Can the very thing that lets you monitor your tire air pressure be the one causing the air to leak? We researched this concern and here's what we found out.
Yes, your tire pressure sensors can sometimes be the cause of slow air leaks in your tires. These sensors are connected to stem valves in your wheels and their components can get damaged or worn out over time which allows air to leak out of the tires.
Keep on reading to learn more about how tire pressure sensors can allow air to escape from your tires. We'll also talk about other reasons why your tires leak and how you will know if your tire pressure sensor has gone bad. Let's get started!
Can a TMPS sensor cause a tire leak?
Tire pressure sensors are part of your tire pressure monitoring system or TPMS. It is an important safety feature found in modern vehicles. It also lets you optimize your tires' performance on the road so you can improve your fuel mileage.
Your TPMS gives you an accurate and real-time report about the air pressure on your tires. It communicates with your car's computer system so that you can be notified if the air pressure has fallen below the recommended threshold.
This can be through a LED light indicator, or a pictogram or some will even see the actual PSI value of each tire on their screens. This is very helpful indeed as you won't have to guess if your tires are still good to go or not.
When the air pressure drops by 10% or the set threshold, you will be alerted, prompting you to go stop at the nearest gas station so you can add air to your tires. This will prevent further tire damage and possible accidents on the road.
Take note that when the air pressure is down by 10%, this isn't visible to the human eye. That's why the TPMS is a great help in letting you know that something is wrong with your tires before it can cause road mishaps.
So, when you see the warning light on your dashboard, do not ignore it. If you have a tire pressure gauge, you can check each of your tires' inflation levels. Once you confirm that it's below the threshold, add air to the affected tires to bring them back to the optimal level.
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If you don't know how much air pressure is needed for each tire, you can refer to your owner's manual. It's also usually indicated on the sticker that you will find by the driver's door.
Losing air can put you and other motorists in peril. That's why having tire pressure sensors is a big help. However, sometimes, the air leak can come from your TPMS assembly itself.
Yes, your tire sensor can be the cause of a leak in your tires.
Your Tire Pressure Sensors and the Valve Stem
The tire's valve stem is an essential component in maintaining optimal tire pressure levels. It allows air to pass or escape as the need arises. Normal air pressure isn't under-inflated (lacking air) or over-inflated (too much air).
When the tire needs additional air pressure, you open the valve to let air in. When it needs to be relieved of too much pressure, you open the valve to let the air out.
Since the valve stem is crucial in determining the proper air pressure, it is understandable that the tire pressure sensors are mounted here. They can monitor the inflation from this location. Some tire valve stems have been specially designed such that the tire sensors are already integrated into the units.
As such, when the valve stem goes bad, the tire pressure sensors are affected.
Here are the possible reasons why your tire pressure sensors on the valve stem are allowing air to escape.
Worn Out Valve Stem
Constant use and exposure to different weather conditions can take their toll on your tire's valve system. A rubber grommet seals the air to ensure that it doesn't leak out of the tire but it can get worn out over time. As it wears out, it allows air to leak out of the tire little by little.
Metal components of the valve can also get corroded leading to damage and allowing the slow leak to happen.
When you have your TPMS replaced, the personnel should be informed what type of TPMS you have as well as other added features so that they can find a suitable replacement.
If the replacement parts aren't compatible with the tire pressure sensors, the air will leak. For example, experts don't recommend using brass valve cores when you have a tire pressure sensor valve system that's made of aluminum. This will cause corrosion and hasten the deterioration of the valve stem. Slow air leak is one of its consequences.
Reusing Old Components
When you have your TPMS serviced, they will remove the sensors from their location at the wheels. The service personnel should replace the parts accordingly and have the sensors torqued according to the required values. This will prevent the air from leaking from the valves.
Some technicians reuse old parts and put them together with new components. They won't get a perfect fit with this kind of assembly that's why some air escapes from the valve stem.
These are the reasons why air leaks from the tire pressure sensors. When this happens, you need to have the valve stem replaced by a trusted tire technician.
Other Causes of Tire Air Leak
As mentioned earlier, not all leaks are easily noticeable. Some happen slowly, invisible to the human eye and before you know it, you have a soft, if not flat, tire. That's why you should be aware of what causes these leaks so that you know what to look into each time you check your tires' condition.
Here are other reasons why tires lose their air and reduce their air pressure.
- Tires lose air whenever the ambient temperature drops by 10 degrees.
- It is also expected that they naturally lose one psi per month.
- Tire puncture can be caused by small sharp objects, some even get lodged in the rubber of your tires. They may not be immediately noticeable but they let a small amount of air leak every time. It's good if you have a tire repair kit so you can patch the tiny hole in the meantime until you get to a tire repair shop and have it serviced properly.
- There can be wheel damage wherein the metal rim has somehow been deformed. The tire isn't mounted onto it properly allowing air to leak. This can happen when you hit a curb or pothole hard. This can be remedied by using a bead sealer but sometimes the rim needs to be replaced to fit the tire perfectly.
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These are the common reasons why tires lose air pressure. Have your tires checked regularly to ensure that they have the proper air pressure and they are in good condition to take on the road.
How do I know if my tire pressure sensor is bad?
We can all agree that tire pressure sensors are one of the most important safety features of your car. But they have to be working properly so that you will get an accurate status of your tires' air pressure. Otherwise, they can do more harm than good.
Basically, you will know if your tire pressure sensor is bad when you experience these three symptoms:
- When the lights won't come off even after you made sure that you have proper air pressure on all your tires including the spare tire;
- When your TPMS sends a wrong warning signal;
- When your TPMS doesn't give any warning signal at all.
TPMS may need to be reset if the warning light doesn't come off even after all the tires have been filled with air. Check your owner's manual regarding instructions on how to reset the TPMS. If the light still won't come off, there's a chance that the TPMS is defective.
Don't ignore when your TPMS is malfunctioning. You need to have it checked at your trusted auto repair shop to have it fixed.
Many things can cause your tires to leak. Your tire pressure sensors can be one of them. So, always check your tire air pressure to be sure that you're safe on the road.
You may also visit the following posts for some related reading:
Ford Tire Pressure Sensor Fault? Here’s What To Do
Ford F-150 Tire Pressure Sensor Fault – What To Do?