If you answered no, you’re not alone.  This odd little symbol is meant to represent low tire pressure (if you look at it long enough it sort of resembles a low tire) and is part of your vehicles Tire Pressure Monitoring System, or TPMS for short. If your vehicle was manufactured in 2008 or newer it is equipped with this system as required by the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act in 2000.  So, what exactly does the TPMS system do?  It’s basically a warning system that lets you know when there has been an unsafe change in tire pressure in one or more of your tires.

You might be wondering what can cause the pressure in your tires to change.  Ambient temperature changes can directly cause changes in tire pressure.  For every 10 degree (Fahrenheit) drop in ambient temperature, tire pressure drops about 1 psi.  About 1.5 psi is lost naturally through the tire and rim.What does this mean for you? As the temperature gets colder you might just get this symbol lit up on your dash as the tire pressure drops, but don’t worry, there are things you can do to reduce the frequency of the low tire pressure warning:

  • Do monthly tire pressure checks, check them in the morning when the the temperature is lower and the car hasn’t been driven yet.  Don’t rely on a visual inspection to determine if the tire is low.
  • Have you tires filled with Nitrogen instead of Oxygen. Nitrogen reduces tire pressure loss over time.  Nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules and therefore escape at a lower rate.

Now you know what that funky little symbol means and what you can do about it.  But here are a couple more things you need to know: Keeping your tires inflated properly is important for your safety as well as your wallet.  Did you know under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3% for every 1 psi drop in all four tires? And that under inflated tires are prone to blowouts that result in fatalities every year?

Here at Steve Hahn Volkswagen Kia Mercedes-Benz of Yakima we are here to help and keep you safe.  We would be happy to check your tire pressure or replace the Oxygen in your tires with Nitrogen.  If you enjoyed this post share it on  Twitter and Facebook .



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