Leslie E. Lovre, Technical Assistant ::::
Ten years after its full implementation, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) in passenger vehicles and light trucks require a federally-mandated review of efficacy at achieving its stated goals. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 138 defines the performance standards for the system that alerts drivers when a tire reaches dangerously low pressures. In practice, most vehicles employ pressure sensors installed within each tire that transmits pressure signals to an on-board computer which, in turn, controls an in-dash warning lamp. To many of us, this lamp has become a trusted indicator of the need to add air and, in some cases, seek tire service. But during a required efficacy review in 2011, the NHTSA discovered that as vehicles age, they were substantially less effective in preventing severe under-inflation than when they were new. Initial theories suggest a relationship between performance and maintenance. NHTSA is ramping up efforts to investigate by seeking data from the general public regarding attitudes and practices relating to these systems.
Proper tire inflation is important to safe vehicle handling and control characteristics, as well as increased tire life and fuel economy. The current NHTSA evaluation will seek to ensure that the initial objectives set forth in Tire Pressure Monitoring System requirements remain effective throughout a vehicle’s life.
Leslie E. Lovre is a Technical Assistant at DJS Associates and can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.