Tire pressure warning lights are part of the tire pressure monitoring system, also known as the TPMS. The purpose of this mechanism in your car is to alert the driver when your tire pressure is too low – this issue could lead to unsafe driving conditions for everyone involved. If the tire pressure warning lights show on your dashboard, this means your tires could be underinflated, which could lead to tire wear on all four tires and premature tire failure.
Tire Pressure Warning Lights Function
Your TPMS light, or one of the most important tire pressure warning lights, is in your car to alert you that your tire pressure is too low. This situation could create unsafe driving conditions for you, the passengers, and other cars on the road.
If the tire pressure warning lights are turned on on your dashboard, it could mean that your tires are not inflated to the proper level determined by your manufacturer. Uninflated tires 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. In addition, car owners need to know how the tire pressure warning lights can help them 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, possible tire failure, and tire pressure warning light signs on your dashboard.
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.
Why your car tires are so important
As you might know, your tires matter a lot in your vehicle. Keeping your tires and wheels in good condition is key to your car’s longevity and the smooth-riding of your car. There are four main reasons why you need to keep your tires in balance to prevent the tire pressure warning lights in your vehicle.
First, your tires play an essential role in the safety of your car. If you have driven too long on your tires and they have broken down over consistent use, you might be putting yourself and passengers at risk of a crash. Each tire supports a quarter of your vehicle’s weight, so even if one tire is compromised, it can affect your vehicle very quickly and lead to tire pressure warning lights.
The second important function of your tire is the efficiency of your car. The tires have to keep your car moving smoothly. If your tires are worn down, it can cause you to waste a lot of money on fuel. When your tires are off, and you have unbalanced tires, it will be difficult for the tires to maintain consistent contact with the road.
In addition, when your tires have good tread and are properly balanced, you can feel that your car is running smoothly. However, if your tires are damaged, and you feel vibrations or pulling, this means that the performance of your car has deteriorated. This causes the ride to be less smooth, a drop in performance, and also tire pressure warning lights on your dashboard.
Lastly, getting maximum traction on your tires affects almost everything that is related to driving performance. Mainly, it ensures that you stay in control of your car even when you are in severe conditions and prevent unbalanced tires.
Tire Pressure Warning Lights Function
Alert The Driver to Poor Wheel Alignment
The purpose of making a wheel alignment adjustment is to reduce tire wear, preventing uneven wear, ensuring that the vehicle is in line, and making sure the vehicle rolls straight and evenly. The wheel alignment makes sure the tires are not lopsided, leading to uneven tire wear and a quicker breakdown of the tires.
Without this service, you will have unbalanced tires and tire pressure warning lights illuminated on your dashboard. This also can prevent the car from pulling to one side when you are trying to steer your vehicle in one straight line.
Signs of Bad Wheel Alignment
There are many causes and signs that show that the wheel alignment is uneven.
- The vehicle pulls to one side, with the car driving in a crooked line when you don’t have your hands on the steering wheel.
- The steering wheel doesn’t return to the center after being led to one side.
- The steering wheel is in its resting position off-center.
- Excessive tire breakdown in certain spots due to the tires wearing down unevenly.
- Loose steering
Causes of Bad Wheel Alignment
- Feathering – The tires are “feathered” when the tread is smooth and even on one side, but sharp and uneven on the other. This is usually the cause of poor toe alignment and the wrong toe angle as we talked about, leading to unbalanced tires.
- Camber Wear – The inside or outside of the tread is much more worn than the very center of the tread. A poor camber angle can cause this type of wear, as you might have guessed. Paying attention to the tire pressure warning lights can ensure this type of camber angle gets fixed properly.
- Heel and Toe Wear – This happens when one side of your tread blocks wears down faster than the other sides. When you feel the tread, it will look and feel very rough when viewed or felt from the side. The heel and toe wear can be a sign and reason of under inflation or a lack of turning and rotation in your wheels.
Alert the Driver to Unbalanced Tires
Tire balancing corrects an uneven distribution of weight in your car and can help if your tires are out of balance. The tire balancing helps fix the weight distribution in the wheels, since imbalanced wheels can lead to excessive vibration, uneven tire wear, suspension damage, and other problems that become more severe and extensive overtime.
During a tire balance service to remedy the tires out of balance, your tires and wheels are both mounted onto a tire balancing machine. The machine spins the tire and the wheel assembly to measure the imbalance so that a technician can install the right size tire weights to get them properly balanced wheel and tire assembly.
Signs of Unbalanced Tires
- Vibrations – Uneven Tire wear and excess vibration in the steering wheel, the floorboard, or the seat can trigger the tire pressure warning lights. You might want to have your tires balanced during a rotation, after a flat repair, or as a part of your scheduled maintenance. Usually, the part of your car that is vibrating indicates to the driver where exactly it needs balancing, like the front or back wheels.
- If the vibrations are occurring in the steering wheel, this is likely a sign that your front tires are out of balance. If the vibrations are originating from the setas, this shows that the rear tires are out of balance.
- Steering Difficulties – Unbalanced tires will create an uncomfortable driving experience by making the steering more difficult and delaying the response time of the steering wheel. In addition, you will not be able to turn the wheel smoothly and it will fight back at you when you try to control the vehicle. Since the vehicle will not be able to steer smoothly, this can lead to a higher prevalence of accidents and trigger the tire pressure warning lights.
- Uneven Tire Wear – The vehicle is at a much higher likelihood of having a flat tire if the tires are wearing abnormally and succumb to uneven tire wear. The tire can thin so much to the point that there is a very sudden rupture, which can be a dangerous situation that can occur while you are driving down the road. Rotating the tires prevents uneven tire wear and tire pressure warning lights.
- Bad Fuel Economic – Unbalanced tires put more stress on your car’s engine, since the resistance created by the imbalanced forces, causing the engine to be under more stress, work harder, and have to expel more energy just to keep the vehicle in motion. As a result, the engine needs more fuel to sustain its operation under these conditions.
- Bad Shocks and Bearings – The shocks, springs, bearings, and other parts of the wheel assembly are under a lot of stress when the tires are not balanced, so they will experience higher wear and cause the tires to be out of balance. If you do not fix the bad shocks and bearings, you will undergo a more expensive and extensive repair or replacement later on.
- Tire Pressure Warning Lights – Lastly, the tire pressure warning lights are clear signs of unbalanced tires.
Causes of Unbalanced Tires
- Weather – Your tires can become unbalanced due to a wide variety of reasons, with one reason being the weather that you are driving in. cold air causes tire deflation since the air particles have trouble with the tire contract and the tread wear.
- Excess Tread Wear – Sometimes, the tire can deflate so much that your tires go out of balance.
- Loss of Wheel Weight – Another huge reason for tire imbalance is the loss of wheel weight. This can happen when you are driving at high speeds on the highway and hit uneven terrain, like a speed bump, a sidewalk curb, a pothole, or another object on the road.
Repairing the Tire Pressure Warning Lights
Inflate the Tires
If your tire pressure warning lights come on while you are driving, your next stop should be a location that has an air pump to inflate the tires. You need to inflate the tires to the recommended level, also known as the PSI. Tires generally lose pressure from the result of one of two things – 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 notice tire pressure warning lights all of a sudden, there is a good chance the temperature has dropped outside, and your car has gotten colder overnight. When the temperature drops, especially 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.
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 correct PSI level. In that case, you should be good to hit the road and start driving your car again. However, if the tire pressure warning lights are illuminated, 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, 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 to bring your car to a mechanic or auto body shop.
The Bottom Line
Figuring out the importance of the tire pressure warning lights can help you save repair and replacement costs on this crucial piece. Noticing the warning signs of unbalanced and misaligned wheels can help you prevent the symptoms from worsening over time!