Underinflated tires? 42% of drivers don't recognize warning light

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.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that tire failure causes about 11,000 crashes a year. Underinflated tires or worn-down treads are the major causes of failure, the agency said. Underinflation also leads to poor fuel economy, sluggish handling, longer stopping distances and increased tire wear.

Schrader estimates that underinflated tires waste 3.5-million gallons of gasoline daily.


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