The tire pressure warning light has recently started to come on most every morning. The display shows 2 to sometimes 3 tires being low in pressure. None of them look flat or low. After I drive the car for 15 minutes the warning light goes out and I don’t have the problem again until the next morning. The dealer checked and set the tire pressure to specification and told me it was a temperature related problem. I heard that when they break they’re expensive to replace. So, why should I even have these sensors on my car? When they break why should they be replaced? They seem to be over priced, unreliable and an unnecessary add-on that drives up the cost of owning a car…..
False Cold Weather Warnings
False cold weather pressure warnings are a common event in cold weather. After all, tire pressure does drop as temperature drops. As you drive the vehicle, the tire temperature climbs which, in turn, increases the tire pressure.
If you check the recommended tire pressure by vehicle manufacturer you’ll see that it is cold tire pressure setting, which is all fine in nice weather.
With the temperature at 10 degrees and the wind howling that last thing you’re going to do is check your tire pressure! But the manufacturer says you set it cold, current ambient temperature. Be real, no one is going to do that in those weather conditions.
So let’s think about this for a second…in the world of physics there is a law call the rule of gas. In simple terms it explains that temperature has a direct affect on pressure. Temps go up pressure goes up. Temps go down pressure goes down.
Here’s the cold weather trick we use. Start by setting the tire pressure 2 psi higher than shown by the vehicle manufacturer on the door. This will allow for about 20 degrees temperature change. See what the next cold morning brings. If the light stays out bingo! If not and another PSI or two.
On my Nissan Murano I had to set the tire pressure 5 PSI higher in the winter to stop hearing about tire pressure warning lights from my beautiful wife.
Note; Having your tires filled with nitrogen gas will not make a difference. The rules of gas applies to all. A good tire gauge and a little common sense is all you really need.
Cost to Safety Ratio;
I can’t argue that repair, replacement of the pressure sensor is a bit on the costly side. Just the investment we had to make in the computerized tool required to test and program the sensor’s computer will set to you back on your heels a bit.
With that said,..the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) found in today’s cars and light trucks is a good thing.
It is a regular occurrence to have vehicles coming into the shop with the tire pressure warning light on, long before the screw or nail in the tire has left them on the side of the road with a flat.
Not only did it save them from a roadside flat, it prompted them to address the problem before the tire was damaged due to under inflation, which could have required a replacement tire. An under inflated tire will overheat and can fail!
Think this through a few more steps; you’re doing 70 MPH on the turnpike with cars all round you doing the same speed. Would that be the time to have a tire blow-out due to low inflation?
As I see it, the cost to safety ratio of the TPMS system is getting better all of the time.
Puppet Tire Pressure Class
Michelin Tire in the UK came up with this tire pressure awareness video for YouTube. The facts are real but I find the puppets a little on the freaky side.
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