We all have heard how important it is to keep our tires inflated correctly, not only for optimum gas mileage, but also for handling and safety. Underinflated tires increase rolling resistance, resulting in a loss of fuel efficiency. The US Department of Transportation estimates that underinflated tires waste 2 billion gallons of fuel annually. Underinflated tires are also the number one cause of tire failure, contributing to heat buildup, ply separation and sidewall failure. Sudden tire failure (almost always caused by under-inflation or impact damage) results in approximately 40,000 accidents and almost 650 related deaths a year.
After the Firestone tire recall in the late 1990’s, Congress passed the TREAD Act, which mandated tire pressure monitor devices in all light motor vehicle sold in the United States. This was phased in beginning in 2005, and became 100% required in 2007, although some systems were in use prior to then, namely the 1986 Porsche 959 and the 1991 Chevrolet Corvette.
Tire Pressure Monitor Systems come in two basic types: Indirect, which uses the vehicles Anti-Lock Brake sensors to detect under-inflation (an under-inflated tire rolls at a different speed than one that is properly inflated), and Direct, which uses a sensor mounted inside the tire to transmit information to a module inside the car that informs the driver that there is a problem.
These direct sensors are not without their problems. They have a battery in them that can go dead, typically in 7 – 10 years. They can be damaged by driving on a flat tire, and when part of the valve stem, they can become corroded from road salt. You should always have valve stem mounted sensors serviced whenever you replace a tire to prevent leakage, and you should never use metal valve stem caps, as they will corrode to the stem. Also, the retainer nut can corrode to the stem as well. In either case, the stem will break when any attempt is made to loosen them, requiring replacement of the sensor.
How do you know if your car has TPMS? If it’s a 2007 or later, it does. For earlier years, look for the symbol below on your instrument panel when you start your car.
At Carworks Auto Repair, we have the correct tools and know-how to service your TPMS, from valve stem kits to sensor replacement and reprogramming. You can schedule an appointment either by calling us or clicking the link on the home page of our website.
If you have any questions about Tire Pressure Monitor Systems, or anything else about your car, please stop in, or give us a call. You can also e-mail your question to firstname.lastname@example.org, or posting to this blog, or our Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/CarworksOakdale.