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How Do Tire Pressure Sensors Work? Find Out The Important Function Of These Parts In Your Car! 

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When asking yourself, “how do tire pressure sensors work?” it is imperative you know the function of the tire pressure sensors, how they work in your car, the importance of the TPMS, and the replacement prices of a faulty low tire pressure reset light. 

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Your tire pressure monitoring system, also known as the TPMS, is a crucial part of your car’s automated system that monitors the air pressure in each one of your tires. The tire pressure monitoring system comprises individual tire pressure sensors that work together to send information to the car. 

Function of Tire Pressure Sensor 

The tire pressure sensor is located inside a pressurized pocket formed by the wheel and tire that measure the air pressure inside the tire. This small electronic device transmits information via a radio other car’s onboard computer and a corresponding display in the dashboard instrument panel. If the tire pressure shows only one pound per square inch in the reading, this triggers the tire pressure warning light on the dashboard to low pressure.


The tire pressure sensor is integral to the tire pressure monitoring system. Usually attached to the valve stem of each tire, the tire pressure monitoring system is crucial to driver safety, helping car owners answer the question of “how do tire pressure sensors work?”

Direct Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems 

Direct tire pressure monitoring systems use individual sensors located inside each tire to send information to the central control module. The tire pressure sensor analyzes the internal pressure in each tire and the temperature of the wheel. The information received at the central module is analyzed, with any concerning problems or malfunctions sent to the car’s vehicle information system, triggering the dashboard light. 


The information is sent via a wireless signal due to the sensor mounted inside the tire. Since each battery has a life of about a decade, the tire pressure sensors are usually not worried in most driver’s minds for the first few years of owning their car. However, the stem can be damaged throughout consistent use, and the batteries will eventually die, leading to the need for a sensor replacement. 


In the event that your tire pressure sensor detects the tire pressure in one or more tires is too low to function correctly, it will signify this problem to the driver. If the psi is below 25% the recommended air pressure, a warning light will illuminate on the dashboard, immediately alerting the driver to the issue. 


The inflation pressure recommendations for most vehicles on the market can usually be found by the car owner in the driver’s door sill, car manual, or on the tires themselves. When inflating your tires, you need to look at the tire to see the recommended PSI level written on the tread.

What if my tire pressure sensor is not working properly?

If you find your tire pressure sensor is having trouble detecting the tire pressure is too low, you may need to purchase a replacement sensor. TPMS sensors are powered by batteries configured and constructed to be long-lasting over multiple years, but they eventually lose their charge. Since the sensors cannot be easily removed, the entire sensor has to be replaced when the battery dies


Buying a replacement tire sensor varies on the make, model, and year of the car that you own. The price also varies based on the location of the car, the shop you are going to, and the type of tire pressure sensor you want to buy. Drivers can expect to pay at least $100 for a tire pressure sensor replacement at a repair facility or store. 

Indirect Tire Pressure Monitoring System  

Indirect tire pressure monitoring systems don’t rely on individual sensors to do the transmitting of information. Instead, these systems focus on the wheel speed sensor data interpreting the size of the tire based on the speed of the rotation. 


There is a second kind of tire pressure monitoring system that drivers need to be aware of when asking a mechanic, “how do tire pressure sensors work?” This tire pressure system does not use the tire pressure sensors located on the tires, but instead uses the anti-lock braking system, or the ABS, on the wheel speed sensors to see if the rotational speed of a tire is out of sync with the other 3 tires. 


If one tire is not rotating and moving at the same speed or direction as the others, this clearly shows the tire’s circumference has changed due to a loss in air pressure. 


This system is less prone to the susceptible damage of the individual sensors, but drivers and owners must pay more attention to this type of system.

  • For instance, if a driver fills up each tire with air at a petrol station and checks the pressure before heading out for a trip, he might find that everything is working properly. However, an indirect system has to be reset every time the tires are inflated. If the system is not reset, the system will see bigger tires and warn the driver via the dashboard panel light. 


To make sure that your tire pressure sensors stay working for as long as possible, drivers need to ask themselves, “how do tire pressure sensors work?” Finding out the answer to this question shows drivers the important parts and the functions of this sensor, encouraging car owners to maintain the tier components and the wheel speed sensors components. 

What if the TPMS warning light comes on?

No driver wants to see the TPMS warning light come on in their dashboard – however, by figuring out the answer to “how do tire pressure sensors work?”, drivers can find out the culprit of this light illuminating on their instrument panel. 


  1. If the warning light does illuminate, which looks like a flat tire, check your instrument cluster panel and use a tire pressure gauge to check all four of your car’s tires to see which ones, if any, are low in tier pressure. 
  2. Fill the tires to the recommended levels that you find on your tires, the doorsill, or hte manual. 
  3. If you have driven several miles to a repair shop or gas station to fill the tires, your tires will have warmed up during the drive. In this case, inflate each tire evenly to the recommended level, making sure to check all four tires instead of just the one that you think is the problem tire. 

By figuring out the answer to “how do tire pressure sensors work?” you can determine the correct pressure level for your tires. 


  • For example, if you get to the service station or petrol station and one tire is at just 20 Psi and the others are at 34 psi, bring the low tire up to the 34 psi level, only as long as the other three are at the recommended pressure level. 
  • However, if the TPMS warning light re-lights after a short period of driving, whether it be 30 minutes, hours, or multiple days, you most likely have a leak in one of your tires that is causing the constantly low levels of tire pressure. 
    • In this case, go to a repair shop or tire store and get a replacement as soon as possible. Driving without a properly inflated tire can cause damage to the tire rim, causing a hefty replacement price. In even worse cases, the tire can pop, causing an increased risk of a crash or accident while on the road. 
  1. Finally, for drivers who keep a set of winter tires in their car for those who live in cold and icy conditions, make sure you have TPMS sensors installed on the second set of tires for these winter months. This way, you don’t have to stress about bringing your car to a mechanic once bad weather hits. 

Once you find out the answer to “how do tire pressure sensors work?” you can keep both sets of tires in working order. 

How to Reset the Low Tire Pressure Light

When asking yourself, “how do tire pressure sensors work?” sometimes you may notice that the low-pressure sensors correlate with the low tire pressure light. If the low tire pressure light is illuminated for a faulty reason, sometimes this alert needs to be reset by the driver or a mechanic. If the sensors are constantly showing a low PSI, the light needs to be reset so the driver can continue operating their vehicle safely. 


If you have discovered that the tires are at the correct inflation level, a low tire pressure light indicator could be what is at fault. If your low tire pressure light remains illuminated even after you have added air, then you will need to reset it by following the following steps.

  • Drive at Highway Speed

First, try driving at about highway speed, around 50 miles per hour, for just about 10 minutes until the engine is warmed up. Driving at a higher speed should reset the low tire pressure light sensor and turn off the TPMS light. 

  • Turn the Key in the Ignition

In addition, without starting the car, turn the key in the ignition to the “ON” position. Press the tire pressure monitor system reset button and hold the light until it blinks three times before releasing it. Then, start the car and let it run for around 20 minutes to reset the sensor. 


Suppose neither of these methods works for resetting the low tire pressure light sensor in your car. In that case, there are a few other ways to reset the TPMS light – however, these methods are more time-consuming and might require some additional car knowledge. If you do not feel confident, you should bring your car to a mechanic or auto body shop so they can reset the low tire pressure light and tell you the answer to  “how do tire pressure sensors work?”. 

  • Inflate Your Tires to Specific PSI

The first of these methods involves inflating each of your four tires to about 3 PSI over the recommended amount before deflating them completely and letting the inflation run out. Your spare tire might also have a sensor, so make sure to do the test on the spare as well. After they have all been deflated, reinflate them to the proper PSI to see if this resets the low tire pressure light sensor. 

  • Disconnect the Battery

With the vehicle turned off, you should open the hood, disconnect the positive battery cable, turn the key to the “ON” position, honk the horn to discharge any power, and then reconnect the battery. If this does not reset the low tire pressure light, you need to bring your vehicle to a mechanic to run further testing. 

Low Tire Pressure Reset Cost

Luckily, the process of resetting your low tire pressure light does not have to break the bank. It is one of the easiest and inexpensive fixes possible in a car. You can bring your car to a local mechanic or a chain professional to get a check-up service on the tire pressure monitoring system.

  • For most basic packages, the service will include testing each of your vehicle’s TPMS sensor batteries, checking and setting the tire pressure to the correct specifications, and including a vehicle inspection, running the owner just around $15.
  • For a more upgraded package, the mechanic might also include removing old tires, removing old sensor s and proper installation and programming of a new one by a tire professional, and rebalancing the wheel, running around $18.

Although you may not find the repair price necessary for your car, answering the question of “how do tire pressure sensors work” can show you the importance of this part in your vehicle.

The Bottom Line

By finding the answer to “how do tire pressure sensors work,” drivers can see why this part is crucial to the safety of their vehicle, the longevity of their tires, the performance of their wheels and rims, the function of the TPMS in their vehicle, and the overall repair cost for remedying a broken low tire pressure light. 


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