Your Ultimate Guide to TPMS (Tyre pressure monitoring systems)

By Adam White

If you drive, then you probably know that tyres require maintenance, but you may be wondering what is TPMS?

Tyre pressure

TPMS stands for Tyre Pressure Monitoring System. Tyres need the correct air pressure in them in order to provide the handling and comfort that you expect from your car and most tyres, including those made by Falken, Pirelli, Sumitomo or Bridgestone, are designed to operate at an optimum pressure. TPMS monitors the pressure in your tyres electronically.

It pays to know your tyres because they all have different specifications, depending on the brand and what kind of tyre they are. Many tyres also require different pressures for different types of driving or loads. The tyre pressure may also vary according to the season and ambient temperature, in addition to which the pressure will fluctuate with the heat generated as you drive. This is true whether you are stop-start driving in a busy city or driving at speed on the motorway, although the degree of variation will be affected by overall speed and friction.

The right tyre pressure will also help your car to deliver the best fuel economy, another way in which maintaining tyre pressure saves you money.

TPMS is becoming increasingly popular and, whilst once the preserve of premium vehicles, is now emerging in rather more mainstream models. Manufacturers have long recognised that tyre pressure will affect the performance of the vehicle and the longevity of your tyres. Many modern vehicles require different tyre pressures on the front and the rear axles, adding to the complexity of managing pressures.
Combine this with the fact that vehicles now require relatively little day-to-day maintenance in comparison with their ancestors and today's driver is less inclined to perform routine maintenance tasks. Where our parents would never have entertained embarking upon a journey of any distance without checking tyre pressures, relatively few of us today will be inclined to do so. We should but we don't.
Recognising this, car manufacturers have started to include TPMS in mainstream models. TPMS uses a system of electronic sensors which will alert you to any discrepancies in pressure during the routine running of the vehicle. On cars fitted with TPMS, there will be a TPMS light on the dashboard that comes on when your tyres need their pressure adjusted. Some systems will provide a detailed message or diagram, indicating which tyre requires attention.

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Wider tyre checks

Whilst a quick pit stop at the local garage may be sufficient to restore the correct pressure to the tyre in question, in our experience it is always a good idea to have our tyre professionals examine your tyres to determine whether there is an underlying cause for the change in pressure. In addition, the gauges in many service stations are broken or inaccurate and you may not be inflating the tyre to the right level which could affect performance or even safety.
Years of experience tell us that there is no substitute for getting your tyre pressure looked at by professional technicians using the best and accurately calibrated equipment. Even top-quality tyres will eventually be affected by some wear and tear. When you are getting your tyre pressure evaluated, our tyre professionals will also identify any wider problems and recommend solutions.
Loss of pressure is commonly associated with a slow puncture. Many of us have experienced the frustration of a nail deeply embedded within a tyre's tread. There are strict rules applicable to any repairs but where a repair is permissible and the overall condition of the tyre makes it worthwhile, your Protyre professionals will endeavour to repair rather than replace.
Other common sources of pressure loss include damage to the tyre's rim and thus a compromise to the airtight seal between the tyre and the rim. This is usually associated with kerbing the wheel but sometimes relates to fine cracks in the wheel itself following an impact with a pothole or other obstacle. These cracks can lead to complete disintegration of the wheel, with potentially fatal consequences and require immediate replacement of the wheel and, in most cases, the tyre which will have suffered significant internal damage following an impact hard enough to crack the wheel. This issue is primarily associated with modern alloy wheels rather than steel.
If your vehicle is three years old or more, it will require an annual MOT and the pressure, condition and depth of tread of each of your tyres will have to meet strict guidelines. But there is no need to wait until the annual MOT to find out that your tyres may have wear or tear which could lead to a skid, a blowout and possibly a serious accident.
Our friendly mechanics at Protyre are familiar with all the top brands of tyres. They will measure the tyre tread, inspect all tyres for signs of wear or damage and rotate and rebalance your tyres when necessary to maintain the performance of your car on the road and to keep you and your family safe at all times.

Free Tyre Checks are available at any Protyre garage.

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TPMS checks

Our professionals can perform a series of checks relating to tyre pressure and overall conditions, whether or not your TPMS is indicating a pressure problem. If replacement tyres are required, we can fit the leading brands at extremely competitive prices. Tyre sizing is particularly important on vehicles fitted with TPMS systems as many of them use subtle variations in the relative speed of wheel rotation in order to identify potential pressure problems. If incorrectly sized tyres are fitted, you may find that your TPMS system alerts you even when there is no problem with the pressures.
While you are on our site, you can also take advantage of our free TPMS checking service. Why not book in for a Free TPMS Check at your local Protyre garage? Even if you are between services and don’t need an MOT, your tyres, your car, and your family’s safety could benefit from having the pressure exactly right.

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About the author

Article Author Photo
By Adam White
Adam looks to create engaging and informative content across the website that provides consumers with expert advice on MOTs, servicing, vehicle maintenance and tyre care. As a motorsport enthusiast, Adam enjoys documenting the Protyre Motorsport team’s involvement in major motorsport events across the UK.
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