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If you see this TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) icon illuminated, it means your vehicle has a low tire. Stop and check the inflation pressure in your tires. This warning light will come on if tire pressure in any of your tires falls more than 25% below the recommended inflation pressure (refer to your owner’s manual, or the tire inflation decal in the glove box, driver door pillar or gas tank filler cap lid for tire inflation pressure recommendations).
I Saw My TPMS Light When I Started My Car - Are My Tires Okay?
The TPMS warning light should come on for about one second when the ignition key is first turned on for a bulb check. It should then go out if all of the tires are properly inflated.
If it does not go out, or if it comes on while driving, this means you have a low tire.
Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems are being used on more and more new vehicles. Low tires are potentially dangerous, especially if a vehicle is heavily loaded and traveling at highway speeds during hot weather. A low tire under these conditions is a blowout waiting to happen. The inflation pressure of the tires should be checked regularly, but many motorists do not check their tires. That is why Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems are coming into use.
What is the Correct Tire Pressure (PSI)?
Tires are designed to operate within a certain pressure range. The recommended inflation pressure can usually be found in the vehicle owner's manual and on a decal that may be located in the glove box or door jam. The recommended inflation pressure is designed to give the best combination of ride comfort, load carrying capacity and rolling resistance.
NOTE: The maximum cold inflation pressure on the sidewall of a tire is NOT the recommended inflation pressure. It is a maximum limit for the tire only. The recommended inflation pressure for most passenger car tires is 32 to 34 psi (cold).
Increasing the tire inflation pressure reduces rolling resistance (which helps fuel economy). It also increases the load carrying capacity of the tire. But it also increases ride harshness. The maximum inflation pressure (which can be found on the sidewall of the tire) should never be exceeded because too much pressure may overstress the tire and increase the risk of tire failure.
Decreasing the inflation pressure improves ride quality by making the tire softer. Under certain circumstances this may help improve traction a bit. But lowering the pressure also reduces the tire's ability to carry weight and increases rolling resistance (which hurts fuel economy).
A low tire also wears faster. Why? Because increased rolling resistance and flexing in the tread scrubs away the tread. As the miles add up, so does the wear and eventually the tread is down to the wear bars. Once the wear bars are flush with the surface of the tread, the tire needs to be replaced.
The increased friction in the tread and the sidewall that results from under inflation also generates heat. All tires are engineered to operate within a certain temperature range, which you'll find on the side of the tire (A, B or C, with A being the best). When a tire is underinflated, it runs much hotter than normal. This may or may not create a potentially dangerous situation depending on how low the tire is, how fast the vehicle is driving, how heavily it is loaded and the ambient temperature. The lower tire, the more heavily loaded the vehicle, the faster is traveling and the hotter the weather, the greater the risk of a blowout.
A blowout can have deadly consequences because it often causes the vehicle to lose control. If the blowout occurs on a vehicle like a truck or SUV with a high center of gravity, it greatly increases the risk of a rollover.
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