Allow us to introduce you to that little yellow light on your dashboard, the exclamation point centered around a flattened circle.
This small but mighty indicator is the tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS, and it works hard to ensure that your tires are ready for the road.
Your personal tire inspection source
The TPMS tracks your tires to ensure that they’re inflated to the recommended pressure. If your tires are under-inflated, that “exclamation point light” will come on on your dash. This is your cue to take action.
Why your TPMS light comes on
Broadly, there’s one reason that your TPMS light will shine: Your tires don’t meet the recommended pressure that you need for a safe drive. But there are a few common causes of low tire pressure:
- One (or more) of your tires simply needs more air. Sometimes, tires can naturally lose their inflation. A quick fill-up will solve the problem.
- One (or more) of your tires are damaged. If a sharp object has penetrated one of your tires, it may be slowly losing air. This is likely happening if you refill your tires only to have the light go on again.
- One (or more) of your wheels is damaged. Struck a curb or hit a deep pothole at full speed? You may have bent a wheel or rim, affecting tire’s tight seal on said wheel or rim.
- Air is leaking from the wheel rim. Rust can build up on the wheel, preventing a tight seal with the tire. The fix is to remove the tire from the wheel, clean the wheel thoroughly with a wire brush and remount and balance the tire. You would typically see this after buying new tires: The tech installing the new tires may not have cleaned the wheel properly.
- Temperature changes are at play. In the Chicago area, we see this a lot in the fall as daytime temperatures in the 70s give way to nighttime lows in the 40s. Why does this happen? If you think back to your school days and science class: Air molecules are smaller when it’s colder outside, and they literally leak from the tire. For every 10 degree change in ambient air temperature, your tire pressure will fluctuate about 1 psi.
Taking Action with your TPMS
If your TPMS light goes on, it’s essential to check your tire pressure as soon as possible. Once you find the tire that isn’t meeting its recommended level, you know where to take action. In many cases, you can turn off your TPMS light once you fill the tire to the proper psi. In some cars, though, you’ll need to stop by a shop like Auto Lab and have them reset the light with a specialty tool.
Also, if a simple refill doesn’t do the trick, the tire specialists at Auto Lab can fill the tires, assess for repairs, and even replace your tire if necessary.
Your TPMS is a great resource to ensure that you can head on the road safely.