Tire Pressure Sensor Fault: Causes, Symptoms, and Fixes

The tires are among the crucial components of the car that ascertains a smooth ride. When it comes to tire inflation, you need to know the right pressure. Without that, you may start seeing the warning light on your dashboard. How does the tire pressure sensor fault appear?

The pressure sensor of tires is a small computer found within each tire, which serves as an “alert” device for under/over-inflated tires. Since 2007, the United States has mandated car owners to have them on all vehicles.

This requirement was “enacted” by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to reduce mortality and car accidents. As it is, there have been several cases of rollover and blowouts resulting from underinflated and overinflated tires of cars and trucks.

In essence, one shouldn’t ignore the tire pressure warning light that appears on the dashboard. Doing so would mean putting your life and those on the road at serious risk. Nevertheless, I will be revealing some important tips to handle and fix such a problem.

What Causes Tire Pressure Sensor Fault?

tire pressure sensor install

Suppose the tire pressure sensor detects a problem; it relays the signal to the vehicle’s computer. Then, you get to see the bright yellow light on your dashboard. You must have noticed that U-shaped symbol with an exclamation sign in the middle, right?

Various reasons for the car’s tire pressure sensor fault appear on the dashboard. Much more, as car owners drive their vehicles across varying terrains and under different conditions. Nevertheless, here are some common causes of the tire pressure sensor fault to appear.

Low Tire Pressure

The first thing to think about when the tire pressure sensor fault appears is low tire pressure. Remember, this is the basic reason why the sensors are there in the first case, as they come fitted in each tire.

Thus, when the tire’s pressure appears low, the control module receives a message that alerts the car’s computer about the tire inflation problem. In turn, you would see the message appearing on your dashboard.

Worn Tire Pressure Sensors

One common cause of tire pressure sensor fault is the tire pressure sensor wearing out. With frequent rides, the sensors start wearing out, and such error seems pretty common when the sensors start reaching the end of their service life.

Most batteries that power the tire pressure sensors would last for five years or more and may soon start draining out. Again, the rubber sensors are more prone to wear and tear, while the aluminum pressure may fail with the valve stem corroding.

Problems with the Tire Pressure Management System

The tire pressure management system of TPMS is pretty crucial for the vehicle. If you still notice your Duralast tire pressure sensor’s warning light on your dashboard, it could be a problem with the TPMS. Ever noticed the warning message appearing even when you have properly inflated tires?

Then, the TPMS must be having some problems, and you need to look into such. The TPMS has various components, like the transmission or brake system. So, damage to one part can cause serious issues.

Kindly note that these components are prone to corrosion, wear and tear, and some accidental damages. If you notice the tire pressure sensor fault, but the tires are fine, it indicates that the TPMS is not functioning properly.

Wiring Issues

When there is a fault with the wiring of the TPMS, it could cause some issues with the tire pressure sensor and make the warning message appear. It seems rare, but such short-circuiting may be the only reason why you keep seeing that warning light on your dashboard.

Thus, car owners must use only certified and experienced auto care services. Such faults may occur when inexperienced auto mechanics tamper with the cables while working on the tire servicing.

For some reason, the tire pressure fault warning may appear without possible problems with the tire pressure or worn tire pressure sensors. Thus, it would help if you also look out for the following:

  • Temporary glitch affecting the TPMS
  • Interference with the sensor signal
  • The inability of the sensor to pick up readings

how to fix your tire pressure sensor fault

Symptoms of Bad Tire Pressure Sensor

Two common kinds of tire pressure sensors exist; the valve type and the band type. However, both work well in illuminating the dashboard to reveal that the car’s tire pressure is low. Although not all cars have this awesome device, it has become mandatory in the US due to its great importance.

Kindly note that the tire pressure fault appears like most car problems, as they come with common signs. With these symptoms, you can easily tell that there are issues with the TPMS.

Thus, you can fix the problem quickly, even when the dashboard lights appear faulty. Here are a few symptoms you may notice.

Engine Check Light

Do you find the check engine light on? Well, it comes on when the vehicle sensors have some issues, and as such, it could indicate the presence of the tire pressure sensor fault. There is a myriad of problems that can cause the engine check light to turn on.

So, it would be best to look out for other symptoms for certainty that the tire pressure sensor is the cause. Such action can help you get the right diagnosis and endeavor you fix it without much stress.

Increased Fuel Economy

If any of the car’s tires appear over/under-inflated, you will notice an increased fuel consumption than usual. Why does this occur? Well, improperly inflated tires drag along during the ride.

Thus, it forces the vehicle’s engine to burn more fuel than what it consumes in a normal situation. In essence, this sign may tell you that the tire pressure sensor system has some faults that need some “fixing.”

Uneven Tire Wears

Often, poorly maintained roads cause the car’s tires to wear unevenly and cause some difficulties in driving. So, uneven tire wear may signify a tire pressure sensor fault. This issue happens since the driving conditions and terrains can cause problems for the tires.

The Steering Wheel Jerks

With the tire being “underinflated,” the steering wheel would soon start to jerk from one direction to another. By now, you should know that if the tire’s pressure appears low, the sides of the tire will get softer.

Hence, you may face some challenges keeping the steering wheel straight on the road. Such a problem can even reduce the car’s speed even while the steering wheel keeps shaking on the road. This sign indicates the need to check on the tire pressure sensors and ensure you fix the problem.

Weird Noise from the Wheel

With the uneven wear and the underinflated tire, the flat spot on the tire’s lower part makes a “flop” sound. You are less likely to hear such sounds at first since they seem pretty inaudible.

Nevertheless, as you drive across the highway at great speed, the sound becomes very audible. With such sound, there may be a tire pressure sensor fault. Try to diagnose and fix the problem quickly to prevent further damage.

tire pressure sensor fault reset

How to Identify Which TPMS Sensor is Bad

TPMS sensors are designed to last for several years and withstand harsh conditions; they are still prone to wear and tear over time. If you notice any unusual behavior or warning light from your vehicle’s TPMS system, it’s essential to watch out for bad TPMS.

To identify which TPMS (Tire pressure monitoring system) sensor is bad, start by using a TPMS diagnostic tool or scanner. Connect the tool to the vehicle’s OBD-II port and follow the instructions provided. The scanner will display the error codes related to the TPMS system and indicate which sensor needs attention.

Another method for identifying a bad TPMS sensor is to manually inflate each tire to its recommended psi. Then, use a tire pressure gauge to measure each tire’s pressure. Compare these readings with those displayed on your vehicle’s dashboard. If there is a significant difference in pressure between one tire and others, it could indicate that the corresponding sensor needs replacing.

You can do it using no tool. Inflate the tire to its recommended level and then start releasing the air. Now if you see the car display panel showing a blinking warning, it signifies a faulty tire pressure sensor.

If a diagnostic tool is not readily available, you can also perform a visual inspection of each tire’s valve stem. Look for any physical damage or corrosion on the stem or sensor housing. A damaged or corroded sensor may be causing your TPMS warning light to come on.

How Do You Fix a Tire Pressure Sensor Fault?

A “tire pressure sensor fault fix” seems pretty easy, much more if the cause of the issue is known. Still, a large effort depends on the underlying cause. Hence the need to first learn what would be the cause of such an issue. Nevertheless, here are some common ways of doing so.

Inspecting and Inflating the Car’s Tires

There is a need to check the car’s tires and ensure that they hold the correct pressure for smooth running. You can do this using the tire pressure gauge, which would give you a clue on the need to inflate the tire further.

How do you know the right pressure is needed? You can always check the repair manual, but most cars have theirs on the label behind the driver’s door. If there is a need to inflate the tires, it would be best to get them deflated.

Then, you can now go ahead to inflate them, keeping in mind the recommended PSI that you’ve found. While driving, there is a great chance of the tires losing some air, and as such, it would help if you inflate them a bit more than the recommended pressure, as stated on the label.

Using a Scanner or Button to Reset the TPMS

After the tire inflation process, it seems essential to conduct a tire pressure sensor fault reset to troubleshoot the warning light on your dashboard. You may be required to drive for about 15 minutes for the light to turn off in some cases.

Whereas some other situations may need that you perform and diagnostic reset to fix the issue completely. For some car models, it is pretty easy, as you only have to push a few buttons. Still, some vehicles have complicated reset processes due to their programmed learning system.

For such cars, you may need an OEM OBD2 tool for scanning, as well as a TPMS programming tool. Are you unsure of the type of system that your car has? Well, you can find out from the TPMS section of your vehicle’s manual.

You can also find more details in your vehicle’s manual on how to go about this process. If you feel it is becoming pretty difficult to reset your Ford F250 super-duty tire press, you might need to contact a professional.

Reading and Clearing the Trouble Codes

When you notice the tire pressure sensor fault blinking on the dashboard even after performing the tips mentioned above, it will help if you read the error code. Perhaps something is not right, and the wrong communication is due to a damaged tire pressure sensor.

However, you would need to get your diagnostic scanning tools ready for this process. These tools are the only things that can aid you in reading the codes on the TPMS control module of your vehicle.

Get the Transponders Recalibrated

There is a transponder located on each vehicle’s wheel, and its position tends to change if the wheels rotate. Thus, there is a need for the TPMS to learn about the new location if the wheels get rotated. There may be a tire pressure sensor fault on the F150 dashboard during this period, which doesn’t seem good.

The only best way to avoid such a problem is to recalibrate the transponders after each wheel rotation. It will also help if you try changing the valve stems during this process to make them work effectively.

Battery Disconnection and Reconnection

If the warning light remains visible on the dashboard after fixing the possible cause of the fault signal, you may need to make the vehicle’s computer forget the issue. Since the computer works with the power supplied by the car’s battery, a simple disconnection and reconnection would do the trick.

So, get started by popping open the hood and removing the negative battery terminal. Kindly turn on the vehicle and drain the rest of the power by pressing the horn for a few seconds. After a while, get the battery terminal reconnected. Such action should make everything appear normal.

Replacing a Bad Tire Pressure Sensor

Sometimes, the warning signal that indicates a tire pressure sensor fault may result from a damaged tire pressure sensor. Hence the need for a suitable replacement for the system to function properly.

Tire pressure sensor fault has repair costs that start from $50 and above. This price excludes the cost of labor, and as such, you may want to check with the auto care service station near you. You can find common sensors like Motorcraft TPMS35 TPMS Sen, Denso 5500103 tire press, Motorcraft TPMs42 TPMS Sen, and Schrader 20158 TPMS Sen.

What happens if you Ignore the Tire Pressure Sensor Warning

Ignoring the tire pressure sensor warning can cause a significant impact on your vehicle’s performance and safety. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased fuel efficiency, reduced handling, and increased stopping distances. It may also cause uneven wear on your tires, which can lead to premature replacement.

Another potential consequence of ignoring the tire pressure sensor warning is that it could potentially lead to a blowout or other dangerous driving situations. When driving with low tire pressure, the sidewalls of your tires become more flexed than usual. As a consequence, excessive heat is produced to cause them to burst or fail suddenly at high speeds.

Therefore, you should not ignore the tire pressure sensor warning. Instead, you should take immediate action at the sight of that warning. You should regularly check your tire pressures at least once a month or before long trips. And when inflating them, do it according to the manufacturer’s recommended levels. If you are not confident enough, have them inspected by a qualified technician if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the cost of fixing a tire pressure sensor fault?

Like most parts of the vehicle, the cost of fixing the tire pressure fault varies based on the problem. You may need to diagnose the exact problem and check the cost of any component that needs a replacement.

However, when there is a need to replace the tire pressure sensor, you should budget between $230 to $750 for all tires. There may be some slight increment depending on the exact sensors you want to install in the tires.

Why does the car’s tire pressure light come on when my tires are fine?

The tire pressure light may go on even when the tire doesn’t seem damaged, and it may be due to faulty wiring. During the tire servicing, the mechanic would often access the sensors, and if an inexperienced person tampers with the wiring, there may be a short circuit.

Aside from that, if there is a tire pressure sensor fault with the spare tire that appears fine, you may need to look out for possible signs of the sensors wearing out. If the sensors appear worn, you would need to get a suitable replacement.

How can you tell which tire sensor is bad?

One easy method to check the exact tire sensors that aren’t good is releasing the air from each tire. But you must first ensure that the tires have the correct air pressure, as stated in the car’s manual. Remember that the tire pressure sensor relays the message of an underinflated tire on the dashboard.

If you notice a tire not reflecting the correct information on the dashboard during the deflation, the sensor in that tire seems faulty. So, if there is a tire pressure sensor fault on the Ford Explorer dashboard, you can troubleshoot and tell which sensors have gone bad.

Can you reset TPMS without a tool?

There are helpful means you can reset your car’s TPMS without needing any tools, and one way of doing so is to check the pressure in each tire using the gauge. Then, turn on the engine and push the vehicle’s hazard light button six times. Such action selects the menu option “tire pressure sensors” and “set/clear.”

Then, deflate the tires till you hear a sound; kindly do that for all four tires. Nevertheless, fixing such issues without the tools may seem pretty dangerous and sometimes ineffective. You can get a few tools at an affordable cost to help reset the TPMS.

Can AutoZone inspect TPMS sensors?

AutoZone is one place you can get all the products for your tire pressure monitoring system. Kindly note that regular inspection can help you determine any faults with the tire pressure sensor on time and fix such issues quickly.

You can also notice if the valve is corroding or the wiring seems damaged. So, after checking your vehicle’s TPMS sensor, you can purchase the repair parts from AutoZone. With that, your tires should work better as you drive.

Can I replace a single TPMS sensor?

You can easily replace one of the TPMS sensors of your car’s tire if only that one seems damaged. This option seems cost-effective and easier to handle. Nevertheless, you should try to look out for the extent of the damage to know if there is a need to get the others replaced.

In the case of a dead sensor battery, there is a great chance of the other batteries wearing out soon, and as such, replacing all four sensors would save you from further stress. Such action would ensure that there is no downtime while you drive.

Final Words

A car tire pressure sensor is now a necessity that also helps ensure safe driving. You would notice the “tire pressure sensor fault” on the car’s dashboard with such a device in place. It would appear when the tire pressure appears low or something more serious.

Such a warning message can make you work on the problem faster before it escalates to something more serious. Aside from the low tire pressure, there are a few other reasons why you can notice the warning light on your dashboard. You can also find some common symptoms, and this piece holds excellent tips on fixing such problems.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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