Posted on November 22, 2018
What to do if the tire sensor is on? | Toronto and Mississauga
You’re probably familiar with the Check Engine light, but how about the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)? I became familiar with this handy system on a recent drive through Mexico, a country known for breathtakingly beautiful scenery, as well as its crater-sized potholes and gigantic speed bumps. Yes, we still have all four tires, but I was grateful to know when they needed more air. The TPMS alerts you when tire pressure is too low, which can create unsafe driving conditions. If the light is illuminated, your might be underinflated, which leads to undue/uneven tire wear and worst of all, possible tire failure. Paying attention to the TPMS on your vehicle can help you maintain the health of your tires.
Proper tire inflation is essential to vehicle handling, overall performance, and load carrying capability. When your tires are properly inflated, it reduces rolling resistance and tread movement, and it increases water dispersion. You may not know that reducing the tread movement on your tires increases the life of your tires. Reduced rolling resistance, which is the force required to roll a loaded tire, means improved fuel efficiency. And you definitely care about increasing water dispersion: it’s what lowers your chances of hydroplaning.
Overinflating your tires can be just as hard on them as leaving them underinflated. Both cause premature treadwear and possible tire failure. Overinflation can cause decreased traction, premature wear, and the inability to absorb road impact. Overinflation causes premature wear in the center of the tread; underinflation results in sluggish tire response, lowered fuel economy, excessive heat buildup, and tire overload. Underinflated tires will show premature wearing on each outside shoulder.
Where do I find the TPMS on my vehicle?
The TPMS warning light will let you know when your tire pressure is too low. Different illumination patterns will mean different things. Locating the TPMS indicator on your dashboard is easy: it’s a horseshoe-shaped light with an exclamation point in the center. What better way to say “Pay attention to me!”
What should you do when the low pressure TPMS symbol illuminates?
Check your tire pressures with a gauge. Add air until the pressures reach the vehicle manufacturer specification. The TPMS does NOT replace routine tire pressure maintenance, do don’t wait for it to light up. It’s simply a tool that can help alert you, but a tire can drop below proper inflation well before the TPMS lets you know. The TPMS light only comes on when your tire pressure gets too low or too high.
If the TPMS light comes on and remains on, it means that at least one of your tires is at a too-low pressure level. It needs your attention. Check the pressure of each tire with a gauge. Determine the cause of pressure loss, then add the appropriate amount of air or have the tires serviced.
What does it mean when the TPMS light goes on and off?
Fluctuating temperatures, such as overnight versus daytime, can trigger an alert, causing the TPMS light to come on and off as the tire pressure responds to the temperature. This happens when the tire pressure has been detected as low. The light may turn off when pressure increases during the day due to rising temperatures or heat generated by operation of the vehicle. Check each tire with a gauge, and add air to any tire that’s low.
Why does the TPMS light flash and then stay on?
If the TPMS light flashes for about 60 to 90 seconds whenever you start your car, then stays on, it isn’t functioning properly. Take it to your dealership or automotive service center for inspection. Until it is fixed, it’s out of order and can’t warn you of actual tire pressure issues. Leaving it unattended compromises your safety and the life of your tires.
Can the TPMS be counted on to replace regular tire pressure checks?
The TPMS is definitely not a replacement for regular tire pressure checks. This is because a TPMS may have limitations. For example, the warning light may be set to come on when the tire pressure is below what is actually needed to carry the load in the vehicle. (As when you take a long road trip with extra luggage.) Or, the sensors may not be accurately transmitting tire pressure data to the on-board computer. It does happen. Sometimes the system can’t accurately determine if a single tire is too low if other tires are also losing pressure at the same rate.
Caring for your vehicle includes monthly tire checks. Your tires affect your safety and that of your passengers. Check tire pressure once a month, before (and during!) a long trip or when carrying loads that are heavier than usual. If you want to talk tire health with a professional, the experts in our Tire Shop
are more than happy to help. They can also assess the current state of your tires and help you choose budget-appropriate replacements if that is necessary. It’s important to make sure you have the right seasonal tires
for your type of vehicle. We have other tips on easy ways to maintain your vehicle for optimal safety and performance. Read up on cleaning your headlights
, keeping your battery terminals corrosion-free
and even figuring out why your engine is backfiring
. We’re here to help. Our service department
is also available to discuss concerns you may have about your vehicle.
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