Tire Pressure Monitoring System or TPMS (or RDC as BMW calls them) is a great feature for convenience and safety. It is convenient if you want to see what your tire pressure is without using a tire gauge but more importantly, it can quickly alert you of losing air pressure as you are riding and hence providing ample time to pull over safely to deal with the puncture. The issue is when it’s time to replace them as besides the OEM sensors there are not a lot of viable options, until now. Aftermarket R1200GS TPMS/RDC sensor replacement is now viable with the Autel MX-Sensor at a fraction of the cost of the BMW OEM sensors.
TPM/RDC Sensor Battery Replacement
Tire pressure monitoring sensors run on lithium batteries and can last for a few years. The TPM sensors batteries can not easily be replaced as the units are sealed to avoid moisture intrusion. To replace the batteries in the BMW R1200GS sensors, the seal needs to be cut off and a new battery needs to be soldered in its place. The sensor will need to be resealed to hold the battery in place as well as to avoid moisture. I attempted the TPM sensor battery replacement before finding an aftermarket solution. The reworked sensors in the R1200GS only continued to work for a few months before becoming useless again. This was probably due to the natural moisture in the tire making its way into the sensor and/or the solder joints breaking.
OEM TPMS/RDC Sensor Replacement
If you have to replace the R1200GS TPM sensors out of warranty, the OEM sensors are currently priced $233 US each! Once combined with the added labor charge, you can expect to pay around $650 US at a BMW dealer to replace both TPM sensors. Given that I was adamantly opposed to paying such a ridiculously high price for TPM sensor replacements, I was forced to look into aftermarket solutions.
The BMW OEM tire pressure monitoring sensors are actually manufactured by Schafer. However, currently you can’t buy replacements directly from them. Sometimes you can find them on Chinese websites but I have seen cases where they are shipped with dead batteries.
Aftermarket TPMS/RDC Sensor Replacement
Autel TPM sensors are meant for cars but their 433MHz capable screw-in MX-Sensor will also work in the BMW R1200GS. This was successful on a 2008 R1200GS model and the MX-Sensors should also work on other model years as well. Double-check the operating frequency of the TPM sensors in your GS to be sure.
The Autel MX-Sensor supports both 315MHz and 433MHz. One caveat is that the sensors are blank and will need to be programmed. This will require the Autel MaxiTPMS TS408 tool. There are other models from Autel that will also work. Please refer to the Autel website for additional information.
Currently, the MX-Sensors are priced at $27 US each and the TS408 is at $118 US and they are available through Amazon.com. The total cost for all three is still cheaper than one OEM sensor at $233 US. There is also the added advantage that moving forward the tire pressure sensor can be replaced for only $27 US each.
Autel MX-Sensor Programming
The TPM sensor ID code for the old BMW sensors are needed if you want the new sensors to communicate to the bike ECU as a direct replacement of the old sensors (ie. no ECU programming needed). If you have already removed the old ones, the ID code is on the sensor. Else, if you have the GS-911WIFI tool, a must-have if you do your own maintenance on BMW motorcycles, then you can get the ID codes from it. The GS-911WIFI tool can also program the ECU for new TPM sensors as well if you don’t want to use or can’t get the old sensor ID values.
Here is the step-by-step process of programming the new sensors with the Autel MaxiTPMS TS408 tool:
- Select the following from the TS408 screen consecutively:
- TPMS from the main screen
- 01/2010-12/2019 (433Mhz)
- Manual Program
- Enter the hex ID code from old sensors
- Place the new MX-Sensor in the slot above the tool or have it very close
- Program the MX-Sensor
- Check the displayed values to ensure completed programming
You can now install the sensors in your wheels. When you turn the bike on, the yellow alert should no longer stay on as the ECU should see the new TPM sensors. Go for a ride and if everything is working as expected, the tire pressure values should appear on the RDC menu of the dash.
Autel MX-Sensor Profile
Beyond the extensive cost difference of the OEM TPM Sensors vs the Autel MX-Sensors, another key difference is in their profile. The OEM sensor hugs the rim creating a very low profile. The Autel MX-Sensors have a higher profile and they stick out further away from the rim.
- Front Wheel TPM Sensor hight in the wheel well:
- BMW OEM Sensor: ~0.5 inches | ~12.7mm
- Autel MX-Sensor: ~1.5 inches | ~38.1mm
- Rear Wheel:
- BMW OEM TPM Sensor ~0.75 inches | ~19.05mm
- Autel MX-Sensor ~1.25 inches | ~31.75mm
This is not an issue when running normal air pressure for street riding. However, very low air pressure may cause the sensor to break and possibly lose the seal around the valve. Besides the air pressure, this is also dependent on the stiffness of the tire and its sidewalls. I recommend paying close attention to this when airing down for off-road use.
GS911-WIFI To the Rescue
In my experience, once the programed MX-Sensors were on the R1200GS, the yellow alarm alert on the dash was no longer on. However, the tire pressure values were still not present on the RDC menu of the R1200GS dash. This was quite strange as the ECU could communicate with the sensors but it did not receive the pressure values. With the GS-911WIFI reconnected back to the bike, I had the ECU go thru the TPM Sensor relearn process via the “Learn front sensor, Wheel Set A” from the GS-911WIFI software. I then scanned the front wheel TPM sensor with the TS408 tool immediately after starting the learning process on the software. Scanning the sensor ensures to activate it.
Refer to the HEX Code GS911-WIFI website for additional information.
This process worked on both wheels. The tire pressure values appeared on both the GS-911WIFI software screen and on the RDC menu in the dash. A quick test ride also proved successful. I still need to investigate as to why using the old sensor ID’s didn’t work as expected.
The GS-911WIFI is an additional investment for this process and I don’t advocate purchasing it just to get replacement TPMS working. Granted in my experience I needed the GS-911WIFI tool to make this work but that shouldn’t be the case if the ID’s match up. However, it is a vital tool if you do your own maintenance. Besides in maintenance features, it can also clear erroneous fault codes that may prevent the bike to start; providing a great safety net when touring.
A Viable Aftermarket TPMS/RDC Sensor for the BMW R1200GS
As a motorcyclist, we tent to always want to work on our bikes either for repairs or to find ways to customize and improve them. One can easily take their R1200GS to the closest BMW dealer and pay the $ for OEM replacement TPM sensors but really what is the fun with that? Aftermarket R1200GS TPMS/RDC sensor replacement is now a viable option at a fraction of the cost. This is an interesting process to go through and it’s always good to have alternative solutions available.
Let us know if you have also used aftermarket TPMS sensors on your bike and what your experience was.
Contributed by Peyman Shahmirzadi
Peyman Shahmirzadi is a computer engineer and project manager in the high-tech industry. Peyman has a deep passion for motorcycling and all things around motorcycles since a young age. He has toured throughout the United States and in Canada on various motorcycles. He aims for the continued growth and enjoyment of motorcycling, as well as expanding the circle of motorcyclists.
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