What is TPMS?

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What is TPMS?

TPMS is an acronym for Tire Pressure Monitoring System.  It is a system within your car to warn you about under or over inflated tires.  It has been around for several years, but it was only mandated by the government for cars produced after 2007.  So, if your car is newer than that you most certainly have this safety system installed standard.  The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) mandated this vehicle safety system in direct response to a rash of tire-related accidents.

TPMS dash light

For those vehicles equipped with TPMS your dash will have a warning light to alert you to an inflation problem.  Some vehicles will tell you specifically which tire is low, while others just give you the general light.  If this light comes on it best to check your tire pressure immediately or come in to your Salt Lake City auto repair facility to have it inspected.  When you are checking pressures don’t forget your spare tire as some vehicles also monitor this tire.

Is TPMS really necessary?

We realize that the cost of TPMS sensors can be expensive when they fail, but we feel it is a small price to pay for the safety.

Recently the NHTSA completed a study that looked at tire problems related to vehicle accidents.  They found that of the tires that were more than 25% under-inflated of the recommended pressure, approximately 10% were in vehicles that experienced problems just before the accident.  In comparison to those tires that were inflated to the correct pressure they were involved in 3.4% of vehicles that experienced problems just before the accident.  While tire inflation is not the only reason for tire failures leading to an accident (tire age, weather cracking, tread depth, and physical damage are other issues that should not be ignored by the car owner) we can conclude that properly inflated create a substantially safer driving environment than under-inflated tires.  This is where the TPMS system comes in to alert a driver of a potentially dangerous situation.

TIre inflations

With new cars  it is not so easy to tell if your tires are underinflated due to larger wheels and shorter sidewalls (especially high performance European cars like BMW’s, Porsche and Mercedes).  Take a look at the image above.  The bottom tire is at 20 PSI, the middle at 24 PSI and the top at 30 PSI  There is almost no difference in the “sidewall bulge”.  That is a significant difference in tire pressure that can cause safety concerns in the future.  However, since the TPMS system will only alert you if tire inflation is off by 25% or more it is still highly recommended that you check your tire pressure regularly.

In addition to the safety benefits you will also get the added benefit of better tire wear.  Under-inflation is one of the primary causes of premature tire wear.  So, improved safety and the economy of reduced tire purchases make TPMS systems a fantastic system to be equipped on your car.

It is understandable and frustrating when a component fails on a car, but when a TPMS component fails be mindful that tires are one of the biggest safety components of your car and anything that protects your tires is a good investment for you and your family.

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