Most drivers know that underinflated tires are a safety hazard. But many don't recognize the dashboard warning light that signals a problem with a tire.
A national survey by Schrader International, considered the inventor of the pneumatic tire valve used on cars today, found that 42% of drivers can't accurately identify the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) dashboard warning symbol.
The symbol, a yellow or red outline of a tire surrounding an exclamation point, alerts drivers to flats or a loss of pressure in one or more tires. It has been standard on vehicles sold in the U.S. since the 2008 model year.
Schrader estimates that more than 104-million vehicles in the U.S. are now equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system.
But the warning symbol continues to be a mystery to drivers. Back in 2008, a similar survey found that 46% of drivers didn't recognize the warning light.
Schrader has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the symbol and get drivers to take action when the warning light goes on. About 10% of drivers admit to having intentionally ignored a TPMS warning, the company said.
That's a problem.
Schrader estimates that underinflated tires waste 3.5-million gallons of gasoline daily.