Why is my tire light flashing?

September 08, 2016

Strange warning lights go on and off on people’s car dashes all the time. Most people, myself included, overlook them, and keep moving at the fast pace life requires today. What does the tire light even mean? Should I really be concerned about it?

It’s been a long day at work, and as anyone would understand, there’s nothing I want less than a light flashing on my dash as I drive home. But, as Murphy’s Law would have it, that’s exactly what I get. I roll my eyes, ignore it, and decide to check it out when I get home. I pull into the driveway, and stare at it for a second, wondering what to look up– the icon looks almost nothing like a tire, so if you’re looking for a tire light on the dash, you probably won’t find one (unless you’re extremely familiar with a tire’s cross-section)...

After a brief study with the help of some experts on the subject, I learned it’s a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light. In other words, it tells you when your tire’s pressure is too low or too high. The warning light will either flash or stay on. Apparently, it’s extremely dangerous to drive when this light’s on, which would have been good to know a few hours before… If you don’t check your tires when the light’s on, you could end up on the side of the road with a flat, or even a blowout.

What should you do? Check your tires! Get an air gauge out, and check your tire pressures. There’s a sticker on the inside of your car door that tells you what range your pressure should be in. If any of the tires are too low, fill them up! Most gas stations have air pumps that you can use for free. If you can tell that your tires are flat just by looking at them, put your spare on, or call a towing company, and head over to your nearest tire shop and they can fix it for you.

If your light is only flashing, there’s no immediate danger. Your car is trying to tell you that your pressure monitoring system isn’t working, and won’t read any problems your tires might have. Just make an appointment at any car repair shop to have your car checked out, and the TPMS system reset.