Tire pressure monitoring: It's useful, not a conspiracy

  • Article by: PAUL BRAND
  • Updated: July 29, 2011 - 4:02 PM

A safety system might be frustrating, but it's mandated.

Q My 2006 Chevy Impala keeps flashing "Service Tire Monitor System." When I push the information button, it shows my right front tire is "flat lined", meaning no air in the tire. The tire is not flat. Ever since then, the same message appears every time I start my car. The service manager reset it but it continues to show up.

Why does this happen when there is nothing wrong with any of the tires? Is the government out to make money on maintaining this? I have checked for recalls on this and find nothing. Do you have any suggestions on how to cure this other than spending the $500 to replace all four monitors? How does a person reset this without going to the service department every time?

A Are you hearing black helicopters hovering over your vehicle? There's no conspiracy, only a mandated safety system to remind often-negligent car owners to keep their vehicle's tires properly inflated and warn them of any sudden loss of tire pressure while driving.

Is there a problem with the tire pressure monitoring system on your vehicle? Check for yourself. Turn the key on, but don't start the engine. Does the low tire pressure warning light come on solidly and stay on? If so, the system is working properly. If the light comes on solid, then goes out after driving awhile, the system is working properly and normal heat buildup is raising tire pressures above the trigger threshold.

If the warning light blinks for 60 seconds and then stays on solid, there's a fault in the system. A scan tool can identify the specific fault code.

There is also a system "relearn" procedure that requires a special tire pressure monitor diagnostic tool that may resolve the issue. If a specific tire pressure sensor has failed, it can individually be replaced.

Q My 2009 Nissan Versa was bought new and has only 13,000 miles on it. Since new, each time I go over a curving gutter while turning, say into my driveway or a shopping center, the front end makes a knocking sound and I can feel the vibration through the steering wheel. I have taken it to the dealer twice and they found nothing. The second time, the mechanic told me not to worry about it because the cars are built cheap and I should have bought a more expensive vehicle. If you could point me in a direction, I'd appreciate it.

A I'll point you to another dealer. Nissan issued a service bulletin for this specific problem. My Alldata automotive database pulled up bulletin FA11-001, reference NTB11-032, in March of this year. The solution is to install special tube-like insulators on the top and bottom coils of each front spring, and replace the strut mount bearings with updated parts. Your new car warranty should cover this update.

As for the mechanic's comment: You're joking, right?

Q BMW says I should use premium gasoline in my 2004 325xi, but I've heard from several sources that the ignition systems in cars will "adjust" to lower octane in regular fuel with no problems. Recently there was a 50-cent-per-gallon difference between regular and premium. That's enough for me to pay attention.

A For the past two decades I've owned vehicles requiring premium octane fuel. Modern engine management systems -- ignition and fuel delivery -- will adjust for lower octane levels to prevent driveability issues or engine damage. In some cases, performance may be compromised a bit.

With that said, for the past two decades I've used middle-octane fuel in these vehicles without problems or performance compromises.

Remember, the basic rule of thumb is to use the lowest octane fuel that the engine will run properly on.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close