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Time for TPMS

We all know how important a good set of tyres is for safe motoring.  Correct tyre pressures go a long way towards keeping the tyres firmly and safely in contact with the road.  Keeping your car tyres at the correct tyre pressure is going to give the maximum opportunity for the tyres to perform at their best – which is what they were designed to do.  The ability of a car to maintain grip is closely connected to its inflation pressure.  European laws are going to tighten up in the area of keeping tyre pressures in their optimum range.  It’s good because it sends the message out there that the ‘powers that be’ want to keep Europe’s roads as safe as possible.  Not sure what’s going to happen over here, though.  But what’s good for Europe is usually good for over here, at least when safety’s the issue.

A new EU ruling is about to be passed this year that will mean new car models must be fitted with tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMSs).  TPMSs have, actually, been systems that have been used for many years by various car manufacturers.  Porsche was the first to use a TPMS in a production passenger car.  They used a TPMS in their Porsche 959 in 1986.  It is no real surprise to see that Renault have employed TPMSs over the years.  In 1996, Renault used a type of TPMS in their Scenic model, called the Michelin PAX system.  Peugeot’s 607, in 1999, used a TPMS, as well.  Renault, in their Laguna II (year 2000), was the first mid-size passenger vehicle to be equipped with a TPMS as standard.

So why all the fuss?  Is a TPMS just another set of lights to keep an eye on when you’re driving.  Can you ignore them at all?  The short answer is: NO.

Seriously underinflated tyres run the risk of becoming so hot that they can burst.  Seen all those burst tyre remnants along the road in the hotter bits of the country?  Possibly, underinflation was the cause (other reasons exist, but we won’t get into them here) Underinflated tyres take longer to stop in a braking situation, and you can guess the results of that.  Also, under hard cornering, the integrityof the underinflated tyre wall becomes softer and less rigid, meaning that the tread pattern loses its optimum contact with the road.

From another perspective, driving with seriously underinflated tyres will negatively affect the fuel efficiency of your car, as well as how your tyre wears over time.  So it is true: check your tyre pressures regularly, and you’ll save on fuel costs, the tyres will last longer and you’ll be enhancing your safety and the safety of other motorists around you.

How do TPMSs work?  A standard TPMS uses radio frequency technology to transmit pressure data and other information to the vehicle’s ECU.

Kwik Fit surveys (Kwik Fit is based in the UK) suggest that 68% of cars on European roads have underinflated tyres.  With these sort of results, the new EU law should be very helpful in making Europe’s roads a lot safer.  However, on the lighter side, the same survey found that not everyone with a TPMS in their car knows what the warning light means.  Some thought it meant the coolant was overheating (34% of those surveyed), while others thought it was warning them about a cattle-stop grid on the road ahead.

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