A tire pressure sensor fault is a frustrating issue that can occur while driving. This fault occurs when the tire pressure monitoring system detects a problem with one or more tires. The system is designed to alert drivers to potential safety concerns but can also be triggered by minor issues that don’t require immediate attention.
Despite its usefulness, a tire pressure sensor fault can be a nuisance, causing distractions and potentially ruining travel plans.
What Does the TPMS Light Mean?
The TPMS light, also known as the tire pressure warning light, indicates a problem with the tire pressure monitoring system. This light is designed to alert drivers when there is a significant difference in the pressure between the tires or if one or more tires are underinflated.
When this light illuminates, it’s important to check the pressure in all tires and inflate them to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Ignoring the TPMS light can lead to decreased fuel efficiency, uneven tire wear, and potentially dangerous driving conditions. Therefore, promptly addressing the issue when the TPMS light comes on is important.
Where Are TPMS Sensors Located?
TPMS sensors are typically mounted to a tire’s valve stem on the inboard side of the tire’s bead. It’s essential to take special precautions when mounting or dismounting a tire to prevent damaging the sensor due to its position.
However, some manufacturers, such as Ford, use alternative methods to mount the TPMS sensors inside the tire. For example, some Ford vehicles have TPMS sensors attached to a metallic band that clamps around the center circumference of the tire’s rim.
Causes of Tire Pressure Sensor Fault
The following are some of the reasons that can lead to a tire pressure sensor fault:
#1 Low Tire Pressure
One common cause of TPMS sensor faults is low tire pressure. When a tire’s pressure is low, it can trigger the TPMS light to blink or come on. Some vehicles have a feature that allows you to check the tire pressure remotely from inside the car.
However, other vehicles may only warn you that the pressure isn’t adequate, requiring you to check the pressure with a tire gauge manually. It’s important to ensure that all four tires are properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid TPMS sensor faults caused by low tire pressure.
#2 New Tires
When you mount new tires on your existing wheels or put new wheels on your car, the TPMS system may need to reset. This is because the system requires the sensors to be reconnected to recognize the new wheel and tire setup. The car may expect a pressure different than what you have set, so following the manufacturer’s recommendations for tire pressure is essential.
For instance, if you swap your winter wheels for your summer wheels, you may need to adjust the pressure requirements for the TPMS system. It is important to note that not all vehicles have a reset button for the TPMS system. Sometimes, you may need to take your car to a mechanic or dealership to reset the system.
#3 Changing Weather and Temperatures
Temperature changes can significantly impact tire pressure, triggering the TPMS sensor warning light on a vehicle’s dashboard. This is because air pressure decreases when the temperature drops and increases as the temperature rises. As a result, during colder weather, the TPMS sensors may detect that the tire pressure is lower than normal, even if they were properly inflated in warmer temperatures.
#4 Electrical Malfunction
An electrical malfunction in the TPMS system can trigger the warning light to turn on, indicating a problem with the system. Various factors, including a faulty sensor, a malfunctioning TPMS control module, or a wiring problem, can cause this issue. A faulty sensor can send inaccurate information to the TPMS control module, triggering the warning light.
#5 Failed Tire Pressure Sensor
Tire pressure sensors provide real-time data about the pressure of each tire. The sensors are powered by batteries that can last for several years, but over time, the batteries can run out of power and cause the sensor to fail.
When this happens, the TPMS light will come on or blink, indicating a fault with the sensor. It’s important to note that replacing the sensor’s battery is impossible, so the entire sensor unit must be replaced if it no longer works.
#6 Sensor Lost Connection
The TPMS sensors transmit information to the car’s computer about the tire pressure. If the connection is disrupted, the system may not receive the information properly, resulting in a fault warning on the dashboard.
The disruption in the connection could be caused by various factors, including damage to the sensor or wiring, interference from other electronic devices, or a fault in the car’s computer system.
How to Fix Tire Pressure Sensor Fault
Here are the steps to fix a tire pressure sensor fault:
- Check tire pressure: The first step is to check the tire pressure in all four tires. Use a tire pressure gauge to measure the pressure and make sure it matches the manufacturer’s recommended pressure.
- Check the sensor battery: If the tire pressure is okay, the next step is to check the sensor’s battery. If the battery is dead or low, it may need to be replaced.
- Reset the system: If you recently changed your tires or wheels, you may need to reset the TPMS system. Check your vehicle’s manual for instructions on how to do this.
- Check for sensor damage: If none of the above steps resolves the issue, you may need to inspect the tire pressure sensor for damage or corrosion. If you find any damage, the sensor may need to be replaced.
- Consult a professional: If you are uncomfortable performing any of these steps or have tried them without success, it’s best to consult a professional mechanic. They can diagnose the issue and recommend the best course of action.
How to Reset Tire Pressure Sensor Fault
Resetting the tire pressure sensor fault is a fairly simple process that can be done in a few steps:
- Check tire pressure: Before resetting the sensor, ensure that all tires are properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI (pounds per square inch).
- Locate the TPMS reset button: Some vehicles have a reset button for the TPMS system. Consult your car manual to find the location of the reset button.
- Turn on the ignition: Turn on the ignition without starting the engine.
- Press TPMS reset button: Press and hold the TPMS reset button until the TPMS light blinks twice.
- Wait for the system to reset: After releasing the button, wait for a few minutes for the system to reset. The TPMS light should turn off after the reset.
- Test drive: After resetting the TPMS system, take a test drive to ensure that the warning light does not come back on.
What causes tire pressure sensor faults?
Tire pressure sensor faults can be caused by various issues, such as low tire pressure, sensor battery failure, sensor signal interference, sensor connection issues, electrical malfunctions, and changes to the tire and wheel setup.
How can I tell if my tire pressure sensor is faulty?
If your tire pressure sensor is faulty, you may see a warning light on your dashboard indicating a tire pressure issue. You may also notice that your tires seem to be losing air more quickly than usual or that they are not maintaining the recommended pressure level.
Can I still drive my car if the tire pressure sensor is faulty?
It is generally safe to drive your car with a faulty tire pressure sensor, but it is important to monitor your tire pressure manually and ensure that your tires are properly inflated. This can help prevent issues such as reduced fuel efficiency, uneven tire wear, and decreased handling performance.
How much does it cost to fix a faulty tire pressure sensor?
The cost of fixing a faulty tire pressure sensor can vary depending on the cause of the issue and the type of car you have. In general, it can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 per sensor, depending on whether you need a replacement sensor or simply a repair.
Can I reset the tire pressure sensor myself?
You can often reset the tire pressure sensor using the instructions in your car’s owner’s manual. However, if you are unsure of how to do this or if the issue persists after resetting the sensor, it is always a good idea to take your car to a professional mechanic for further inspection.
Tire pressure sensors are a vital safety feature in modern cars, as they help drivers to monitor tire pressure levels and detect any potential problems before they cause accidents. While the TPMS system is generally reliable, it can experience faults or malfunctions that require attention.
Understanding the common causes of TPMS warnings, such as low tire pressure, sensor battery failure, and wheel and tire setup changes, can help drivers identify and address these issues promptly.