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New car technologies can come about for a variety of reasons. Sadly one of those reasons is when a vehicle has a pervasive fault that leads to fatalities. Tire pressure monitoring systems were introduced as a legal requirement when a brand of tire became unsafe in situations where the tire pressure was low, which then resulted in several car crashes. The rapid introduction of that technology has not gone smoothly though and many of the kinks in tire pressure monitoring systems are still being worked out. So, how does a tire pressure monitoring system work and what happens if they fail to work correctly?
How Does a Tire Pressure Monitoring System Work
– Basic information.
There are two types of tire pressure monitoring system. The first has sensors built into the tire itself which monitor the tire pressure and temperature from inside the tire. The second type monitor the characteristics of the tire from outside the tire and are mounted onto the car. Each system has its pros and cons along with different issues that can crop up and different considerations when ensuring that the system works correctly. When the TPMS detects an issue it will signal it via the vehicle’s dashboard. On most cars this is shown via a dashboard light in the shape of a horseshoe or ‘U’ shaped icon with an exclamation point in the middle. This dashboard icon is meant to look like an under-inflated tire. If this icon starts flashing then you should stop at the next safe and available parking spot and check your tires for a flat.
– Direct tire pressure monitoring systems.
Depending on which type of tires you have, this technological system uses a sensor that can be located inside each tire. The sensor is battery operated and the battery used usually has a lifespan of around ten years. For vehicles used frequently this means that the tires will probably need to be replaced before the battery runs out, but for cars with less active use you may need to factor in TPMS sensor replacement with your vehicle servicing. Generally the device is not user-serviceable. Experts at Element Wheels say this sensor system usually sends data to the car via a wireless connection which may encounter issues when used in an environment with persistent electro-magnetic interference. Different types of tires can have different issues. If you’re driving on Rohana Wheels which are made for smooth roads, the sensor may become damaged when the vehicle drives across rough terrain or over curbs or when an accident occurs. If the TPMS light is flashing and there’s no obvious issue with the tires a broken sensor is the likely culprit. The sensor signal also needs to communicate with the car via a receiver and have its data interpreted by systems within the car so there are a few other points of failure to consider.
– Indirect tire pressure monitoring systems.
This system uses sensing devices located outside the tire to judge the health of the tire via a combination of factors. These include the wheel-speed combined with the normal size of the tire. If the system detects that the size of the tire has changed then it may conclude that the tire is under or over inflated. This means that the system may need to be reset occasionally when the tire conditions change in a way that is benign, such as when you top-up the air in the tire. This system can be more robust than the internal sensors, but may require more management.
If you’ve ever found yourself asking the question “how does a tire pressure monitoring system work?” then this information should give you a basic outline. These systems aren’t perfect and are still a relatively new technology that sometimes triggers for the wrong reasons. Knowing a bit about them can save you some headaches when that low-pressure light starts flashing part way through a trip.