Tim Gorman & Keith Pershing
In last month’s article we discussed (link) what to do to wake up your dead car! As we mentioned, it’s important to check your tire pressures and make sure they are in safe condition (tread depth aside.) One indicator for proper tire pressures is your TPMS sensor.
Keith says, “Tire Post Mental Syndrome monitor.” Tim wisely retorts with a smile, “Tire Pressure Monitor Sensor, TPMS.” “Yes,” says Keith, “But the light on the dash makes me mental!”
So, what is so important about this special monitor? The light on the dash of a car is an indicator that the system is sensing a malfunction and that a tire pressure is low or incorrect. This little expensive device could be triggered by varying speed differences that are in cars’ ABS (Anti-lock Brake System) tone ring. Other systems have a small transmitter inside the tire that will set the tire pressure light on the dash. So what do you do if you get this ugly, annoying light on the dashboard of your car?
First thing to do is to manually check each of your tire pressures (including your spare) to ensure their proper pressures. A tire pressure specification decal can usually be found on your drivers’ door jam. After verifying and correcting your tire pressures, the next step is to check your vehicle owners’ manual to see if there is a reset procedure needed or if it automatically resets itself, (Of course your local island repair facility can provide air or nitrogen). If the light on your dashboard is still on making you mental, you may have a TPMS System Malfunction. Since every car is different and each manufacturer uses a system to best fit their needs (not necessarily yours,) there is now no quick fix to your annoying light problem. Possible corrections for one system type might include electronic diagnosis of repairing wheel speed sensors that share data with the ABS and drive train systems. Other possibilities could involve failure of the sensors within each tire. The TPMS sensors are plastic, battery-operated radio transmitters that work with your car to make sure your driving is safe. They were added as government required safety equipment in September 2007. These small devices are subjected to all kinds of abuse, including hot and cold temperatures offset by the bouncing within your vehicle’s tires. Furthermore, the fragile sensors may also be affected by routine maintenance such as wheel rotation and tire replacement and may need to be reprogrammed or replaced. Just as with your car batteries we talked about, these batteries can die, too, and are unfortunately not serviceable when this happens. All sensors will eventually fail (It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.) Therefore, TPMS replacement is required and necessitates diagnostics and repair.
“Bottom line is that tire and wheel safety technology is constantly changing and needs to be accurate,” says Tim.
“Exactly,” responds Keith, “Vehicle parts are making me more and more mental daily.”