The Truth Behind the Mystery of Your TPMS

Fall is here and the weather is changing. One morning you will wake up to find it clear and crisp with temperatures in th 60s. The next morning it is dark and gloomy with bone chilling rain. The changes aren’t hard to notice. However it is important to remember that we aren’t the only ones reacting to the frequent weather changes of fall; your vehicle’s tire pressure reacts to the temperature changes as well.

Yes it’s true, with the fluctuating temperatures it is common to have fluctuating tire pressure. When your vehicle’s tire pressure fluctuates substantially a properly working TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor) will cause a light to pop up on your dash. The dash light should look something like this:

So what is that pesky little warning light? And why is it there? Let’s begin with the WHAT question…

A TPMS is an electronic system that advises the driver of either a low pressure condition or system malfunction. The driver is made aware of either one of these conditions via an icon, (It looks like an exclaimation point in a tire surrounded by parenthesis.) an other warning, or both.

Now to answer the WHY… Why have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System in your vehicle?

Tires are very important to your vehicle. With proper inflation and tread, you can increase your fuel efficency. But more importantly, if tires are not properly inflated or have low tread, that can translate into poor vehicle performance and decreased safety for you, your passengers and others on the road.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, inproper tire inflation is the cause of approximately 25,000 accidents annually. This is a large number! These accidents could have easily been avoided by properly monitoring tire pressure.

Unfortunately, not everyone monitors their tire pressure or even knows how.

In order to reduce the number of accidents related to low tire pressure, vehicle manufactuers have now been mandated by the TREAD act and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS), to install a Tire Pressure Monitoring System on passenger cars, trucks, multi-purpose passenger vehicles, and buses under 10,000 lbs. That means that if your vehicle is a 2006 or newer, you could/should have a TPMS system in your vehicle.

That means that drivers no longer need to monitor their vehicle’s tire pressure anymore, right? No, not exactly.

Ultimately your TPMS system is a TOOL to help maintain proper pressure. Each sensor communicates directly to the system. The sensor needs to be reprogramed each time the tire is removed. Also TPMS sensor only have a battery life of only a few years and will need to be replaced.

Suprisingly, not all service providers know how to service, or remember to properly service your TPMS system. This can cause the system to not provide information when needed or provide the wrong information.

Just yesterday we had gotten a customer who had come in because their TPMS light on their dashboard had signaled their left rear tire was low. After several attempts by the driver to fill the tire with more air, the light had not gone off.  Upon closer inspection, our technician found that the left rear tire was grossly OVERINFLATED and the right front tire was actually the tire that was low. This is a problem.

Our technican remedied it by reprogramming the sensor and ensuring that the tires were filled to the proper levels.

Ultimately having properly functioning TPMS is an important tool for greater fuel efficency, increased safety and overall performance of your vehicle; but it is also essential to have a knowledgeable auto care facility on your team as well.


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