How To Turn Off The Tire Pressure Light

How To Turn Off The Tire Pressure Light

There’s never a good time for a flat tire. In the past, you’d only find out a tire was low or flat if you saw it or heard it. With the technology in vehicles today, tire pressure monitoring systems are more common, giving you the heads-up that a tire is low on pressure. But once that light is on, can you figure out how to reset tire pressure light indicators?

A tire pressure monitoring system, usually called a TPMS system or TPMS, can be a godsend if you can’t afford to replace unexpectedly shredded tires. And while not all systems are easy to service, there are a few common methods for how to reset TPMS lights. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a tire pressure monitoring system?

A TPMS system involves sensors that detect tire pressure and a module that receives the data communicated by those sensors. If the tire pressure in a tire drops below a certain threshold, the module lights up the sensor on your dashboard.

There are two types of TPMS systems. An indirect TPMS system uses the anti-lock brake sensors at each wheel to roughly estimate if a tire has too little pressure. An underinflated tire operates as if it has a smaller diameter, so it’ll need to rotate more than the other tires over a set distance.

A direct TPMS system has a sensor in each wheel attached to the valve stem. This battery-operated sensor reads pressure inside the tire and sends a signal over a radio frequency paired with the TPMS module. If the tire pressure is under or over a predetermined threshold, it triggers the TPMS light to come on.

For some direct systems, you’ll see a tire pressure for each tire individually and be able to identify the wheel causing the sensor to come on. For others, you’ll only know there’s an issue if the light comes on, but for how to clear TPMS lights on these systems, you’ll need to check each tire individually with a gauge.

Why is my tire pressure light on?

Your tire pressure light will come on for a handful of reasons:

  • The tire pressure in one or more tires is too low. In all likelihood, you have a puncture, bead leak or valve stem leak.
  • The tire pressure in all tires is too low. As warm weather gives way to winter, the tire pressures could all contract evenly, causing the light.
  • The tire pressure in one or more tires is too high. It could be a seasonal transition or too much air added to a tire.
  • The TPMS system can’t detect one or more sensors. Sometimes it’s because you swapped from summer to winter wheels, or it could be a bad battery in a sensor, a newly installed sensor or a problem with the module.

A steadily illuminated TPMS light active any time your ignition is on will almost certainly be a pressure issue alone. But if your TPMS light is flashing at startup for about a minute before staying on solid, that indicates a communication issue between the sensors and the module.

How to reset the tire pressure light

So, you want to know how to reset tire pressure sensor warnings. Some solutions are simple, like checking the tire pressure with a gauge and adjusting pressures. Adjust the pressure for all four tires on your vehicle, and don’t neglect the spare tire. It could have a TPMS sensor, too, especially if it’s a full-size spare.

Remember to adjust to the cold tire pressure specified on the sticker affixed to the driver’s door pillar, not the maximum pressure on the tire. If it’s simply a matter of low tire pressure because of seasonal changes, or even if it’s a slow leak, adding air could be how to clear the TPMS lights.

If that’s not the fix, there are other things to try.

Press and hold the TPMS button

Certain vehicles are equipped with a TPMS button, but definitely not all. If you’re fortunate enough to have one, it’s usually located under the dash by the steering wheel. With the ignition in the on position, press and hold the button for at least three seconds, after which the TPMS light will start blinking. Then, you’ll need to drive the car for about 20 minutes for the sensors to recalibrate.

Drive at 50 mph for at least 10 minutes

In many cars, the TPMS light will stay on after you’ve adjusted the pressure. The sensors might be asleep, and you’ll need to drive for them to begin communicating with the module. Take your car out on the interstate for a 10-minute drive or so to get them awake and talking to each other.

Replace a bad sensor or battery

With TPMS sensors, the small battery cell could run out of energy after roughly five to 10 years of use. Some batteries can be replaced; others require a new sensor. It usually involves removing the tire from the rim and changing the sensor on the valve stem. Once you swap in the new sensor or battery, try the processes above to get it trained again.

Install your factory wheels

If you installed a set of aftermarket wheels for summer, winter or just a change of style, they might not be equipped with sensors at all. You have two choices for how to get the tire pressure light off: Install a set of four sensors or put your factory wheels back on. Unfortunately, there’s no way to deactivate TPMS systems completely.

Perform a TPMS sensor retrain procedure

If your car doesn’t have a TPMS button, that doesn’t mean you don’t have access to a TPMS reset or retraining process. Sometimes it’s just hidden in the menus.

For some carmakers such as Honda, the process could be in the in-dash menu as a TPMS calibration. For others, such as Ford, you might need to press the hazard switch six times, then adjust the tire pressure at each tire. A great option is to search YouTube for how to turn off the tire pressure light with your vehicle’s year, make and model.

Disconnect and reconnect the battery

If you’re at your wit’s end with it and all else has failed, you can try to disconnect the battery. When you remove the negative battery cable and give your vehicle time to lose its residual charge, it can often force your car’s modules to do a reset of sorts. When you reconnect the battery cable, the hope is that your module will search for and connect with the TPMS sensors.

And finally, if nothing has worked, you might need to bite the bullet and bring your vehicle to the dealership or tire shop. They have the computerized equipment to retrain your tire sensors the “right” way, albeit at a cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when the TPMS light is flashing?

A flashing TPMS light indicates a problem with the TPMS system, not necessarily a tire pressure issue. It could be a faulty TPMS sensor, a problem with the onboard computer or one or more sensors need to be retrained.

Is it safe to drive with the tire pressure light on?

Driving with the TPMS light on isn’t inherently dangerous. However, you should only proceed once you check your tire pressure and confirm you don’t have a tire with low or high pressure.

How much does it cost to have TPMS reset?

If your TPMS system doesn’t need a physical repair and only requires a reset, expect an average cost of $35 to $44. Some dealerships and tire shops may offer the process free of charge.

About Bumper

At Bumper, we are on a mission to bring vehicle history reports and ownership up to speed with modern times. A vehicle is one of the most expensive purchases you'll likely make, and you deserve to have access to the same tools and information the pros use to make the right decisions.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.