What to Do When That Pesky Tire Light Comes On

The tire light doesn’t look much like a tire, but if your tire goes flat, it will look more like this light than you want.

This light is there to warn you when the pressure in your tires is too low for safe driving. The question you’ll need to answer is whether or not to continue driving with this light on or to stop and put the spare tire on, provided your vehicle has a spare tire. Many modern vehicles do not have spare tires you can use when you have a flat.

What is the Light Called and What Does it Mean?

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) alerts you to low tire pressure on your vehicle. When your tires are too low, you could create unsafe driving conditions that make it impossible for you to drive safely to where you want to go. The light on your display is connected to this system to give you a warning that you need to check your tires. Are you going to drive your car to the local tire store or find a gas station with an air pump that you can use to ensure you have properly inflated tires?

Avoid a Dangerous Situation

The TPMS should keep you out of trouble. You don’t want to have your tire blow and cause a dangerous situation for your or other drivers. Don’t ignore the tire light when it comes on; head to your local tire store and let them help you fix the problem. Of course, before you buy a new tire, you need to see if all you need is a little more air. Your nearby gas station likely has an air pump to give you the pressure you need and help you stay out of a problematic situation.

Proper Tire Inflation is Important

Both overinflation and underinflation can damage your tires and require you to buy new tires before you have to. When you overinflate your tires, you’ll decrease traction and could have trouble maintaining control of your vehicle in foul weather. Underinflated tires cause premature wear on both sides of the tread and create a space where water and snow can collect and cause a dangerous problem. It’s best to check your tire pressure at least once a month when stopped for gas, this way, you don’t face over or underinflation.

Your TPMS Warning Light Gives You Various Warnings

When the tire light comes on, the first thing you should do is check your tires for proper inflation. Manually check each tire with a gauge and add air as needed. If you don’t know how much air to add, check the specifications on the driver’s side door jam or in the owner’s manual. Don’t use the pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire; that number is the maximum pressure for the tire. Here are some other warnings this light can indicate.

The Light Comes On While Driving

If the TPMS light comes on while your drive and it stays on, what does that mean? This is the most common indicator, and it means you’ve got a tire that is at a low-pressure level. Check the pressure of all tires to find the one that’s low and add air at a service station. This is an easy fix and will quickly get you back on the road. If the light comes on again shortly after adding air, you’ve probably got a tire with a hole in it that is leaking air while driving.

The Light Goes On and Off

If the temperatures outside fluctuate significantly, your tire light might come on and go off and then do it again and again. This means the air pressure is nearing the level that triggers the alert but changes back to the normal level after that. If you notice the light on when you start on a cold morning but the light off when you reach the gas station with the air pump, this is probably the case. Check all tires and add air as needed to make sure you have properly inflated tires before heading back out on the road.

Don’t Rely on the TPMS to Tell You to Check Your Tires

It’s not advisable to wait for the tire light to come on before checking your tires. Sometimes, when this light comes on, you’ll be past a time when you should have done something about your tires. You should regularly check to make sure you have properly inflated tires. If you do this at least once a month, you’ll avoid problems with your tires. You need to do other than simply check the inflation level to ensure your tires serve you for a long time.

Check the Tread Depth

How deep is the tread on your tires? How deep should it be? Do you need to replace your tires? These questions are answered simply by using a penny. All you need to do is turn a penny upside down and put it in the tread of your tires. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires. Schedule an appointment or stop by somewhere that doesn’t require an appointment and have your tires replaced. Complete this tread depth test when you’re adding air and checking your tires each month.

Look for Damage to Your Tires

Instead of relying on the tire light to tell you everything, you should be proactive and check the age and condition of your tires when performing your monthly air pressure check. Look for damage to the tread or sidewalls, inspect the tires for even wear, and make sure you don’t see any bulges, bumps, punctures, or cracks. This preventative step can keep you out of trouble and make sure you don’t have to face a dangerous situation when you’re driving. If your tires are damaged it’s time to replace them.

The TPMS is a warning that something about your tires needs to be corrected right away. This tire light doesn’t replace a requirement to check your tires regularly.