A TPMS or tire pressure monitoring system is a type of mechanism that lets you know if one of the tires on your car is not properly inflated. It’s a great safety feature to have in your vehicle and is sure to help you maintain safe driving conditions across the year.
As it’s a relatively new system, it’s perfectly understandable that many people aren’t aware of TPMS and its applications. This article is meant to provide further details regarding this topic and help you understand once and for all: What does TPMS mean?
We look at all things to do with TPMS:
- Stands for tire pressure monitoring system.
- Ensures safe driving by checking the pressure of your tires.
- There is direct and indirect TPMS.
- You’ll see a warning light in your car if something isn’t right with the tires.
So what does TPMS mean?
If your car has the tire pressure monitoring system installed, you will know it’s active when you see a yellow warning light on your dashboard with a tire symbol punctuated with an exclamation point.
This simple indication will help you stay safe on the road and ensure that you can keep a check on the tire pressure of your vehicle. A recent study revealed that nearly 200,000 accidents occur each year in the US based on tire-related issues.
A Brief History
Before the development of this system, tire-related accidents were even more common across the world. These were accidents that could have easily been avoided by keeping a check on the tire pressure.
In order to check the tire pressure previously, you would need to visually and manually check the air pressure from time to time. This involved crouching down in front of each tire and using a tire gauge to check the air pressure.
Thanks to the development of modern TPMS and numerous car service stations, the vast majority of these accidents are now a thing of the past.
The sheer number of accidents related to tire pressure made the US government take notice and pass a measure known as Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability and Documentation, aka TREAD.
Thanks to this singular piece of legislation, most vehicles that were manufactured and sold in the United States after 2007 had to include a new type of tire pressure monitoring system.
After this point, this technology began to take off almost immediately, and numerous versions of the TPMS started to emerge in the market. There are two primary categories in operation today:
- Direct TPMS.
- Indirect TPMS.
In a direct TPMS, you will find a sensor placed within each tire that helps keep a constant check on the pressure levels. These sensors also offer information about wheel revolution and the anti-lock brake system.
Some advanced, direct TPMS can even offer the user information about the tire temperature as well. All of this crucial information is sent to a centralized control module. This module then ensures that the data is analyzed and interpreted correctly.
When the model realizes that the tire pressure is on the lower end of the scale, it will transmit a message to your dashboard and inform you about the tire sensor pressure immediately.
Modern direct tire pressure monitoring systems are now able to send all signals wirelessly to the respective modules. They do this by using a sensor with a unique serial number to help the central control system differentiate between the various pieces of data coming in from the four tires.
As you can imagine, the technology driving these innovations is state-of-the-art, and most car manufacturers rely on the use of proprietary technology for the sake of accuracy. If you’re looking to replace your existing TPMS system, you need to utilize a technician who’s aware of the systems in place.
Advantages of Using Direct TPMS
The following are some of the major advantages of using a car with a direct TPMS:
- You will be able to ascertain real-time and direct tire pressure readings created from sensors inside individual tires.
- The accuracy of this system is incredible. There will be no inaccuracies generated from factors such as tire rotation.
- You can easily resynchronize the system even after you’ve replaced or rotated the tires.
- Some models include sensors placed even inside the spare tire provided by the car manufacturer.
- The batteries used in the direct TPMS system are long-lasting and can work for nearly a decade.
Disadvantages of Using Direct TPMS
- This system is far more expensive when compared to an indirect TPMS.
- Sensors may get damaged when you’re mounting or dismounting the tires.
- Resynchronization of the direct TPMS system is simple, but it requires your technician to have access to expensive equipment.
- Although the batteries of the TPMS sensors last a really long time, you will need to change the sensors entirely once they run out. Batteries of these sensors are tough to replace.
- If your car manufacturer has used proprietary technology in their TPMS, installing, fixing and replacing these sensors may be quite challenging for most technicians.
This is the second major category of TPMS available on the market, and it relies on the use of wheel speed sensors that are often found in the anti-lock brake systems.
These specialist sensors aim to measure the real-time rate of revolution in each of the four wheels. It’s connected to an onboard system that compares the data received by each wheel and cross-references it with other data such as the speed of the vehicle to spot inaccuracies.
In the indirect TPMS, the rate of revolution produced by each wheel helps detect changes in tire pressure. If one of the wheels is producing revolutions that are faster than the rest of the wheels, the onboard system is able to determine that the wheel in question must be underinflated.
At this point, the TPM light is activated, and the driver is notified about the inconsistency. Thus, despite not measuring tire pressure using sensors like the direct TPMS, the indirect TPMS system can still inform you via a warning light when your tires need your attention.
Advantages of Using Indirect TPMS
- This system is much cheaper when compared to a direct TPMS.
- You will need to spend less time and effort maintaining and programming this system.
- It can be tackled by most technicians and does not rely on the use of expensive equipment.
- Installation maintenance is also known to be much lower.
Disadvantages of Using Indirect TPMS
- The accuracy of the system may be affected if you switch to a tire of different dimensions.
- When your tires wear out unevenly, it can affect the accuracy of the system.
- You need to reset the system after you inflate all your tires.
- The system needs resetting after the tire rotation as well.
Additional Information About TPMS
Is It Safe to Drive With TPMS Light On?
It isn’t safe to drive with the tire pressure light on, as this means that one or more of your tires is underinflated. If you continue to drive with the warning light on, it could result in a flat wheel or the uneven wearing out of your tires.
Why Does TPMS Light Come On?
The tire pressure light only comes on when there are some inconsistencies in your tire. More often than not, it has to do with the air in your tires and the drop of pressure in one of your wheels. Some modern TPMS systems, however, can give you other information that pertains to existing or impending issues with your car.
How Do I Get the TPMS Light to Go Off?
You can get the TPMS light to go off by using the manual of your car. Each manufacturer has a different method of resting their TPMS. The most common method, however, is listed below. You can follow these steps to get the TPMS light to go off:
- Make sure that the tire pressure of each tire has been corrected.
- Turn off your vehicle.
- Press and hold the reset button of your TPMS system.
- Hold the button down until the TPMS light indicator blinks three times.
- Wait for a few minutes. The system is recording each tire’s individual air pressure.
- Turn off the engine.
- Once you switch the car on again, the light should be gone.
- If the light persists, it means there’s a problem with your vehicle, and you need to visit your technician.
How Long Does It Take for the TPMS Light to Go Off?
The amount of time it takes for the TPMS light to go off is subjective based on your car brand and your model. Ideally, the light should go off once you’ve filled the tires with the right amount of pressure and reset your TPMS system.
If this doesn’t work, try running your car for 10 miles to give the system time to adjust. If it hasn’t reset even at this point, there is something wrong with the TPMS, and you need to visit a professional.
TPMS to the Rescue
The technology powering our modern automobiles is truly a thing of wonder. The TPMS system, in particular, is absolutely ingenious and helps save innumerable lives on the road.
Keeping an eye on the tire pressure may seem like a simple task, and that’s precisely why it can slip our mind so easily. Now that we’ve answered the question, “What does TPMS mean,” it’s probably best you spend some time understanding your own system.
If you don’t have this system and are looking to install this system in your car, you will not regret your decision.
The smallest changes often end up having the biggest impact on our lives. This rings true for the tire pressure monitoring system.