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Dec 9, 2021 - 7 minute read

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Why is My Tire Pressure Light Blinking, and What Should I Do?

Properly inflated car tires


If you drive a post-2008 vehicle, you most likely have the safety feature known as Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) installed. A few older vehicles also use it. TPMS refers to an electronic system that monitors the air pressure in tires. If the system identifies a problem, it activates a warning light on the dashboard to keep you informed.

If the tires are over-or under-inflated, you see a steady TPMS light on the dashboard. However, in some cases, you notice the light blinking. In either case, you need to find out why the TPMS has activated the warning light. Tire pressure blinking can alert you about more things than a steady warning light, and that’s why we want to pay more attention to it today.

Why is My Tire Pressure Light Blinking on the Dashboard?

If the tire pressure only blinks for under 60 seconds when you start the journey, you likely have nothing to worry about at this point. This is common with many vehicles. However, if the light flashes when you are driving or for more than 60 seconds when starting, you need to find out the underlying reason urgently.

Here are the two major issues that cause TPMS to blink:

Low tire pressure

As we already mentioned, the pressure light is designed to illuminate steadily when one or more of the tires are under-inflated. However, in particular instances, this may not be the case due to fluctuating temperatures. When temperatures decrease and increase, the air inside your tires contracts and expands, causing the light to turn on and off.

When hot weather causes the air to expand, TPMS senses that the tire is adequately inflated and stops issuing the warning. It does the opposite when the air contracts due to cold weather.

TPMS Issues

Other than low air pressure, your TPMS' sensor battery could be expiring. Remember, the battery is part of the sensor, so the entire system loses value when it is faulty. Other related issues that can cause your tire pressure light to keep blinking are:

  • Damaged or missing sensor
  • Faulty TPMS module.
  • The wrong type of sensor was installed

Damaged sensors can fail to initialize. This means they can fail to change the detection thresholds whenever they remove the tire or adjust the pressure level. Whenever this happens, it indicates false tire pressure problems.

What Should I Do When My Tire Pressure is Blinking?

When you notice the blinking light, pull your car out of the traffic in the nearest secure place and then do the following:

Check whether your tires are under-inflated

Since there are other potential causes, use a tire pressure gauge to determine whether you need to increase the pressure. Best if you compare the results with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Remember, if you drive for a long distance when your TPMS is flashing due to low tire pressure, the following could happen:

  • Premature damage of the tires due to tear and wear
  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Poor traction
  • Tire blowouts

Most of these issues can lead to accidents, indicating that driving with the tire pressure light flashing could cost you more than a tire or the vehicle.

Gas station

Gas station

How long can I drive with under-inflated tires?

With the dangers in mind, we understand that there is no standard distance you can cover safely. However, since the warning light can start blinking when you are in the middle of the road, you may have to cover some distance before stopping. If you face this challenge, do this:

  • Drive at the lowest speed towards the nearest safe location
  • Be sure you turn on the hazard light as you do this

Remember, flat tires pose more risks than under-inflated tires. If you discover that you have a pressure light, but your tire is OK, consider whether there is a slow leak.

Assess the Efficiency of Your Tire Pressure Monitoring System

If you have the needed skills, check whether the battery or sensor is dead. How do you know whether the sensor is the cause of the problem? Many people don’t know how to use the fog warning light. You can assess your TPMS efficiency if you sense danger by doing these following:

Replacing car tire

Replacing car tire

Use a flat tire: If you still receive an under-inflated warning, even when you properly inflate or over-inflate it for testing purposes, you have a bad TPMS sensor.

If you find out the sensor or its battery is faulty, consider doing this.

  • Replace the sensor: Experts believe it is best to replace the entire sensor. This way, you solve almost all the common TPMS-related issues at once.

  • Reset the pressure light: This applies if the sensor’s hardware and the battery are in good working condition. The problem is caused by software-related issues that can be solved by resetting the entire system.

Reset Tire Pressure Lights

There are several useful ways of resetting TPMs. Use one that best suits your car model, mostly if the standard ones don’t work. Here are the common ones:

Drive at a speed of at least 50 mph: Drive at this speed for at least 10 minutes. This should cause your tire pressure sensor to reset when you turn your car on the next time.

Hold the TPMS reset button:

  1. Turn on the key without starting the car.
  2. Hold the tire pressure reset button till the light blinks three times.
  3. Restart the vehicle and then allow the sensor 20 minutes to refresh.

You can find the TPMS reset button beneath the steering wheel. Otherwise, you can check your owner’s manual for its location.

Inflate your tires to move more than 3 PSI over the normal amount and then deflate: Since your spare tire may have a sensor as well, ensure you include it. After deflating the tires completely, re-inflate them to the required tire pressure level.

Disconnect positive battery cable: Ensure the car is off and then honk the horn for approximately 3 seconds. This way, you will be able to discharge all the power stored in the battery. As always, if you have any questions, consult the owner’s manual. You can also call the manufacturer for help.

Should I See a Mechanic?

This is optional if you fully understand why the TPMS light is flashing, your pressure sensor’s location, and how to replace the sensor or reset the tire pressure. Remember, you also need to have adequate time to troubleshoot and fix the problem.

If you are like many drivers that lack these technical skills and time, see mechanics whenever you encounter these problems. However, it would be best if you only did so after establishing that you require an expert’s help. You can solve many of these problems alone.

Nonetheless, remember that whether you do this work alone or not, it should not replace routine tire pressure maintenance.

How Common is Tire Pressure Light Blinking Problem?

Tire pressure light blinking is a relatively common problem. The pressure can fluctuate at any time due to the changing weather patterns. A slow puncture can also cause this. Moreover, your TPMS can fail to work as a result of tear and wear and other factors.

However, you can reduce the frequency of the problem through routine tire pressure maintenance.

Wrap Up

Whenever you see the blinking TPMS light, stop and find out the cause. If you are traveling, you can go to a gas station immediately for a tire pressure check. If you do this, you’ll realize that the warning light is meant to make your journey safe.

You should also play your part by keeping away from road hazards such as potholes, correctly maintaining your tires and car, and keeping the battery charged.