A warning light that appears on your dashboard while you’re driving can be worrying—especially when you don’t know what it means. Given that some cars feature as many as 64 warning lights on their dashboards, it can be hard to know what each of them indicates.

It’s even more stressful when a light comes on while you’re driving in winter conditions. Ice, snow, and slippery surfaces make driving far more dangerous in cold weather. So if a warning light comes on while navigating deep snow, for example, it can be stressful.

One such warning can be your TPMS light, which typically resembles an exclamation point either within or next to a tire symbol or a horseshoe-like shape.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a TPMS light on your dashboard means and the reasons why it may turn on this winter.

What Does My TPMS Light Indicate?

A tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is designed to let drivers know if there is an issue with their tire pressure.

Low tire pressure can lead to tire damage, and underinflated tires may even result in car accidents. Over 11,000 accidents happen each year due to bad tires. This is why most cars now come standard with a TPMS.

Your TPMS constantly checks the air pressure of your tires using small sensors installed inside the tire’s air stems—also known as valve stems.

When the TPMS warning light comes on, it means that one or more tires on your vehicle are at least 25% below the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle.

Here’s what your TPMS light could be telling you:

  • The light comes on while driving: If your warning light turns on and remains on while you’re driving, it’s likely indicating a problem with the pressure in one of your tires.
  • The light turns on and off: In this case, it may mean that your tire pressure has decreased overnight due to a temperature drop. The light may switch off once the temperature rises. This is common in winter months.
  • The light flashes and then stays on: Should the light flash for 60 to 90 seconds whenever you start your vehicle and then remain steady, it means your tire pressure monitoring system isn’t functioning properly. This means when you need to visit an auto shop to have your sensors checked or replaced.

The light should typically turn off once you’ve added air to your tires. But it may take a few miles for it to sense that the air pressure in your tires is now optimal.

💡 What to Do If Your TPMS Light Comes on While Driving
If you’re driving at a high speed down a highway and your TPMS light comes on, you must firmly grip your steering wheel with both hands. 
This is because the light may mean that one of your tires is about to blow out, which could result in you losing control of the vehicle. Having a good hold on your steering wheel can help you maintain control if this happens.
If you experience a tire blowout, remain calm and avoid braking, as this could lock your wheels. Instead, aim to keep the vehicle straight, gradually slow down by easing off the accelerator, steer out of traffic, and safely pull over at the earliest opportunity. 
Get to a tire shop as soon as you can to have your tires evaluated for issues or damage.

7 Reasons Why Your TPMS Warning Light Is On

Now that you know more about your tire pressure monitoring system, let’s look at some reasons why your warning light might turn on.

➡️ You don’t have the correct pressure

Overinflated and underinflated tires are the most common reason why your TPMS light would turn on or start flashing. Your TPMS is designed to detect tire pressure that is too high or too low.

Some reasons why your tires may be underinflated include:

  • Driving on uneven terrain for long distances.
  • Hitting holes in the surface of the road.
  • Tire punctures.
  • Changes in pressure due to ambient temperature.

➡️ Cold weather

Cold air can cause your tires to shrink, especially if you don’t have proper winter tires installed. 

When the temperature changes from warm to cold, the volume of air in your tires decreases. Less air results in lower tire pressure which may trigger your TPMS light.

With every 10-degree drop in temperature, the air pressure in your tires decreases by one to two pounds per inch (PSI). The lower the ambient temperature drops, the lower your tire pressure will be.

👉 Choose the Right Winter Tires
Having the ideal tires for winter weather is essential for your safety. Visit any of our stores to speak to one of our tire experts about the right snow tires for your vehicle.
Better yet, you can save BIG on your winter tires with our Burt Bundle.

Many people will see their TPMS light turn on in the morning when it’s coldest. It may then switch off during the day as the air warms up.

However, you shouldn’t ignore your warning light once it deactivates. Visit an auto shop as soon as possible to see what the issue may be.

➡️ The light is not functioning properly after a tire change

When tires are changed or rotated, some vehicles require a relearn procedure to recalibrate the TPMS sensors. If this isn’t done correctly, it can trigger the TPMS light.

To guarantee that your tires are changed and rotated properly, visit one of our stores for professional service.

➡️ A faulty TPMS battery

A small battery powers your TPMS sensors, and this can wear out over time. If the battery fails, it can cause your TPMS light to come on.

Checking the battery of your TPMS sensors usually requires specialized equipment, so it’s important to visit an auto shop to have this checked.

➡️ Incorrect tire size

If your low tire pressure light is on, it may mean that you have the wrong tires installed.

If tires with the wrong specifications are installed, it can affect the accuracy of the TPMS readings and trigger the warning light.

Using tires of the incorrect size can be hazardous, as they may compromise your vehicle’s stability on the road. Additionally, they can cause damage to your vehicle.

Always visit a professional tire shop to ensure you get the right size tire for your vehicle to avoid issues like your TPMS warning light coming on. 

➡️ A bad sensor

Usually if a TPMS light flashes when you turn on your vehicle and then stays on as you drive, it means that you have one or more faulty tire pressure sensors. 

It’s advisable to visit an auto shop as soon as you can to address the issue. Ensuring that all your sensors, including the TPMS, are fully operational at all times is crucial for maintaining safety on the road.

➡️ Damage to the tire

If you get a puncture while you’re driving or if your tire becomes damaged in any way while you’re on the road, the TPMS warning light will be triggered. 

This is why it’s vital to get out of traffic and off the road as quickly as possible when your TPMS light comes on, as it can be a result of a flat tire, which can cause an accident.

Does a TPMS Light Replace Regular Tire Pressure Checks?

TPMS sensors aren’t a replacement for regular tire checks. You should check your tire pressure monthly at a minimum.

Don’t simply look at your wheels to determine your tire pressures. Eyeballing your tires won’t tell you their actual pressure. 

Use a digital tire gauge to get an accurate reading of your tire pressure—these are usually more reliable than those found at gas stations. A great option is the Joes Racing Products Tire Pressure Gauge.

The best time to check your tire pressure is in the morning when your vehicle hasn’t been used for several hours. The tires should be cold and give the most accurate reading.

You also want to ensure that your tires are correctly inflated according to their specifications. Speak to a tire specialist to find out what the right pressure is for your exact tires.

Additionally, you should always check your tire pressure:

  • Before any long trips.
  • When you’re going to be carrying an extra load.
  • If you’ve been driving on uneven terrain.

Where Is the TPMS System Reset Button Located?

If your TPMS light is faulty, it might need to be reset. Also, if you have filled your tires with air to the optimal level, you may need to reset the system if the light on your dashboard doesn’t turn off.

You can reset your TPMS light using a button inside your vehicle. For the exact location of this reset button, consult your owner’s manual.

Common locations include:

  • Under the steering wheel.
  • Inside the glove compartment.
  • On your dashboard.

It’s important that you don’t reset your TPMS warning light simply because you think there’s nothing wrong with your tire pressure. Instead, visit a reputable tire shop to have your sensors checked before resetting the light.

Can I Disable My TPMS?

Since 2008, the U.S. Department of Transportation has made it mandatory for all vehicles to have a TPMS. For this reason, it is illegal to disable your TPMS. However, you are permitted to reset it as mentioned above.

Get the Right Tires to Avoid TPMS Troubles in Winter

To avoid low tire pressure in winter conditions, it’s important to get the right tires for your vehicle. Winter tires are specifically designed to maintain the correct tire pressure despite rapidly dropping temperatures.

Winter tires are also made from a rubber compound that remains flexible in cold weather, meaning they won’t shrink like all-season or summer tires do.

We offer a wide range of reliable and affordable winter tires for your vehicle, so you’ll definitely find the right option. Our tire experts will be able to give you the best advice on which tires are the right size for your car, too.

At Burt Brothers, your tires will be expertly installed when you visit any of our stores to ensure your TPMS sensors perform optimally in any weather conditions.

Visit our website to browse our range of winter tires and schedule an appointment to visit one of our stores to get the best deals on winter tires.

Schedule a zero-commitment appointment
to get the help you need, fast.

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