If you know what this symbol means, you’re amongst a distinguished few.
Unfortunately, this isn’t just a useless fun fact, it’s the symbol for low-tire pressure, a safety feature that two-thirds of drivers don’t have a clue about, according Schrader, a company that makes tire pressure monitoring systems or TPMS.
TPMS has been installed in all vehicles since 2008, and the symbol lights up on the dashboard when one or more of the tires on a car are 25% below the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.
The government constituted the TPMS requirement after massive tire failures on the 2000 Ford Explorers, which was partly attributed to inefficiently inflated tires.
Yahoo reported that the symbol was intended to be understood across languages and cultures, but the U-shaped image with treads and an exclamation point in the middle isn’t resonating with the majority of drivers, because they haven’t been informed about it.
According to Schrader, maintaining the recommended air pressure extends to life of your fuel, and it also has a significant impact on maximum tire life and proper vehicle handling.
Proper inflation helps tire treads to grip better in all weather conditions, and gives the driver maximum handling, steering, and braking ability.
Tires that aren’t correctly inflated or under-inflated increases “rolling resistance” of tires, which eats up gas.
On a safety note, inadequate inflation can lead to tire failure and blow outs while driving.
Here are some guidelines from Schrader on how to respond when the tire pressure symbol lights up when you're on the road:
The recommended pressure level can be found on the tire placard, a label located inside the driver's side door.
Now that you are no longer in the dark, you'll know what to do when you see the TPMS light.
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