This post focuses on the new Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and some of the challenges associated with it. This post also briefly addresses some of the challenges of determining your car’s PSI and accurately checking your tires’ pressure to improve your chances of safety and efficiency on the road.
What a great idea to remind car owners that one of their tires needs additional tire pressure. According to a car expert at Libertyville Toyota, the sensor will not activate until the tire pressure on a particular tire reaches below 28 PSI on a 35 PSI tire. The 20% reduction or so in tire pressure will account for driving conditions, temperature increases/decreases and changes in weather conditions.
My frustration with this new system centers around not knowing which tire needs air. TPMS just indicates at least 1 tire has fallen below the threshold. But which tire? The guessing game begins…One of two things: Either I use my tire pressure gauge and determine which tire is the culprit or I find an air system at a gas station and I simply inflate all 4 tires to 35 PSI. At that point, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the message will disappear. Needless to say, it sometimes works and sometimes not.
WHAT DOES THIS SYMBOL MEAN?
This symbol on the car instrument panel is becoming more and more common in cars. I’ve read elsewhere that over 46% of drivers couldn’t figure out what this icon represented.
Through process of elimination, I had an idea but I still had doubts. Regardless, my greatest challenge was determining the most efficient way to eliminate it from appearing in the future.
Actually, the new Camry has this feature which I noticed on a 2010 Camry last week. As more and more users experience this new system, will more users experience frustration of not knowing which tire to address?
TIRE GAUGE APPROACH
Talking about this new system, it’s important to have a proper tire gauge. We all know properly inflated tires are important to your safety and your vehicle’s efficiency. Therefore, regardless of seeing any warning lights, it’s probably a good habit to check your tires every few weeks to ensure they are in good working order – safe and efficient as possible.
I would prefer the digital gauges to replace any old analog gauges you have around the house. With a digital gauge, you can more closely match your actual tire pressure to the recommended PSI. I’ve played around with analog gauges and found them to provide an OK PSI estimate but I’d recommend a few digital gauges – especially if safety, efficiency and value are important to you. At some gas stations, the air station contains an analog control at the end of the hose. Once you experience this, you may create the habit of keeping one digital gauge in your glove compartment (glovebox).
POUNDS PER SQUARE INCH (PSI) RANT
One quick thing, I wish tire manufacturers would clearly indicate the PSI for tires on trucks, SUVs and cars. I know, I know that most tire pressure ratings would indicate 35 PSI but it would be helpful to clearly see that on the side of the tire. This would avoid any guess work on my part and eliminate the need for me to search through the glove compartment for the owner’s manual.
Have you ever tried to inflate your tires at a dimly lit gas station in November or December on a cold, rainy or foggy night using an analog tire gauge? I struggle with my eyesight under these conditions and this task often challenges all my available patience.
I recommend two things: One, increase the size of font to incorporate all conditions, fair or not so fair. Two, design it like Braille where you can still feel what the numbers represent if for some reason you can’t read the increased font size. These suggestions appear to be simple and straightforward. Make it easy for the user may increase the chance this is done more regularly.
Should I even worry about such things?