It’s the dreaded symbol of a flat tire with an exclamation point at the center, though some drivers think it resembles a lucky horseshoe with a flat bottom … and if you see it’s lit, you may feel very unlucky! It’s your tire pressure light and it could be letting you know there’s a problem with one or more of your tires. Sometimes referred to as the low tire pressure light, check tire light or flat tire light, it’s the dashboard indicator for your car’s Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
Mandatory for cars built after 2007, the TPMS is a multi-component system. Typically, there are either sensors inside the car’s Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) or valves mounted inside the tires. Some spares come equipped with valves, too. These valves and sensors monitor the air pressure of each tire. For more information about the TPMS for your specific car, refer to your owner’s manual.
WHY DOES THE TIRE PRESSURE LIGHT MATTER?
It’s designed to let you know when there’s an unsafe change in the air pressure of one or more of your tires. When the air pressure drops, your tire is under-inflated, and that can lead to dangerous driving, including:
Reduced braking distance
Poor traction and handling
Increased likelihood of flat tires and blowouts
Under-inflated tires can cost you money too:
Accelerated and uneven tire wear can shorten the life of your tires
Lower air pressure can result in poor fuel mileage
SO, THE LOW TIRE PRESSURE LIGHT IS ON. NOW WHAT?
Don’t ignore it because it could be a safety issue.
If you’re driving and the light comes on, stay calm and find a place to pull over. If you don’t have a flat, drive carefully to the nearest service station or Jiffy Lube® (there are 2,000 locations across North America) to have your tires checked.
If the light comes on when you start your car, inspect your tires visually before you hit the road. Then, at your earliest convenience, either test the tire pressure yourself using a tire gauge or bring your car to Jiffy Lube, where a trained technician will make sure each tire is inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended level. You can usually find the tire pressure information on a placard or sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in your car owner’s manual. If you can’t locate it, a Jiffy Lube® tech will be able to access this information for you.
In most cases, the tire pressure light will shut itself off when your tires are properly re-inflated. If it doesn’t, check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to reset it. When you bring your car to Jiffy Lube to have your tires checked, the technician will handle this.
You may have heard stories about overly sensitive or unreliable TPMS. It’s true that occasionally a tire pressure light will flash on and then, inexplicably, go off on its own. Still, every time the light comes on, you should pay attention and have it checked. If the problem turns out to be with your “lucky horseshoe” light and not your tires themselves, you can feel lucky.
DON'T EXPECT THE TPMS TO DO ALL THE TIRE CARE FOR YOU
Check your tire pressure regularly, at least once a month. Better yet, get into the habit of checking the tire pressure every time you stop for fuel. After all, the tire pressure light may not come on until a 25% drop in pressure occurs. By making sure your tires are always properly inflated, you’ll:
Enjoy a more stable ride
Help avoid dangerous blowouts
Get better fuel efficiency
Tire care is an important part of preventive maintenance, and Jiffy Lube technicians are trained in preventive maintenance. They can inspect your tires, check and adjust their pressure, and measure tread depth. They’ll also help you make sure your brakes, suspension and steering operate “as designed,” and when repairs are needed, they will use service and repair components that meet or exceed OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) specifications.
Remember, Jiffy Lube does oil changes and a whole lot more. Learn more about services that help keep your car, truck, minivan or SUV rolling safe and smooth.