Ford Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Understanding the Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Here at Bob Maxey Ford, one of the maintenance questions we're often asked is "what does it mean the tire pressure light is on?" So, if you were wondering the same thing, know that you're not alone and you have come to the right place. On this page, we'll seek to address what the light means, how the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) works, and what you should do in response.

What does the Tire Pressure light mean?

In short, this light means that the air pressure in at least one of your vehicles tires is low. Maintaining proper tire pressure is critical to the safe operation of your vehicle. Under inflated tires will deform under the weight of the car, causing more of the tire to come in contact with the road. This can cause a number of problems, including:

  • Premature "shoulder wear": The edges of the tires begin to wear down, shortening their lifespan.
  • Decreased handling ability: Incorrect tire pressure negatively affects steering, braking, stability, and overall ride quality.
  • Increased rolling resistance: With more surface area in contact with the road, friction is increased. This can significantly affect fuel economy.
  • Overheating: With increased friction comes increased heat. Heat is and tires do not go well together, and too much heat can cause tread separation. If this happens at speed, you could be headed for a severe accident.

How does the TPMS system work?

Sensors mounted to the valve stems of the tires read the tire pressure and transmit the data to your vehicle's on-board computer. It's important to note that the vehicle must be traveling at least 20 mph in order for the sensors to take an accurate reading. If the pressure in any of the tires is low, an indicator light is illuminated on your instrument panel. While the TPMS system constantly monitors your tires pressure, it is important to manually check the tire pressure at least once a month, especially if outdoor temperatures have been fluctuating significantly. This is because tire pressure decreases close to one pound per square inch (PSI) for every 10-degree decrease in temperature. It is also recommended to check your tire pressure before long trips as an extra safety precaution.

The TPMS also has a malfunction indicator that signals when it is not working properly. In the event of a malfunction, the TPMS warning light will flash continuously for about one minute before holding its illumination. This sequence will repeat every time the vehicle is started.

What do I do if the tire pressure light comes on?

If you see the TPMS light come on, you should stop driving as soon as possible to check the pressure and inflate as needed. All tires should be checked, even if only one is suspected to be low. Even if the tire pressure light turns on and then turns offer a short time later, it is still imperative to check the pressure. To find the correct tire pressure for your vehicle, look for the number in the owner's manual, the driver's door pillar, or the glove compartment door.

NOTE: It is not recommended to look for the number listed on the tire itself. This number is the maximum pressure for the tire and the recommended tire for your particular vehicle is almost always lower.

Once you know the correct number, use a tire gauge to check the pressure of all four tires and fill them accordingly. Many gas stations have air machines with built in tire-pressure gauges. Theses gauges can often be inaccurate. While they can work in a pinch, it isn't a bad idea to invest in a quality digital or dial-type gauge. And for unmatched peace-of-mind, you can bring your vehicle into our service center for assistance.

Check the spare! When checking your road tires, it is also recommend to check the pressure of the spare tire as well. You don't want to find it flat when you need it most. The correct pressure for the spare should be printed on the tire itself. If the temporary spare tire is installed, the TPMS light will remain illuminated as a reminder to replace the spare as soon as possible.

Contact Bob Maxey Ford with any service-related questions.

For further assistance with the TPMS, or with any other service issues, be sure to contact the experts here in our service center. They know your Ford model inside and out and have the knowledge and skills necessary to help get you rolling again safely and as quickly as possible. And if you're in the area, feel free to pay us a visit here on E. Jefferson Ave in Detroit. We're conveniently located to serve drivers from Highland Park, Hamtramck, and Grosse Pointe, and we're looking forward to serving you.


Bob Maxey Ford

1833 E. Jefferson Ave.
Directions Detroit, MI 48207

  • Sales: (855) 708-0193
  • Service: (855) 703-0897
  • Parts: (855) 708-0187
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