Ryan Foy, Jiffy Lube of Indiana, District Manager and ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician
If you ever see a light that looks like the above image, no need to panic. Fortunately, this light signals a problem that is usually relatively easy to fix.
This light is commonly referred to as the TPMS light or the Tire Pressure Monitoring System. The indicator light is a yellow cross-section of a tire with an exclamation mark in the middle. The TPMS light comes on when the tires are under-inflated by 25% or more. It’s common for this light to come on in the morning during the fall or when the weather is changing and getting colder. When the temperature drops, the pressure inside your tire changes and can cause your TPMS light to appear.
How Does the TPMS Light Work?
In 2000, congress passed a bill stating all vehicles built after September 1, 2007, must be equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system.
Your vehicle uses sensors mounted inside the tires or sensors for the anti-lock brake system to indicate a potential issue with your tire pressure. Generally, a flashing light indicates there is a problem that needs to be diagnosed by a service facility. If the light is solid (not flashing) it may just mean you have one or more underinflated tires. In some vehicles, the TPMS light can also turn on if the tires are over-inflated.
What To Do When You See the TPMS Light
If you’re driving and the light comes on the first thing to do is stay calm. Find a safe place to pull out of traffic to check your tires. Be sure you do not have a flat. If it appears safe, continue with caution to the nearest service facility or gas station to check your tire pressure.
The best time to check your tire pressure is first thing in the morning when the tires are cool or after the car has been sitting for at least an hour. Tires should be filled to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure located on the placard inside the driver’s side door. Keeping your tires properly inflated can prolong the life of your tires, increase fuel economy, reduce toxic emissions, and keep you and your family safe!
Before we wrap this up, a quick thing to remember about all the lights on your dash. If it’s a green light, continue driving! If it’s a yellow light proceed with caution. If it’s a red light, stop immediately!