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MOT woes for drivers with faulty TPMS

Kwik Fit | Thursday 23rd June 2016 11:05am

Flat tyre with TPMS warning

TPMS, otherwise known as a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, is undoubtedly one of the biggest innovations in tyre safety in recent years. Well, we say in recent years, the technology itself has been around for several decades now with the Porsche 959 being the first passenger car to adopt TPMS in 1986. It’s only in the last few years that car manufacturers have included TPMS features in a growing number of car models and since 2014, all new cars manufactured in Europe are fitted with TPMS as standard.

However, TPMS sensors have also caused drivers a major headache, particularly when the time comes for their annual MOT.

TPMS checks were added to the MOT test checklist in January 2015 and it is now an instant MOT fail if the TPMS dashboard light is displayed for a fault or a problem with the TPMS valves is discovered. Many motorists don’t realise this which has led to thousands of new MOT failures that could have been easily avoided.

The tyre safety charity TyreSafe reckon that as many as 20,000 MOTs have been failed so far due to a faulty TPMS warning light being displayed on the dashboard and is holding drivers accountable for failing to carry out regular simple checks to ensure their tyres are roadworthy and their TPMS is fully functioning. 

What is TPMS?

Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems feature a special tyre pressure sensor in each tyre valve that is linked to the vehicle’s on-board computer. The sensors constantly monitor for pressure irregularities in the tyres and if a loss of pressure is detected, the driver is alerted via a dashboard warning light so that appropriate action can be taken. Your tyre pressure only needs to drop by around 6 PSI below the recommended tyre pressure for the light to illuminate. It is believed that TPMS has helped to save many lives and avoid countless traffic accidents by alerting drivers to tyre problems when they need it most – while out on the road travelling at speed. 

Common TPMS Problems

One of the most common TPMS sensor issues is battery failure. Each TPMS sensor is fitted with an internal battery which is designed to last 100,000 miles. The more miles you travel, the quicker the battery will deplete, but on average a sensor battery should last 5 to 7 years. In most sensor variants, the battery is sealed into the sensor casing and cannot be replaced so a replacement sensor should be fitted.

Another problem is that while the sensor itself is seated safely inside the tyre, the valve stem is a bit of a weak link. The stem protrudes from the tyre and rim and is open to the elements and has to deal with everything the road can throw at it. Salt used to grit roads is particularly damaging and the metal sensor stems can become corroded over time and break very easily. If the valve stem is damaged the whole sensor will need to be replaced.

Not a problem with the sensor per se but the TPMS warning light will come on if your tyre pressure is low (that’s what it’s there for after all). Make sure you check your tyre pressure regularly and top up with air if the TPMS indicates a loss of pressure. Doing so will make your tyres last longer and properly inflated tyres will wear more evenly.

TPMS sensors should last for many years; but benefit from regular servicing to ensure they continue to work correctly and prevent and avoidable MOT fail. At Kwik Fit we believe in preventative maintenance and your TPMS sensors should be serviced every time the tyre bead is broken.

If you have questions about your vehicle’s TPMS or you require a new TPMS sensor, pop into your local Kwik Fit centre and we’ll be happy to help. Our technicians are fully trained to service your TPMS and we provide a cost-effective sensor replacement for the fraction of the price of a dealership replacement.


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