A Basic Guide To Understanding Your Vehicle's Tire Pressure Monitoring System

3 August 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Due to regulations set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2000, all new vehicles are now required to have a tire pressure monitoring system. If you are driving a newer vehicle made after 2008, on your dash somewhere is the new warning light for tire pressure. Here is a little information you need to know about how your new tire pressure warning system works:

Older Vehicles & Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

Before NHTSA required all new vehicles to have tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), a few companies were already installing TPMS in their vehicles. However, these systems work a little differently than systems that were made to comply with NHTSA's rules. 

The TPMS system found in older vehicles is designed to work with your brake system. When your brake system detects that one of your tires is spinning more quickly than the other three, it sends a signal that activates your tire pressure symbol on your dashboard.

This method can detect a tire that is low in pressure; however, since it is dependent on just one tire rotating faster than the others, this type of system can easily miss when all your tires are low. This type of system is often referred to as an indirect monitoring system for your tires.

Newer Vehicles & Direct Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems 

All newer vehicles are now required to have a TPMS that complies with NHTSA standards. The older TPMS does not meet these standards, thus a new system had to be implemented. This newer system is often referred to as a direct monitoring system for your tires. 

The new TPMS found in vehicles actually measure your tire's psi through a gauge that is attached either directly to your wheel or to your tire valve. These systems are extremely accurate with their measurements. 

Your vehicle will provide you with information from your TPMS system one of two ways:

  • Higher End Vehicles. On higher end vehicles, the dash on your monitor will display what the tire pressure is for each tire on your vehicle. This makes it easier for you to identify which tire or tires have low pressure and address the situation. 
  • Lower End Vehicles. On lower end vehicles, your dash will not tell you the tire pressure for each tire. Rather, the tire pressure symbol will light up to let you know that at least one of your tires is giving off a low pressure reading; however, it is up to you to figure out which one. 

It is very important to note that even in newer vehicles, the TPMS is not set to go off unless your tire pressure is at least 25% below what the manufacture recommends. When your tire pressure is that off, your tires are in immediate danger of experiencing serious problems. Having a tire pressure monitoring system does not mean you get to skip out on checking your tire pressure; you should never let your tire pressure get so low that it sets off you TPMS. If you have any questions about your system, visit a mechanic at Professional Automotive.


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