Wednesday, September 25, 2013

TPMS–Do You Know How It Works? 

Do you know what it is?  Most newer vehicles have it.



Tire Pressure Monitoring System



It was a little weird the other day, when this strange tire light came on in my van, with an accompanying beep. I knew what it was, (and the display said ‘low tire’), but why did it come on? Visual inspection told me there are no low tires.



So I drove home, then got out the trusty tire gauge because the TMPS light was constantly on. The pressure gauge indicated three tires had 31.5 lbs. of pressure, and one only 31 lbs..



However the sticker on the door post said all tires should have a minimum of 36 lbs. pressure. TMPS electronic monitoring had made me slack. I always used to check tire pressure every several weeks, but now I depended on the system.



That’s okay, it did work. But I must have driven on less than ideal tire pressure since my van was serviced in Florida some months ago. That’s the only explanation I can think of that would make all four tires lower than the recommended pressure.




How Does TPMS Work?



That brings us back to the second paragraph in this article. What was weird was that night on local TV news, they had a very short segment asking this very question.



And I thought, many of my early years were spent working on and customizing cars. I took pride in having reasonable knowledge of how everything worked on most vehicles.



But I had no idea how TPMS sensors worked!



So I set out doing some research online to correct that knowledge problem. I won’t duplicate the information, you can read about TMPS sensors here. What a sensor looks like can be found in these articles on Google. And of course, Wikipedia has a section of information on TPMS too.




TPMS Could Have Saved The Night

One reason I have such interest in Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems is two years ago while traveling from Panama City Beach to Tallahassee airport in Florida at 3 a.m. in my previous vehicle which did not have tire monitoring, I had a flat.



By the time I realized I had troubles, I was on a curve with plenty of 18-wheelers going by and it was unsafe to stop. By the time I got to a safe area I had totally ruined the tire and changing a tire under those conditions, not knowing where the alligators were was not exactly fun. (I could smell water nearby.)



Had I had TMPS then, I am sure it would have warned me soon enough that I could have pulled over in time to save the tire. Maybe even a burst of air from the 12v air pump would have kept me going until I got to the airport.



The cause of the flat – a tiny piece of bone, likely from road kill long ago that was undetectable.




By the way, every time I see road kill when I am driving now, another alarm goes off in my mind – “Bones!”

Geo OneDayLogo
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