Inspecting your vehicle before driving it is vital. Have you ever driven on a highway, and suddenly a message "tire pressure sensor fault" appeared on your cars instrument cluster? It could be scary if you have no idea what it means, especially if you just bought a car. So what does the message mean?
Your car has a tire monitoring system (TPMS). Each tire has a sensor that monitors the amount of pressure in each tire and sends the report to the TPMS control unit. Unfortunately, the sensor may get damaged and send a wrong message. This error code "tire pressure monitor fault" will appear and give you misleading information that the tire pressure is excessively high or too low. It can also appear if the sensor is not able to send the report to the TPMS control unit.
When you see the message, you should not ignore it. Start by checking if the pressure is excellent. If it is okay, reset your TPMS system. As you continue to drive, check if the message is re-appearing. If it appears again, you should scan your TPMS control unit and use a scanner to read the trouble code.
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Cars made before 2007 have no TPMS. Instead, they have ABS sensors. They monitor pressure by calculating how fast the wheel is rotating. The diameter of the wheel reduces as the pressure decreases. Since it has to keep pace with the rest of the wheels, it rotates faster than the rest. That sends an error message to the ABS system.
Since a sensor is an electrical component, you should expect it to deteriorate with age. The irregular power supply can cause tire pressure sensor failure as well as dirt and heat. Dust is a great enemy and mainly affects sensor performance.
Whenever the sensor gets affected, the changes will become noticeable in your car. Here are the symptoms.
1. Low tire pressure
The work of your sensor is to notify you whenever the air in the tire reduces. If it fails to give a notification, you will start driving with difficulty. You will also get surprised to see your tire flat. For the sensor to make a first assessment, it should be in good working condition. Failure to give a warning indicates that the sensor is malfunctioning, or it has failed. Visit a certified mechanic and have it checked.
2. Warning light illuminates
The sensor sends information to the ECU (engine control unit) or the PCM (powertrain control module). If the sensor has issues, the ECU triggers a warning typically on the car's dash to show that all is not well with the sensor. The ECU also illuminates the car's check engine light once the tire pressure sensor fails to functions. When you see the check engine lights symbol, don't assume that the sensor is not working. Other factors can trigger it. It is good to visit your mechanic and identify the reason behind it.
3. Late Warnings
If your DIC keeps on giving you improper signals, then the sensor has a problem.
For instance, it might notify you that the tire is flat, but in actual sense, the tire if full. It might also give you a similar message after re-filling the pressure. Once you know that the sensor has a problem, you might get tempted to ignore the warnings. Unfortunately, if you ignore them now, they might bring problems in the future.
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Even if you were to check the sensor, it would be impossible if you have no idea where to find it. So to get it, check the inner part of the tire. It is attached to the rim in the inside. To find it, separate the tire and the rim. It is that small cylinder-like device.
Dust, dirt, heat, debris, among other things, normally affects the sensor and makes it to malfunction. Regular inspection and cleaning to remove these pollutants will allow your sensor to function in an optimum condition. So how should you clean it?
Fill the Tire
Use the correct tire pressure to fill in the air. Reset your TPMS system. Check the method below of cleaning the sensor if it keeps on flashing on your dashboard. If the problems persist, you can replace your sensor and also recalibrate it.
a. Remove the Sensor
You require the right tools to remove the sensor. Start by removing the car's wheel. Slightly remove the tire and find the sensor between the tire and the rim. To remove the sensor, you must have a screwdriver to help you undo the screw.
b. Clean The Sensor Using Alcohol or Cleaner
Once you remove the sensor, you have to place it in a plastic bag. Rub off the debris and dirt from the sensor using alcohol or a dedicated cleaner. Exercise caution when rubbing the sensor since if you become rough, you will ruin it. That would mean buying a new one. Once it's clean, you should not install it before drying it for at least 20 minutes.
c. Reinstall The Sensor
The same way you removed it is the same process you should use to reinstall it. Ensure the place you are fixing it is clean and tighten to ensure it sticks there.
Repair or Replace It
In case the sensor has issue you might have to either repair or replace it. Do you know how to repair or replace it? You require knowing all the steps and having the right tools. If you have doubts, don't hesitate to seek the services of a qualified mechanic.
If your sensor keeps on sending wrong messages on the dashboard, then it has a problem. The problem could arise due to aging, dust, dirt, heat, and even debris. You will know that the sensor has issues due to warning signs that appear in your car. For instance, it will not warn you of low pressure. You will realize once you feel discomfort when driving. You can solve the problems by cleaning the sensor, repairing it, or even replacing it.