My Tire Pressure Light Is On — What Should I Do?


TIRE AIR PRESSURE: WHAT TO DO IF YOUR TPMS LIGHT COMES ON

A few weeks ago, my daughter (12) and I were out running errands and I mentioned that my Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS) light had come on. The first question out of her mouth was, What does the tire pressure light mean?

As a result, we got into a good conversation about the importance of tire pressure and vehicle maintenance.

After our conversation, I realized others may have questions about tire pressure if their TPMS dash light comes on, so I put together this article as a way to provide answers to frequently asked questions about tire pressure.

In this article, we will go through a lot of frequently asked questions about tire pressure and provide easy and direct answers to each.

What Should I Do If My Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS) Light Comes On?

So, What should you do if your Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS) light comes on? Find a safe place to pull over and check your tire pressure. Driving with the wrong tire pressure can be dangerous.

It is a good idea to keep a tire pressure gauge in your glove box in case something like this happens. If you don’t have a tire pressure gauge, find a gas station that offers an air fill up pump or ask at the cash register to see if they have one you can borrow.

Is High Air Pressure or Low Air Pressure Better?

Is high air pressure or low air pressure better? Optimal air pressure is best, but high air pressure is better than low air pressure due to safety.

Can You Drive With Low Tire Pressure?

Low tire pressure reduces your gas mileage and it can be dangerous on the road. Low air pressure is dangerous because an underinflated tire spreads out and the tire can overheat. The overheating can break down the tire and cause a blowout. A tire blowout can lead to a serious car accident.

If you find you have low air pressure, don’t take the risk, stop and put the proper amount of air in the tire.

How Do I Know How Much Air To Put In My Tires?

How do i know how much air to put in my tires? On modern vehicles, the recommended tire pressure is most often provided on a sticker inside of the driver’s door. This sticker gives the proper tire details including tire pressure.

If you do not find the sticker on your vehicle, check the owners manual. It is the true authority on your vehicle.

If you still cannot find the correct amount of air pressure to put in your tires, then you can use a general guideline. In general, most passenger cars have a recommended 32 psi to 35 psi in the tires when they are cold.

“Cold?” you ask.

That’s right, tire pressure should be measured when the tire is cold.

Cold Inflation Pressure

Cold Inflation Pressure is the inflation pressure of a tire before the vehicle has been driven allowing the tires to warm up.

The advised cold inflation pressure is shown in the owner’s manual and on the sticker attached to the driver’s door jamb. If it is not located here, you may want to check for a sticker inside of the glove box or fuel filler door.

What Happens If You Drive With Low Tire Pressure?

What happens if you drive with low tire pressure? When driving with the lowest tire pressure, then too much of the tire’s surface area contacts the road, increasing friction between the road and the tire. This friction causes heat. Not only does driving with low tire pressure cause more wear on your tires, but it could also stress the tire and cause it to fail.

How To Fix Low Tire Pressure

When it comes to DIY Auto repairs and maintenance I have great news regarding fixing low tire pressure… It is super easy!

I have total confidence if you can drive a car, you can put air in your tires. For this reason, fixing low tire pressure gets a Level 1: DIY Repair Skill Estimator.

Level 1: DIY Repair Skill Estimator

Follow these steps to add air to your tires:

  1. Park your vehicle by the air dispenser/pump
  2. Remove the cap from the tire valve on the first tire
  3. Use your tire gauge to check the amount of air pressure in the tire
  4. Use the air hose to add air in quick bursts
  5. Continue checking the tire pressure until you get the recommended PSI amount

Should All Tires Have The Same Tire Pressure?

Often, all four tires on your vehicle will have the same tire pressure, but this is not always the case. In some cases front tires may have a different air pressure requirement than the rear tires. You need to check your users manual for your specific year, make and model to know for sure

What Happens When You Have Uneven Air Pressure In Your Tires?

When tire pressure is too high (overinflated), then less of the tire touches the ground. As a result, your car will feel stiff and bouncier driving down the road. When your tires are bouncing instead of being planted firmly on the road, traction is reduced and so is your stopping distance. You’ll also feel a decrease in the ride comfort of your vehicle.

How Do You Know If Your Tire Pressure Is Low? What Are The Symptoms?

Pay attention to your steering. If you notice your vehicle is swaying into turns, taking too long making a turn compared to normal, or just feels odd in regards to steering and maneuverability, it might be low tire pressure. Pullover and check the tire pressure as soon as it is safe to stop.

What Tool Do You Use To Measure Tire Pressure?

What tool do you use to measure tire pressure? A tire-pressure gauge is a pressure gauge used to measure the amount of air pressure inside of tires on a vehicle.

TIP: Use a tire pressure gauge. Here is a low-cost option from Amazon.

Can Extreme Cold Cause Low Tire Pressure?

Can extreme cold cause low tire pressure? Yes, colder temperatures will cause tire pressure to drop. Expect your air pressure to drop about 1 psi for every 10°F drop in air temperature.

Remember, if your tire pressure warning light comes on during a chilly morning, it probably doesn’t indicate a hole in your tire.

Most likely, It’s just your tires are running low pressure and you need to top them off as soon as possible.

Closing Thoughts

Tire pressure is important to the performance and longevity of a set of tires. Hopefully, reading this article will help motivate you to maintain the optimal air pressure in your tires.

The next time your TPMS warning light comes on, I hope you find a gas station to fill up the tires to the correct level.

New tires are expensive and every day that you drive with the wrong air pressure levels can reduce the lifespan of your tires. It will also cause them to become louder and less comfortable on the road.

There is one time you may want to drive with low or reduced air pressure and that is when driving offroad… but we will leave that to a more advanced discussion on tire air pressure.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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