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Indirect Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Problems

Lets take a step back. The TREAD act made it mandatory that all vehicles manufactured after September 2007 be factory equipped with a direct tire pressure monitoring system. Before this, several vehicles on the road were either not equipped with a TPM system or were equipped with an Indirect, ABS-based tire pressure monitoring system. Anti-lock brake system wheel speed sensors evaluate tire pressure by measuring the rotational speeds of each of the vehicles tires. An underinflated tire spins at a higher rotational speed due to its smaller diameter. An overinflated tire spins at a lower rotational speed due to its larger diameter. Under or overinflation can cause the TPMS warning light to turn on and bug the heck out of you. 

The purpose of this post is to inform people who drive with ABS-based tire pressure monitoring systems, to be weary of the many factors that can cause your TPMS light to turn on or function improperly (aside from over and underinflation). 

Inconsistency is a more common theme regarding indirect TPMS and an indirect TPMS system can be "tricked" by a number of situations:
  • Bumpy and slippery roads (construction zones, rain, snow, dirt, etc...)
  • Differing tire sizes 
  • Differing tread patterns or tread wear
  • Aggressive turning 
  • Towing a vehicle 
  • Hot weather
  • Heavy Cargo
The rotational speed of your tires can be influenced by various road and environmental conditions. If none of these situations (or anything closely related) apply and your TPMS lamp or ABS warning lamp keeps flashing or staying on, we would recommend having a professional inspect the wheel speed sensors for any glitches or oddities. 

Please email us with any questions at or give us a call at (714) 482-3996