Why I Am Pulling My Recommedation Of The Nonda Zus Smart Tire Safety Monitor

Late last year I got my hands on the Zus Smart Tire Safety Monitor by Nonda and gave it a glowing review. But today I am pulling that recommendation because of a pretty fatal design flaw that only became evident recently. The external sensors which screw onto your valve stems are made of metal. However they don’t seem to made of a metal that resists what is called galvanic corrosion which Wikipedia defines as:

Galvanic corrosion (also called bimetallic corrosion) is an electrochemical process in which one metal corrodes preferentially when it is in electrical contact with another, in the presence of an electrolyte.

In this case, the valve stems and the sensors which are both made of metal fuse together when in the presence of salt water (road salt is used to keep the roads free of ice and that becomes salt water when the temperature is high enough) as that would qualify as an electrolyte. That keeps you from being able to remove the sensors to add air to your tires. That’s a pretty stunning design flaw as you would think that Nonda would have factored that into the design of the product. But clearly they didn’t as reports of this are popping up on their forms which indicates that this is a widespread problem:

https://f.nonda.co/t/sensors-stuck/9443/4

https://f.nonda.co/t/galvanic-corrosion-what-metal-is-in-the-thread-inside-zus-tpms/8540/5

Now in one of the threads above, the company claims that this was factored in. But seeing as I among others have this issue, that’s clearly not the case. In my case, the sensors on the rear wheels are stuck and cannot be removed. As it stands I have made an appointment to have the valve stems cut off and replaced at a local tire shop later today. I will update this post with pictures once that takes place. I will also be removing this product from my car. If you are using this product, I would recommend checking to see if you can remove the sensors on the valves. And if you wish to continue using product, my only suggestion is to use dielectric grease which in theory should stop this from happening. But I won’t go as far as to guarantee that. A better course of action might be to stop using the product until Nonda fully addresses this.

This is very disappointing as my previous experiences with products from Nonda have been all positive. Now if Nonda addresses this issue and designs a product that doesn’t have this fatal flaw, I would be willing to re-review it. But in the here and now I am taking the action of not recommending this product and I have updated my original review accordingly. To be clear, any other Nonda product that I have reviewed is not affected. Only the Zus Smart Tire Safety Monitor is affected by this.

UPDATE: A trip to Tires23 and $50 later, I have two new valve stems and the last two sensors removed. I took a picture of what one of them looked like to show you why it was stuck.

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If you look closely at the threads that allow the sensor to be screwed onto the valve stem, you’ll see that a thread close to the top of the sensor is a white color as opposed to being metallic in color. I sent this photo and a few others to a client of mine who is also a Materials Science professor at the University of Toronto and he confirmed that this is galvanic corrosion and that if Nonda thinks the materials that they use are resistant to this, then this should be proof that they aren’t. He also believes that anyone, anywhere who uses this product will have this problem and not just someone who is in a snowy part of the world.

UPDATE #2: Nonda saw my Tweets about this and have reached out to ask me to send them an email to their customer service department. That’s a bit of a #fail because if I had a ticked off customer who was actively blogging about a product that was problematic, I’d be doing everything possible to reach out to them via e-mail, phone, smoke signal, or whatever. I wouldn’t be telling the customer to reach out to me as that will leave a bad taste in their mouth. But in any case, I did so at 6AM and directed them to this post. I also asked them what they plan to do to address this issue so that users of this product don’t have the experience that I and others have had. If/When I get an answer, I’ll post it here.

UPDATE #3: Nonda has recommended that I return the defective sensors to them and they’ll ship out two new ones. The shipping to them will be at my own expense as I am not in the US by the way which doesn’t exactly leave a great taste in my mouth so to speak. More importantly, they did not answer the question as to what they’re going to do to ensure that this issue stops being an issue going forward. I point that out because I’ve had five people email me to say that upon reading this story they checked their tire sensors and have found anywhere from one to all four fused to their valve stems. So, I directed them to contact Nonda’s customer service department for assistance. But it’s pretty clear that this is becoming a widespread problem that Nonda will somehow have to deal with, if it isn’t already.

UPDATE #4: I’ve been tracking the shipment of the defective sensors and they should arrive at Nonda’s US office in a day or two. But in the meantime, I have been tracking this story online and via my inbox. In terms of the latter, I continue to get emails from people who have stuck sensors on their tire valves. I re-direct those people to Nonda customer service. But more people have popped up on their forums with this issue as well. What I am not seeing is any statement from Nonda that says that they’re looking into a remedy for this rather stunning design flaw and that relief is on the way. In the absence of that, it gives the impression that Nonda is hoping that this will simply go away. Thus the company would be well advised to say something so that this impression doesn’t turn into a bigger PR nightmare than they already have.

UPDATE #5: Clearly Nonda is sensitive to this. Less than 60 minutes after posting my last update, I got this via Twitter:

You can be sure that I will be holding them to that and if they don’t deliver, I’ll post it here.

UPDATE #6: So a lot has happened…. and not happened at the same time. First, Nonda sent me this note earlier this week. I have copied and pasted the contents exactly as it was sent to me:

We are following up on the sensors you have returned. After checking it seems that we are due to receive it sometime today based on the tracking.

We’ve already consulted with our hardware team about this and it seems a long-term solution would take some time before it can be implemented. Since we know it might happen again even if we send you replacement sensors, we would like to offer you a refund of your purchase instead and we would send it via PayPal. However, if you really do want to still use the ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor, we would be happy to send replacements though it would mean a monthly maintenance for you of putting the dielectric grease recommended by your mechanic. Would you please let us know how you want to proceed? Looking forward to your reply soon.

What that suggests is that they have had enough complaints from customers with the same issue that it sounds like maybe someday a new version that isn’t prone to galvanic corrosion will come out. You’ll understand if I don’t take that to the bank as I frankly don’t see that happening. Though Nonda is free to prove me wrong on that front. You’ll also note that now they are suggesting that there should be a monthly regime of putting dielectric grease on the valve stems so that the sensors don’t get stuck. Now that does make sense, but I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that anyone who buys these tire sensors net new are not going to get that memo because the documentation that comes with this kit won’t change and the grease won’t come with the kit. Thus they’re going to end up in the same situation that I along with others have ended up in. Which is having the sensors fuse to the valve stems. Which means that this problem won’t go away for Nonda.

#Fail

In any case, I went for the option to get two new sensors as I am not opposed to what they are suggesting. But at the same time, I am on the hunt for a new tire pressure monitoring system for my car. Once I do my research and decide on something, I’ll post a review here.

So, that’s the part about what happened. What hasn’t happened is that the replacement sensors haven’t shipped. You see, the last communication where I confirmed my address happened three days ago. At that time, I was promised that I would get a notification that the replacement sensors have shipped. Thus far, nothing has arrived in my inbox saying that anything has shipped. And I really don’t think that it takes days to pack and ship anything these days. At this point, I really don’t care. I did back these guys during their crowdfunding campaign based on the fact that my previous experiences with them indicated that they make quality products. But after this experience, I’ll avoid buying their products as the experience with their Smart Tire Monitor System left a really bad taste in my mouth.

Oh yeah, the removal of my recommendation of this product will remain in place as well.

UPDATE #7: So much for my last update being my final update.

Five minutes after posting my last update, this arrived via Twitter:

They could have sent me an update via email days ago saying that there was a delay as opposed to saying nothing and then having me post an update on a blog that thousands of people a day read talking about the lack of an update. That’s just customer service 101. In any case, we’ll see if something shows up via email today to give me a status update. Either way, you’ll read about it here.

UPDATE #8: It’s 9PM on Friday Feb. 9th and Nonda has failed to deliver on the promise that they communicated by Twitter to update me via email. Not that I am surprised as Nonda has not handled this whole situation in a professional manner. Having said that, I know that they have received the defective sensors as I tracked the package from start to finish.

UPDATE #9: It’s 9:30 AM Tuesday Feb. 13th and I got a shipping notification in my inbox overnight. It appears that the company is shipping me a completely new unit. Though it took way longer than the update that they promised me last week. Clearly Nonda has bigger issues than tire sensors that get stuck on valves as their ability to deliver on what they promise when they promise it seems to be problematic as well. Now, let’s see if I actually get it.

UPDATE #10: I actually got it, and it was a completely new unit. I guess they figured that it was the fastest way to make me go away. It’s currently sitting in my den until I can figure out what to do with it. In other words, is it going to go back on my car, or I am going to go in another direction.

UPDATE #11: A final update on this issue can be found here.

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8 Responses to “Why I Am Pulling My Recommedation Of The Nonda Zus Smart Tire Safety Monitor”

  1. […] UPDATE: I have pulled my recommendation of this product due to the fact that this product was not designed to resist galvanic corrosion. As a result, two of the sensors became stuck on the valve stems which required me to have them cut off and replaced. More details here. […]

  2. Richard Pearce Says:

    Yup! I read about Zus Smart Tire Monitor here, bought them, and now have to take my Hyundai in to have all the tires taken off, valve stems cut off, and new valve stems put on and tires rebalanced.
    It would have been so simple for the manufacturer to have recommended grease, however, maybe wherever they are, they perhaps have no concept of Ontario’s salted roads.
    This is not going to be a cheap fix!

    • It cost me $50 for two new valve stems at a local tire shop called Tires23. I didn’t need to re-balance anything and I find it strange that you would need to do that. There’s clearly a problem here that Nonda needs to address. But so far, all that I have seen via their forum is people raging about the sensors getting stuck and the person who runs their forum getting Customer Service to reach out to them. It does not appear that the company is really trying to figure out what this is happening. That’s part of the reason why I pulled my recommendation of this product.

  3. […] readers of this blog will know that I pulled the recommendation of the Zus Smart Tire Monitor by Nonda recently because of a pretty stunning design flaw which is […]

  4. […] readers of this blog will recall that I highlighted a stunning design flaw in the Nonda Zus Smart Tire Monitoring System. The flaw is that the sensors that mount on the valve […]

  5. […] Monitor System where the external sensors were getting stuck due to galvanic corrosion. I’ve written several stories on this topic since I came across the issue, but now I’m adding one more to […]

  6. Even I am on a hunt for a new tire pressure monitoring system for my car. My car mechanic told me that there are some issues with this car part and then I contacted my friend regarding this issue. He told me that this auto part would be easily available online and I can order it online without struggling to buy it from the market.

  7. […] about the issues with galvanic corrosion that the Nonda Smart Tire Monitoring System has back in January of this year. There were a few more articles that I wrote about it since. And I thought that things have […]

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