ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor hands-on review

Psst: That's your tire leaking, but the Zus will warn you before it's too late

The ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor makes it easy to keep tabs on your tires with your phone.
The ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor makes it easy to keep tabs on your tires with your phone.
The ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor makes it easy to keep tabs on your tires with your phone.

Highs

  • Premium look and feel
  • Incorporates USB charger
  • AccurateTemp algorithm helps avoid false alerts

Lows

  • Doesn’t include 12-volt car plug

You may already know the Nonda company from its ZUS Smart Charger and the Nonda iHere, two innovative gadgets that locate both your car and your keys, respectively. Its latest in-car tool, the ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor, promises to keep tabs on your tires and make sure you’re never stranded with a flat. We put an early sample through its paces for our ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor review, to see if the cost and hassle of the ZUS system are worth it.

Initial setup

The ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor was launched through a popular Indiegogo campaign that raised over $300,000, well above its initial $20k goal. The cost for early backers was only $99 — a slight discount from the retail price of $120. The ZUS kit includes four tire sensors, four anti-theft nuts, a small metal wrench for installation, and a sleek car-shaped USB charger that acts as a hub inside your vehicle.

The concept of aftermarket tire pressure sensors that communicate to your phone via Bluetooth has been around for several years. But many devices have issues with theft, and can be rather large and awkward looking. Thankfully, the new ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor sensors look and feel premium and secure to your vehicle to avoid theft in only minutes. Each sensor is labeled clearly with the tire it should be attached to — “Front Left,” “Rear Right,” and so on.

ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor review stick

The first step to installation is to plug the charger into a USB port – you’ll need to own a modern car that has one, or own a USB car charger that plugs into a cigarette lighter. We’re disappointed that Nonda didn’t include a universal 12-volt lighter plug, since many users will be driving older vehicles that are void of USB ports. Once plugged in, you simply pair the dongle with your phone via Bluetooth and the ZUS application. You can then screw the sensors to each wheel and ensure the ZUS application displays the current tire pressure and temperature. A couple of our tires required driving a few miles for the information to begin displaying on the application. To avoid theft, each sensor can be locked in place with the included wrench to secure the anti-theft nuts, and will not simply twist off like a normal valve cap.

Real-time data

While most buyers will likely have older cars without any tire pressure information, it can also be useful for those with newer vehicles. The 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid we tested with has a standard tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) warning light, but no additional information on air pressure or temperature. I recently walked out to a flat, and the warning light switched on only when it was too late to drive on the tire. With the ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor, you can get early warnings for slow leaks. The company’s proprietary AccurateTemp algorithm will normalize temperature fluctuations throughout the day, so you can see accurate tire pressure changes.

By tracking the changes in pressure, relative to changes in temperature, the system should be able to understand when an actual problem occurs.

Using the real-time information in the ZUS application, you can monitor the current tire pressure and temperatures. The application gives a notification on your phone if something is wrong and the car-shaped USB charger unit will flash a green light on the tire that has a problem. Thankfully, we had no major punctures or issues, but were able to monitor and see the historical fluctuations in our tires.

In general, for every 10-degree Fahrenheit change in air temperature, your tire’s inflation pressure will change by about 1 psi (up for hot, down for cold). You can use the ZUS application to monitor each tire in different weather and driving conditions to see how the pressure is affected. The application lets you put in your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure and then shows the variation in pressures over time. We were able to see that the rear tires generally ran low in colder temps and added a bit more air to help with fuel economy.

Is it worth it?

By tracking changes in pressure, relative to changes in temperature, the ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor should be able to understand when your tires need attention, whether from a slow leak or an impending flat. Nonda also claims a future version of the app will enable cloud-enabled family sharing, so you can monitor all of your family vehicles and ensure they are ready to hit the road without problems.

At $120, it may be worth buying for owners of older vehicles who want the sense of security you get with a TPMS. Owners of newer vehicles with a TPMS may also appreciate the enhanced detail and accuracy of the ZUS, over the standard warning light.

Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Computing

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.
Photography

Photographers can now customize the layout of Lightroom Classic controls

Tired of scrolling past Lightroom tools that you don't use? Adobe Lightroom Classic now allows users to reorganize the Develop panel. The update comes along with new sharing options in Lightroom CC, and updates to the mobile Lightroom app.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Cars

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Cars

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Cars

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.