If you noticed your TPMS light flashing, you probably checked the air pressure in your tires and didn’t find a problem.
Whether you own a Toyota, Jeep, or Volkswagen or have a direct or indirect TPMS system, a tire pressure light flashing means there is a system error.
Why Is My Tire Pressure Light Blinking?A flashing tire pressure light alerts the driver to a problem with the tire pressure monitoring system. The most common reason for a TPMS failure is a dead battery in one of the TPMS sensors.
Unfortunately, when your TPMS warning light flashes, it isn’t because of a problem with the tires but a problem with the system.
You could have a low tire pressure situation, but the system may not be able to detect it and alert you to the problem.
Let’s take a closer look.
Direct Vs Indirect TPMS
It’s important to understand that there are two TPMS systems: Direct and Indirect. You should check your owner’s manual to determine which type of system your vehicle uses.
Direct TPMS uses battery-powered wireless sensors inside each tire to transmit the individual tire pressures to the TPMS computer. Not only can this system warn you of low tire pressure, but you can also check the air pressure in each tire from the driver’s seat at your convenience.
Indirect TPMS uses the antilock braking system wheel speed sensors to estimate whether a tire has lost air pressure. When the speed of a tire changes relative to the speed of the other tires and the baseline target is enough, the system will trigger a low tire pressure light.
Tire Pressure Light Blinking Then Stays On
Flashing tire pressure lights will usually blink on and off for 60 to 90 seconds and then remain solidly lit until the next time you turn your vehicle on again. It will repeat this process until the problem has been resolved.
A flashing tire pressure light is much more common on vehicles equipped with Direct TPMS. This is due to the increased complexity of the system. TPMS sensor batteries eventually die and need replacement. The sensors can also become damaged.
Indirect TPMS can still display a flashing TPMS light when there is a fault with the system. This is uncommon since indirect TPMS doesn’t rely on dedicated sensors in each tire. While dedicated sensors improve accuracy and add features, they eventually fail and can be damaged.
Reasons For Your TPMS Light Flashing
There are several causes for a TPMS warning light to begin flashing each time you start your car or truck. Let’s cover the most common first and work our way down the list:
Dead Battery In One Or More Tire Pressure Sensors
Faulty TPMS sensors are the most common reason for a TPMS warning light flashing on your dashboard. The most common reason for a faulty TPMS sensor is a dead battery.
Sensor batteries last 7 to 10 years before they expire. Unfortunately, tire pressure sensor batteries are usually sealed into the sensors, and the entire sensor will usually need to be replaced.
Damaged Tire Pressure Sensor
Sensors can suffer damage for many reasons. Damage can occur due to the following:
- potholes and curb strikes
- careless tire service
- manufacturing defect
Damaged sensors will almost always require replacement.
TPMS Sensor Communication Problem
Communication problems can occur for a variety of reasons. If the sensor can’t properly establish contact with the TPMS computer, it will cause the dashboard warning light to flash.
Battery and sensor damage problems can cause communication problems, but there can be other sources that your tire professional may need to troubleshoot to resolve correctly.
New TPMS Sensors Not Properly Programmed
Occasionally, a sensor may be in good working condition but not appropriately programmed to the system and unable to report position and pressure.
If you’ve recently had a sensor replaced but are experiencing a tire warning light flashing when starting your car or truck, you should return to your tire shop and have them resolve the problem.
Can I Drive With A Blinking Tire Pressure Light?
Driving with a faulty TPMS module or sensor means that your TPMS system will not be able to alert you to a low tire pressure situation. This is not inherently dangerous, but it can allow a dangerous situation to occur without your knowledge.
It’s wise to use caution while driving with a flashing tire pressure warning light and have your local tire professional resolve the problem as soon as possible.
The tire pressure monitoring system was mandated to be installed in all new cars and trucks sold in 2008 and after. The reason is to address the large number of accidents and deaths caused by underinflated tires.
How To Reset A Blinking Tire Pressure Light
It’s worth resetting your tire pressure monitoring system to see if the problem was a fluke or a minor communication error due to interference.
You’ll need to find your TPMS Reset Button and press it until the TPMS light turns off. You’ll usually need to drive for a period of time or a certain amount of miles for the system to recalibrate itself.
If the warning light comes back on and flashes, you can assume that there is an ongoing problem that needs to be resolved by your local tire shop.
At this point, the problem must be resolved before the warning light stops flashing every time you start your vehicle.
What Does The TPMS Reset Button Do?
Depending on the type of TPMS system you have equipped, the reset button will work slightly differently:
Direct TPMS Reset
The reset button on direct TPMS systems is usually meant to clear all of the error codes in the system. You should only press it after you’ve manually checked the air pressure in your tires and ensured that they match the manufacturer’s recommended pressures listed on the tire information sticker in the driver’s door jamb.
Once the TPMS reset button has been pressed, you may need to drive for a period of time or a certain amount of miles for the system to finish checking the tires’ pressures and clear the TPMS light.
Indirect TPMS Reset
Similarly, the reset button on indirect TPMS systems is usually meant to clear all of the error codes in the system. You should only press it after you’ve manually checked the air pressure in your tires and ensured that they match the manufacturer’s recommended pressures listed on the tire information sticker in the driver’s door jamb.
The reset button on an indirect TPMS system sets the baseline to use for the tire circumference. Since an indirect system can’t directly measure the tire pressure, it depends on monitoring wheel speed differences to estimate a pressure drop.
Where Is The TPMS Reset Button?
There is no consistent location where vehicle manufacturers place the TPMS reset button. There are some common places to look for it, however. The following is a list of the most common locations to check:
- Underneath the steering wheel
- Left of the steering wheel
- Instrument cluster menu
- Infotainment system
- Center of dashboard
- Center console
- Inside the glove box
If you have trouble finding the TPMS reset button in your car or truck, you may need to refer to your owner’s manual.
Below are some links you may find helpful when learning about tires
- TPMS light on? What it means and what you need to do – Bridgestone
- What’s the difference between a solid vs. flashing TPMS light? ATEQ TPMS explains – TireReview.com
A solid warning light is a low tire pressure alert. A flashing tire pressure light indicates a problem with your monitoring system. It can be unclear if you don’t know this fact.
It’s compounded by the TPMS warning light only flashing for 60 to 90 seconds after you start your vehicle and then staying solid. If you’re not paying attention during the first minute or so, you may not catch it.
If you have a flashing TPMS warning light, it’s easiest to take your car or truck to your local tire shop to have them fix the problem for you. Unless you’re equipped with the necessary tools to replace the sensors, it’s usually much more economical to have the job performed by a tire professional.
Good luck and happy motoring.