What is TPMS?

Author Name – Daisy Clarke

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Keeping on top of your vehicle’s warning lights is a must (if you’re still not sure which light means what, check out our guide here), but it’s particularly important for safety components like your tyres. They’re your only contact with the road and neglecting them for too long can be bad news.

Your tyre pressure warning light lets you know that you need to top up your tyres, and it’s controlled by your car’s TPMS. But what is TPMS? And how does it work? 

What does TPMS stand for? 

TPMS stands for ‘tyre pressure monitoring system’. It’s a standard feature in modern cars, designed to tell you when your tyres need some extra air.

In fact, it’s been a legal requirement since 2012 for all new passenger vehicles sold in the UK. 

How does TPMS work? 

The TPMS system uses sensors to keep an eye on the amount of air in your tyres, but where these sensors are depends on your TPMS. There are two types – indirect and direct.  

Direct TPMS 

A direct TPMS uses a sensor inside the tyre to monitor your air pressure.

The TPMS sensor is fitted to the back of your tyre’s valve, which is where you pump in new air, to get the best reading. When it senses that the pressure inside the tyre has dropped below a set percentage, the sensor will alert your car and trigger the TPMS light. 

Indirect TPMS 

An indirect TPMS doesn’t use sensors inside the tyre but instead focuses on wheel speed. These sensors rely on your ABS (or anti-lock braking system) which measures the speed of your tyre, and how often it turns.

A tyre with less air will spin faster and make more turns over the same distance, so your TPMS will look out for any increases in your speed or revolutions to warn you about your tyre pressure.

Just like a direct TPMS system, this triggers the tyre pressure warning light on your dashboard. 

What to do if your TPMS indicator light comes on? 

Your TPMS does an important job making sure there’s enough air in your tyres while you’re on the move is essential for safe driving. So, if your tyre pressure warning light comes on mid-drive, you need to pull over safely as soon as you can.

Check your tyre pressure (you can read how to do that here) to see if it’s at the recommended level. The right PSI for your car's make and model will be listed in your vehicle handbook, or it’s usually also written in the driver’s door sill or fuel cap.

If it’s safe to drive, head to your local National Tyres & Autocare where we can complete a Free Tyre Check – we’ll not only top up your tyres, but also make sure your tread is safe and legal, and there are no signs of sidewall damage or slow punctures.

If you’ve topped your tyres back up to the right pressure and your warning light is still on, you might have a faulty sensor that needs to be replaced. 

TPMS sensor replacement and valve servicing 

Like any valve, a TPMS valve can degrade over time, leading to a loss of pressure and a worse tyre performance. So, every time you have your tyres changed, we recommend a TPMS valve service to make sure they stay inflated. As part of our servicing, we’ll fit new hardware depending on the type of valve stems your vehicle has to keep everything secure.

Over time, your TPMS sensors can sometimes become damaged and worn and might need replacing. They might malfunction and trigger the tyre pressure warning light for no reason, or not monitor your tyre pressure at all.

If you think a sensor might need replacing, National Tyres and Autocare are here to help. We’re experts in keeping you and your tyres happy, so there’s no one better to take care of a faulty TPMS sensor.

Head to your local National autocentre and talk to one of our technicians about booking a check-up. 

Same-day tyre fitting at National 

Topping up might do the trick for now, but when it is time for new tyres, National Tyres and Autocare can help. To get you back on the road again, we can fit your brand-new tyres the very same day when you book before 1PM.

That’s no more waiting around, no more cancelling plans. Just a quick, easy, and professional job done, the day you need it. Find out more about National same-day tyre fitting.

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