Tyre Pressure Warning Light (What The TPMS Light Means)

John Tucker

By: John Tucker

When the tyre pressure warning light becomes illuminated on your car’s dashboard, it’s a sign that one or more of your tyres has become underinflated and fallen below the ideal pressure. Some TPMS systems will also let you know if the pressure in one or more of your tyres is too high.

The TPMS system lets you know so that you can address the situation as soon as possible, as failure to do so may result to you driving in dangerous conditions.

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What should I do if I see the tyre pressure warning light?

The first thing to do is to gently reduce your speed. An underinflated tyre will impair your vehicle’s handling, making it harder to control, especially at speed or when the road is wet. By gently reducing your speed, you are reducing the impact a loss of tyre pressure will have on your vehicle.

As soon as it is safe to do so, you should park your car and check the pressure of each of your tyres. Your TPMS light may indicate which tyre it is, so you can immediately check the culprit, but it’s good practice to check each tyre in case more than one tyre is affected.

Firstly, have a look at each tyre, as it may be obvious which tyre(s) are affected. If it’s not immediately obvious, you will need to use a tyre pressure gauge to check each tyre individually. You can now add or remove air as necessary and you should see your tyre pressure warning light go out.

If you notice that the tyre pressure light keeps going on and off as you drive, it’s probably caused by changes in the temperature. As temperature gets colder overnight, the rubber in the tyres will contract, possibly causing the warning light to come on.

As the temperature increases during the day, or as you drive, the rubber in the tyres will expand and may cause the warning light to go out. If you notice this happening, you should check your tyre pressures and inflate where necessary.

Occasionally you may see the tyre pressure light flashes then remains on. This is usually a sign that there’s a problem with the system itself. You should take your vehicle to your local garage to have the fault diagnosed.

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Is it safe to drive with the TPMS light on?

The tyre pressure monitoring system lets you know if there are issues with the pressure of your vehicle’s tyres. It’s not something you should ignore.

An underinflated tyre makes it harder to control your vehicle, especially if you’re travelling at speed on a major road or motorway. It also increases the chances of aquaplaning when the road is wet.

Furthermore, an underinflated tyre can cause accelerated wear and increase the chances of your vehicle suffering a blowout. Obviously this is bad at any speed, but potentially catastrophic to you and fellow road users if it happens whilst driving at high speed.

You should remember that it is a warning light for a reason. It’s warning you of a potentially serious problem and you should deal with the situation as soon as it’s safe to do so.

What can I do to avoid having tyre pressure problems?

It’s a good idea to check your tyre pressures every month, as well as checking them before you set off on a long journey. Doing this will vastly reduce the chances of you having any problems with your tyre pressures whilst you’re driving.

Make sure you check them when they’re cold, as this will give you more accurate readings. When you drive, your tyres warm up and expand, which will give you false readings.

Don’t rely on your tyre pressure warning light to tell you there’s a problem. If you’re proactive, you’ll avoid tyre problems on the road.

If you’ve seen another warning light and you’re not sure what it means, make sure you read Dashboard Warning Lights: What They Mean