If the Corvette were a person, whom would it be? A world-class American athlete such as sprinter Carl Lewis is an obvious choice, but what about Benjamin Franklin, or Thomas Edison?
The comparison isn’t as strained as you might think. In addition to its role as GM’s performance flagship, the Corvette has long led the way in bringing advanced engineering concepts to fruition on the production line. From the pioneering use of fiberglass body components and fully independent suspension systems in the ’50s and ’60s to the more recent applications of carbon fiber and magnetorheological shock absorbers, America’s favorite sports car boasts a record of technological achievement that is unparalleled in the world of domestic production cars.
The downside to this ever-increasing reliance on technology can be seen in the level of complexity the car has attained in recent years, one that has effectively relegated the diagnosis and repair of even seemingly minor component failures to the province of professional mechanics. That said, there remain a number of fixes that can be performed by a reasonably competent DIYer, provided one simply knows how.
01. Begin the job by pulling...
01. Begin the job by pulling back the carpet in the left rear portion of the cargo area to expose the factory TPMS receiver. Note that this unit also functions as the receiver for the car’s Remote Keyless Entry (RKE) system.
In this article, we’ll address a common failure among fifth-generation Corvettes, that of the tire-pressure monitoring system, or TPMS. For while the science behind the system’s operation itself is relatively complex, in practice it comprises only four sensors and a receiver, all of which can be replaced with a modicum of effort.
Since our subject Corvette was a ’99 model, we elected to upgrade its TPMS hardware to the superior ’01-’04 pieces. The latter may be ordered new from any GM dealer (the older units, while still available through eBay and certain specialty outlets, have been discontinued and therefore tend to be more expensive), and have the additional benefits of being more durable and reliable.
02. Disconnect the receiver...
02. Disconnect the receiver and remove it from the car. It’s shown here (top) next to the newer unit.
If you’re planning to perform this upgrade yourself, you’ll need to order the following GM parts:
- Receiver PN 10312535
- Receiver Pigtail PN 12102635 (includes butt connectors)
- Fob (1) PN 25695954
- Fob (2) PN 25695955 (Note: Having two differently encoded fobs will enable you to program separate “his and hers” settings for the power seats and other memory features.)
- Tire-Pressure Sensors PN 25773946 (quantity: 4)
As we have so often in the past, we relied on Greg Lovell, from Seffner, Florida–based tuning house AntiVenom, to perform the actual work while we snapped photos and feigned mechanical competence. (Note that Lovell sells all of the necessary parts in kit form, and will be happy to install them for you if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.) Follow along now as we take you through the process.
03. Install the new pigtail...
03. Install the new pigtail on the new receiver and trim the wires as shown. Lovell added labels to show where each wire will need to go when the new receiver is attached to the factory harness.
04. Cut the three wires on...
04. Cut the three wires on the factory connector as shown.
05. Attach the new receiver...
05. Attach the new receiver to the harness using the butt connectors that came with the pigtail kit. Be sure to follow the wire-to-wire color orientation shown on the labels.
06. This photo shows the...
06. This photo shows the new receiver properly connected to the harness. Reinstall the receiver assembly in its factory location, reposition the carpet, and you’re ready to move on to the tire-pressure sensors.
07. On factory—and most aftermarket—wheels,...
07. On factory—and most aftermarket—wheels, the new sensors simply install in place of the old ones, where they serve double duty as valve stems. The Forgeline wheels on our subject car, however, use a slightly different configuration with an integral, inboard-mounted bracket. Regardless of the type of wheel your car has, you’ll need to have a tire shop complete this step.
08. Here’s the wheel with...
08. Here’s the wheel with the installed sensor just visible at the 7 o’clock position. Repeat this step for the other three wheels, mount the tires, bolt up the rolling assemblies, and the mechanical portion of the job is complete. See the accompanying sidebars for information on programming your new tire-pressure sensors and fobs. vette