The tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light on a Chevy Silverado.

TPMS light: What can cause it to turn on?

In Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Did a dashboard light featuring an exclamation mark turn on? This is the tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light, and it can make you aware of or prevent problems.

The TPMS light is triggered by low tire pressure.

This can occur if:

  • You have a flat tire
  • The temperature has decreased
  • There’s a bad circuit board or battery

We will describe each possibility below.

Reasons why the TPMS light comes on

If your vehicle’s TPMS light turned on, you are probably wondering what’s wrong. There a few explanations why the symbol has appeared on your dashboard.

Flat tire

A flat tire is one possible reason why your tire pressure is low. With all of the construction that’s being completed on I-95 and other Northern Virginia roads, it’s very possible to get a nail lodged in one or multiple tires.

This is probably the case if one (or a couple) of them are lower than the rest and you’ve had to fill it with air multiple times.

If you are in need of tire repair, stop by a nearby auto shop. You may just need a patch plug (which is what we use for flat repair). However, your car may require a new tire, depending on the injury’s location and angle. For more information, check out our article about factors that impact tire repair.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire sells all kinds of tires, including Goodyear tires.

Lower temperatures

The weather can play a role in tire pressure, as well. When the temperature outside decreases, so can the pounds per square inch (PSI). This can lead to all of the tires looking a little deflated. 

They may simply need to have their tire pressure checked and be filled back up.

Bad circuit board or battery

There are also deeper problems that can cause the TPMS light to come on.

For direct TPMS systems, all wheels have a sensor in them and are equipped with a circuit board and battery. The TPMS light can come on if the circuit board or battery goes bad.

Indirect TPMS systems, on the other hand, don’t have sensors. Instead, the vehicle reads the ride height. So, if the front right tire is low, it will notice.

Why tire pressure level is important

Making sure that the tire pressure is correct may not seem like a big deal, but it can help you avoid purchasing new tires earlier than you need to.

If a tire doesn’t have enough air in it, you may notice that the sidewalls are wider where it touches the ground. However, it’s possible that you may not see a significant difference between the correct PSI and when it’s too low.

A tire that's a 21.5 PSI compared to 35.5 PSI.For example, in the picture above, you can see a tire that’s at 21.5 PSI and at 35.5 PSI. The lower tire pressure isn’t as noticeable as it may be on other tire or when you have a flat tire. That’s why the TPMS light is so important.

If you wait to fix a tire that doesn’t have enough air in it, the outer edge can wear down more quickly.

You also shouldn’t have too much air, because it can cause damage to the center overtime.

We recommend checking the tire pressure each day and watching for signs that the tires are low. The correct tire pressure should be on the sidewall or the driver’s side door jam.

Make sure to check the tire pressure a couple of times and put the valve stem cap back on when you’re done. 

You may also want to have a personal tire pressure gauge on hand. They can sometimes be more accurate than those set up at gas stations.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.