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2020 Onyx Edition XT Autumn Green Metallic
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My 2020 Outback Onyx XT will be 2 weeks old tomorrow. Living in New England and doing a lot of winter driving, I wanted to get a second set of wheels mounted with winter tires (Blizzak W90s). A Subaru friend told me about TPMS cloning - basically cloning the OEM TPMS sensor IDs so the replacement winter wheels can simply be changed without having to reprogram the car's TPMS. Sounded like a convenience worth investigating - so began my venture into TPMS! Here's how it works and what I did to create my cloned winter wheel set:

First pick your wheels and tires. In my case, I "minus sized" the wheels to 17" (stock are 18") as many Outback owners advise for winter wheels. I chose KMC Rockstar wheels and mated them to Bridgestone Blizzak W90s from tirerack.com.

Next, you need a programmable TPMS sensor. Although there are a few makers fo these, I was advised to use the Schrader EZ-Sensor multi-band programmable sensor. I called Tire Rack to see if they would install and activate them for me. They can and gave me instructions to enter on the order comment field. The tires and wheels arrived the next day after I placed the order!

Now for the magic - cloning the OEM TPMS sensors. There were a lot of things I didn't know before I started this but figured worse case, a tire shop could bail me out. To clone or program TPMS you need a special tool. I researched this on these forums and the Schrader web site. Many paths led to the ATEQ TPMS Tools. Of course, their commercial tools are $$ but the VT36 TPMS Sensor Activation and Programming Tool seemed just the ticket. It has a large database of US and foreign cars and supports a number of programmable TPMS seniors (including the EZ-Sensor). I wasn't sure if it supported the new 2020 Outback so I called them and learned that a database update was going to be made available "soon" to support it. However, it appeared that the TPMS in the 2020 is the same as the 2019s so I decided to move forward. I found the best deal on the VT36 at 1sourcetool.com (https://1sourcetool.com/products/ateq-vt36-0000-tpm-sensor-activation-tool-with-universal-sensor?_pos=1&_sid=c63266251&_ss=r) with free and fast shipping too. Once the tool arrived, I installed the software on my Surface Pro and connected the VT36 to it. The software asked to update the firmware and database, so I proceeded. (note that I did have an issue with my 1 year software subscription not being activated so I had to email ATEQ customer support. They took care of it immediately). Once reprogrammed, I checked the auto data base and discovered the 2020 Outbacks are now supported!

I cloned the sensors on the OEM wheels on the Outback before installing the new winter wheels.

The instructions are clear and I followed them to the letter. Basically, you should read each OEM sensor first to make sure all is good. It was. Then you follow the Clone procedure - which first reads from the OEM TPMS sensor (which was still on the car) and then you move the target EZ-Sensor and initiate the programming. The winter wheels were labeled Passenger and Driver so I did have to make sure I cloned to an appropriate side. Note that the EZ-Sensors were installed in the winter wheels - I was not sure that they could be cloned in place as all the instructions I saw show cloning them by directly contacting the EZ-Sensor to the VT36 (or other) programming tool. I was pleased to discover that the first EZ-Sensor cloned perfectly! But the next one did not. I moved on and was able to clone the next one. I ended up with 2 wheels successfully cloned and 2 gave "communication error" on the VT36. I thought maybe the EZ-Sensors in these wheels were faulty. Long story short, I attempted to clone one of the unsuccessful ones multiple times holding the VT36 antenna at different places and angles. After a few tries, I was able to program it. I was also able to program the 4th one too but it took a few more (10 in all) tries. The antenna orientation seems to be critical for the EZ-Sensors pre-mounted in the wheels, but it was doable.

With the winter wheel sensors programmed, I swapped out the OEM wheels - making sure to replace it with the correct winter wheel. Once done, I started up the Outback and low and behold, no TPMS faults! I checked the TPMS status display and Outback sees all four winter wheel sensors with the correct air pressure I set. I went out for a ride and all seems well.

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Now that I have the VT36 tool I'll use it for routine tire pressure and TPMS battery checking on all my cars. And of course, my car buddies now know where they can borrow the tool.
 

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2020 Limited XT Pearl White
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60 Posts
so there is no way that WE can reprogram the car to see a new OE set of TPMS?

dealer only?
 

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so there is no way that WE can reprogram the car to see a new OE set of TPMS?

dealer only?
The Autel 508 will let you do a relearn via ODB. If you where to put a new set of OEM TPMS on winter tires you could then let the car know what you’ve done. In addition it can program Autel MX TPMS sensors to clone current OEM TPMS, or create new unique serial numbers. This unit will only program Autel sensors and will not reprogram Schrader sensors.
 

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'14 Subi OBW, '02 Subi OBW (gone now, but well loved), '15 Toyota Sienna, '13 Honda CR-V
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1,700 Posts
Mhackney: Good write-up! I'm sure many new Gen-VI owners will appreciate your pioneering effort.

A few comments?

1) In 2017/2018 Subaru upgraded their TPMS system, going from just a simple dash light on a 315 mhz transmission to a full dash display and 433 mhz. Along with that move, they went from a single point antenna to distributed (wheel well) antennas. So when you rotate your tires, the system will know which tire is where, and automatically adjust. That also means you really didn't need to match your directional tread winter tire positions to the stock OEM all-season positions. Mother Subaru knows, and would adjust accordingly!

2) It's great that Tirerack will supply universal EZ-sensors that you or a local shop can program yourself. In the past, they only supplied Schrader OEM sensors 28203xxxxx / 28103xxxxx and you had to get an ATEQ Quickset for seasonal swapping.

3) About programming: Not knowing exactly what you were going to ultimately do, Tirerack probably asked you what car they were going on (2020 Outback), and they gave them a generic program image before they shipped them. So they likely came with the transmission protocol appropriate for a 433 mhz Subaru application, and a random hex ID code. Awake and ready to roll as most buyers want.

Now you wanted to overwrite those 4 codes to change the hex ID to match your 4 all-season tires. Curious, did you air down the tires first before trying this? Hint: Sensors are generally reluctant to accept a change in software when they are in use. Just imagine some turd jackwagon walking thru a parking lot with his VT36 or equivalent and randomly screwing other car owners by hijacking their TPMS sensors!

For this reason, and it varies by sensor manufacturer how they safeguard this, you have to put the sensors into a 'receptive state' to accept your tool transmission and implement the change. I know that with Autel MX programmables you need to drop the pressure by 10 psi before they will listen. They like zero psi the best. And as you stated, you were programming thru the wheel which can be a bit more tricky than just 'reading' thru the wheel.

Lastly, did you ping the new sensors first to see if they were awake? Pinging uses a low frequency 125 khz 'wake up and give me your data!' call. I wonder if you jump right to programming without waking up first if they might be slow to respond.

Any or all of this might explain why you had so much difficulty.

4) About tools: Autel TS-x08 tools are stupidly cheap, but you are buying into a walled garden. You must buy Autel programmable sensors if you want to clone. I was OK with that, as their sensors are crazy cheap to buy as well. I was buying my wheels from once source, tires from another, sensors from a third, and taking it all to a local shop for mount & balance. But if you buy a 'package' from Tirerack, your route worked well, with one exception.....

The Ateq VT36 is just a 'wheel tool'. At $175 it's priced right for your intended use. I had an Autel TS408, and that was $120 new, so same ballpark.

The next step up is a wheel tool (read and clone) that also has an OBD interface. That allows you to do the functions of the ATEQ Quickset (seasonal tire changeover for traditional different sensor ID's). I have 4 vehicles in the household (16 winter tires!), and only 1 is cloned. So I walk around and ping the 4 sensors after putting them on the vehicle, plug into the OBD port, and upload them to replace what was there. No PC interface needed as with the Quickset.

Plus, the OBD equipped TPMS tools can do a whole lot of diagnostics like download and clear TPMS DTC's, etc. Valuable when your vehicle gets older and problems occur (dying TPMS batteries, etc.).

Now this is where things get weird and not consumer-friendly. Moving up from an Autel TS408 to a full function TS508 is an extra $150. I think I paid around $225 last year for the TS508. Priced right for the extra functionality. Go from an ATEQ VT36 to a VT56 and you need to find an extra $600 or so?? They get like $800+ for these things! That's overpriced for what you get. Fine for a volume shop, but not for the home mechanic.

Anyhow, hope this helps!
 
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