Aftermarket Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) can contribute to improved vehicle safety and fuel economy. FOBO was one of the first companies to enter this important market and it deserves credit for being a pioneer. However, the technology is not as good (nor as good a value) as later entrants to the market.
What is it?
FOBO Tire Plus (FTP) is an after-market tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) that integrates with virtually any smart phone.
Does it work?
Yes, but the technology needs to be substantially improved in v2.0 and priced lower.
You get timely and accurate tire pressure readings delivered right to your phone – no need to break out a gauge every two weeks.
The user experience is not particularly pleasant. FTP beeps at the user almost incessantly. The useful life in the sensor batteries is quite short, which adds cost and hassle to owning and operating FTP. At $104.61, most recently on Amazon, it is still too expensive for most consumers, even with the safety and fuel efficiency benefits it provides, especially with other entrants now in the market.
If you do not have a TPMS in your car that reports actual tire pressure (many do not), and you are unlikely to rigorously check your tire pressure every two weeks, then you should buy an aftermarket TPMS that integrates with your smartphone. However, we cannot recommend FTP because there are substantially better products in the market.
As many reports – including our own – have shown, underinflated tires can put you at a greater risk of an accident, increase wear on your tires and reduce your fuel efficiency. Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) do not necessarily prevent underinflation. Many only tell you when your pressure is very low, sometimes as low as 25% underinflated, at which point you are Driving2Lose. Despite the risks, many of us do not check our tires as much as we should because we are busy and other chores rank higher on the to do list. Looking for a solution for time-crunched drivers, we discovered FOBO Tire Plus (FTP), the world’s first Blutetooth TPMS.
FTP delivers instant tire pressure readings for each of your car’s tires directly to your phone and alerts when there is a problem. You can check your tire pressure at any moment with a tap of your finger. Needless to say, we were excited to get our hands on this new technology and put it through its paces.
Opening the package, the product is neatly organized with 4 round tire sensors, an in-car remote, lock bolts, a special wrench designed specifically for FOBO Tire and detailed installation instructions. The installation process is straightforward – install the FOBO app (available at the Apple App Store or Google Play), take off the old dust caps on each tire valve, screw on the FOBO sensors and use the lock bolt to prevent theft. After installing each sensor, you must touch your phone to the sensor to pair it before moving on. We had some difficulty with one of the sensors, but eventually it did work. Looking at our wheels, the sensor fit discretely and did not draw much attention.
There were other installation challenges. We discovered that the lock bolts do not exactly lock. They merely make it harder to remove the sensors. On the plus side, you do not have to worry about losing the wrench.
How did the product itself fare? The app itself is intuitive and simple. It provided accurate readings of the tire pressure as weather, time of day and how driving heated or cooled the tires. However, the product beeped incessantly and we labored in vain to find a way to turn it off. The remote beeps (unnecessarily) every time you turn on your car and whenever a sensor has a low battery (which is often). In addition, if your phone’s Bluetooth is off, FTP will send you constant reminders to turn it on so that it can connect. We believe that FTP would benefit from a silent/vibrate preference in the remote and app. It would improve upon the user experience significantly.
From our tests, the biggest flaw was the short battery life for the sensors. Each sensor contains a CR2032 watch batter. No battery lasted more than 3 weeks during our review. While these batteries are relatively inexpensive, the hassle and cost of changing them out more than once a month makes the system no better than manually checking your tires every two weeks (at a much lower cost). Finding a solution to this issue may be technically challenging for FTP, but we believe that the sensors could monitor tire pressure much less frequently and communicate their findings much less often without sacrificing any safely or fuel efficiency benefits from the system. This should reduce battery usage.