Both systems are effective... Just remember which system is cheaper for YOU. The consumer.
The Corvette type with a sensor at each wheel can do cool things like tell you the exact temperature and PSI of each tire. They can even alert you to a tire defect before you set off driving. But there are drawbacks too...
4 new sensors if you get snow tires (unless you want to unmount your summer tires to retrieve the old ones, and vice-versa in the summer when you switch-back).
Batteries in the sensors typically do not last as long as the tread-life of the tire (unless you go through tires like water).
Sensors require more wheel weights to balance rim, and have been reportedly dis-lodged (requires a re-balance, or dis-mount and remount of the tire to tighten the sensor). Newer sensor designs are getting a lot better though - counterbalanced bands, better rubber pads or even adhesives used in the install.
Sometimes sensors are damaged during a tire dis-mount (most occurs when you go to a quick-change shop, and don't tell 'em you have the sensors installed).
The sensor system certainly has the 'wow' factor nailed, but the ABS sensor type are also quite good.
Changing wheel sizes or even overall outside diameter will not affect the MINI's system, since it compares the rotation of the four tires. The only thing this would limit, would be running different size tires kiddy corner to each other, such as larger front drag wheels. But then again if you're dragging, who cares if a light is on...
I suppose this would also affect anyone running their front tires at a dramatically lower pressure for dragging. But dragging is surely not what the MINI is about.
If you went aftermarket with the other system, you could still have the sensor bands swapped to the new rims. And the sensors work with anything really.
I got the impression that the MINI system stores a ratio, and then signals the driver, if that ratio changes enough. If it didn't, then we're likely going to have to rotate our tires very often, to assure absolutely even tire wear. I haven't heard anyone complain about the need for that yet. It seems that a simple reset witch under the hand brake resets the ratio.
Anybody else find the headline and spin on the article, not very accurate?
It's not that auto manufacturers are suddenly being allowed to substitute cheaper parts than were used in the past. The headline hints at a story where auto manufacturers are cutting corners. It's quite the opposite.
Rather, thanks to new low cost solution, passenger cars may get safer. A new system of sensing when a tire starts to lose air, is made possible by using the existing mandated anti-lock brake sensors. The system is inexpensive enough to be mandated industry wide. Every car manufactured starting in November of 2003 will be required to have a tire pressure warning system.
This isn't a case of taking an existing vehicle part and substituting a cheaper alternative. It's about bringing cost down to a point that all cars can benefit from the extra safety. Very few cars on the road have these systems.
You made some excellent points. There are tradeoffs, but the solution should favor the simple over the sophisticated, as the sophisticated are not only more costly but more prone to fail or neglect proper maintenance. The Edmunds article was misleading.
I used to rely heavily on Edmunds, but more recently I have begun to lose confidence, not only because objectivity has been lacking, but also outright accuracy. When the reader begins to suspect they either have an agenda or they haven't done sufficient research, then it's time to look elsewhere for advice.
The other morning, the tyre pressure warning light on my MINI ONE flashed at me for the first time. I had been driving for about half a mile and the light started blinking at me.
It didn't feel like I had a puncture but I obviously pulled over to check it out. Sure enough my nearside front tyre was quite soft, not flat, but softer than the rest. So i duely, carried on to the nearest garage and pumped it up.
Have to say I am very impressed with the sensor as it alerted me straight away before the tyre was flat enough to cause a problem. I am also impressed at the fact it worked so well with my aftermarket 17" alloys fitted which was a concern when I first fitted them.
I don't really understand much about how it works but I'm pleased that it does.