You have entered the arcane (not really) world of TPMS – Tire Pressure Monitoring System(s). These little battery-powered gizmos are really useful in keeping you informed of the state of your tires. Not only for regular maintenance, but for driving situations where a sudden loss of tire pressure can put you in the ditch.
Three possible scenarios here:
- You have a leaky tire, which means that you have hit a nail, piece of glass, whale bone, etc., lodged in there somewhere and have a resulting slow leak in the tire or valve stem. Do a visual inspection, and/or take it to the shop. Keep a close eye on things and drive with caution.
- Your TPMS system may need to be re-set. Maybe you had a tire replaced/changed, or added air to a leaky or low tire. The solution for this is to visit your owner’s manual, manufacturer’s website, and/or YouTube to learn the reset procedure, and do it. Some cars do it automatically, but many do not, and learning the procedure will be really helpful, though you may have to do it more than once to get it to take. Also, you can visit your tire store or the dealership. And don’t hesitate to ask for a quick carwash at the dealer while you’re at it!
- Your TPMS batteries are dead or dying. This has happened to me, and once any battery gets to be more than three (or so) years old, they can start slowly going bad. Especially in hot or cold climates. Replacing TPMS batteries is not a trivial matter – because tires must be dismounted and then re-mounted and balanced – for the tech to replace a relatively inexpensive battery. So, if you have a car you’re planning on keeping for a number of years, it makes sense to service the sensors when you replace tires. Otherwise, the labor bill could be painful.