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TPMS Will Tell You If Your Tires Are Underinflated

March 7, 2008

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System's warning light indicates when pressure in at least one of the vehicle's tires has fallen 25% under the recommended pressure. The new feature can improve safety, prolong the life of tires, and reduce fuel consumption.

BETHESDA, MD /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- You've just purchased a new vehicle and already a dashboard warning light is on, but this is one you might not have seen before. There's a good chance it's the new warning light tied to the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which as of 2008 is standard on all new cars and light trucks, according to the Car Care Council.

When the warning light comes on, it means pressure in at least one of the tires has fallen 25% under the recommended pressure. Low tire pressure can be due to a number of factors, including climate, road hazards, and driving conditions. Although it varies by vehicle, the warning light will go off when tires are inflated to the correct pressure, as outlined in the owner's manual.

Nearly 250,000 accidents occur in the U.S. per year due to low tire pressure, and about 75% of roadside flats are preceded by a slow leak or underinflation. In addition to safety, properly inflated tires last longer, wear more evenly, and can reduce fuel consumption by 10% and save drivers money at the pump, according to Schrader-Bridgeport International Inc., a manufacturer of direct TPMS products.

"Although tires are a critical safety component on any vehicle, they are often neglected," said Rich White, Executive Director, Car Care Council. "Free car care inspections, held in conjunction with National Car Care month in 2007, showed that 14% of vehicles had improperly inflated tires and 24% had worn tread and were in need of replacement."

In the fall of 2000, Congress passed the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act that requires a warning system to indicate underinflated tires. Under the act, automakers had to be 70% compliant as of September 1, 2006, and 100% compliant September 1, 2007.

If your car is equipped with TPMS, the automotive technicians who service your vehicle should be knowledgeable about how they operate. They should test all the TPMS sensors before servicing the tires on your vehicle and notify you if any of the sensors are not working before servicing the tire/wheel assembly. It may be necessary to replace the valve sensor. It will also be necessary to reprogram your TPMS sensors after replacement and after rotating the tires, depending on whether your system is location dependent, according to Schrader-Bridgeport.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the "Be Car Care Aware" consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance, and repair to consumers. A copy of the Car Care Guide or additional information may be obtained from the council.

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