What is My Car’s TPMS System?

What is My Car’s TPMS System?

No one wants tire troubles. Our Mountain View Automotive technicians in Thornton can make sure your tires are inflated correctly so you can avoid those problems. If you have a newer car, it likely has a tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS for short. Wondering what is my car’s TPMS system? Well, it’s an electronic system that monitors the air pressure in your tires.

As you likely know, having the correct tire pressure is important for proper braking, gripping the road, and ensuring the longevity of your tires. If your tires are incorrectly inflated, the TPMS will alert you by illuminating a warning light on your dashboard. If the warning light is steady, you need to get your tire pressure checked. A flashing light means that your TPMS may not be working correctly.

According to a Popular Mechanics article, a Department of Transportation study going back to 2001 reports that 60 to 80 percent of cars on the road are running with tires that are under-inflated by as much as 10 percent. And 20 to 50 percent tires are under-inflated by as much as 20 percent.

Here’s the interesting part. Your TPMS warning light will only go on when your tire pressure is below 25 percent. When it gets to that level, it can reduce your car’s fuel economy, cause your tires to run hotter, and not grip the road as well, particularly in wet conditions. So even with a TPMS, you will want to bring your vehicle to our technicians to make sure your tires are inflated correctly.

Types of TPMS

The Popular Mechanics article explains your car may have a direct-reading or an indirect TPMS. 

Indirect TPMS

This system type uses software and readouts from the wheel-speed sensors used by the car’s antilock brake system. If your tires are properly inflated, they will rotate the same number of revolutions. If one tire rotates more, it likely has a shorter rolling radius due to low pressure and the system will notify you.

This can be a problem if your tires are unevenly worn, or if you replace only two tires instead of all four. You can reset the system to allow for wear when all the tire pressures are correct. TPMS warning lights may also go on after a tire rotation, or if you’re replacing tires of a different size from the previous ones.

Direct-Reading TPMS

This is a more expensive technology used to monitor tire pressure, but it is usually more effective. Here, the battery-powered senders are mounted inside the tire and talk to the TPMS through small antennas in each wheel well. They get tire pressure readings and transfer the messages to the in-car display. The individual senders have a unique serial number to transmit to the vehicle so it reads the right tires.

Resynchronizing the TPMS after a rotation or because of a flat requires a special tool (don’t worry, we have it) to communicate with the vehicle and the sender.

Hopefully, our Mountain View Automotive technicians in Thornton have answered your question what is my car’s TPMS system? Now, if you notice that light come on, or see that your tires look a bit deflated, be sure to call or contact us to make an appointment. Let’s catch it early to protect you and your tires.      

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