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The One Thing You Don’t Want to See on a Road Trip

You pass the trains, the waterfalls, the moose, goats or deer. You see hitchhikers and vintage sports cars. On your summer road trip this year, the one thing you don’t want to see is the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) symbol lighting up on your dashboard!

If you don’t know what TPMS is—never mind why you don’t want to see it illuminated on your road trip or what to do if that happens—not to worry. We’re going to walk you through all of that to help you enjoy a safer, smoother road trip as well as a handful of other benefits that come from having proper tire pressure.

What is TPMS?

TPMS is one of the great safety vehicle features vehicle manufacturers have adopted in the last decade, and yet so many drivers still don’t quite know what it is, and that lack of awareness and some of the TPMS myths can put you at risk.

Since you often can’t tell even when a tire is significantly underinflated, TPMS was created to warn you when your tire’s inflation level becomes dangerously low—between 10 and 25 per cent below the recommend air pressure. Wheel-mounted sensors monitor tire pressure and inform the alert for severely low pressure.\

At that point, one of two symbols will illuminate on the dashboard: an exclamation mark inside the shape of a treaded ‘horseshoe,’ or the frame of a vehicle highlighting the tire with low pressure.

Unfortunately, some drivers think the TPMS symbol means the air pressure is low and carry on driving with the symbol flashing when in fact they could be very close to a dangerous tire failure.

What should you do if you see your TPMS light?

  1. Pull over
  2. Check your tire pressure
  3. If inflation levels seem normal, proceed to one of our Kal Tire locations near you if you can for a professional inspection. There’s a chance the battery or component needs replacing, or the system needs resetting after a tire changeover.
  4. If inflation levels are severely low, however, it’s best to put on your spare tire and then go to your nearest service centre.

How can you avoid seeing your TPMS light?

Ideally, we’d all check our air pressure regularly, and especially before and during a road trip, so we’d never be in a situation where we’d need the TPMS to do its job because underinflation can cause tire failure and loss of control of the vehicle.

In addition helping you avoid breakdowns and collisions, maintaining proper tire pressure improves:

  • Fuel economy
  • Tire wear and life
  • Vehicle handling and performance
  • Exhaust emissions

It’s also helpful to maintain your TPMS, especially through the winter season, when wheels are exposed to all kinds of salt and grime that can cause corrosion. Learn more in our post What Can You Do About TPMS Kits & Winter Corrosion?

Is your TPMS light on or flashing or do you have a TPMS question? Talk to Kal. Visit one of our Kal Tire locations near you for a professional inspection and advice.