If you’ve ever bought a set of tires or had a flat tire on your car or truck, you’ve probably had an auto mechanic or automotive clerk ask you if your vehicle has “TPMS.” If you’ve ever wondered what TPMS is, or if you know what it is but just want to know more about it, Blain’s Farm & Fleet has the answers to your questions. TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) tells you when the air pressure on one or more of your tires is low. This feature is common on newer vehicles. Many vehicles built after 2006 have it, and federal law has required all newly-manufactured vehicles since 2008 to have TPMS.
Why do I need TPMS?
TPMS is a very important feature that makes it easier for you to keep your car or truck safe and save you money.
It’s easy to not notice a tire that’s getting low on air pressure. A tire can lose air due to a lot of different problems. A piece of road debris like a nail or screw can puncture your tire, but stay embedded in it and only let air slowly leak out around it over time. Changes in temperature can cause the air pressure in your tires to change, too. Also, vehicles with aluminum rims can have bead leak problems (the “bead” is where the tire mounts to the rim). All tires leak a small amount of air over time, even if there is nothing wrong with them. All of these problems are hard to catch if you don’t inspect your tires and check their air pressure often. Sometimes, you don’t catch them until it’s too late.
A tire that’s low on air can cause poor handling in your car or truck when you turn. It can also cause it to “pull,” or drift to one side when you’re driving straight down the road. These things can cause you to lose control of your vehicle if you need to make a quick stop or turn.
Also, a tire with a screw or nail in it runs the risk of blowing out at any time.
Low air pressure in your tires can also cause your tires to wear unevenly, especially on the outside edges of the tread. This can cause a loss of traction that may prevent you from stopping as quickly as you need to in an emergency. Also, if this uneven wear continues long enough before you discover it and correct your air pressure, your tires will be more likely to blow out while driving. This is because a tire that’s low on air pressure builds up more heat while driving than a well-inflated tire does, and because the worn spots on the tire can get so bad that the whole tire is weakened. Your tire is only as strong as its weakest spot, after all.
However, TPMS helps you prevent all of these problems by notifying you when your air pressure is low.
Besides safety, low tire air pressure can also cost you money in the long run.
Since a tire with low pressure flexes more while you drive, it rolls less efficiently than a well-inflated tire. This can lower your gas mileage.
Also, the uneven tire wear caused by low air pressure can cause your tires to wear out faster. Tire treadwear warranties don’t cover premature wear from underinflation, so it’s up to you to protect your investment in your tires by making sure they’re aired up right.
TPMS helps you do this, and saves you on gas and tires for the long haul. When the TPMS light comes on in your dash, check the air pressure of your tires as soon as possible.
Even if your car or truck has TPMS, you should always use a tire pressure gauge to check the pressure in your tires about once per month. This will allow you to keep your tires properly inflated even in the rare event that your TPMS fails. If you have any problems with your TPMS, our trained auto technicians can diagnose and fix them for you.