With hotter weather and brutal heat waves becoming more common, the pressure in your vehicle's tires goes up. After all, heat causes air to expand, and the air in your tires follows the laws of physics. Overinflated tires can reduce your vehicle's traction, cause a hard, punishing ride and make your tires wear out faster; all are important safety issues.
Four out of every ten drivers rarely check tire pressure. Some rely on their vehicle's tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to keep an eye on proper tire inflation. But it's not designed to do that.
TPMS is a safety feature that has been required on vehicles made in 2008 or later, using sensors in the wheels that alert you to tire pressure problems. That warning can be a light on your dash, a digital message or a readout of the pressure in each individual wheel. But a study showed that more than 40 percent of drivers don't even know what the tire pressure monitoring light symbol looks like!
One looks like a horseshoe with an exclamation point in the middle. The other looks like an overhead view of your vehicle with the tires at all four corners. They may even show the inflation number (usually in pounds per square inch, or PSI).
The TPMS is designed to alert you that your tires aren't inflated within certain parameters, but the system shouldn't be a substitute for frequently having your tires checked with a tire gauge. A TPMS light is only required to come on when a tire is 25 percent under the recommended tire pressure; by that time, you're driving on an unsafe tire and causing excessive wear.
Have your vehicle checked regularly by our professionals, and that includes tire pressure checks. If you do see the tire pressure warning come on, have our service center look at it soon. You may have a tire with a problem or the TPMS system may not be working right.
Either way, since your tires are the only contact your vehicle has with the road, your safety depends a great deal on your tires being in top shape and correctly inflated. Keep your tires properly inflated and your TPMS working to alert you of any problems. And that's not just a lot of hot air.
31533 125 1/2 Street
PRINCETON, MN 55371
Most light vehicles (under 10,000 pounds/4,500 kg) in North America sold from 2008 model year on have a feature that many people are confused about. It's the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). You may have some experience with it yourself if you own a newer vehicle. Vehicles with TPMS have sensors in each tire that are supposed to warn the driver when tire pressure gets dangerously low. That's important because tires that are significantly under-inflated can cause very serious accidents.
Unfortunately, many drivers think the TPMS does all the work keeping track of tire pressure. To them, as long as the warning light or gauge isn’t giving a warning, the tires must have the proper amount of air pressure in them. That's not the case.
Tire pressure monitoring systems aren't all created equal. Some give you a digital readout of the pressures in each individual tire. But many simply have a warning light that looks like the cross section of a tire with an exclamation point in the middle. If you don't know what it is, it's because it's not instantly recognizable as a tire. In fact, one company that makes TPMS, Schrader Performance Sensors, surveyed drivers. Their study showed that more than 40 percent of drivers didn't know that that warning light was.
One out of 5 of the drivers who did know what the light was only looked at their tires after the light came on to see if they could see any that needed air; they never checked them with a tire gauge or had someone else do it. Ten percent of them didn't do anything when the light came on.
In most vehicles with TPMS, the warning comes on only when the tires are more than 25% underinflated. The American Automobile Association says that's under the pressure you need for safe vehicle operation.
The bottom line is once a month you should make sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer's recommendations. That means each tire should be measured with an accurate, external tire gauge. To be confident you are getting a correct reading, take your vehicle to a reputable service facility where their equipment is calibrated and they know what they're doing.
Severely underinflated tires can contribute to an accident that kills or severely injures people. The idea behind TPMS is well intended, but the system was never meant to replace regular inflation measurements and maintenance. Periodically have your tires checked for proper inflation.
31533 125 1/2 Street
PRINCETON, MN 55371