What is a tyre pressure monitoring system and should I get one?
Updated 10 Oct 2019
Thanks to legislation in other parts of the world, Australian motorists are now seeing marques and models boasting tyre pressure monitoring systems as standard.
But just what do they do – and do you need one for your vehicle?
There are two kinds of tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) – direct and indirect - and both let you know via a dash alert when your pressure is below acceptable levels.
How they do that is quite different.
Indirect systems use the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system (ABS) to monitor wheel rotation and if one is spinning faster, it reasons that deflation has happened and sounds the alarm.
Direct systems use a wireless sensor in each wheel that measures pressure and relays information to a display.
If a tyre’s pressure drops below the set amount, it activates a warning.
Direct systems are more expensive but more accurate as they can provide an actual pressure reading at any time.
In both cases, aftermarket TPMS are available, so if your vehicle doesn’t have one, should it?
What are the advantages of having TPMS?
There are several advantages and they boil down to safety – and money.
Keeping your tyres - the only part of the vehicle that actually makes contact with the road - inflated to the correct pressure is vital to ensure they perform to their maximum efficiency in terms of grip and in delivering the best performance for your vehicle.
Fuel economy can be hugely affected by tyre inflation and keeping tyres inflated to the correct pressure is a vital yet simple step to make sure you’re getting the best mileage you can.
Tyre life is maximised by correct inflation, so by keeping the pressure right you’ll be replacing your tyres less often.
Correct pressure also reduces the likelihood of punctures and having to change a tyre when you’re in your best clothes on the way to a wedding - which has been proven to be the most likely time to get a flat.
Unless you are absolutely rigorous with checking and adjusting your tyre pressures at least weekly, a TPMS will ensure you never overlook this part of your vehicle’s maintenance.
Life’s never been more busy and most of us can’t put our hands on our hearts and swear we always check pressure and fluid levels every week.
TPMS removes at least one chore from that equation.
TPMS can also be handy in situations when you need to alter your tyre pressure, such as 4WDing on sand.
Speaking of maintenance, remember that your TPMS needs checking regularly too, so ensure its part of your regular servicing.
In the case of direct systems, the TPMS will need checking and possibly replacing when you replace your tyres.
Your dealer or tyre experts will be able to advise on that.
Aftermarket TPMS systems are not hugely expensive to buy (cost can range from a little over $100 to several hundred) or install.
Again, seek advice from your dealer or mechanic.
You can get booked in quickly and easily with a local mechanic through AutoGuru, check it out!
Lindsay Saunders has been writing, editing and producing words and photos for more than three decades, starting back when he drove a 1971 VW Type 3 fastback.
Now he’s got a Hyundai I30 diesel, a 1999 LWB Hi-Ace (camper project) and wishes his wife’s EJ Holden station wagon was actually his.