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Fix Now! Tire Pressure Sensor Fault [Simple Solutions]

What Is A Tire Pressure Sensor And How To Troubleshoot It?

When it comes to tire pressure sensors (TPMS), these components are pivotal for modern vehicles, detecting changes in tire pressure and alerting the driver to any potential issues. From my experience in the automotive industry, understanding the functions of TPMS and how they work is crucial for both safety and maintenance. These sensors are designed to monitor pressure and provide real-time alerts, helping prevent common causes of tire failure. Symptoms of a faulty TPMS can vary, but drivers should look out for alerts or changes in vehicle handling. To fix a bad sensor, identifying the root cause is essential—be it battery issues, damage, or system malfunctions. In troubleshooting, start with the basics: check for any visible damage or battery failure, as these are common culprits. If the problem persists, consulting with a professional is recommended to ensure accurate diagnosis and repair, ensuring your vehicle remains safe and efficient on the road.

What is a Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor (TPMS)?

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is a critical innovation in modern vehicles, ensuring vehicle safety and fuel efficiency. Mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States since September 2007, it aims to reduce accidents caused by underinflated tires. TPMS technology utilizes sensors to monitor tire pressure, either through direct measurement inside the tire or indirectly via wheel speed sensors. While direct TPMS provides more accurate readings, it is typically more expensive to install and maintain. Regardless of the method, the essence of TPMS is to alert drivers to dangerously low air levels, promoting regular maintenance and inspection to avoid damage or wear.

These sensors, integral for monitoring air pressure, have a life expectancy of 5-10 years, powered by lithium-ion batteries. Their performance can be affected by driving conditions, with cold temperatures putting less strain on battery life compared to warmer temperatures and stop-and-go traffic. A malfunction warning on the dashboard, either a blinking light or a solid one after 60-90 seconds, signals a potential issue. Should a TPMS fail, due to reasons such as a dead battery or damage, it’s advisable to check each tire’s pressure manually with a tire gauge at regular intervals and consider replacement options available in our catalog. Addressing issues proactively can prevent inconvenience and ensure safe inflation, maintaining the integrity of your vehicle’s monitoring capabilities.

Where Are TPMS Sensors Located?

TPMS sensors are ingeniously integrated into a vehicle’s wheel architecture, typically mounted on the tire’s valve stem or affixed to the rim’s center circumference with a metallic band. This strategic location on the inboard side near the bead ensures accurate pressure detection while necessitating special care during tire mounting and dismounting to prevent damage. While most vehicles follow this standard setup, some manufacturers, like Ford, employ alternative means to secure the sensor, showcasing the diversity in TPMS deployment. This variation underscores the importance of understanding your vehicle’s specific TPMS configuration to ensure proper maintenance and functionality.

Common Causes of TPMS Failure:

TPMS sensors, being sophisticated electronic components, can fail for various reasons. Among the common causes of TPMS failure are battery depletion, exposure to harsh environmental conditions, and physical damage. These sensors play a crucial role in monitoring tire pressure, alerting drivers to potential safety issues. Understanding the vulnerabilities of these components can help in preemptively addressing problems, ensuring the reliability and effectiveness of the TPMS system in promoting vehicle safety and maintenance.

Low Battery Voltage

A TPMS sensor relies heavily on its battery to function correctly. Over time, the battery may lose charge, especially if the vehicle isn’t used for an extended period. When the battery voltage drops below the required level, the sensor can’t operate as designed, leading to inaccurate readings or triggering the TPMS warning light. This issue underscores the importance of routine checks and maintenance to ensure the longevity and reliability of the TPMS system, helping drivers avoid potential tire-related safety hazards.

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Damage from Road Debris

TPMS sensors, mounted on the valve stem of a tire, are particularly vulnerable to damage from road debris such as rocks and potholes. This exposure can knock the sensor off its position or cause physical damage, leading to malfunction or complete failure. Such incidents underscore the importance of regular inspections and cautious driving, especially on roads known for their rough conditions. Ensuring the protection of these sensors can significantly extend their lifespan and maintain the integrity of the TPMS system, crucial for monitoring tire pressure and vehicle safety.

Exposure to Extreme Temperatures

Extreme temperatures can be a critical factor causing a TPMS sensor to fail. High temperatures may damage the electronic components of the sensor, while low temperatures can lead to the battery losing its charge. Such conditions often result in inaccurate readings or the activation of the TPMS warning light. Understanding the impact of temperature extremes on these sensors highlights the importance of regular checks and maintenance, particularly in areas experiencing severe weather fluctuations. Ensuring your TPMS is functioning correctly, regardless of the weather, is essential for maintaining tire health and vehicle safety.


Corrosion poses a significant problem for tire pressure sensors, as exposure to salt and other corrosive materials can damage the sensor’s electronic components, leading to inaccurate readings and the triggering of the TPMS warning light. This issue is particularly prevalent in regions with harsh winters where road salt is extensively used. The chemical interaction can compromise the integrity of the sensors, necessitating regular inspections and maintenance to ensure optimal performance and vehicle safety. Protecting these sensors from corrosion is crucial for maintaining the reliability of the TPMS system and preventing untimely failures.

Sensor Age

The lifespan of TPMS sensors is typically 5–7 years, after which the age of the sensor can cause its accuracy to deteriorate, leading to false readings and the potential activation of the TPMS warning light. This natural decline is due to the wear and tear on the sensor’s components over time, including the battery, which is crucial for its operation. Regular checks and maintenance are essential to assess the health of these sensors and ensure they are functioning correctly, especially as they approach or exceed their expected lifespan. Keeping an eye on the age and performance of your vehicle’s TPMS sensors can help prevent unexpected failures and maintain tire safety and efficiency.

Faulty Wiring

Faulty wiring can lead a TPMS sensor to fail, preventing it from transmitting accurate information to the vehicle’s computer. This can result in incorrect readings and the activation of the TPMS warning light. Ensuring the good working condition of these sensors is pivotal for vehicle’s safety, and understanding the common causes of TPMS failure, such as damaged or disconnected wiring, is essential. Addressing these issues promptly can help prevent costly repairs and avoid potential accidents on the road. Regular maintenance checks can identify and rectify such problems, maintaining the reliability and effectiveness of your vehicle’s tire pressure monitoring system.

Common Symptoms of TPMS Failure

When a TPMS fails, it can cause a range of symptoms that affect your driving experience, fuel efficiency, and vehicle safety. Among the common symptoms of TPMS failure are unexpected tire pressure warnings, inconsistent pressure readings that don’t match manual checks, or the system’s complete unresponsiveness. These signs indicate that the TPMS may not be monitoring tire pressure accurately, potentially leading to decreased fuel efficiency, increased tire wear, and even compromising vehicle safety. Addressing these symptoms promptly can help maintain optimal vehicle performance and safety on the road.

Dashboard Warning Light

One of the most common symptoms of a tire pressure sensor failure is the illumination of the TPMS warning light on the dashboard. This warning light, often depicted as a flat tire with an exclamation mark, serves as a crucial alert that something may be amiss with your vehicle’s tire pressure monitoring system. When you see this light, it’s important to not dismiss it as a minor issue. Instead, it should be a prompt to have your TPMS checked by a qualified technician as soon as possible. Ignoring this warning could lead to decreased tire life, reduced fuel efficiency, and even compromise your safety on the road.

Inaccurate Tire Pressure Readings

A troubling symptom of TPMS failure is receiving inaccurate tire pressure readings, where the system may display a wrong pressure reading for one or more tires. This issue makes it difficult to maintain proper tire pressure, which is crucial for optimal vehicle performance. Such inaccuracies can result in poor fuel economy, reduced tire life, and in severe cases, lead to tire failure. Ensuring your TPMS is accurately monitoring and reporting tire pressure is vital for the safety and efficiency of your vehicle. Regular checks and calibrations by a professional can help avert these issues, preserving your vehicle’s integrity and your peace of mind on the road.

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Inability to Reset the TPMS Warning Light

Attempting to reset the TPMS warning light after checking and adjusting your tire pressures, only to find the light remains on, can be a clear indication of TPMS failure. This stubborn refusal to reset signals that there could be a deeper issue at play, underscoring the importance of having your system checked by a qualified technician. They can determine the cause of the problem and provide a solution. Often, this scenario points to a malfunction within the TPMS itself, requiring professional intervention to ensure your vehicle’s tire pressure monitoring system is functioning correctly and maintaining your safety on the road.

Unresponsive TPMS System

An unresponsive TPMS system that does not display any readings or warnings is a telltale sign of TPMS failure, potentially caused by a number of factors such as a dead battery, faulty sensors, or a malfunctioning TPMS module. This lack of response can leave drivers unaware of underinflated tires, posing a risk to vehicle safety and performance. Addressing this issue promptly is crucial; a comprehensive diagnostic check can help identify the root cause, whether it’s power supply problems or sensor issues. Regular maintenance and early detection of symptoms can prevent such failures, ensuring the TPMS system remains a reliable guardian of tire pressure integrity.

How to Fix a Bad TPMS Sensor

Fixing a bad TPMS involves a few critical steps, with replacement often being the best solution for damaged or malfunctioning sensors. Initially, check the battery voltage; if low, simply replacing the battery may solve the problem. However, reprogramming or resetting the system can also resolve issues related to inaccurate readings or persistent warning lights. If the sensor is physically damaged or corroded, it will need to be replaced. It’s essential to diagnose the issue thoroughly and perform the necessary repairs or replacements to ensure the TPMS is functioning properly. Consulting a professional for diagnosis and repair can save time and ensure accuracy, keeping your vehicle’s tire pressure monitoring system in top condition.

Can You Change a TPMS Sensor at Home?

Replacing a TPMS Sensor at home is possible, but it requires specific tools that the average person may not have at their disposal, such as a tire machine and appropriate toolage, not to mention a TPMS relearn device. Since the sensor is mounted on the tire’s valve stem, the tire must be deflated and partially dismounted for replacement. Using improper equipment can damage the bead of the tire, leading to a significant leak. However, many automotive service centers, including Walmart, Discount Tire, Les Schwab, and Firestone, are equipped to perform such repairs for a nominal fee. While DIY can be tempting, the risk of causing further damage makes consulting major chain-type service centers a safer, more reliable option.

How Can You Tell Which Sensor Is Bad?

In late model vehicles, a selectable TPMS display can be accessed through the vehicle’s instrument cluster, designed to provide feedback on each tire’s rate of inflation and identify any sensor that is not providing feedback. A non-responsive sensor that offers no value upon reviewing the prompt in the menu indicates a defective TPMS Sensor. Additionally, the location of a faulty sensor can often be identified with a TPMS relearn tool, a device that most qualified tire shops and service centers have at their disposal. This technology greatly simplifies the task of identifying a faulty sensor, making it easier for technicians to diagnose and address the issue promptly.

Can You Drive With a Tire Pressure Sensor Fault?

While you can drive with a TPMS Fault, it is not advised. The presence of such a fault means your vehicle’s TPMS is rendered ineffective, with the system remaining active but only registering the presence of the fault. It is advised to have the fault corrected at the first available opportunity to prevent the motorist from experiencing a low-tire condition at a wheel-end location, unbeknownst to their knowledge. TPMS sensor replacement has become less expensive over time, leaving little reason to ignore such issues. At the very least, check each of your vehicle’s tires for proper inflation with a manual gauge before driving further. Certain vehicles may register low PSI readings as “Tire Sensor Faults,” necessitating a manual establishment of whether each tire is adequately inflated. Driving on an underinflated tire is not only dangerous but can also cause severe damage to an otherwise repairable tire.

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Related To Dashboard Warnings:

Tire Pressure Sensor Replacement Cost

The exact cost of TPMS sensor replacement can vary significantly depending on the year, make, and model of the vehicle being repaired. While replacement sensors for some vehicles are easy to come by and economically priced, others, especially those for luxury vehicles or non-domestic makes, may come at a premium. On general averages, you might expect to pay between $70-$200 for a single Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor to be replaced and reprogrammed. The variance in cost underscores the importance of researching your specific vehicle’s needs and considering the value of professional installation to ensure optimal performance and safety.

TPMS Sensor Replaced But the Light Is Still On

After having your vehicle’s defective TPMS Sensor replaced, the continued illumination of the TPMS light often indicates that the new sensor has not been registered by the vehicle’s receiver. This typically requires a relearn procedure to be performed, a process that can differ across model and make of the vehicle. Many service centers use a specialized relearn tool to ensure the new sensor is recognized properly. If there’s any doubt after the replacement, it’s wise to return to the service center that installed the replacement TPMS sensor and express your concerns. Often, this issue can be alleviated within minutes, getting you back on the road free of unnecessary worry.


To fix a tire pressure sensor fault, hold the TPMS reset button until the tire pressure light blinks three times, then release it. Start the car and wait about 20 minutes for the sensor to refresh. The tire pressure monitor reset button is typically located under the steering wheel. If you encounter difficulty finding it, refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for guidance. This process can effectively reset the system and resolve minor sensor faults, ensuring your tire pressure monitoring system works correctly and maintains your vehicle’s safety and efficiency.

Motorists should not drive with a faulty TPMS sensor as it may become a serious safety concern. Operating a vehicle under such conditions can lead to inaccurate tire pressure readings, potentially resulting in reduced traction, increased tire wear, or even a tire blowout while driving. Ensuring that your tire pressure monitoring system is functioning correctly is crucial for maintaining optimal driving conditions and safeguarding against preventable road accidents.

The cost to fix a tire pressure sensor fault by replacing TPMS sensors can range from approximately $50-$100 each depending on the vehicle type. This variation in price is due to differences in sensor technology and compatibility requirements with specific vehicle systems. Investing in timely repairs or replacements of faulty sensors is crucial for maintaining your vehicle’s safety and efficiency, as well as avoiding more costly issues down the road. Ensuring that your TPMS is functioning correctly can also help to optimize fuel consumption and tire lifespan, contributing to overall better vehicle performance and safety.

If your tire pressure light is on despite your tires being full, the causes can range from a simple malfunction of the TPMS system to effects from weather changes. Additionally, a blinking TPMS light could indicate damage to a tire or stem from a recent tire replacement. The reasons behind this issue can indeed be vast, highlighting the importance of consulting a technician for a professional diagnosis. This step ensures that any underlying issues are accurately identified and addressed, maintaining your vehicle’s safety and performance on the road.

To reset TPMS without a reset button, add air to all tires (including the spare tire) to 3 PSI over the recommended amount. Then, deflate them completely. Once all tires are fully deflated, inflate them once again to the recommended tire pressure. This process can prompt the TPMS sensors to reset. This method, while seemingly straightforward, effectively recalibrates the system, ensuring accurate tire pressure monitoring and enhancing vehicle safety and performance. Always refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific guidance related to your model.

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