How exactly is this 'anti-theft' ?
I have had my regular dust caps (the ones we get for free from tyre shops) stolen. Not once, twice. Who steals that ?
Hence my question. If people can steal those, how long before these expensive ones get nicked ? The thief may not even realize their value and put them on some auto
Yes that is a problem. They have provided anti theft lock nuts that have to be screwed in before you install the sensor. You then have to unscrew the lock nut using the special wrench so that it locks the sensor in place. So now you cannot unscrew the sensor without unscrewing the lock nut, which is now invisible and inaccessible without the special wrench. Vandals won't find it easy to steal. But there is every chance they will try to break the thing if they use excessive force. The phone app is licensed and you can only install it if you purchase the unit, so the sensor alone is of no use to anybody other than the owner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick_Wanderlust View Post
It seems that every sensor has its own battery.

How long does the battery last?
Yes. The box says battery life of two years. They are standard CR 2032 batteries. They have included 4 extra batteries in the box and labelled it as 'FOC item'

Last edited by Santoshbhat : 16th January 2018 at 09:43.
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