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What is TPMS?

All the basics on Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

What is your Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)? And what should you do if you see this light on your dash?What is your Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)? And what should you do if you see this light on your dash?

Acronyms abound in the auto world. Our job? To explain the logic behind the letters. Today we’re going to focus on TPMS, the abbreviated version of “tire pressure monitoring system.”

What is the TPMS?

Your vehicle’s TPMS exists to warn you about tire under-inflation. Proper tire inflation is one of the biggest ways that you can prevent unsafe driving conditions — and optimize fuel economy — so it’s a monitoring system that you want to take seriously.

Why does the light come on?

When the TPMS senses that one of your tires isn’t adequately filled, you’ll see a bright light come on your dash featuring an exclamation point enclosed in (you guessed it!) a flattened tire.

What should I do when the TPMS light comes on?

  • Pull over: If the light comes on when you’re driving, find a safe spot to pull over to evaluate the situation. The TPMS light can come on right before a blowout, making it essential to get on the side of the road as quickly as possible.

Have a question about your tire pressure or tire sensors?

  • Evaluate: If your car isn’t experiencing a blowout, then you should check the tire pressure and add air to bring the tire back up to the proper psi. If you’re not sure how to do this, bring your vehicle to your trusted mechanic, such as our team at CARS of America.
  • Take action: In some cars, your TPMS light will go off within a few minutes of refilling your tires. In other cars, you have to manually reset the light. If you add air only to see the tire light on again in a few days, we recommend you bring your vehicle to CARS to see if there’s a simple tire leak or if there’s a more important issue going on.

How do I know the recommended pressure of my tires?

Most vehicles have your recommended tire pressure on a sticker on your driver’s side door or in the glove box. If you don’t see the sticker, check your owner’s manual to find the information you need.

Warning: Do not inflate the tire using the specifications found on the tire sidewall. These psi settings are for the tire, not for your vehicle. Always refer to the specific recommended psi for your vehicle.

What if my tire pressure light comes on — but the tire pressure is OK?

Each your tires is paired with a tire pressure sensor, which is powered by an internal battery. The life expectancy of these batteries is about 5 years. If your light comes on but there’s no sign of a tire leak, you may have a failed tire sensor as a result of a dead battery. If this happens to you, we recommend:

  • Replacing the sensors on all the tires at the same time. The other sensor batteries are probably not going to last much longer, so replacing them as a set saves you repeated trips to the auto shop.
  • Replacing the sensors when you replace the tires. If the budget permits and your car is 5 years older or more, you can save yourself money on labor and time in the repair shop by replacing the sensors when you buy new tires.

Dashboard lights don’t make any driver’s day. But with some simple action steps, you can ensure that you’re prepared for a safe drive ahead.

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