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What is TPMS?

About TPMS

Low Tire Pressure Warning LightA tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is an electronic system designed to monitor the air pressure inside the pneumatic tires on various types of vehicles. These systems transmit real-time tire-pressure information to Electronic Control Unit (ECU) of the vehicle. Drivers can read sensor information through the display panel or dashboard as a gauge, a pictogram display, or a Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL), AKA low-pressure warning light.

TPMS systems can be divided into two different types; "direct" and "indirect". Direct systems can be further classified into battery powered and battery-less systems and usually work by calculating data collected by the Antilock Brake System (ABS). TPMS are installed both at the OEM (factory) level and as an aftermarket solution.

TPMS History

In the U.S., the U.S. Department Of Transportation (NHTSA) released the FMVSS No. 138, which requires an installation of a Tire Pressure Monitoring System to all new passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 4,536 kg (10,000 lbs.) or less, except those vehicles with dual wheels on an axle, as of 2007.

TPMS Benefits

TPMS systems are designed to provide drivers with the tire pressure information and alerts needed to add safety and savings to travel through increased fuel efficiency, extended tire life, decreased downtime and maintenance, improved stability and handling, and decreased emissions. These are significant advantages and are summarized as follows:

Fuel savings: According to the GITI, for every 10% of under-inflation on each tire on a vehicle, a 1% reduction in fuel economy will occur. In the USA alone, the Department of Transportation estimates that under inflated tires waste 2 billion US gallons (7,600,000 m3) of fuel each year.

Extended Tire Life: Under inflated tires are the #1 cause of tire failure and contribute to tire disintegration, heat buildup, ply separation and sidewall/casing breakdowns. Further, a difference of 10 lbs. in pressure on a set of duals literally drags the lower pressured tire 13 feet per mile. Moreover, running a tire, even briefly on inadequate pressure, breaks down the casing and prevents the ability to retread.

Decreased Downtime & Maintenance: Under-inflated tires lead to costly hours of downtime and maintenance.

Added Safety: Under-inflated tires lead to tread separation and tire failure, resulting in 40,000 accidents, 33,000 injuries and over 650 deaths per year. Further, tires properly inflated add greater stability, handling and braking efficiencies and provide greater safety for the driver, the vehicle, the loads and others on the road.

Drive Green: Under-inflated tires, as estimated by the Department of Transportation, release over 57.5 billion pounds of unnecessary carbon-monoxide pollutants into the atmosphere each year in the US alone.

Further statistics include:
On the maintenance side, it is important to realize that fuel efficiency and tire wear are severely affected by under-inflation. In the U.S., NHTSA data relate that tires leak air naturally, and over a year, a typical new tire can lose from 20 to 60 kPa (3 to 9 psi), roughly 10% or more of its initial pressure.

The European Union concludes that tire under-inflation today is responsible for over 20 million liters of unnecessarily-burned fuel, dumping over 2 million tonnes (metric tons) of CO2 into the atmosphere, and for 200 million tires being prematurely wasted worldwide.


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