Tire Pressure Monitoring System
What is a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)?
A tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is an electronic system and sensor in your vehicle that monitors the air pressure inside of your tires. If the air pressure is too high or low based on your vehicle's manufacturer tire inflation specifications, the TPMS system is designed to notify you of any tire inflation issues.
TPMS has been used for many years, but they have only recently become a mandatory safety system in vehicles. The Transportation Recall Enhanced Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) ACT requires that all vehicles sold in the U.S. after September 1, 2007 to come equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system.
How does a Tire Pressure Monitoring System work?
When the air pressure, measured in PSI (pounds per square inch), in one or more of your tires is not registering to the proper PSI reading according to the manufacturer recommendations, the TPMS sensor triggers a warning to your vehicle's onboard computer, then illuminating the TPMS symbol on your car's dashboard. This alert will let you know the tire's air pressure needs to be adjusted or the tire may be damaged, causing the tire's air pressure to change.
Adjusting "Cold" Tire Pressure
When checking the air pressure in your tires, it is preferred to check them when they haven't been driven on and are "cold". This is typically in the morning or after they have been sitting for at least 3 hours. The air pressure should be adjusted according to the vehicle manufacturer's PSI specifications.
Adjusting "Warm" Tire Pressure
If you have been driving on your tires and they're "warm", simply add 2-4 PSI to the recommended "cold" inflation pressure according to the vehicle manufacturer's PSI specifications. Once the tires have been idle for 3 hours, check the PSI again to be sure it matches the required "cold" reading.
What do you do if the TPMS warning light turns on?
If the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) warning light turns on, the first thing you should do is pull over at the safest opportunity to check the air pressure, measured in PSI (pounds per square inch), in your tires. Be sure to check all four tires and set them to the manufacturer's specifications. You can find the manufacturer specifications either in your owner's manual or on the placard that is inside the driver's side door jamb. If you find that one or more tires have low air pressure, you should make an appointment to have your tires checked for possible leaks.
After inflating the tires that needed a pressure adjustment, the TPMS light may need to be reset. In some cases, you can follow the instructions in your owner's manual and do it yourself or you may need to bring it to a qualified technician to reset it. If the air pressure in your tire(s) is correct but the light is still on, you may and a problem with the TPMS sensor or with the onboard computer system in your vehicle. In this case, you should make an appointment to have your TPMS examined, repaired, or replaced.
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