Everything you Ever Wanted to Know about TMPS, FAQ about Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

September 3rd, 2015

The ABCs of TPMS:

FAQ about TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) from the experts at Queens 106 St Tire & Wheel

I’m hearing a lot about tire pressure monitoring systems; what exactly is TPMS?  TPMS is a fairly new automotive warning system feature displaying tire pressure in new vehicles equipped with them. The law requiring TPMS was mandated by the federal government in 2007. And right from the start everyone at Queens 106 St Tire & Wheel shop locations  ... its techs, managers and staff were trained to answer questions about TPMS, maintain, replace and service tire presure monitoring systems.

TPMS systems have warning lights on the dashboard (see image above) informing the driver whether anyone of the 4 tires is compromised in safety because of improper tire pressure. (Please note: the batteries powering the display on the dashboard wear out like any other battery. If the tire pressure monitoring system is not displaying, come see us for a quick fix and we will replace the batteries for you) So, literally, TPMS is a tire system monitoring your current tire pressure, without you having to take a tire gauge and test the inflation of the tire. It lets the driver know what 106 St Tire & Wheel techs know when we manually test proper tire inflation… and by the way tire inspection and proper air pressure service is always free at our Queens locations and any new locations we open whether in Queens or Brooklyn or anywhere else.

If there’s an unsafe change in air pressure in one or more of the tires, transmitters from the tire monitor system to the vehicle’s dashboard demonstrates that change via a light on the dashboard as well as an audible alarm sound. This happens when there is approximately a 25% drop in compressed air pressure in a particular tire.

Do I really need TPMS in my car?

In a word? YES. Why? Two words: AVOIDING DANGER.

The numbers show it. Improperly inflated tires account for over 10,000 tire related accidents a year. These mishaps cause deaths, serious injuries, millions of dollars in damages, missed time at work, property damage, etc. We live in the technology advanced age and since most drivers are remiss or unknowledgeable about how critically important tire pressure is to a safe ride, the government simply created laws that mandated improved public safety via these TPMS sensors.

How do I know if a vehicle is equipped with TPMS?

TPMS first appeared after October 5, 2005 in select models. However, tire pressure monitoring systems became mandatory on September 1, 2007 when the federal government passed a law stating every light duty vehicle or car under 10,000 pounds be equipped with this safety feature.

If you are not sure whether your vehicle has TPMS simply check your owner’s manual or Google it on line.

Can the TPMS system be bypassed?  No, it cannot. The federal law: 49 U.S.C. 30122(b) states, "A manufacturer, distributor, dealer or motor vehicle repair business may not knowingly make inoperative any part of a device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in compliance with an applicable motor vehicle safety standard."

Because TPMS systems run on a radio frequency (RF) technology to “broadcast” pressure data, is it possible they could be hacked or "fooled"?  This is not likely and, in fact, TPMS has proven to be reliable and safe. Tire pressure monitoring systems make use of a radio frequency (RF) technology to transmit tire pressure data and other information to the your car's electronic control unit (ECU).

The likelihood of underhanded individuals hacking or tampering with the sensor system and fooling the TPMS system, for example, attempting to ascertain the position of a certain vehicle or a certain person is extremely unlikely. As stated above, this is a radio frequency and with millions of TPMS cars on the road all with their own RF, tampering would be difficult if not impossible.

What is the TREAD Act?

In 2000, the federal legislature passed the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD). The TREAD Act mandated passenger cars, light trucks and buses to be equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) among other items pertaining to road safety.It also

required that notification of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in all accidents involving alleged tire defects be reported. 

What does the TREAD Act require regarding TPMS?  The TREAD Act and its following enforcement law 49 CFR 571.138 called Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 138 (FMVSS 138), necessitated that all new car makers equip all new vehicles with:

  • On going monitoring of the TPMS in all 4 tires at all the times. (except the spare, of course)
  • On going monitoring of the TPMS system that operates effectively and accurately all the time when the vehicle ignition is on and warns when tire pressure is reduced and underinflated by 25% or more
  • Ongoing monitoring of the TPMS system alerting the driver when there is a TPMS system breakdown or malfunction
  • A TPMS warning light that goes on and stays on until the tire is properly inflated to the recommended pressure or the TPMS system malfunction is corrected
  • A TPMS "bulb check" of the warning light(s) on the dashboard that occurs when the ignition is turned on
  • Each cars vehicle owner's manuals containing warnings about potentially mismatched replacement tires for your vehicle

What vehicle types does the TREAD Act cover?  The TREAD Act pertains to mostly passenger vehicles including light duty vehicles under 10,000 lbs and includes certain types of trucks and buses (does not apply to motorcycles).

How does tire pressure affect my safety?  As mentioned briefly above, and through out the writing we do on line, 106 St Tire & Wheel has consistently repeatedly acted via providing information in helping our community understand this. And again, all our locations provide free tire pressure checks and, in fact, give free compressed air as a public service. Sadly, most drivers check their tires only at service intervals or when they have an issue. This is not safe approach as the numbers of tire related accidents plaguing Americans causing death, injury and property damage prove.

106 St Tire works hard making our customers aware but it’s not enough as most of us are remiss about this overly simplistic road safety step….check your tire pressure often! Our lack of adherence, as a nation, to the adage below about this critical tire maintenance fact is why federal law was necessary. As we always say

SAFETY FIRST!

106 St Tire & Wheel has dedicated ourselves to raising awareness and now this is a federal issue for good cause for all the reasons we’ve repeatedly stated.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that there are 10,000 plus accidents a year due to underinflated tires and with that comes 660+ fatalities annually that are caused by underinflated tires. Millions of dollars worth of damage is done. And on top of poorly inflated tires both wet and dry surfaces create danger to underinflated tires, including:

  • Skidding and loss of control of the vehicle in and on curves, on exits, etc.
  • Crashes from flat tires due to under-inflation, lack of maintenance such as wheel alignment, tire wear or blowouts
  • Hydroplaning (tires seeming leaving the ground because of the presence of water between the road and your tires) on a wet surfaces which affects both braking, breaking distance and skidding and/or loss of control of the vehicle.

What exactly does it mean when my TPMS warning light comes on?  When the TPMS warning light comes ON and flashes ON for one second and OFF for three seconds, more than likely it is an indication of a malfunction with the vehicle's TPMS system. Come on in to any 106 St Tire and Wheel shop and we will check it out. You can find us open 24 hours including all holidays except Christmas in Corona at 106-01 Northern Blvd, 24 hours at our new state-of-the- art shop, our Napa car care and wheel alignment facility at 105-08 Northern Blvd and open 7 days in Jamaica at 118-02 Merrick Blvd, 79-20 Queens Blvd and 45-13 108 St.

If the TPMS warning light comes ON and stays ON, pull over slowly in a safe place out of the way of traffic but, please, for safety sake, do so ASAP. This means that one or more of your tires may have a dangerously low tire. Inspect all of your tires and check the air pressure. Please don’t drive around, please find the nearest tire dealer or repair shop or better yet, get yourself towed into one of our locations.

The correct air pressure for your vehicle can be found on your driver’s side door jam, usually located on the inside door panel. This will state what your tire pressure should be in order to drive safely on your tires.

What makes tire pressure change?  Many factors affect tire pressure including temperature changes and tire damage such as punctures. Tire pressure drops about 1 psi for every 10°F drop in temperature. Additionally, tires can lose as much as 1.5 psi per month as air escapes the tire and rim naturally (this is less likely to happen with nitrogen fill). Also, if you park indoors over night in the cold weather, your tire pressure changes often as the environment affects your tire pressure all the time.

What do I do when my TPMS light comes on during cold weather?  Does this really mean my tire pressure is low? Any time that the TPMS warning light comes ON, there is that possibility and some action needs to be taken for safety sake.

However, tire pressure can drop due to cold conditions so if you park indoors you may be okay, however if you park in the street as most of us do, that could cause this drop in pressure and that may cause the TPMS light to come ON. As the tire warms up under normal driving conditions, the light may turn OFF. If the cold weather conditions cause the TPMS light to stay ON, check the tire pressure (when tires are cold) and inflate the tire to the proper pressure indicated on the door jam.

Can having TPMS in my car really save me money?  You bet it can and 106 St Tire has been preaching about this for the last 5 years on blogs, in articles, etc. Properly inflated tires save money at the pump due to better fuel efficiency. Various government websites state underinflated tires can lower gas mileage which means it costs you money not to inflate your tires properly and improperly inflated tires cause damage to the environment and the air your (and ours!) kids breathe. Additionally, properly inflated tires are safer and life expectancy increases. Environmental organizations indicate that fuel economy has four main benefits to you, me, your kids, my kids, our city, our world!

  • Saving money
  • Reducing gas consumption and not supporting foreign governments by buying using THEIR oil.
  • Reducing climate change and improving air quality
  • Increasing energy sustainability

    According to the US Dept of Energy (DOE), 3.56 million gallons (yes, that is MILLIONS!) of gas are wasted each day
    because tires are not inflated properly and that equals tons and tons of green houses gases poisoning your kids, your pets,
    you and the future of the human race on this planet.

The DOE states drivers can improve gas mileage by about 3.3% by keeping tires inflated to the proper pressure. For most consumers, that represents approximately 10 additional miles or more on each tank of gasoline. 

Couldn’t you use that money for something to make your life easier, more fun, take your kids to a movie, pay for your NYS Inspection? And, also, wouldn’t you enjoy knowing you are helping the world combat climate change, as well.

106 St Tire has been repeating this over the last 5 years too….think about 3.56 million gallons of gas per day multiplied by a years worth of days…staggering numbers and all we have to do is check tire pressure. It’s a no brainer!

Can TPMS help our environment?  Of course, see above, when millions of people save a little gas the savings are H-U-G-E! Properly inflated tires impact the environment by releasing less carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air we breathe. Better gas mileage and fuel efficiency equate with reducing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency states that Americans drive an average of 12,000 miles a year averaging about 20 pounds of CO2 emitted per gallon of gasoline consumed.

The take away is staggering: The average passenger car in the U.S. releases over five tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

So before you think that climate change is inevitable, think about the above and remember, saving earth can start with you and checking your tire pressure so you do have the power to help turn the tide and save the planet for all of our kids and nature while being pro-active in the bigger picture.

My car has TPMS. I haven't had it serviced yet at my repair facility. What should I expect when I get there?

  • confirmation that your TPMS sensors and system are functioning properly
  • maintenance, service or replacement of any malfunctioning part of your TPMS sensors
  • inspection, testing, possible replacement of any TPMS sensor sealing parts like core, cap, nut, grommet (galvanic corrosion-see below).
  • new TPMS sensors adjusting to your vehicle's computer to program and correct positioning of TPMS sensors
  • confirmation that your TPMS sensors and system is functioning properly after tire service is complete

I have an extra set of tires and wheels (for snow tires or custom wheels), how do I make sure their TPMS work?  106 St Tire & Wheel will be happy to sell you a set of replacement sensors and install them in your extra set of tires. When the extra set of tires or wheel assemblies is mounted to the vehicle, your 106 St Tire TPMS installer will have the ability to make the adjustment to the new sensors to the vehicle computer just like your PC adjusts to new software and hardware. When the original set of tires or wheel assemblies are reinstalled on the vehicle, the computerized sensors will simply readjust to the new sensors in the vehicle computer.

If I have a roadside flat and try to plug the hole using off-the-shelf tire sealant what will happen?  Doing this is potentially to damaging to the TPMS sensor in the tire. However, if tire sealant has been used, 106 St Tire can assess the sensor functionality and determine if the sensor is working properly or if it needs to be repaired or replaced. We do not advocate driving on a flat tire unless you want to replace it.  Please use a tow truck.

TPMS service costs more, why?  Think about it? Doesn’t safety always require a little more to provide you with a lot? How much is your family’s life worth? TPMS systems require additional parts, tools and labor. The TPMS valve service kit that includes additional parts like sealing cap, the valve core, nut and grommet (stem seal), are replaced whenever a tire is dismounted for service or replacement. Each wheel will require a service kit costing an average of $5 to $10. Special tools and additional time are required to effectively check and reset the TPMS system. If TPMS sensors need to be replaced, the cost can range from roughly from $50-$100 each depending on what type of car you drive.

If my TPMS light comes on and I put air in my tires, will the light go off by itself or do I need to take my car to the dealer or a tire shop?  When the TPMS warning light comes ON and flashes ON for one second and OFF for three seconds, there is an issue with your car’s TPMS system computer and that must be corrected only by 106 St Tire & Wheel’s service center.

When the TPMS warning light comes ON and stays ON, this indicates a low tire inflation pressure in one or more or your tires. Inflating the tire to the recommended tire pressure found on the door jam should cause the light to turn OFF. Remember that one or more of the tires may be low in pressure, so you should always check the pressure in all of your tires. Come on in to one of our locations on Northern Blvd in Queens, Merrick Blvd in Jamaica, Queens or 108 St in Queens and we will do this for you if you are unsure.

We repeat, do not drive on a flat tire and do not drive if the TPMS

System indicates you have low pressure in one or more of your tires. TPMS systems show low tires when tire pressure decreases by 25%. It’s not safe for you, your family, other NYers to drive your car if the TPMS display lights indicate a low tire.

Will the TPMS light come on if my tires are overinflated? Are over inflated dangerous?  The TPMS lights will not necessarily come on. Overinflated tires can reduce the life span of your tires, create a harsh and bumpy or even dangerous ride on rough roads when going over bumps and damage your tires. The reason why your auto manufacturer provides the door jam information is so that the owner can get the safest, most life expectancy and peak road performance from your tires. Please consider that information the Bible on safe driving for best results safety-wise and performance-wise. Tires should always be properly inflated to the pressure indicated on the door jam and should never be inflated beyond that or the pressure stated on the sidewall of the tire itself.

Would it be worth my while if I have TPMS installed in my pre-2007 car?  There are benefits of having TPMS maintaining properly inflated tires for all the reasons above like maintaining, of course, tire pressure which saves wear on tires, increases MPG, reduces air pollution, etc. These advantages would help off set the cost of a TPMS Retrofit Kit for pre-2007 vehicles. Of course, the major benefit is improving the safety for you and your passengers.

If I get new tires on my post-2007 car, do I have to have TPMS put on them?  No. TPMS sensors are required in your vehicle ONLY if it was manufactured after September 2007 or if your vehicle was equipped with TPMS as original equipment.

If the TPMS light comes on, does that mean one or more of my tires are low?  If your TPMS warning light comes ON and stays ON, this indicates a low tire pressure condition in one or more of your tires. Some vehicles will alert the driver as to which tire has low pressure. Please feel free to avail yourself of our safety check and let an expert 106 St Tire & Wheel mechanic check your air and we will happily check you’re the inflation level on all 4 of your tires. That’s important because more than one tire may be low. 106 St Tire is always happy to conduct many inspections free; please ask your tire tech about free tire check and free tire inflation check as well as free brakes check, and a free 47 point safety check. We would also like to tell you about nitrogen fill which will help you maintain proper tire pressure longer and improve your gas mileage even more as well to further reduce emissions of green house gases. 

How often should I check my tire pressure?  A tire doesn't have to be damaged or punctured to lose air because compressed air leaks through the tire wall naturally so check tire pressure in all your tires, including the spare, at least once a month. The amount of miles you drive, the surface of the road, stop and go traffic, weather, etc. are factors in how quickly your tire pressure can diminish. Remember to always use a quality tire gauge when checking tire pressure and don't forget the spare! It may not have TPMS, but if you're checking your tire pressure, you should check your spare tire, too.

What does an underinflated tire look like?  Looking at a tire to determine whether it requires more compressed air is useless and a myth as is kicking it or pressing on the tire. There is only one way to accurately check tire pressure and that is by using a good quality pressure gauge. An under-inflated doesn’t necessarily look look low and you can see that by looking at NHTSA's www.safercar.gov web site.

What the heck is galvanic corrosion and why is it important? (Sounds complex right and just when you thought this article is almost over!)

Galvanic corrosion results when different conducting metals such as aluminum and brass make actual contact with each other and electrical current passes through them both. The process of galvanic corrosion will have impact and bring about the corrosion of one or more of the metals.

If this happens in your TPMS system corrosion will occur and cause the two different metals to melt into one another, resulting in damage to various important TPMS components. This can damage your TPMS sensors beyond repair and will mandate replacements. 106 St Tire & Wheel tech experts will inspect and make sure that your TPMS system is properly serviced when you bring in vehicle for service on that system.

It’s very important that you recognize that a corroded valve stem, which also serves as the sensor transmitter's antenna, will actually affect the transmission of the TPMS data from the sensor to the ECU and may result in the TPMS light going on. So, while it sounds complex, rest assured that 106 St Tire & Wheel techs have been trained in TPMS maintenance service, repair and replacement since cars with this feature were introduced.

And, the bottom line is TPMS is this: they save gas, improve safety and save lives so make sure you attend to those TPMS sensor lights when they come on and do it quickly to avoid expanding what could be merely a TPMS battery dysfunction.

106 St Tire & Wheel has already started a campaign regarding this since the original cars with TPMS are now 7 years old and that’s about the life expectancy of the TPMS batteries and we are seeing cars that need battery replacement rather than system work…leave it to 106 St Tire & Wheel, NYC’s premier tire and wheel dealer and everything TPMS!

Drive safe, check your tire pressure and please help stop air pollution by being a responsible driver.

Thank you.

If you liked this post, you may like these related posts: 

Tire Pressure Monitoring System ...New TPMS Rules Starting Soon but 106 St Tire Has You Covered!

TPMS reset and replacement available 24 hours at 106-01 Northern Blvd

 

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