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Breakdown: Why your tire pressure light may illuminate when it’s cold

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 10:24 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -Has your tire pressure light or (TPMS - tire pressure monitoring system) been on this season, if so your are not alone and if not it could happen during any cold snap. Mechanics say that this may not mean your tire has a leak.

Tire pressure can decrease about 1 PSI (pounds per square inch) for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. It’s not because air is escaping, but because of the air inside the tire condenses, taking up less space when it’s cold. This is usually temporary, because driving will heat up the tire and increase the tire’s pressure. Tires lose air all on its own, about 1 PSI per month just from natural seepage of air around the edge of the rim and through the tread itself.

According to mechanics, these two factors alike can cause the air pressure in a tire to go 25 percent below where the pressure is recommended. This is what triggers the sensing transmitters inside your tires to illuminate your TPMS dash light. When this happens, be sure to check and add air to bring your tires up to recommended levels.

Temperatures usually fall overnight or from a cold day can affect your tire pressure. Big swings in temperature from day to night can affect the pressure in your tires by 10 PSI. Any of these things can cause the tire pressure indicator to come on. The light may shut off after you have driven for 20 minutes or more, as the air in your tires warms and expands and proper inflation level stabilizes. Either way, you should still get your tire pressure checked according to mechanics. Improper tire pressure can impact your gas mileage negatively. If you’re carrying a load close to your vehicle’s max capacity, there are greater risk of tire failure, compromised handling and increased wear and tear on your tires, if tires are not at proper levels. According to mechanics, if the warning light is flashing, this is a problem with the vehicle’s TPMS system, not your tires, and you should take your in.

Some mechanics suggest that once a month, have your pressure checked when the tires are cold. Check the pressure when the car is parked outside and hasn’t been driven in about four hours and inflate them to recommended levels.

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