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 possibly lead to tire wear on all four tires and premature tire failure.
What happens when your TPMS Light Turns on?
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 ires before you try to fix any root causes of the issues, it is important to be aware of the 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.
Two causes of issues with the tires can affect the lifespan of the tires. Both overinflation of the tires and underinflation of the tires 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, with it 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 shoulders of the tires.
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 that has an exclamation point in the center of the horseshoe.
Don’t Ignore the Low Tire Pressure Light
As far as the dashboard illumination warning signs go in your vehicle, the tire pressure monitoring system is one of 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. This 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.
What does the TPMS warning light mean?
The low tire pressure light is a key tool in your car and diagnosing the issue. However, do you really know what the low tire pressure symbol means when it illuminates on your dashboard? The initial thing to do when you notice this in your vehicle is to 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 specification set forth 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 that you will have to do on your tires in order 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 Comes 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 manually inspect all 4 tires. Check the pressure levels of all of the tires with a manual gauge to see the tire that is causing problems. This can help you diagnose the cause of the pressure loss and add the necessary air to the specific tire, or tires.
Low Pressure Light Goes on and Off
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. This 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.
This 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. This 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 tires inflation levels and add any air if necessary.
Low Tire Pressure Light Flashes and Then Stays On
If the low tire pressure light flashes for around a minute or a little bit more every time you turn on the car and rev the engine, and then the low tire pressure light remains illuminated while driving, 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 is not able to 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.
Your Low Tire Pressure Light Came on – Now What?
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 a climate change, or a small puncture or leak that has affected the tire inflation level.
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 being stored in your tiers.
This 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.
What if the low tire pressure light stays on?
If 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, then 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, it is time that's should consider resetting the tire pressure light in your vehicle, which may require you bringing your car to a mechanic or auto body shop.
Resetting 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 there are no punctures or leaks 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 these following steps.
First, try driving at about highway speed, around 50 miles per hour, for just about 10 minutes until the engine is warmed up. This should be able to reset the low tire pressure light sensor, and should turn off the TPMS light.
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.
If neither of these methods work to reset the low pressure light sensor in your car, then there are a few other ways that you can rest 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.
The first to these methods involves inflating each one 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 pressure tire light sensor.
With the vehicle turned off, you should open the hood and disconnect tap positive battery cable, then turn the key to the “ON” position, honking the horn to discharge any power, and then reconnecting the battery. If this does not reset the low pressure tire light, you need to bring your vehicle to a mechanic so they can run further testing.
Low Tire Pressure Light 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 like Pep Boys, 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 a removal of old tires, removal of old sensor s and proper installation and programming of a new one by a tire professional, and rebalancing of the wheel, running around $18.