What is TPMS and How Does it Work?
In response to a surge of accidents due to underinflated tires, the US government passed the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act. One of the outcomes of this legislation was that most vehicles sold after 2007 include a TPMS system of some kind.
Your vehicles Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is designed to warn you when the pressure in one or more of your tires may be low or require service. The TPMS warning indicator is the yellow symbol shown above (horseshoe shape with an exclamation point).
Why is an underinflated tire so important?
- Underinflated tires cause poor fuel economy. The Department of Transportation estimates that underinflated tires waste 2 billion US gallons of fuel each year.
- The life of your tires is not as long when you drive on underinflated tires. When your tires are underinflated the internal temperature rises and causes a breakdown of material bonds inside the tire. Once a tire is weakened, it won’t heal after being re-inflated to the proper pressure. So if a tire has been allowed to run low for a period of time it may need to be replaced.
- Underinflated tires will affect the handling of the vehicle. Properly inflated tires add greater stability, braking and a safer experience for the driver.
- According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, vehicles with under-inflated tires release more than 300 billion pounds of carbon monoxide in the United States each year. By monitoring tire pressure on your vehicles, you can ensure tires are properly inflated so you can help reduce the emission of dangerous pollutants.
It is not uncommon for the TPMS senor to activate when the temperature drops. The air gets denser and takes up less space, meaning reduced pressure from the air in your tires. When the temperature turns colder check your tire pressure and add air as needed — think of adding a bit of air like topping off your gas tank.
When you see the TPMS warning indicator on your vehicle’s instrument panel, immediately check your tire pressure or stop our shop so that we can do it for you. If your alert is still displayed after setting the tire pressure, your TPMS may need to run through a “relearn” process or even require a TPMS sensor replacement. We can also examine your tires for damage, such as a puncture, to explain the air loss.
Wet Weather Maintenance Tips
Wet weather, like we have been experiencing lately, can create road hazards and some detrimental effects on our vehicles. Some things to be aware of when you are driving are potholes. The ground is so saturated now that potholes are starting to appear more frequently. If you drive over a pothole, your tires and steering system can be damaged. The rubber on your tire can be pinched when you hit a large pothole. While this may not cause an immediate flat or noticeable damage, this will create a weak point in the rubber where it is pinched. This may cause blistering on the side of the tire. If the blister ruptures, your tire will rapidly lose air and create an obviously hazardous driving condition. Make sure to inspect your tires several days after hitting a pothole to make sure a blister does not appear. A blister cannot be repaired. If you notice a blister, you should get a new tire as soon as possible. A large pothole can also throw off the wheel alignment of your vehicle. If you start to notice that your vehicle is pulling to the right or left when you are driving after hitting a pothole, you should have your alignment checked as soon as possible. Driving over a pothole can also cause your wheels to go out of balance. When your wheels are out of balance you will notice a chatter or shimmy in your steering wheel while driving. If your wheels are out of balance, it creates an unsafe driving condition and additional wear on your tires you should have your wheel balance checked as soon as possible.
An often-overlooked area of vehicle maintenance is your vehicle’s drains. All vehicles have drains to eliminate water that accumulates from rainfall or having your car washed. Over time drains can become clogged by dirt, leaves or other debris. When a drain is clogged, accumulated water cannot exit and will pool in the vehicle creating extra weight and causing rust. If you notice constant wet spots in your vehicle’s carpet, water stains on your door panels, your sun or moon roof is leaking or hear water sloshing around in your vehicle it could be an indication that your vehicle’s drain is clogged, and water is not draining properly. You should have your drains checked as soon as possible.
If you are experiencing any of these issues, please give the shop a call so we can get your vehicle taken care of and get your back on the road safely.