The low tire pressure light is part of the tire pressure monitoring system, also known as the TPMS in your vehicle. The purpose of this mechanism in your car is to alert the driver when your tire pressure is too low and could lead to unsafe driving conditions for everyone involved. If the light turns on and illuminates on your dashboard, this means that your tires could be underinflated, which could lead to tire wear on all four tires and premature tire failure.
TPMS Light Function
Your TPMS light, or the tire pressure monitoring system light, is in your car to alert you that your tire pressure is too low and that it could create unsafe driving conditions for you, the passengers, and other cars on the road. If the light is turned on on your dashboard, it could mean that your tires are not inflated to the proper level set forth by your manufacturer, which can lead to quicker tire wear over a shorter period of time, and potential tire failure much sooner than it should be.
Since it is crucial to know the importance of tires before you try to fix any root causes of the issues, it is crucial to be aware of how the proper tire inflation can keep your car running smoothly for a long period of time and how the tire pressure monitoring system can help you avoid a dangerous situation on the road.
Tire Longevity Concerns
Two causes of issues with the tires can affect the lifespan of the tires. Both overinflation of the tires and the tires’ underinflation can cause tread wear prematurely and possible tire failure.
Overinflation can result in decreased traction, premature tire wear, and the inability to absorb the right amount of road impact and handle rough terrain. Overinflated tires can show premature wear on the tire tread, mainly centering in the middle of the trade.
The other cause of the low tire pressure light in your car will be underinflation. Underinflated tires can cause the tires to respond slowly, a decreased fuel economy and lower miles per gallon, excessive heat buildup and friction, and tire overload. An underinflated set of tires can show premature wear on both sides of the tread instead of centered in the middle and focus on the tires’ shoulders.
Now that you know about the tire pressure monitoring system and how the pressure of the tires can influence the performance of your vehicle, you need to know where to find the tire pressure monitoring system indicator. Finding the TPMS indicator on your dashboard is simple since it is a horseshoe-shaped light with an exclamation point in the center of the horseshoe.
Importance of Low Tire Pressure Light
As far as the dashboard illumination warning signs go in your vehicle, the tire pressure monitoring system is the least severe and should not cause any concern for the driver. However, this does not mean that you should ignore it – it means you should take care of it by your local mechanic or auto body shop. If one of your tires is underinflated, then the low tire pressure light will come on.
The low tire pressure light can reduce the fuel economy and miles per gallon you can earn, the unpredictable and shaky vehicle handling, a decreased tire lifespan due to uneven wear and tear, and impact your safety on the road due to the underinflated tires experiencing damage to the sidewall.
Low Tire Pressure Light Diagnosis
The low tire pressure light is a key tool in your car and diagnosing the issue. However, do you know what the low tire pressure symbol means when it illuminates on your dashboard? When you notice this in your vehicle, the initial thing to do is manually check your tire pressure with a simple tool, like a tire pressure gauge, and add the proper amount of air until the tire pressure reaches the manufacturer’s specification in your car’s manual.
If you do not have the manual, you can find the correct tire pressure for your specific car on the door jamb. Make sure you keep in mind that the tire pressure monitoring system does not replace the routine maintenance you will have to do on your tires to prevent any popped tires or broken tire rims. The TPMS light will come on in your car when the tire pressure gets to the wrong point, either too low or too high.
Low Tire Pressure Light On While Driving
When the low tire pressure light comes on while you are driving your car, and the light stays on during the driving, at least one of your tires is at a low-pressure level, meaning you will have to inspect all four tires manually. Check the tires’ pressure levels with a manual gauge to see the tire that is causing problems. A manual gauge can help you diagnose the cause of the pressure loss and add the necessary air to the specific tire or tires.
One of the reasons your low tire pressure light may come on while driving is tire inflation issues. One method of fixing these tire issues is by using a tire patch.
If you view your tire and you see that the hole or puncture is less than ¼ in diameter, then using a tire patch is the best way to go. Not to mention, the tire patch cost is significantly lower than other tire repair options.
Next, you need to make a note and consider the location and place of the puncture. If the puncture is between two of the tire treads, it is an excellent option to use a tire patch. However, if the hole is to the shoulder or the side of the tire, then using a tire patch can cause internal damage since you will have been ignoring a more significant issue. Internal damage can require replacing a tire, which is a much higher price than the low tire patch cost.
Last, you need to check the tire’s overall condition. If the tread measures 3/32 of an inch or less, then you shouldn't choose to use a tire patch to fix the tread, despite the inexpensive tire patch cost.
Low tire Pressure Light Flickers While Driving
When the tire pressures are near the level that triggers an alert, whether the tire pressure level is too high or too low, the fluctuating temperatures might be causing your low tire pressure light to turn on and off rapidly. A flickering low tire pressure light can occur when the pressure decreases and goes down over time, like overnight, due to a sudden drop in temperatures, like when you live in a cold climate.
A cold climate can cause the low tire pressure light to turn on, and the light might then turn off when the pressure increases due to the rising temperature during the day. The light could also turn off due to the heat generated from driving your car and having it warm up over time. Make sure you use a tire pressure gauge to check all of the tire’s inflation levels and add any air if necessary.
If you need to look into getting new tires due to the conditions and weather climate that you frequently are driving in, then you must know the average tire prices for your vehicle.
The lowest tire price involves the sedan or hatchback, with the median tire price for a sedan being $137. The next model, which has the same price for the tire repair, is the car’s minivan model. The next in terms of cheapest is the SUV, with a repair price of $162. Fourth on the list is a pickup truck with $175 worth of repairs. The most expensive option in terms of the median tire price is the sports car with a price of $187.
Low Tire Pressure Light Flashes and Remains Illuminated
Suppose the low tire pressure light flashes for around a minute every time you turn on the car and rev the engine, and the low tire pressure light remains illuminated while driving. In that case, this can mean the tire pressure monitoring system is not functioning correctly and needs to be taken to a mechanic to have it inspected.
Until this issue is repaired, the tire pressure monitoring system is not working right and cannot alert the driver or any low tire pressure via the low tire pressure light. Make sure you check the air pressure and inflation levels of all tires with a manual tool.
Repairing the Low Tire Pressure Light
Inflate the Tires
If your low tire pressure light comes on while you are driving or stays on after you start your car, then your next stop should be a location that has an air pump to inflate the tire to the recommended level, also known as the PSI, which can be found on the sidewall of your tires. Tires generally lose pressure from the result of one of two main things – either a sudden decrease in temperature due to climate change or a small puncture or leak that has affected the tire inflation level.
Change of Climate
If you are looking to get the low tire pressure light back to normal and turn the light off on your dashboard, there is a good chance that the temperature has dropped outside and your car has gotten colder overnight. When the temperature drops, especially toa level below freezing, the air gets denser in the car and takes up less space than usual, meaning there is less pressure from the outside air in your tires.
Colder air can cause the low tire pressure light to come on and can be at the exact moment when the driver notices that they will need a tire repair, like a puncture that has caused the inflation levels to drop way below a normal and driveable level.
Check the Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Suppose you have topped off your tires and added the right amount of air so that it reaches the PSI level that is indicated on the tire wall or in your manual, and you have also checked for any leaks or punctures on the tire treads in all four tires. In that case, you should be good to hit the road and start driving your car again. However, if the low tire pressure light is still on and the low tire pressure monitor system is showing an error, then there might be another cause as to why the light is on.
Once you have checked your tire pressure with a manual gauge and ensured that they are actually at the correct level and not pumped up too high, you may need to take the next step. It is time you should consider resetting the tire pressure light in your vehicle, which may require you bringing your car to a mechanic or auto body shop.
How to Reset the Low Tire Pressure Light
If you have discovered that the tires are at the correct inflation level according to the PSI in your car and that no punctures or leaks are occurring in the walls of your tires, then the 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 mechanical and car knowledge to do properly. If you do not feel confident doing these on your own, you should bring your car to a mechanic or auto body shop so they can reset the low tire pressure light.
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.
The low tire pressure light is a crucial warning system in your car that needs to be paid attention to so you can keep your car running smoothly and safely!