Do You Use Your Tire Pressure Monitoring System?

Does you car have a tire pressure monitoring system? We can tell you right now that if it was made after 2008, then the answer is yes. After Congress instituted the TREAD Act in 2008, all cars are required by law to include tire pressure monitoring systems, or TPMS, for driver and passenger safety. A TPMS allows a driver to see how much air pressure is inside of their tires at any given moment. This can be important information when driving for obvious reasons. If you’ve just possibly hit something and are wondering whether your tires are leaking at all, a quality TPMS will let you know within minutes if you should be worried at all.

What is a Tire Pressure Monitoring System

A TPMS works by utilizing tire pressure sensors that are placed within the wheels. These sensors communicate data to your car’s electronic control unit, or ECU, which is the computer system that helps optimize modern engines to ensure they run smoothly. Obviously, as cars have advanced in safety and technology offerings, they’ve become much more complicated underneath the hood. The sensors actually work by using low-frequency radio waves to communicate with the ECU on your car, which will in turn notify you, the driver, via your heads-up display, instrument panel, or some other notification system, which will likely be on your dashboard.

Do You Use Your Tire Pressure Monitoring System?

What Kinds of Monitoring Systems Are There?
There are different types of tire pressure monitoring systems. Direct TPMS are systems that monitor the tire pressure of individual tires. They are more expensive systems, due to the fact that they have more advanced sensors feeding data directly into your car’s ECU. For example, a Mazda 3 tire pressure sensor will likely be part of a more expensive direct TPMS.

Indirect tire pressure monitoring systems, however, monitor the general pressure of your tires, which is why when you own a vehicle with an indirect monitoring system and you’re notified of a pressure issue, you should check the tire pressure on all four tires to ensure there’s no damage. In fact, you’re kind of forced to, as indirect and low-line TPMS won’t give you the exact tire pressure information on each specific tire.

While indirect tire pressure monitoring systems are cheaper, the trade-off is that their readings become much less accurate if your tires are worn down or weathered due to age or the elements. They don’t read your tire pressure directly either, which is why the shape and size of your tires plays a big role in the effectiveness of your TPMS.

What Are Some Problems That Can Occur With MY TPMS?

Tire pressure sensors are prone to some issues that can develop over time, which we though was worth mentioning. Most sensors have built-in batteries that need to be replaced over time. These batteries typically last a period of up to seven years, but should be checked at least yearly to ensure they’re still functioning correctly. The battery life can also be inhibited through driving a lot, as normal wear and tear comes with heavy usage of any vehicle. Plus, corrosion can play a large role in the dilapidation of tire pressure sensors. However, this should be fairly obvious already, as corrosion can negatively affect basically anything on a vehicle.

Okay, There’s a Problem … Now What?

When your TPMS detects an issue with your tires or wheels, you’ll typically be notified by a flashing light or something similar. When this happens, the number one thing we recommend you don’t do is panic, as that would be silly. While low or high tire pressure can cause significant damage to your vehicle, it typically takes a long time for any problems to manifest. This is why a TPMS on modern vehicles is so great – they’re a fantastic preventative measure that allow drivers to detect and deal with problems before they ever advance to a point where they’re a genuine threat to you and your passenger’s safety.

So, the first thing you should do when your tire pressure light comes on is check your tires for signs of obvious damage. Signs can be a hole or tear, or a hissing noise, which signifies that air is escaping. Sometimes, punctures can be so small that you can’t see them with your naked eye. However, these can still be detected through the usage of soap! Simply rub your tires with dish soap, and look for bubbles or foam that start to appear. Even the tiniest amount of escaping air will still form bubbles in soap, making soap a fantastic way to detect signs of tire damage, and ensuring its place as an unlikely essential item on road trips.

Even if you don’t have any punctures or tears, it’s a good idea to take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic or service station. A good mechanic will be able to check the tire pressure on each of your tires while also checking for possible wear and tear that might’ve given your TPMS a falsely positive reading for irregular pressure levels. No matter the model of car you possess, these false readings can still occur – yes, even with Mazda 3 tire pressure sensors.

One more thing that could cause a notification light to turn on is possessing a faulty tires. A bad tire can cause a number of issues in your vehicle, including misaligning your axles, being more prone to leaks and damage, and wearing down more quickly than regular tires. If you think your tires might be bad or fault in some way, then we definitely recommend taking your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible.

Obviously, Congress deciding that modern vehicles should include tire pressure monitoring systems by default was a wise decision, but we can only benefit if we know how to utilize our technology and equipment to the best of our abilities. The first step is to know what the systems are for, and the second step is actually using the systems properly. We hope that we were able to give you some context and help when it comes to understanding just how tire pressure monitoring systems work, and how you can use them.

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