All new cars and light trucks in Denver since 2008 have come equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS. The tire pressure monitoring system detects when a tire becomes under-inflated and lights up a warning light on the dashboard.
So what’s the big deal for drivers? Well, underinflated tires can be a real safety concern. First of all, they don’t handle properly and that can lead to an accident. Second, underinflated tires can overheat and cause the tire to come apart, which could also lead to an accident.
Government regulations requiring TPMS systems aim to reduce accidents in Colorado and save lives, a very worthy goal. There are also positive environmental effects because underinflated tires are fuel wasters – they lose 1 percent of their fuel economy for every 3 pounds of pressure below ideal. So proper tire inflation can save you a tank of gas a year. Your tires will also last longer so you won’t have to replace them as often.
There are two kinds of TPMS systems. So called, direct systems have a battery powered sensor in each wheel that measures tire pressure. The sensor sends a signal to a receiver that illuminates the warning light if pressure is low on a tire.
Indirect systems use a computer program to detect underinflation by measuring wheel rotation speeds and other data.
Drivers will have to replace TPMS parts as they wear out. Obviously, the batteries in the sensors will run out someday. Road salt and grime can damage sensors too. The system needs to be reset when you rotate or change your tires.
Because the TPMS system is so important to your safety, you should make the repairs when they are needed. Also remember, a tire pressure monitoring system is no substitute for regularly checking your tire pressure – at least once a month is recommended.