Is it Safe to Drive with Low Tire Pressure?

tire pressure

Chances are, your vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system. According to Bridgestone, “the purpose of the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) in your vehicle is to warn you that at least one or more tires are significantly under-inflated, possibly creating unsafe driving conditions. The TPMS low tire pressure indicator is a yellow symbol that illuminates on the dashboard instrument panel in the shape of a tire cross-section (that resembles a horseshoe) with an exclamation point.” TPMS is present in vehicles from 2008 or later and comes on when tire pressure is below 25% manufacturer preferred psi. Many newer vehicles will display a message saying ‘low tire pressure’ and even indicate which tire is experiencing low tire pressure.  

Why You Shouldn’t Drive with Low Tire Pressure

A national study conducted by Schrader International, the leading global manufacturer of sensing and valve solutions, found that only “58 percent of drivers could properly identify the lifesaving TPMS warning symbol.” This is an important finding because there are about 11,000 tire-related crashes that happen each year.

When you continue to drive on a tire with low pressure, you run the risk of tire failure. Imagine you’re driving 60 mph on a highway and your tire blows. An incident like this can cause you to lose control of your vehicle at a high speed — endangering yourself, your passengers and others on the road. In addition, low tire pressure negatively affects fuel economy and causes tires to wear out much more quickly.

What to Do When Your Low Tire Pressure Light Comes On

Don’t ignore the low tire pressure light. When you can safely check the air pressure in all of your tires, do so. Even if you are in a newer vehicle that indicates which tire is low, it pays to check all of the tires and adjust air pressure accordingly. Weather can also play a role in tire pressure. Colder weather can cause tire pressure to slightly drop, so continue to periodically check tire pressure levels in all of your tires when completing your maintenance checklist.

If tire pressure continues to drop even after filling your tire with air, you could have a hole causing air to escape. Make an appointment with an auto repair shop to have your tires evaluated. Best case scenario is your tire can be patched to fill the hole or you may need new tires.

Don’t Rely Solely on Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

Systems that monitor tire pressure are in vehicles to warn operators of air leaks, but you shouldn’t rely heavily on them. As a responsible driver you should be inspecting your vehicle periodically for maintenance issues. Doing your own inspections allows you to catch and correct issues before they become big safety hazards. Ensure your vehicle is receiving the necessary maintenance. When you have your oil changed at a garage they should also check your tires for ware and provide balancing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when it comes to the work being done on your vehicle.

Interested in learning more from Top Driver? Click here to check out our full list of safe driving tips.

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