Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) have been required in all vehicles beginning with model year 2008. If you have a newer car, you may already be familiar with TPMS. If low tire pressure is detected, a TPMS warning lamp lights up on the dashboard. That means one of your tires is flat.
But if the TPMS light is always lit or turning on and off randomly, you may be experiencing one of a few common TPMS issues. Here’s how to do a little at-home tire pressure monitoring system troubleshooting.
Warning Lamp Stays Lit
This indicates a properly functioning tire pressure monitoring system. More importantly, it indicates that one of your tires is underinflated.
If the tire isn’t completely flat, slowly and carefully drive to the nearest air pump to inflate your tires.
If the tire is completely flat, replace it with a spare (if no spare, use your vehicle’s tire repair kit) before driving to your dealership so they can inspect your tires.
Warning Lamp Turns On and Off
If your TPMS lamp lights up for a while and then goes dark again, this can be caused by cold weather. The outdoor temperature affects tire pressure: heat increases pressure, and cold decreases it. Tires also heat up as you drive.
If your tires are slightly underinflated, your TPMS lamp may turn on in the morning but shut off after you’ve driven a while or when temperatures rise. But this doesn’t mean your tires are fine. Slightly underinflated is still underinflated, and tires are supposed to be inflated to the recommended pressure when they’re cold.
Inflating your tires to the correct pressure will likely solve this problem. If it doesn’t, visit your dealership so they can inspect your tires and TPMS.
Warning Lamp Flashes at Start-Up
If you see a flashing TPMS light when you start your car, that’s an indication of a TPMS malfunction. Depending on the vehicle, you may instead see the letters “TPMS” light up, or the normal TPMS symbol may appear but surrounded by a dashed line.
If you notice any of these malfunction indicators, adding pressure to your tires won’t help. You need to bring your vehicle to your dealership so they can professionally troubleshoot the tire pressure monitoring system.