Faulty TPMS (tire pressure monitor sensor) flashing light fix or TPMS disable on mk6 VW Golf TDI

VW Golf have a problem with the tire pressure monitor sensor settings where the low pressure light comes on even though the tire air pressure is fine.  This article shows how to fix it.  This is not a recall, it's a required vehicle update software flash.  You can also change the TPMS value.

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On VW Golf, the tire pressure monitor light sometimes comes on because it somehow resets itself to look for 5.5 bar (79 psi) instead of 2.6 bar (37.7 psi) of air pressure.  There is a dealer software flash to correct this.  In the meantime, you can fix it yourself or disable the TPMS light by activating the hidden TPMS system so that it's still functional.

Warning: Do not disable the TPMS light or tamper with the TPMS system if it's not legal where you live and/or operate the vehicle.  If equipped, a functional TPMS warning light is required in the US under Federal requirement FMVSS 138.

If you live or operate the vehicle in the US, do not tamper with the TPMS warning light because it's illegal even for off-road use, with aftermarket wheels, second owners, or with third-party owners or operators.  That's the reason the dealer or independent repair shop will not disable the TPMS light or disable the TPMS system.  As of this writing, it's legal on a federal level to have a system that doesn't detect tire pressure due to dead batteries or bad sensors but the TPMS warning light or federally mandated TPMS system must not be disabled.  A bad sensor, missing sensor, or worn TPMS battery will still be in compliance because the TPMS warning light will be on and the system is still working as intended.  As always, make sure the tires have a safe amount of air pressure as specified in your owner's manual.  There may also be further state or locals laws which regulate the operation or status of the TPMS, always comply with them.  You take all responsibility for you and any third party affected by your actions if you disable the TPMS system or modify it in any way, you must read the TOS Agreement for the full legal disclaimer before continuing.

Here is a thumbnail image of a TPMS sensor mounted to the wheel (click to enlarge).

In addition to having a functional TPMS system and warning light, all new cars sold in the US are required to have the system function with the TPMS light off (meaning working sensors and acceptable air pressure).  The TPMS are covered under the car warranty.  This means that even if the dealer swaps non-OEM wheels on the car, TPMS sensors must be installed in the non-OEM wheels.

On all VW TDI, a flashing TPMS light for one minute and then a steady light means a TPMS malfunction.

The battery life of a VW or Audi TPMS sensor is about 6-9 years depending on use.  The battery is non serviceable and sealed in resin.  To replace the sensor you have to remove the tire and pull the sensor out from inside the wheel.

You know if you have TPMS sensors in the wheel if your valve stem is stiff and has an exterior nut holding it in place.  A VW or Audi TPMS is shown right.  Only the valve stem (bottom part) is visible outside the wheel.  The black part goes inside the wheel.  The valve stem also acts like an antenna in case the signal is shielded by the wheel.

There were older TPMS systems starting in 2007 that didn't use any tire air pressure sensors - they estimated tire pressure by calculating the change in tire diameter from the ABS sensors.  All 2011 and newer VW use this system and do not have any TPMS sensors in the wheels.  Late build 2010 models might have the ABS sensor based system. If your car's control modules are compatible, you can change from the pressure sensor system to the ABS sensor based system, see http://www.myturbodiesel.com/1000q/a6/activate-tpms-system-vw-golf.htm for more details.

Lastly, the flashing TPMS light could actually be a bad sensor or of course, low air pressure.  The sensors trip if they go 25% below the recommended air pressure.


one ross tech VCDS cable and software
tire pressure gauge

Procedure to fix flashing TPMS light on VW

First, make sure the tire pressure is adequate.  Check the driver's side door panel or owner's manual to see what the recommended tire pressure is.  Do not go above the cold maximum tire pressure listed on the tire sidewall.  For the 2010 VW Golf TDI, this is 38 psi.

If the TPMS sensors are tripped they sometimes need to see a certain "reset" pressure to turn themselves off.  Add more air to the tires but not above the cold max pressure.

If the problem really is the TPMS, take it to the dealer for them to update the module that controls the TPMS.

If you wish to fix it yourself to immediately turn off the light, first plug in your VCDS cable and start the software.  Make sure the green LED on the cable is lit.  Click on "Select" to access the control modules.

Click on "65-Tire pressure" and you'll see this screen.  Click on "Security Access".

Enter the code 01503.  Go back to the above screen and click on "Adaptation".

I believe the dealer fix is slightly different and may be to change the code (under the Coding -07 screen).  The code for North American tire pressure code should be 0100101.  For manual input of specified pressure (service code), I believe you use 010010.  For the rest of the world, it should be 0161211 and 0161210 for manual pressure input.  I'm not sure if you have to use the service code to change the set tire pressure in adaptation.

Click "Up" to get to channel 5.  This is specified front axle tire pressure at full load.
Channel 6 is specified front axle tire pressure at partial load.
Channel 7 is specified rear axle tire pressure at full load.
Channel 8 is specified rear axle tire pressure at partial load.  In North America, these should all be set to 26 (2.6 bar).

If your car is having the setting problem it will have 55 under Stored value.  This is 5.5 bar.  Enter a New value of 26, click Test, and then save.  Do this for each tire.

In the demo car's case, all channels 5-8 were set to 26 (2.6 bar).  If they are already at 26 and your TPMS system is malfunctioning, you have some other problem.

If you want to change the system pressure, enter a new value below and save it.  Note - do not change this value if it's not legal where you live or operate the car.  See the TOS Agreement for the full legal disclaimer - change it back for any third party drivers and before you sell the car.

How to use VCDS to check the tire pressure sensors

From the previous last screen, you can also click on "Measuring blocks" to see what tire pressure the sensors are seeing.  Click "Up" to go through the groups.  Block 1 (the first box on left) shows which wheel, block 2 shows the temperature it sees  (I think), block 3 shows pressure it sees (I think), block 4 shows the TPMS setting.  In this example, Group 7 is wheel 3 after the car was driven for an hour in the summer.  52oC is 125oF.

How to temporarily disable your VW Golf TPMS system and warning light

See the warning at the top and the TOS Agreement for the full legal disclaimer.  This procedure is only for temporary diagnostics purposes.  Do not operate the vehicle on public roads in the US without the Federally mandated TPMS system or if it's not legal where you live and/or operate the car.

Go back to the module screen and click on "CAN Gateway".  Click on "long coding".  Click on "long coding helper".

You'll see the screen below.  Uncheck tire pressure monitoring.  Close the long coding helper and it'll automatically cut/paste your new code under "new code".  Click "Do it!" to save.  Exit.  It's now disabled.  Enable it before you go on public roads or highways.

If you have more questions about the TPMS system on VW or sensor replacement, please ask in the myturbodiesel forums linked at the top or search below: