TPMS – What does it stand for, and how is it saving lives?
TPMS stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System and has become compulsory in many vehicles since the year 2000 due to stricter legislation around vehicle safety systems, particularly in the wake of fatal accidents involving significantly underinflated tires.
The benefits of TPMS have been recognized by most car and truck makers with most vehicles manufactured since 2007 equipped with TPMS as standard equipment. Its universally-recognized alert icon now appears on thousands of dashboards around the world, giving drivers an easy way to know if and when tires are not properly inflated.
Why is it important, and how can fleet owners take advantage of this technology to improve overall fleet safety and fuel economy?
Government concern advances adoption of TPMS
After some well-publicized accidents involving underinflated tires, the government agency NHTSA (which stands for the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration) get involved and prescribe new requirements for vehicle manufacturers in the TREAD Act.
The TREAD Act (which stands for Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability and Documentation) spelled out new specifications for vehicles under 10,000 lbs (excluding motorcycles and light-duty trucks with dual wheels on an axle), requiring that any accidents involving defective vehicle parts is reported to the NHTSA.
TPMS became a requirement for vehicle manufacturers to implement on all production vehicles that fitted the criteria from September 1, 2007. The TPMS must be set to alert the driver in situations where any tire is below 25% recommended pressure (as labeled on the vehicle’s placard – normally located in the driver’s door sill).
The responsibility is then on the driver to attend to the issue, or in the case of a safety manager overseeing a fleet (using alerts from their fleet management system), to attend to the issue, normally by adding air to the tire (some trucks have intelligent TPMS systems that reinflate taking air from a tractor-trailer’s air system).
Benefits for fleet and vehicle owners
The government’s reason for pushing the adoption of TPMS was purely a safety issue. The road accident data pointed to significantly underinflated tires as being a critical factor in traffic fatalities. By alerting drivers to a tire that is underinflated a dangerous situation could be avoided and a life saved.
But there are more than just safety benefits for fleets and vehicle owners who take advantage of the TPMS feature. It could also save money spent on fuel and tire maintenance.
Properly inflated tires offer drivers a range of benefits including:
- Better fuel economy
- Improved (more even) tire wear
- Less chance of blowouts
- Better handling
Cost savings in fuel alone can be significant. For every one PSI under than the recommended pressure (across all tires) fuel economy is reduced by 0.3%. Maintaining correct tire pressure can save up to 3% on fuel, representing a $160 saving per year for each vehicle (based on a van traveling 35,000 miles a year with an average economy of 20MPG, and diesel at $3 per gallon).
For more information on using tire pressure monitoring systems, Schrader have put together a TPMS information site that explains in more detail how these monitoring systems work and benefit vehicle owners.
If you’d like to know more about using a TPMS to monitor your fleet, see how Telogis Fleet can help you to manage maintenance alerts.