TPMS: What Does It Mean?

TPMS: For anyone who takes pride in their car, following a good vehicle maintenance plan will go a long way to sustainability and affordability. Look after your car and it will look after you. Maintaining proper tyre pressure is vital as it improves vehicle handling, general tyre performance and load bearing capabilities. The tread on tyres that are correctly inflated will last longer, reduce roll resistance while increasing water dispersion.

Over-inflated and under-inflated tyres can cause the tread to wear prematurely and also result in total tyre failure. Over-inflated tyres wear on the centre of the tyre and decreasing grip on the road and the ability to absorb road impact. Underinflation can cause sluggish tyre response, increased fuel consumption, excessive build-up of heat and tyre overload with tread wear on the outside edges.

Considering all the risks involved, it is imperative that drivers regularly check the condition of their tyres. This includes tread, tyre pressure and physical damage like punctures. Besides visual checks and taking your car to the nearest garage, what if your car has TPMS?

Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TMPS)

If you are new to TPMS, it is a built-in computer system that constantly monitors the pressure of all your tyres. Each tyre has a sensor that sends data to the ECU (Engine Control Unit). From there, it alerts the driver with a visual or audible warning if there is any variation in tyre pressure or temperature. In addition to pressure, these warnings also alert the driver of a damaged sensor valve or when the sensor valve battery has expired.

Having a TPMS fitted improves overall safety as it checks your tyre pressure every few seconds. This continuous monitoring greatly reduces the chances of a blowout or accidents related to incorrect tyre pressure. Not only that, but TPMS can also save you money in the long-term as correctly inflated tyres last much longer and improve fuel efficiency.

The main objective behind fitting TPMS is to offer drivers an early warning system when something goes wrong. While the technology certainly saves time and energy, it does not replace regular, manual tyre pressure checks that everyone always reminds you of. Sometimes things aren’t always what they seem and knowing what to look out for could stand you in good stead.

Why does my TPMS light keep going on and off?

When tyre pressure is close to the level that triggers an alert, fluctuating ambient temperatures may cause your TPMS warning light to turn on and off. In many cases when the tyre pressure drops overnight, the light often goes off once pressure increases again during the day because of rising temperatures or heat generated from driving the vehicle. If it persists, use a pressure gauge to check all your tyres and inflate any tyre that is low.

What happens when my TPMS light flashes and then stays lit?

If the warning light flashes for about 60 to 90 seconds every time you start your car and stays lit, your TPMS unit is no longer functioning correctly. It would be best to take it to your nearest service centre for an inspection. Until then, the TPMS is out of order and won’t be able to warn you if your tyres are losing pressure. At this stage, check the pressure manually with a gauge and inflate if necessary.

Why is my TPMS warning light on while driving?

This is probably the simplest question to answer as when the TPMS warning light comes on and remains lit, at least one of your tyres has low pressure. Check all your tyres with a gauge and determine the cause of pressure loss. Inflate the tyre if necessary or if you notice something is not right, have the tyre checked. You can book a FREE tyre check [linkto: Free Tyre Check Page] at any of our Elite Garages where our tyre experts are ready to assist in any way they can. You can rest assured knowing that they will treat your car as their own.

TPMS and EU Legislation

Under EU legislation, all new models of passenger cars sold in the EU must have a TPMS system installed. New vehicles with TPMS registered from 1st January 2012 will have their TPMS system tested as part of the first MOT test [linkto: MOT/Service page]. If your vehicle falls into this category and the TPMS is not working correctly, you could fail your MOT test.

The legislation was spurred by environmental concerns as part of the EU’s drive to reduce CO2 emissions and safer motoring in general. According to EU estimates, each year under-inflated tyres are globally responsible for the following:

  • 20 million litres of unnecessary fuel consumed
  • 2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions
  • 200 million prematurely worn tyres
  • 9% of accidents involving fatalities
  • 41% of accidents involving injury

Servicing and Replacing TPMS Sensors

Replacing sensor valves can be expensive as single units can cost anywhere from £45 to £150. While sensor valves should last for years, wear and tear, corrosion or damage to the valve stem sleeve and nut among many other components could result in damage or complete failure.

You should replace sensor valves after about 5 years or 100,000 miles but this can vary depending on vehicle use. For business owners managing a fleet of vehicles, keep an eye on high mileage vehicles and frequent low-pressure alerts. This could considerably reduce their lifespan and considering where they are located, damage and corrosion are commonplace which often means they need replacing sooner than anticipated.

At Elite Garages, we always strive to inform all of our customers about effective car maintenance and new rules and regulations to help keep you and your family safe on the road. Whether you’re a student, a business owner or retiree, our friendly family-run business offers incredible value for all your motoring needs. We always get the job done properly the first time. Just take a look at what some of our customers had to say.

If you’re looking for a professional, trustworthy and honest service centre, Elite Garages should be your first call. We service all makes and models offering MOTs, services, batteries, shocks and exhausts among others. If you have any concerns over the condition of your tyres, book a free tyre check for added peace of mind.

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