What Is a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and Why Is It Important?

Many people believe it’s okay to drive on a tire that’s just “a little flat.”  But did you know that a flat tire could be jeopardizing your car’s fuel economy, shortening your tire’s tread life and durability, and putting you and your family at risk?

Under-inflated tires are dangerous for a number of reasons. Essentially, low air pressure forces the tire’s rubber to stretch, which weakens bonds, and once the bonds are weakened they never return to their original strength. When your vehicle’s tires are properly inflated, they have better stability and greater handling and braking efficiencies.

In 2007, the United States Department of Transportation National Highway Safety Administration passed legislation requiring that a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) be included in all new vehicles to warn the driver when the tire pressure falls below a predetermined level. Currently, two types of tire pressure monitoring systems are in use:  Direct and Indirect Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.

In Direct Pressure Monitoring Systems, each wheel has either an internal or external sensor that monitors the tire’s pressure. These systems tend to be more accurate and can also indicate which specific tire has low pressure.

In Indirect Pressure Monitoring Systems, wheel speed sensors monitors the tires’ rotational speed and alerts the driver when one (or more) of the tires has low pressure. Indirect systems do not tell you which tire has low pressure, and it will not indicate if your tires are losing pressure simultaneously, which can happen in colder weather.

If your car was manufactured after 2007, it already has a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. If your car was manufactured prior to 2007, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System can be installed if desired.  Have questions? Stop by your local Best-One Tire & Service location. They’re TPMS experts!

By Jim Channell, Best-One® Tire & Service Expert Panelist

How Often Do You Recommend I Change My Tires?

Wondering how often you need to purchase a new set of tires? At the minimum, you should replace your tires once the remaining tread depth has worn down to 2/32 of an inch, as this is the law in most states.

The Penny Test
I’m sure you’ve heard about the penny test … Here’s how it works! To determine if your tread depth is 2/32” or less, place a penny into your tire tread groove (with President Lincoln’s head facing down). If you can see Lincoln’s entire head, drop by your local Best-One Tire & Service® retailer because it’s time for a new tire(s).

Although the penny test is a useful tip to help you determine if your tire’s treads are still legal, you may want to consider replacing your tires before they wear down to 2/32”. Remember, tire treads are what provide you with traction and control when driving – especially in wet or winter conditions. Many experts recommend replacing your tires when your remaining tread depth is 4/32” for wet roads and 6/32” for snow-covered roads.

Penny Test: Pass

Penny Test: Fail

Penny Test: Fail

Reference Your Treadlife/Mileage Warranty And Wear Bars
Think back to when you purchased your last set of tires; your salesman most likely told you about your tires’ mileage warranty. These limited manufacturer warranties, which typically range from 30,000 – 100,000 miles, exist to help you understand the potential longevity of your tires. Although warranties can be a useful tool for determining how long your tires should last, not all consumers receive 100% of the warranted tire mileage due to varying road, climate and driving conditions.

Another helpful hint is to check for your tires’ wear bars. To locate these indicators, look for the bars going across your tire, connecting the various tread elements. When wear bars become flush with your tires’ tread elements, your tire has reached the minimum legal tread depth (2/32”).  Additionally, if you drive a newer model vehicle, your car may even have a detection device that will warn you when it’s time to replace your tires.

Do I Need To Replace All Of My Tires At The Same Time?
Not necessarily. While it’s common to replace an entire set of tires at once, there may be circumstances where this may not be the case. It’s important, however, to select a replacement tire(s) that is good match to your existing tires. If possible, an exact match is best.

Consult a Professional
Not sure if you need to replace your tires? Stop by your local Best-One location; we’ll check out your tires and keep you and your family safely on the road.

John Miller, Best-One® Tire & Service Expert Panelists