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Importing a Vehicle (Subaru) Without TPMS - Success!

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I would like to share my experience importing my vehicle, which has no TPMS  - I am sure this topic has driven many people a little nutzo, as it did me because I really did not want to leave my car behind in Canada. My vehicle is a 2010 Subaru Impreza, purchased in Canada and paid off before time of import.My vehicle had no TPMS installed by the manufacturer and there was no way to "turn the TPMS" on as an option some vehicles may have. 

 

The first thing I did was contact Subaru (customercare@subaru.ca) for the compliance letter; I had to provide them with a picture of my vehicles registration, and they took about 2 weeks to respond by email with a compliance letter, no charge. 

 

My compliance letter stated "Our data indicates this vehicle at the time of manufacture conformed to all applicable US FMVSS, EXCEPT FOR:

- FMVSS 101 Controls and display differences (1) MPH vs KPH (2) Brake telltale (3) ABS telltale

- FMVSS 138 Tire Pressure Monitoring System

 

i didn't think it was a big deal, the TPMS, and I contacted an import company (5 of them actually) just to get a quote to see what it would cost for someone else to do the work and everyone had the same response "In order for your vehicle to become compliant with U.S. safety standards, you must have OEM TPMS installed by an authorized dealer or repair facility.  No one has been successful in completing this because OEM parts usually don't exist for vehicles that weren't originally manufactured with TPMS as an option on the vehicle." & "NHTSA approves modifications in regards to FMVSS No. 138, only performed by a certified Subaru dealer. If you can find a Subaru dealer to install the TPMS in your car, we can import it for you."

 

After receiving these kinds of responses from all 5 importers, I called four different Subaru dealers in Ontario near where I lived and called the two larger Subaru dealers in the Buffalo area and heard the same thing from all of them; basically the vehicle wasn't designed to have OEM TPMS so quite simply; it cannot be done. I even called Subaru Canada and Subaru America to speak to customer service reps..they all suggested that I do an aftermarket one, but the NHTSA says OEM only ---This is where I was super bummed out. I was going in circles. Can't install it OEM, but OEM is the only way I can import it ?? This made no sense to me. so I called the border.

 

I live in Buffalo, so I have Peace, Rainbow and the Queenston Lewiston bridges all a short driving distance from me. I mostly got automated machines and it took forever to get through, but I did manage to get through to a border agent at the QL Bridge, and I basically told him exactly what was going on regarding my TPMS troubles,  and he said that It does not have to be OEM, but it must be installed, and he referenced people in the past doing it at Canadian Tire, so I said, cool! I'll go there. 

 

Long story short for Canadian Tire - they couldn't do it for me. My vehicle doesn't have the option to turn TPMS "on" as I mentioned before. They could put the sensors on the tires but they would have no where to send the signals to...so now even more bummed and stressed out.

 

I decided to call the border back again and luckily got the same border agent who remembered me. I told him exactly what Canadian Tire told me and the issues I was having and he basically told me, the TPMS does not need to be part of the vehicle. They have imported vehicles that have external monitors (so basically aftermarket) and that as long as they can see the system installed, and I have a receipt from anywhere (either side of the border) then it will be fine. 

 

I found ONE mechanic in the Buffalo area willing to install an aftermarket TPMS system for me. I found a Schrader TPMS retrofit kit with internal sensors on Amazon for $180 and he installed it for me. I went to the QL bridge, they looked at the compliance letter, looked at the TPMS receipt, took my green card as ID, made me fill out 3 forms. After I filled them out, they stamped them, copied my registration and said go to the DMV with the paperwork, you're done here.

 

I was literally in and out in 15 minutes. I was seriously stressed out since March till now, freaking out about importing because of the TPMS. But I am so happy it all worked out! 

 

Next steps : US Insurance, DMV and Inspection.

 

 

 


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Thanks for the share. I understand why you'd wanna keep your car and glad you found a work around.  Let us know how us registration and insurance goes please!


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Very informative, I added a link to this thread in our Pinned thread. It will help keep this information easily found. 

 


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Very interesting and also very strange! I imported my car just fine without that - only things needed for import were both emissions and safety standards - all was detailed on compliance letter from the manufacturer. Nothing I saw about a TPMS required. Mine's a Dodge though, so I wonder if this is import (vs domestic) specific?

 

For your next steps, insurance and the DMV - I have experience in that as well! 

  • Keep your Canadian driver's license valid for as long as you can. This saved my butt many times! 
  • At the DMV you can get a driver's license in some cases with just a K1 (I did), but it was only valid for the 90 days end date! Once it expired, it was no use to me, but hilariously I needed it in order to register a state license plate for the car. The car's license plate is connected to this driver's license, so when it expired, I actually got pulled over! The Canadian driver's license was my saving grace.
  • Some states do NOT require a police inspection if you're not registering for resale, but it's a very simple form if you need it done, and it can be completed by literally any officer.
  • Once you get your work permit (or even green card), you can renew the driver's license up to the expiry date - and you can finally stop paying for the Canadian license. 
     
  • Insurance was a piece of cake - No problems, but definitely more expensive than what I was used to!
  • You (usually) need an SSN for car insurance. Some companies I approached wouldn't talk to me until I had that, so I also kept my Canadian provincial insurance on the car until I had US insurance and then cancelled in writing via fax. This let me drive around legally while I waited for documents like the SSN, and before I hit up the DMV.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 11/06/2018 at 7:48 PM, Peot said:

Very interesting and also very strange! I imported my car just fine without that - only things needed for import were both emissions and safety standards - all was detailed on compliance letter from the manufacturer. Nothing I saw about a TPMS required. Mine's a Dodge though, so I wonder if this is import (vs domestic) specific?

 

For your next steps, insurance and the DMV - I have experience in that as well! 

  • Keep your Canadian driver's license valid for as long as you can. This saved my butt many times! 
  • At the DMV you can get a driver's license in some cases with just a K1 (I did), but it was only valid for the 90 days end date! Once it expired, it was no use to me, but hilariously I needed it in order to register a state license plate for the car. The car's license plate is connected to this driver's license, so when it expired, I actually got pulled over! The Canadian driver's license was my saving grace.
  • Some states do NOT require a police inspection if you're not registering for resale, but it's a very simple form if you need it done, and it can be completed by literally any officer.
  • Once you get your work permit (or even green card), you can renew the driver's license up to the expiry date - and you can finally stop paying for the Canadian license. 
     
  • Insurance was a piece of cake - No problems, but definitely more expensive than what I was used to!
  • You (usually) need an SSN for car insurance. Some companies I approached wouldn't talk to me until I had that, so I also kept my Canadian provincial insurance on the car until I had US insurance and then cancelled in writing via fax. This let me drive around legally while I waited for documents like the SSN, and before I hit up the DMV.

 

 

 

If your compliance letter does not state your vehicle is not TPMS equipped (or any other deal breaker for importing) then your vehicle should be fine for importing as long as it meets the EPA/Safety. My compliance letter stated it was EPA/Safety compliant, but no TPMS installed. The border would have seen that, and not let me import it without the receipt saying a TPMS has been installed.

 

Perhaps your Dodge has the TPMS already? Both of my parents cars a  2011 Ford and 2013 Mercedes have it, but apparently there are no Subarus in Canada that have TPMS or the ability to 'activate' the TPMS. 

One importer said to me :" Sorry you can’t import that unless you can find a Subaru dealer to install an OEM TPMS. If you find one, I doubt you will,  let me know."

 

So, maybe its just Subaru that doesn't do the TPMS, I have seen many forums posts regarding this issue. :/

 

I had to relinquish my Ontario license within 30 days of moving to Buffalo. I got it in my married name after we had got married. I just brought my Ontario license and and the marriage license to the DMV. My license does not expire for 2 years. I also got my SSN within the first week of moving to the US, and then went back to change it to my married name.

 

I have lived here since October, and have only just brought my vehicle over in June for importing. My insurance covers me in the US for up to 6 months, but I have imported it within 2 weeks of bringing it across. I have insurance with Progressive as I got the best price from them, but it took a couple days for them to review my documents. Apparently insurance fraud is very common in the US, so the time between bringing my car across and getting it insured was almost a week. They asked for photos of: Green card, pay stub with address, SSN Card, old insurance policy,  ON vehicle registration slip, marriage license and drivers license. I also completed a defensive driving course online for a discount on insurance, and needed to provide proof of that.

 

After I received my ID cards from Progressive, I went to the DMV to register my vehicle. I brought the border stamped papers, my license, the bill of sale, my ON registration, 2 forms the DMV requires (registration form and tax exempt form) and the US insurance slip. I brought my marriage license as my registration and bill of sale were in my maiden name and I also brought proof that there is no lien on my vehicle from TD Bank, as I paid off my financed vehicle. I got the new NY plates on the spot. 

 

The total cost was $130 for 2 years of registration, and I received a 10 day temporary inspection sticker. Inspections cost around $20 I believe, and after that I am done for now! 

 

Edited by Orit.d

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Thanks for sharing this. This is very helpful. I am in the same boat. My KIA is not equipped with TPMS. I contacted a couple of KIA dealers in Canada and US and none of them could install an OEM TPMS on my car. So, my only option is an after market version.

Please let me know what documents you took to the border to show TPMS is installed on your car. I assume receipts from Amazon and Mechanic shop?

and were you able to register your car in U.S. successfully?

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Posted (edited)
On 7/16/2018 at 6:25 PM, Bidi said:

Thanks for sharing this. This is very helpful. I am in the same boat. My KIA is not equipped with TPMS. I contacted a couple of KIA dealers in Canada and US and none of them could install an OEM TPMS on my car. So, my only option is an after market version.

Please let me know what documents you took to the border to show TPMS is installed on your car. I assume receipts from Amazon and Mechanic shop?

and were you able to register your car in U.S. successfully?

I didn't bring the amazon receipt, just the receipt from the mechanic which states i brought my own TPMS and that he installed it! 

 

And yes i registered and got plates at the DMV the next day after the border.

Edited by Orit.d

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