TPMS stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System. It is an electronic system designed to monitor the air pressure and/or temperature inside tires on various types of vehicles. A TPMS reports real-time tire-pressure information to the driver of the vehicle, either through a gauge, a picture display, or a simple low-pressure warning light. TPMS can be divided into two different types – direct (dTPMS) and indirect (iTPMS). TPMS are provided both at an OEM (factory) level as well as an aftermarket solution.
The goal of a TPMS is avoiding traffic accidents, poor fuel economy, and increased tire wear due to under or over-inflated tires through early recognition of a hazardous state of the tires.
Benefits of TPMS
The behavior of a tire is closely connected to its inflation pressure. Key factors like braking distance and stability require the inflation pressures to be adjusted and kept as specified by the vehicle manufacturer. Extreme under-inflation can even lead to thermal and mechanical overload caused by overheating and subsequent, sudden destruction of the tire itself. Additionally, fuel efficiency and tire wear are severely affected by under-inflation. Tires do not only leak air if punctured, they also leak air naturally, and over a year, even a typical new, properly mounted tire can lose from 3 to 9 psi, roughly 10% or even more of its initial pressure.
The significant advantages of TPMS are summarized as follows:
Fuel savings: According to tire manufacturers, for every 10% of under-inflation on each tire on a vehicle, a 1% reduction in fuel economy will occur. In the United States alone, the Department of Transportation estimates that under inflated tires waste 2 billion US gallons of fuel each year.
Extended tire life: Under inflated tires are the number one cause of tire failure and contribute to tire disintegration, heat buildup, ply separation and sidewall/casing breakdowns. Further, a difference of 10 pounds per square inch in pressure on a set of duals literally drags the lower pressured tire 13 feet per mile. It is important to note that not all sudden tire failures are caused by under-inflation. Structural damages caused, for example, by hitting sharp curbs or potholes, can also lead to sudden tire failures, even a certain time after the damaging incident. These cannot be proactively detected by any TPMS.
Improved safety: Under-inflated tires lead to tread separation and tire failure, resulting in 40,000 accidents, 33,000 injuries and over 650 deaths per year. Further, tires properly inflated add greater stability, handling, braking and provide greater safety for the driver, the vehicle, and others on the road.
Although these systems can alert a driver to a hazardous blowout condition, they may not help with slow-leaking tires, unless its found before it is too late. However, keep in mind you still need to do a visual inspection before, during and after your daily driving.