You know that pesky yellow light with the daunting exclamation mark in the middle of it? That yellow light on your dash is your TPMS indicator, also known as the tire pressure monitoring system. Your TPMS monitors the air pressure in your tires and alerts you when one (or more) of them drops 25 percent or more below its recommended pressure. Your dashboard will display either the official TPMS symbol or a graphic indicating which tire is in need of air.
That depends on how long it has been on. Your TPMS light will typically come on when the weather has gone from somewhat warm to stark cold. Drastic changes in temperature could deplete or inflate air pressure in your tires causing your TPMS sensor to trigger. Waiting a day or two after the light comes on to get your tires checked won’t be the end of the world. However, if you ignore it for too long, you could find yourself in a bit of trouble. Below are the disadvantages to under-inflated tires:
- Gas mileage will go down
- Shortened tire life due to uneven tread wear
- Decreased ability in steering handling
- Tire blowout due to stress from under-inflation
Not every car has a TPMS sensor to warn you about low air pressure in your tires. If this is the case, then develop a habit of checking your tires at least every 3–4 months. The most important times to check are during the fall and winter when temperatures are drastically changing. Checking your air pressure towards the ends of these seasons is best to make sure that your tires are ready for the beginning of winter and for the beginning of spring.
Even if you have a tire pressure sensor, it’s important to check your air pressure regularly - as your vehicle’s age and other factors can impact the system’s readings. If you get the TPMS warning, simply check your driver’s side doorjamb or glove box of your vehicle for the recommended tire pressure, and fill the tire to spec. Your car will handle better, you’ll save gas and, ultimately, you’ll be safer on the road. Properly inflated tires are critical to stability, traction, steering, handling and braking. Guarantee yourself some peace of mind and make sure your tire pressure monitoring system is functioning properly with a check-up.