Your vehicle’s low tire pressure light, also called the “TPMS” light, is an important safety feature. Not only do low tires cause your car to get poor gas mileage, but they also reduce your traction.
So, let’s take a closer look at how to reset a low-pressure light.
Sometimes you may think, like all things mechanical and electrical, your vehicle’s safety lights aren’t perfect. Occasionally, things go sideways, and you end up with a lit TPMS light when your tires are fully inflated. In these cases, it’s important to know how to reset your low tire pressure light. Here’s how it’s done.
How to Reset Your Low Tire Pressure Light
So, how do you reset a low tire pressure light? Here are four quick, easy ways you can do the job at home, without the need to visit your mechanic. We’ve listed these methods in order of difficulty, from easiest to hardest.
Drive at 50 MPH for 10 minutes
Your vehicle’s computer re-scans its sensors periodically. If you’ve just topped up and verified that your tires are full, try driving for 10 minutes. Since many cars require you to reach a minimum speed before they run a scan, we recommend driving at least 50 MPH. Use cruise control to maintain speed if you’re having trouble.
Use the TPMS Reset Button
Most cars have a reset button that will clear your TPMS light. It’s usually located under the steering wheel. If you can’t find it, check your owner’s manual.
Next, with the vehicle off and parked, turn the key to the “on” position, but don’t start the car. With the key in this position, hold the TPMS button down. Keep holding it until the TPMS light blinks three times. Then start your car and let it idle. Within 20 minutes, your light should go off.
Disconnect and Reconnect Your Battery
If you’ve tried these methods and your low tire pressure light is still lit, there may be a glitch in your car’s computer. Oftentimes, these glitches can be fixed simply by doing a hard reboot on the computer. But don’t worry. You don’t need to be an automotive genius to do this job. You just need a wrench.
With the car off, open your hood. Locate the battery, and use the wrench disconnect the cable from the negative terminal. Then, turn your vehicle on. Hold the horn down for about three seconds to drain any residual power from your electrical system. Turn the car off, reconnect the cable, and you’re good to go.
Deflate and Reinflate Your Tires
Sometimes, your sensors just get stuck, and you need to drastically change the tire pressure to jog their memory. To do this, inflate all your tires to 3 PSI above normal inflation, then deflate them completely. Reinflate all tires to their recommended level.
Make sure to include your spare tire in this process. Many vehicles also have a sensor in the spare.
If you’ve tried all the above tips and your light is still stubbornly shining, you may have a damaged sensor. Sensors can sometimes become damaged during normal automotive work, like brake jobs and tire rotations.
If you’ve recently been to a mechanic, take your car back to the same shop and see what they can do.
Sometimes, a TPMS light may indicate that a tire has a slow leak. You inflate the tire and everything looks fine, but your pressure is low again in short order. In this case, a mechanic can identify the leak and patch or replace your tire.
Another possibility is that your air pressure gauge needs to be calibrated, or has a dead battery. These jobs both require special equipment, but they only take a few minutes. A mechanic can get you taken care of in less time than an oil change.
In rare cases, you might have a wiring short or other electrical issues that causes the sensor not to register. Once again, you’re going to need a mechanic.
Finally, your car may have an indirect tire management system. In this case, you’ll need to – you guessed it! – visit a mechanic to have your wheel sensor checked. One clue that you’re dealing with this problem is your ABS light. In an indirect system, this light will also illuminate if your wheel sensor fails.
A Flashing TPMS Light
One thing we didn’t address is what to do if your TPMS light is blinking. In most cars, this is a warning that your tire sensor batteries are low and need to be replaced. Check your owner’s manual to be certain. But either way, you’re going to need to visit a mechanic to have this done.
Caring For Your Sensors
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To avoid having to go through all this hassle again, it’s important to treat your sensors properly. The better you treat them, the less likely they are to fail you. Here are a few ways to do exactly that:
- Keep your cap screwed onto the valve stem. It’s not just there for decoration. It keeps water, road salt, dirt, and other debris out of your tire. All of these things can damage your sensor.
- Use quality valve stems. Brass cores corrode, and corrosion-resistant stainless steel cores only cost a few dollars more. Considering the cost of replacing a tire sensor, this is a no-brainer.
- Finally, don’t use the flat repair compound that comes in an aerosol can. Even sensor safe flat repair compounds can plug the sensor’s hole. Since the sensor needs this hole open to properly measure the air pressure, plugging the hole causes it to fail.
Remember: whether your low tire pressure light is illuminated, you may have a serious safety issue. Of course, in all probability, it’s probably nothing. But if you’ve verified that your tires are inflated, it’s important to know what’s causing the warning.
We hope these helpful tips and tricks have helped you sort out your TPMS light issues. And if you found a serious problem, we’re glad we helped you find it.