NoNDA is a company that has been bringing automotive centric technology to the masses for a few years now. According to the company, the name nonda is a combination of the words “No and NDA” which is the philosophy that drives their product development and design. They even have a beta program that provides samples via invitation to those that register on their site. Their products seem to be well received on the major retail sites but reviews for their higher-end products such as the Tire Safety Monitor we will be reviewing here are somewhat mixed. Overall they seem to have a solid offering, now, on to the review!
If you don’t know what TPMS is then you probably don’t need it or already have it. If you do know what it is or want to I’ll give you a quick overview of the tech and how it may be beneficial to you. So what is TPMS? Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems are a standard feature of most modern cars. There are two main types of TPMS, Direct and Indirect. Direct TPMS uses sensors that are placed on/in each individual tire. In OEM systems the entire valve stem may be the sensor (typically made of metal instead of rubber) or with aftermarket applications, the sensor could be screwed onto the stem like a valve cap (a really expensive one). The most prevalent TPMS system is the Direct type since it’s the most accurate.
With Direct TPMS you are provided with precise pressure and also temperature readouts on some models. There are a few limitations with this type of TPMS compared to the Indirect option. The main one being that in the event that you have to replace a wheel or sensor you may have to withdraw some of your savings to pay for it. Direct sensors are also very susceptible to damage from any significant impact to the wheels that may not affect the indirect sensors. Another downside of the direct systems is that most dealers and tire shops will charge you a fee if you have built-in TPMS sensors and finally if you’re into aftermarket wheels you may have to replace your TPMS system all together…ouch.
As far as Indirect TPMS is concerned there’s not much to say. This type of monitoring is usually handled by a car’s ABS sensors and it’s practically useless. Indirect TPMS works by calculating the circumference of the tires via the rotational speed of the wheels. The main theory behind the technology is that a tire with low pressure will rotate faster than one with a higher pressure since the diameter will be less on the former. The ABS sensor will sense this difference and trigger a warning light on your dash. The downfall of Indirect TPMS is that it is inaccurate and really depends on you having the perfect balance of air in each tire so as to not throw off the calculations which analyze all the wheels rotational data to determine which one is off. If you over-inflate a tire(s) it flags the normally inflated tire(s) as being low, which brings us to another problem. Indirect monitoring just lets you know that you have a low tire but does not specify which one it is. The good news though is that you can use any wheel without affecting the functionality of the system since the sensors can “recalculate the pressure” each time the system is reset.
I, unfortunately, have a car with indirect TPMS, my previous ride was kitted out with a snazzy direct system which I loved, because I could get precise readouts for each of my tires and always knew whether I needed air or not. On my new car, however, the pressure variation of my tires was almost 10 PSI off at one point and the “TPMS” light did not come on at all. I noticed that the car felt different one day and when I checked the pressure I was shocked at how much of a difference there was between each tire. Even after inflating the tires to the correct pressure, the system failed to warn me. The only time I’ve seen the warning so far is when I bought new tires and even then it took about a week to notify me. It was time for a proper solution, enter ZUS⚡. I decided to search for an upgrade to my current system and after many hours of research, I came across NoNDA’s offering on Amazon. There were other cheaper and pricier alternatives but I liked the way the ZUS devices could be monitored in a unified interface. I was so excited about the integration that I purchased the Vehicle Health Monitor and Smart Charger as well but that’s a story for another day.
The ZUS devices feature aesthetically pleasing designs even though they are made from cheap plastic. The Tire Safety Monitor “dongle” has the subtle shape of a “sports car” featuring a green LED bar where each tire would be located. When a tire is low or overheating it’s corresponding LED flashes to signify that there’s a problem with the tire or the sensor itself. If NoNDA had stopped there this system could still probably compete with some of the others out there but they thankfully did not. The main attraction of the ZUS ecosystem is what they call the Smart Driving Assistant, this is a mobile app that ties all the ZUS devices together and presents them in a unified interface. To say the interface is slick is an understatement. They really did their best to streamline the design and colors of the app. On my FrankenCarputer tablet, It almost looks like a futuristic spaceship dashboard reminiscent of some big-budget 4x game or Star(insert generic space term here) movie. I love the interface but I don’t like the way that they try to subconsciously upsell you on other ZUS devices. How you say… well what they do is they overlay the graphics for all the ZUS devices on the dashboard. As you purchase new items you “unlock” that graphic or if you click on a disabled graphic it will let you know that you don’t have that device and provide a link to the NoNDA store to purchase it. The problem for me is that I like clean interfaces and don’t really want to see useless icons and graphics on my display, especially when it’s being used to upsell me on products that I don’t want or need. I mean I get it from a business perspective but as a consumer it makes me want to return everything as a matter of principle.
The installation of the kit was fairly straightforward. Each sensor is labeled according to its location on the vehicle and is already mated to the USB powered dongle from the factory. All I had to do was screw them on to my valve stems after placing the optional anti-theft nut and then add the dongle to the Smart Driving Assistant app via my tablet’s Bluetooth 4.0 connection. One thing of note, please make sure that you have an internet connection when trying to pair any of the ZUS devices with the app as this is required. If you don’t, you will tear out every strand of hair in every crevice of your body trying to get the app to recognize any of your devices. If you’re unlucky you may also notice that the app is not available for certain Android devices even those with compatible versions of the OS. I ran into this problem but was able to circumvent it by searching for the APK online. If you haven’t done this before don’t but know that this option exists. For the initial connection, you may need to go into your phone or tablet’s Bluetooth settings to initially pair the device with your phone once paired though, by some magic, the ZUS devices will disappear from your Bluetooth connections settings page but can still communicate with the software until you manually “delete” them from the app.
As far as the functionality of the TPMS it works as any other direct system would. You are provided with a readout in the Smart Driving Assistant for each tire that includes the pressure and also the temperature of each of the 4 tires (unlike OEM some systems). On the dongle as mentioned earlier, you have green LEDs that correspond with each of the 4 tires on the car. NoNDA makes the most of the data coming from the sensors and provides added value compared to traditional systems. One of those features is the ability to accurately track the PSI and temperature of each tire over time. There is also, according to NoNDA’s website, “industry-first” slow leak detection powered by their proprietary AccurateTemp® Algorithm. I, thankfully, haven’t had the need to utilize this feature…yet. One thing I noticed about tracking the temperature and pressure using the app is that it needs to be open when you switch your car on and also needs to be kept running in the foreground so that it can gather data from the ZUS devices. I have decided that I don’t need to use these long term tracking features and only open the app when I want to see the current pressure of my tires.
The ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor is a great product but some things were not thought out with the app integration and the sensors themselves. For one, the Pressure sensors are HUGE. I mean they’re probably not that much bigger than those of the competition and they do require a battery which accounts for some of their girth but come on NoNDA I think I may have actually lowered my MPG a bit since I put these on (jk. but still). On a more serious note, I have seen many a complaint on the NoNDA forum about the sensor threads fusing with customer’s valve stems. This problem is forcing many people to actually cut the entire valve stem off to remove the sensors. I see that NoNDA is offering replacements but I’m not sure if this is a profitable business model for them since they are sending out so many “free” sensors to those that are experiencing this problem. There is more information on their forum but based on what I’m seeing the problem is caused by galvanic corrosions caused by exposure to salt in the areas that these sensors are installed. This would have been a dealbreaker for me if I knew this before I bought my set but so far I haven’t experienced this problem (fingers crossed).
The Smart Driving Assistant is a beautiful and full-featured app, there’s no argument there, but it is the perfect example of form over function. For instance, the app’s “Dashboard” has a very cluttered interface that includes a lot of icons and graphics related to other ZUS devices that I haven’t purchased or want. I’m forced to look at an RPM gauge that I won’t be using. I have icons for the ZUS Dash and Backup cameras which I don’t have installed. There is a Full-screen mode in landscape view that can only be triggered by rotating the phone or tablet from portrait to landscape mode but no way to manually activate it if the phone or tablet is already in Landscape mode. I still like the layout and the design of the app but it really needs to be a bit more configurable to appeal to more technical users or those of us who like to customize their experience. NoNDA has included a few value-added features that some may find appealing,
ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor
Nonda has a few good products and the Smart Tire Safety Monitor certainly does carry on that trend. It fills a need that most people don't realize they have and also adds some peace of mind for those that may be a little doubtful of the durability of their tires. There is some chatter on the web about the quality of the materials used in the sensors and changing batteries every few months may not be ideal. I do think though that this product will fit the needs of those that...well... need it and if Nonda can get the app situated they may eventually corner the market for 3rd party tire pressure monitoring.