Fobo Tire Bluetooth TPMS Review

Friday 7 August 2015

By James Mosley @jamesmosley182

Fobo Tire Bluetooth TPMS Review

Checking tyre pressures regularly is something that’s easily forgotten, and a significant drop in pressure is all but too easy not to notice until it’s too late. Even if you have a newer vehicle with some kind of TPMS system built in, often these systems are not that great and only installed by the manufacturer in order to meet the minimum legal requirements. So wouldn’t it be great if you could simply pull out your smartphone to check your tyre pressures at any time with notifications if a tyre drops below normal? Fobo think they have the answer with their Fobo Tire TPMS.

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Fobo Tire is a system that uses an individual tyre sensor hidden in each valve cap, and Bluetooth 4.0 technology in order to send tyre pressure data to a dedicated app on your Android or iOS smartphone. It works 24/7 and also sends real time temperature data to your phone too, providing you are within Bluetooth range, which is about 30 metres assuming there are no obstructions.

Package Contents:

  • 4 – Tyre sensors (with CR2032 batteries included)
  • 1 – In Car unit (with 2 AA size batteries included)
  • 6 – Lock nuts
  • 2 – Lock nut wrenches

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When you first open up the Fobo Tire package, it appears there are quite a few bits to get your head around in order to set these up, but in truth it’s actually very simple. Fobo quotes set up time of around 5 minutes, which after completing it I would say is entirely plausible for most people. Even if you had to fiddle around a bit with the lock nuts, this should take you 10 minutes maximum – it really is that simple.

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Pretty much all you have to do is download the app from your smartphones respective store (iOS 7.1 or Android 4.3 and above is required) and follow the ons screen set up instructions. You pull the battery tab from inside the in car unit and hold the button to connect this to the app first of all. After you’ve done this, you install each sensor one at a time, with the app connecting to each sensor as you go, presumably so it can learn which sensor is on which tyre. You can also go into your cars profile and customise it with various settings such as minimum/maximum pressures as well as your preference as to which units to use for both pressure and temperature.

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The main in car unit has to stay in the car to communicate with the sensors, as this part is not water proof unlike the sensors themselves. Fobo recommend that you fix this under the dash, although to be honest it really doesn’t matter providing it is in earshot and easy to get at. This is because the main unit can act as a back up with bleeps and flashes, even pointing you to the correct tyre that is causing a problem. The in car unit takes 2 AA batteries with each sensor running on a CR2032 battery. Fobo state the batteries should last for up to 2 years with normal use and temperature so you don’t have to worry about changing them too often.

With the system installed, checking your tyre pressures really is a breeze, and is now simply a case of pulling out your smartphone and loading the app – you don’t even need the ignition on. The app will send you a “soft alert” if a tyre drops below the minimum limit, and will alert you with more urgency if there is a more significant problem such as if a sensor has gone missing or stopped working.

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We all know it’s annoying when tyre valve caps go missing or get stolen, and Fobo has thought of this too, particularly due to the fact that the sensors cost significantly more to replace than standard valve caps as you would expect. With this in mind, Fobo has included a clever lock nut system in the kit, which while it will not prevent the sensors from being removed completely, it certainly makes it more challenging without the correct tool. If I was to have one concern though, I would be worried that any would be thief could actually end up damaging your valve/wheel trying to remove the sensor, thus causing more expense than they would have done by simply stealing the sensor. Having said that though, the options to lock something like this are always going to be fairly limited and Fobo have probably done the best they can here. Interestingly, the main in car box is also coded to one particular account at a time, so until it is released by that account, it cannot be used with another.

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The Fobo tire sensors are completely waterproof (IP57 rated) so will take pretty much whatever the weather throws at them. They are also fairly light at just 10g so as not throw of your wheel balancing. If I had one criticism though, they are a little on the large side. To be fair, they’re only a little wider than the CR2032 battery inside them, but I can’t help thinking the size and look of these may put some people off what is otherwise a very good and simple to use system. I wonder if in the next version Fobo will be able to use a slightly smaller battery such as a CR2025 or even Cr2016 to improve this without significantly affecting battery life.  The size isn’t a major problem, and I think if you had slightly shorter valve stems it would be less of an issue, but a slight size reduction wouldn’t go amiss.

To be honest, other than the slight issue with the bulk of the sensor, there’s little else to complain about when it comes to the Fobo Tire TPMS. Fobo seem to have really hit the nail on the head when it comes to taking a great idea and making it really simple and easy to use. With that in mind, I can happily say that I can easily recommend the Fobo Tire system. It’s a smart system that does what it says on the tin, and is very good at doing it. It looks like it’s time to retire the trusty old pressure gauge!

Specifications:

  • Operational pressure range: 0 to 350 kPa
  • Operational temperature range: -40 to 85°C
  • Tire sensor & In-Car unit battery life: up to 2 years (at 25°C rated temperature)
  • Water & Dust resistant: IP57
  • Tire sensor weight: 10g each
  • Certification: FCC, CE, BQB and RoHS
  • Sensor structural threshold: 350N ball pressure intensity test
  • Mechanical & Environmental Reliability Testing Standards: IEC 60068-2-2, IEC 60068-2-1, ISO 21750, IEC 60068-2-29, IEC 60068-2-5, IEC 60068-2-32, ISO 15184, ISO 2409
  • Compatible with Android 4.3 and above as well as iOS 7.1 and above

The Fobo Tire TPMS is available to purchase from Maplins and at the time of writing (August 2015) costs £99.99 in the UK

 

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