This article provides information on the reasons behind a flashing tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light and the ways to rectify it. Read on to learn more about the items below.
- Introduction to TPMS: Here you learn the basics of a TPMS and get an inkling behind its working
- Various Displays of the TPMS Light: Read through to identify what sort of light from the TPMS sensor is displayed in which situation
- Reasons Behind a Flashing Light: Learn about the situations that could cause the TPMS light to blink
- Rectifying a Flashing Light: Outlined here are some solutions to stop the TPMS light from flashing
When driving a car, you must always be aware of the safety protocols. Thankfully, many safety elements are built into cars these days, so that you could not only have a peaceful drive but also know when and how to detect issues. Tyres are one of the key components of your car because, without them, your car would not be rolling. Hence, it is crucial to understand what features are integrated with your car that ensures the tyres are safe for a smooth drive. This brings us to the importance of the little light on your dashboard, called the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light.
What is TPMS?
A tyre pressure monitoring system’s main job is to alert you when the tyre pressure is lower than the required standards. Maintaining tyre pressure is of utmost importance as low tyre pressure could cause a loosened grip on the roads. leading to low traction and braking issues. A significantly under-inflated or over-inflated tyre also has a chance to cause overheating resulting in a complete blowout of the tyre. Thanks to the TPMS installed in modern cars, you are alerted in advance if it is time to check the tyre pressure of your car.
The monitoring system typically has a TPMS sensor installed within the tyre valve or sometimes located at the center of the wheel. Available for each tyre, the system sends signals to the dashboard indicating issues with the tyre pressure through a TPMS sensor light. The light usually comes on for a few seconds every time you start your car, so do not panic by such occurrences. It is when it continues to stay on or flashes is when you need to take action.
Various TPMS Light Displays
Now that you know the significance of the TPMS installed in your car, you might be wondering why sometimes the TPMS sensor light flashes while other times it is steady. There are three ways in which the light lets you know something is amiss.
TPMS Always On
- The light is always on: Typically, when the TPMS sensor light on your dashboard is steadily on, it means that the tyre pressure is not up to the mark and needs to be checked.
TPMS on and then off
- The light stays on and goes off randomly: In extreme weather conditions, there could be a scenario when the temperature during the night falls significantly, causing the tyre pressure to drop, in turn, switching the TPMS sensor light on. As the day progresses, the rising ambient temperature causes the tyre pressure to return to normal, and hence the light goes off. If you see this happening, there might be no need to be alarmed, but it is still a good idea to check the tyre pressure.
TPMS keeps flashing
- The light keeps flashing: This could happen for multiple reasons, and the approach to understanding them is discussed in the next section.
Reasons Behind a Flashing TPMS Light
If you look at your dashboard to find a consistently blinking TPMS sensor light, one of the things outlined below must have happened.
This is one of the primary causes behind a flashing TPMS sensor light. The tyre pressure monitoring systems itself could be malfunctioning, causing erroneous signals to be broadcast through the sensor, consequently displaying a blinking light on the dashboard.
Dead Sensor Battery
Every TPMS sensor is equipped with a battery. More often than not, it is simply this battery that has exhausted itself, causing the sensor to send out a warning through a flashing light.
Low Tyre Pressure (Rare)
Usually, a dip in the tyre pressure causes the TPMS sensor light to remain steady, but on rare occasions and depending on the make and build of the tyre/car, it might also cause the light to flash.
Some of the older cars have a TPMS that requires initialization every time the tyre pressure is changed or the tyre is replaced. In such cars, a flashing TPMS sensor light could also indicate that the TPMS has not been reinitialized properly.
What Should You Do to Rectify a Flashing TPMS Light?
As with any form of troubleshooting, determining the correct solution to stop the TPMS light from flashing depends on the root cause. As much as you might be frustrated and tempted to beat your dashboard, it will not help. Keep your calm when you see a blinking light and no matter how preoccupied you are, fix it before your next drive. Based on the cause, here are a few things you could do to get that light back to the ‘off’ state.
Fixing the Faulty Sensor/TPMS: The first thing you should do is drive down to your nearest service center and allow them to check the TPMS module. Often, it is found that the problem lies with the TPMS sensor itself, while other times, you might have a malfunctioning TPMS module. Depending on the issue, the service technician would replace the TPMS sensor and/or the entire monitoring system.
Replacing the Sensor Battery: Modern TPS sensors come with batteries that last approximately up to 93,000 miles (150,000 kilometers), the number varying slightly based on the car structure and the atmospheric temperature. If your TPS sensor light begins to flash at the end of 90,000 plus miles, a dead battery might be the bother.
Head to your automotive service center where they would replace the entire TPMS sensor as the batteries cannot be replaced. Note that even though there might be one tyre sensor that needs a replacement, the services centers often replace all of them so that you do not have to drive down again in the next few days for a similar issue.
Checking the Tyre Pressure: Regardless of the reason behind a flashing TPMS light, ensure your car’s tyre pressure is checked to maintain the required levels. You could check the pressure yourself by using a pressure gauge, and inflate them with a tyre-inflator if required, or you could get your service technician to do it.
Reinitialization of the TPMS: If you have checked the tyre pressure and everything seems normal, you might need to reinitialize the TPMS if your car has this feature. The process is usually laid out in the car manual.
There is a strong reason TPMS is installed in your car. It is to prevent you and your loved ones from being victims of a road accident. Can you still drive while the TPMS sensor light flashes? You probably can, because in the majority of cases the light blinks because of a faulty sensor. However, that does not mean you should, because a faulty sensor will not warn you when an actual low-tyre-pressure situation comes along. It is best to stop, rectify the error, and then proceed with your drive with a relaxed mind.