Drivers encouraged to replace tire pressure monitors

Jun 23, 2014

CHARLOTTE — This year, drivers of 2008 model cars or trucks, which started being sold in 2007, face the possible loss of their tire pressure monitoring systems as the devices used to measure the pressure begin failing, according to AAA Carolinas.

The batteries used to power the tire pressure monitoring system sensors are designed for one-time use and can last seven to 10 years, which is about 100,000 miles, depending upon how the vehicle is driven.

"Proper tire pressure is essential to driver safety," said Dusty Holcomb, vice-president of Automotive Services for AAA Carolinas. "Underinflated tires inhibit steering response, increase braking distances, and generate additional heat, which can lead to tire failures, including dangerous blowouts."

Today, there are more than 105 million vehicles equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) as mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to be original equipment in most new vehicles sold, beginning in 2007.

Some drivers may not feel the need to pay to replace a failed tire pressure monitoring system sensor. However, these sensors play an integral part in keeping us safe on the road.

Properly inflated tires react accurately and consistently in emergency situations, allowing drivers to maintain control of their vehicles and avoid crashes.

"The total surface area of four tires where they rest on the road typically is about the letter size (8.5 X 11 inches) piece of paper," said Holcomb. "Where the rubber actually meets the road is surprisingly small."

With a working tire pressure monitoring system, underinflated tires illuminate warning lights on dashboards that are either yellow or red and show the outline of a tire surrounding an exclamation point.

Surveys have found four out of every 10 drivers do not know what the tire in trouble symbol means and one in 10 of those surveyed admitted intentionally ignoring the warning.

"Knowing your tires are properly inflated is a key safety factor," said Holcomb.

Since tire pressure monitoring system batteries are designed to last seven to 10 years, 2014 becomes the inaugural year for battery-related sensor failures. Sensor replacement can cost about $100 per sensor plus labor.

"So far this year, we have seen tire related repairs, some involving tire monitoring sensors, double over the same period last year," said Holcomb.

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