Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems
What if the vehicle you're driving develops low tire pressure? Wouldn't you want to be warned? Low tire pressure can create unsafe conditions in a hurry, particularly in bad weather.
Too little tire pressure will eventually cause catastrophic tire failure. Studies have shown that people operating their cars with too little air pressure in the tires is common.
Agencies of the Federal government require manufacturers to installation tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) that warn the driver when a tire is significantly underinflated. The standard applies to passenger cars, trucks, and other light commercial-type vehicles.
Keeping your tires at the correct pressure for your vehicle is an important factor in how much load its tires can safely carry. The correct pressure will carry the weight without a problem. Too little tire pressure will eventually cause catastrophic tire failure. Studies have shown that people operating their cars with too little air pressure in the tires is common. It's been estimated that about one out of every four vehicles on the road is running on underinflated tires. That means that roughly one out of every four drivers is negatively impacting their vehicle's fuel economy and handling, and costing themselves money by reducing their tires' durability and tread life.
This has made tire pressure maintenance an important safety issue throughout the automotive industry and caused the U.S. government to pass legislation mandating tire pressure monitoring systems. The main purpose of these systems is to warn the driver if their tires are losing air pressure, leaving the tires underinflated and dangerous.
What types of systems are being used now? How do they work? Which works the best?
Vehicle manufacturers have been given options in what systems they can use to comply with the law.
One option is to install a direct tire pressure monitoring system that uses pressure sensors located in each wheel to directly measure the pressure in each tire and warns drivers when the air pressure in any of their tires drops at least 25% below the recommended cold tire inflation pressure identified on the vehicle placard.
Another option is to install an indirect tire pressure monitoring system that would warn the driver when a single tire has lost at least 25% of its inflation pressure compared to other tires on the vehicle. It's a little less accurate than the direct system.
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