A few symptoms indicate an issue with the tire pressure light including visibly low air pressure in the tires, an illuminated tire pressure light, and other incorrect dashboard warnings. If more than one sensor needs to be replaced, you are looking at repairs costing more than quadruple the price of one.
Tire pressure monitoring systems have many components, including the tire pressure light. The tire pressure light receives information from the tire pressure sensors.
How Tire Pressure Lights Make their Mark
This light is known to those who have dealt with tire-pressure-light-related stress in the past. Cruising down the expressway only to hear a ping and see a tire with an exclamation point can be frightening. Is a tire going to blow? Should I call a tow truck? What do I do next?
Another common issue, that involves the tire pressure light, is when the tire pressure finally gives on a frigid morning. When it is cold outside, the air pressure diminishes as molecules become a little more condense. A car that sat on ice all night is going to have a little less air pressure, setting off the alarm.
Either way, you do need to resolve the issue before you continue driving. Inspect the tires to see if you need immediate assistance. If not, get the tire refilled and see if it holds. If the tire isn’t refilling, the light may indicate a different problem. In some cases, the light requires a manual reset.
Sometimes this happens even if the tires are fine. Other reasons include vehicle age and normal wear and tear. It doesn’t matter what type of vehicle you drive, there will be times when the tire pressure light will turn on.
If the tire pressure light is on due to a faulty sensor and only one needs to be replaced, it is an affordable repair. However, if more than one sensor needs to be replaced or if you let the problem go and a tire blew out, the repairs will be far more expensive than a few hundred dollars.
Understanding how the tire pressure monitoring system functions help determine what part of the system needs to be replaced and an approximate cost of the repair.
This article outlines some common questions about the tire pressure light, why it may be illuminated, and repair costs.
What Is the Tire Pressure Light and What Does it Do?
Tire pressure lights are located in the gauge cluster of the vehicle’s dashboard. Warning lights are yellow and resemble a cross-section of a tire with an exclamation point or the letters TPMS.
The tire pressure light tells you the air pressure is low in one or more of the tires. It is detected by the vehicle’s tire-pressure monitoring system.
Why is My Tire Pressure Light on When My Tires Are Fine?
In most vehicles, the tire pressure light will illuminate if the tire pressure drops 25% below the recommended tire pressure.
To better understand the tire pressure light, we must first understand the tire pressure monitoring system.
The tire pressure monitoring system consists of pressure sensors and a receiver. The pressure sensors are small electronic boxes mounted within each wheel. The sensors monitor tire pressure in real-time. There are two types of tire pressure monitoring systems:
- The direct tire pressure monitoring system uses sensors on each wheel to measure the tire pressure on all four corners of the vehicle. Some models use sensors in the tire valves.
- The indirect tire pressure monitoring system is integrated into the anti-lock brakes. The sensors detect slow rotation speed when a tire is losing pressure.
The tire pressure light illuminates in one of three ways:
- The tire pressure light turns on while driving. If this happens, one or more of the tires has incorrect air pressure. Check the pressure of the tires as soon as possible.
- The tire pressure light flashes on and off. If this happens, it could be due to shifting weather temperatures. Check the tire pressure and adjust as necessary.
- The tire pressure light flashes on and off, and then on again. If this happens, the system is not functioning properly. Have this checked with a mechanic as soon as possible.
If the tire pressure light is on but the tires seem fine, it could be due to one of two reasons: the system requires a reset, or the sensors are damaged and need to be replaced.
This is a fairly common problem to see, especially in older vehicles. If your vehicle is presenting symptoms, it is best to have the diagnosis confirmed by a professional before taking any DIY steps to fix it. The tires can’t be subject to any safety hazards while driving.
Symptoms of a Failing Tire Pressure Light
If the tire pressure light is failing, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Low air pressure in the tires
- Tire pressure light illuminates
- Other incorrect dashboard warnings
The tire pressure light is a sensor and can deteriorate with age. Also, dirt, heat, dust can greatly affect the sensor’s performance. In other words, as is a problem in many modern cars, the problem isn’t the problem – it’s the sensor reading.
The tire pressure light alerts us when the tire air pressure is low. If you walk out to your vehicle and find the tires are flat or you have trouble while driving your vehicle, the sensor is not working properly. If this happens, you should have the sensor checked by your mechanic.
If the tire pressure monitoring system is not operating correctly, the tire pressure light will illuminate.
You could also see other lights illuminated on your dashboard. They may be indicating a tire is flat even though there is nothing wrong with the tire. It could also indicate low tire pressure even though you had your tires recently inflated.
These symptoms should not be ignored for long as there are noticeable changes to the car when this happens.
Is it OK to Drive with the Tire Pressure Light On?
Driving with the tire pressure light illuminated is not safe as it probably means one or more of the tires is not at an optimal level. This could cause the tires to wear, leading to tire failure, and even cause a blowout while you are driving.
Optimal tire inflation is essential to tire performance and car handling. A properly inflated tire will reduce tread movement and extend tire life.
Low air pressure in tires can cause them to wear quickly and lead to tire failure. High air pressure in tires will cause wear in the center of the tread leading to poor traction. Both conditions could lead to a blowout and cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
Overall, it is not safe to drive a car with an illuminated tire pressure light because the high risk of a blowout could compromise your safety. Once you notice symptoms, have a professional inspect your vehicle.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Tire Pressure Light?
The tire pressure light is part of a vehicle’s complex electronic system. It can be scary receiving word that something related to the electronic system needs to be replaced. The good news is that replacing the tire pressure light is affordable and averages between $230 to $300.
Each make and model affect the price of parts. Parts range from $170 to $230, while labor costs are low and average between $50 and $70.
The risk of a possible tire blowout makes this affordable repair necessary in driving a dependable vehicle. If your vehicle is old and on its last leg, you have another option: send the car to the junkyard.
Can I Replace a Tire Pressure Light Myself?
Without a professional scanner, replacing the tire pressure light is best left to a mechanic with professional equipment.
First, you will need to find the tire pressure sensor located inside your car’s tires. You will need to remove the tire from the rim. Once that is done, you need to connect a diagnostic scan tool to the car to read the trouble codes.
If you aren’t a mechanic and lack proper tools, this is an incredibly complicated repair.
Consider a variety of mechanics in your area. Not all mechanics are the same. Inexperienced mechanics may cost less in hopes of gaining more clients, but it could mean their lack of experience costs you more in future repairs.
Another option is sending the car to the junkyard and waving goodbye to all of those repair costs.
Is Fixing a Vehicle with a Bad Tire Pressure Light Worth It?
The tire pressure light connects to a very important sensor: the tire pressure sensor. Without this light and sensor, the air tire pressure would not be monitored and kept at optimal performance. This could lead to low or flat tires or worse, a tire blowout while driving.
While replacing the tire pressure light is best left to professionals, it is an affordable repair. $230 to $300 is better than having to replace tires or replace more parts if you lose control of the vehicle that leads to an accident. Although an affordable repair, there are other things to consider.
If your vehicle is older it may be more difficult to find the replacement part, meaning you will pay more. Additionally, imported car parts cost more than locally produced parts.
The price also depends on the number of sensors that need replacing. Your vehicle has a tire pressure sensor on each tire, so while the cost to replace one sensor is affordable, the cost could easily quadruple.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to replace four tire sensors, you have more options. You could sell the car or trade it at a dealership for a more reliable vehicle.
Sending it to the junkyard is a great option.
You can drive the car to the junkyard, discuss known repairs, and hash out details. The car will be taken away, replaced with a cash payment. Some junkyards will even come pick up the car at your location for free.
The Tire Pressure Light is Vital to a Car’s Health
The rush of having to get from one place to the next is stressful. Imaging hurrying to get out the door only to find you have a flat tire. Not only do you have the stress of not arriving at your destination on time, now you have extra monetary costs to deal with.
Understanding the symptoms related to a tire pressure light means we are more informed about the next decision to take. If the symptoms are caught early and only one sensor needs to be replaced, a few hundred dollars is nothing to fret about.
If we need to replace more than one sensor or we sit on the repair hoping the tire pressure light will turn off, it is a different story.
Driving while a tire blows out is a scary and dangerous situation. We can cause more damage to our vehicle and risk the safety of those around us. Don’t let this repair get out of hand.
If you can’t afford the repair or decide the repair is not worth the investment, you have other options. You could sell the car. You could trade it in at a dealership. You could deliver it to a junkyard.
Unfortunately, vehicle repairs happen to the best of us. The best course of action is research to better inform yourself on the finest decision to make.
Manually check the pressure of your tires and look after your dashboard warning lights.