Your Tires Are Talking

Using your vehicles’ Tire Pressure Monitoring System

tpmsProper tire inflation is important for your safety and your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Since 2008, every Honda has been equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to alert the driver of significantly low pressure in one or more of the tires. This system is intended to warn drivers of low pressure detected between inspections, NOT as an alternative to regular inspections. Since tire pressure may change at any time due to tire damage, slow leaks or an abrupt change in temperature, it’s important to follow the factory’s recommendation of checking your vehicle’s tires for excessive wear and adjusting the tire pressure at least once a month.

Safety experts estimate that 25 percent of automobiles run on tires with lower than recommended pressure, and dry and wet handling performance suffers with under-inflated tires, leading to skidding, hydroplaning or loss of control.

Is it time to check your tire pressure? Answer the following questions:

Has it been more than a month since you checked your tire pressures?
Has the outside temperature dropped significantly?
If you answered “yes” to either question, it’s time to check the pressure on your tires.

Direct vs. Indirect TPMS

The monitoring system in all Hondas uses one of two methods: direct or indirect.

All 2012 or older Hondas are equipped with direct monitoring, which uses sensors to continually check tire pressure. Each sensor communicates wirelessly to a control unit in the vehicle. When the pressure in any tire drops below a certain level, the low pressure indicator comes on. This system does not require any action when adjusting air pressure or replacing tires on the same rim, but may require recalibration if rotated.

Indirect TPMS was introduced on the 2013 Honda Accord. It uses the ABS/VSA system when speed sensors to calibrate tire pressure. If the conditions for any wheel change significantly (for example, a tire that is low in pressure will differ in rotation or resonance from the others), the low pressure indicator will alert you to check the tires. This system requires you to initiate the calibration sequence any time the tire pressure is adjusted, tires are rotated, or one or more tires is replaced. Indirect TPMS uses rubber valve stems.

What to do if the low tire pressure indicator comes on:

  • When the indicator comes on without flashing, it means one or more of your tires is significantly underinflated. Stop and check your tires as soon as it is safe to do so, and refer to your owner’s manual for proper procedure on checking tires.
  • If the tire is flat, damaged, or the tire pressure is too low to continue driving, follow the owner’s manual instructions for using the spare tire or Tire Repair Kit (TRK), or call for roadside assistance. If a spare tire is installed, the TPMS indicator will still illuminate or flash, but is does not monitor the spare tire’s pressure. Visually inspect the spare tire and make sure it is properly inflated before use.
  • Inflate all tires to the recommended cold pressure, as indicated on the driver’s doorjamb tire pressure label.
  • Also, remember to initiate the calibration sequence for indirect systems after inflating the tires. The low pressure indicator may remain on until the car is driven a short distance. If the indicator appears after setting all the tires to the recommended pressure (and calibrating the indirect system), one of the tires may have a slow leak. Determine if the same tire is repeatedly low on pressure, and have it repaired.

TPMS Fault

In rare cases, your system could experience a malfunction, either

  • The TPMS indicator will flash within the gauge cluster.
  • Or, the indicator will flash for one minute, then will stay lit.

In this state, the system is no longer monitoring tire pressure. As soon as it is safe to do so, check pressure and condition of all four tires, and then take your vehicle in to have the TPMS serviced. If spare is on the vehicle, repair and install the vehicle’s standard wheel and tire.