The Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) light on the dashboard comes on to alerts car drivers when the tyre pressure gets too low. It’s important that a tyre is properly inflated to enable maximum tyre performance, handling of the car and carrying ability. When a tyre has the correct amount of inflation, it will help to minimize tread movement which in turn elongate the lifespan of the tyre. It will make the tyre roll easier on surfaces for best fuel efficiency and also increase the rate water disperses under the tyre to prevent hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning is when a car starts sliding uncontrollably because there is much water on the surface which the tread of a tire is unable to displace. Low tyre pressure and high tyre pressure can make driving unsafe for drivers.
When the TPMS light comes on, inspect all the four tyres
Low tyre pressure wears tyres out untimely and brings about tyre failure. A tyre with less air will be torpid, have a negative impact on the fuel economy and amass extra heat. An overinflated tyre or high tyre pressure will cause poor traction and will be unable to absorb the impact of the road. If the tyre experiences any of these two conditions, high and low pressure, the tyre may blow out and when it happens, you are likely to lose control of your car.
1. What should I do when the TPMS light comes on?
Immediately you notice the TPMS light has turned on, inspect the tyre pressure of all four tyres. Any tyre that has low pressure should be bumped till the air pressure gets to what the manufacturers specified. The specification can be found inside the car, on the driver's door panel. Again, the TPMS light can also show if the tyre has high pressure. If so, inspect all tyres and deflate them as needed.
The TPMS symbols may vary in different cars
>>> You may read the basics before moving on: TPMS: what it means & when to replace?
2. Three cases in which the TPMS light comes on
2.1. TPMS light comes on while driving
While driving, if you see the TPMS light illuminating, it means the air pressure in one of the tyres is incorrect. Look for the nearest gas station that offers tyres service or a specialized mechanic to help you check the tyre pressures. When you drive for a long time on an underinflated tyre, the tyres will wear soon, lower your fuel mileage and pose a danger to you.
2.2. TPMS turns on and off
Sometimes, your car's TPMS light may come on and off like it's flashing the light. This may be as a result of fluctuating temperature. If the tyre pressure becomes low overnight and then increased in the day time, the light may go off immediately the car warms up. And if the light shows again when the temperature has come down, know that the weather is responsible for the tyre pressure fluctuation. Get a gauge to check the tyres, then add or reduce the air as the case may be.
A TPMS may not work correctly, get a mechanic to check it immediately
2.3. TPMS light turns on and off, and then stays on
If you notice that your TPMS flashes for up to 60-90 seconds after starting the car, and it stays on. It implies the TPMS isn’t working correctly. Have a mechanic examine it soonest. And if you want to drive your car in that condition, you’ll have to be careful because the TPMS won’t be alerting you of any low tyre pressure. You should check the tyres with a gauge to be on the safe side.
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3. Is it safe to continue driving with the TPMS light on?
No, it isn’t safe. The light showing is a sign that one of your tyres is overinflated or underinflated. Check the accurate tyre pressure in your car owner’s manual. You can also check for it on the fuel door, trunk or it may be written on a sticker placed on the door.
Driving a car that its TPMS light is on can cause untimely tyre wear, leading to tyre failure which will then cause a blowout. It’s going to put your life at risk. Always check your car owner’s manual to know what the manufacturer has written concerning your TPMS system.
4. Can a TPMS replace a regular tyre pressure check?
No, it can’t. Knowing what the TPMS light means when it comes on and what to do about it is part of your responsibility as a driver. Howbeit, TPMS can't replace the regular tyre pressure inspection. There’s a limitation to what a TPMS can do when it comes to a tyre. For instance, the sensors may not be conveying the accurate tyre pressure data to the computer. It may also not be able to identify whether a tyre is too low.
So, a manual tyre pressure check with the use of a gauge is vital regardless of the TPMS.
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