They say pressure can be a good thing, yet everyone reacts differently to pressure. We have those who internalize everything until they either blow or shut down, we have folks who emote all the time to keep their pressure in check. We have people who do everything in between. I believe that the way we deal with pressure has something to do with how much pressure we are under, what kind of pressure it is, and how aware we are of its effects. Until we either get in touch with ourselves, or until science comes up with a human pressure meter, we are each on our own. However, when it comes to your tire pressure, new cars and trucks put it right in your face.
Sorry to change direction on you so quickly, but tire pressure is an important thing these days. What you don’t know about tire pressure can hurt you and the environment. I’m serious here. If everyone checked and adjusted their car’s tire pressure every week, our country could save millions of gallons of gasoline every year. If you are on top of your tire pressure, you personally save money on fuel and tires. All new cars now have tire pressure monitors in each wheel. The more sophisticated units actually read the tire pressure in pounds per square inch and display it on your instrument panel. That is actually an amazing bit of technology that pays for itself over the course of car ownership. The question is, how does it work?
Well, first off, our useless do nothing Congress actually did something a few years back ... it is called the TREAD act which requires most vehicles made in 2006-07 and all vehicles made thereafter to be equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, or TPMS. I’ve learned that there are two types of TPMS technologies. They are called Direct and Indirect TPMS. Direct TPMS uses a sensor in each of your wheels that measures the tire pressure. When the air pressure drops 25% below the manufacturer’s recommended level, the sensor transmits that information to your car’s computer system and triggers your dashboard indicator light. Cool. Then there’s Indirect TPMS. This system works in conjunction with your car’s anti-lock braking system’s (ABS) wheel speed sensors. Tires with low pressure roll at a different speed than the other tires that are properly inflated. The sensors constantly send speed information to your car’s computer system, and when it detects a tire that is rolling differently, it causes a light to go off on your instrument panel. This is excellent technology for three reasons. First, it lets you know when there is a pressure issue with a tire so you can take corrective action. Once you have properly inflated the tire it actually helps to reduce braking distances, making your car safer. Next, it helps your tires to wear longer, saving you money. Third, it helps you achieve the gas mileage that your car is supposed to deliver, also saving money. It’s a win win.
I’ve heard more than one mechanic comment on what a pain and useless expense these systems can be. While I know they are right about the initial frustration, the perception will eventually change. This is no different than our perception of air bags, Car guys everywhere hated the idea. Now some twenty five years later we find it hard to conceive of a vehicle without them. After so many years of living with seat belts, padded dashboards, crush zones and air bags, we’ve all learned that these things have significantly reduced auto fatalities, so they now have a more realistic perceived value. While it may be more of a stretch to see all of the benefits of TPMS, it is there, and I can personally attest to its value. Between proper tire pressure maintenance and faithful tire rotation, I’m getting far more mileage from my tires than ever before.
There isn’t much in our lives that we can actually control, but TPMS is one thing that gives you the power to actually make a difference in your cars environmental, safety, and fuel usage performance. To many drivers the TPMS indicator looks like another idiot light, but this one has true meaning and there is something you can do about it now. As cold weather approaches, your tires will most likely lose some air. This will trigger the TPMS warning on your dashboard. Just remember to carry a few dollars in quarters and you won’t have to worry about getting air in them because there are so many of those air machines at filling stations. The quarters may also keep you from getting a parking ticket the next time you have to feed a meter. TPMS...there’s nothing like "in your face" pressure!
Arlo Mudgett’s Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.