The instrument cluster in your vehicle is composed of different indicators, one of which is the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). The TPMS is a feature that alerts drivers when the tyre is underinflated below the required minimum level. With the TPMS, drivers can drive safely and practice regular tire maintenance. According to the TREAD Act, every vehicle manufactured after 2006 should be equipped with this tire pressure sensor system.
How Does the TPMS Works?
This electronic system works with the help of wireless sensors mounted on the wheels. When one or more tyres have low air pressure, the sensors would instantly send a signal to the car’s computer, which would trigger the TPMS indicator to light up. Typically, the system would activate if the tire pressure is at least below 25% of the manufacturer’s suggested level.
Faulty TPMS—What Should You Do?
There are instances, however, when the TPMS light would come on and start blinking continuously even if you have no tyre pressure issues. Typically, the flashing would last no more than 90 seconds before finally staying on for a long period, and sometimes, even permanently.
When this happens, you either have an issue with any number of your tires. Also, the problem may be found on the TPMS itself as the system could at times malfunction. The latter could be the direct result of extremely cold weather or that you have a recent tire replacement. In any case, should you encounter such a concern, you can perform any of the following:
Low Tyre Pressure
The key purpose of the TPMS is to warn the driver of any problems concerning your tyres to avoid any serious accident. Unless you have checked the tyre air pressure on your vehicle, it is not safe to ignore the tyre pressure warning light. For that matter, perform the necessary steps required to keep your tyre pressure within the normal level.
You can resolve the issue yourself if you have the necessary equipment to fix this problem, which could either be a digital or analogue pressure gauge and an air compressor.
Tips on Tyre Pressure—What You Need to Know
- Follow the recommended tyre pressure of your car
The correct pressure is not found on the sidewall of your tyres. That number indicates the maximum air pressure capacity that your tyre can withstand. Instead, the recommended PSI for the front and rear tyres is located near the door jamb of your car. If there isn’t any, you may have to use the owner’s manual to find out. The usual tyre pressure in passenger cars may range from 32 to 40 PSI.
- Outdoor temperature can directly affect tyre pressure
If the ambient temperature is warmer by 10 degrees Fahrenheit or more, the tyre pressure goes up by 1 PSI. Conversely, if the temperature plummets down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit or more, the tyre pressure will likewise decrease by 1 PSI.
Reset the TPMS
The TPMS would automatically switch off once you have inflated the tyres. However, if the pressure indicator is still on, you may have to address this issue by doing any of the following procedures:
- Driving for a Few Minutes
You can take your car for a drive if the TPMS does not go off. According to experts, driving your car for 10 minutes at a speed of 50 mph or more could help reset the tyre pressure sensor. That’s because cold weather could be messing up the sensors. The drive could heat the tires, resulting in the TPMS turning off.
- Pressing the Reset Button
Locate the TPMS reset button in your car. Typically, in most passenger cars, the tyre pressure reset switch can be found under the steering wheel. Switch the ignition key to ‘ON,’ but do not run the engine. Press the tyre pressure light button and hold until the light starts blinking thrice. Afterwards, release the button and wait for the sensor to refresh for 20 minutes.
- Inflate, Deflate, and Re-inflate the Tyres
Another way of resetting the TPMS is to inflate the tyres above the required level. The additional pressure should not exceed 3 PSI. Then deflate the tyres entirely before reinflating them to the specified level. You can do this procedure to the spare tyre in case it has a built-in sensor as well.
- Disconnecting the Battery
You can carefully disconnect the red (positive) terminal of the battery, while the car is switched off. Switch on the vehicle and press the horn for no more than 5 minutes to discharge the remaining power in your car. Afterwards, reconnect the battery.
In the case of a DIY, resolving any concern regarding your TPMS by yourself can save you from expenses. However, it is still recommended that you enlist the expertise of a professional mechanic if you want to get things done the first time around.
Other Causes of a Dysfunctional TPMS
There are other factors for the TPMS to malfunction. One of which is if you have just a tyre replacement. The sensors could get damaged during the process, which could result in the sensors going haywire.
That is why conducting regular maintenance checks are crucial in the event that your TPMS becomes faulty. The other factors which could lead to a malfunctioning TPMS are as follows:
- Battery Problems
A weak battery often could cause the TPMS to go awry as a result of the poor signal connection. You can conduct regular battery checks, usually twice every year, to ensure that your battery is performing to its expected capacity. Otherwise, the low power could trigger the tyre pressure lights to activate.
- Damaged Sensors
The sensors are electrical devices that can become faulty in case they come in contact with other substances, such as tyre sealants. Therefore, when having your tyres replaced or fixed, make sure that the sensors remain free of any unwanted substance or materials.
In case you want to have the sensors replaced, the procedure could cost you around $50 to $100 for each tyre. Of course, the charges depend on the type and make of your vehicle.
- Pressure Sensor in Spare Tyre
Some spare tyres may have pressure sensors in them and that could be sending signals to the TPMS. It sounds like a bad joke for anyone unaware of this issue, especially if you have performed all the necessary procedures to turn the TPMS light off. Thus, you’ll be wise to keep the pressure in your spare tyre within the recommended level at all times to avoid this dilemma.
Final Word—Turning Off the Tyre Pressure Lights
While it is convenient to rely on your indicators, such as the tyre pressure light, it is still ideal you perform frequent maintenance inspections. You should conduct these measures not just on the engine, but also on your tyres.
Ensuring your safety and that of your passenger should be your primary objective whenever you drive. For that matter, it is essential to address any issue that concerns your tyres, whether it’s the air pressure or something else entirely.