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Learn what the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System does

What is a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)?

21 April 2015, 10:45

To counter the rates of traffic accident occurrences, the leading tyre manufacturers carried out a vital piece of research that founded the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). The results from their study purported that up to 90% of all vehicles on the roads of Britain did not have the correct tyre pressure levels in their tyres. This lack of pressure can cause the tyres to wear down faster, increase the amount of fuel consumed and lead to traffic accidents.

Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems provide 24 hour a day monitoring that brings the tyres’ pressure to the driver’s attention within a matter of seconds of detecting any change/abnormality in the pressure or temperature of the tyres. This alert can be both audible and visual, often via the use of a gauge or a low-pressure warning light on the display of the driver’s installed pictogram.

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How Does it Work?

As the TPMS is an electronic system, it’s sensors keep an eye on the exact air pressure within a vehicle’s tyres; precise to the point that it conveys real-time reports on the accurate reading of the tyre pressure from one moment to the next. Depending on the type of TPMS, the exact answer as to how it works can differ. The Two Types of Indirect TPMS and Direct TPMS

Indirect TPMS

Indirect TPMS usually depends on the wheel speed sensors employed by anti-lock brake systems in a vehicle. Measuring the rate of wheel revolution, these sensors can also be utilised by computer systems installed within the vehicle to compare and detect any slight change in the rolling resistance. Additionally, based on these wheel revolution readings, indirect TPMS’s can roughly interpret the size of the tyres and monitor them as they wear down or lose pressure via deflation and size/shape changes.

It is referred to as an indirect TPMS due to its function, to not actually measure the tyres’ air pressure, but instead, measure the size and determine air pressure via the size and condition of the wheel through its revolutions and speed levels.

Direct TPMS

Unlike its indirect cousin, direct TPMS utilises pressure monitor sensors which are embedded and located within each tyre. Not only measuring wheel revolution data in the same manner as indirect TPMS, direct TPMS also monitors the specific pressure levels every couple of seconds and alerts immediately when there is a notable alteration or abnormality. The sensors used by direct TPMS even provide tyre temperature reports!

Receiving all of this information to a centralised control module located within the vehicle, all this data is amassed and used to detect if the tyre pressure drops below the recommended threshold. Should it become too low, a warning light/audible sound is transmitted directly to the driver’s dashboard.

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Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantages of using a TPMS consist of the following:
1) Reduced fuel consumption
2) No necessity to put car in for a tyre pressure check
3) Reduced chance of accidents
4) Reduced premature tyre failure In terms of the disadvantages, these can differ depending upon the type of TPMS

Using indirect TPMS:

1) Reading can become inaccurate when using a wider or narrower tyre
2) Can provide incorrect results if tyres are unevenly worn
3) Has to be reset each time the tyres are correctly inflated
4) Has to be reset following routine tyre rotations

Using direct TPMS:

1) More expensive than the indirect TPMS alternative
2) Potential resetting of the direct TPMS can require expensive tools
3) The sensors are susceptible to damage when being mounted/demounted
4) If the battery is drained, the entire sensor has to be changed
5) The systems used can make servicing, replacement and repairs a confusing task for consumers and workshops alike.

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