You’re due for your annual vehicle inspection, but the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) warning light is glowing bright or blinking on the car dashboard. Now you wonder, will the car pass inspection with that bothersome light on? Knowing what triggers it and whether it factors into the inspection helps avoid failing unnecessarily.
Understanding how inspectors view TPMS warnings provides guidance on addressing it pre-inspection. Let’s explore how TPMS sets off dash lights, its relation to passing inspections, and steps to clear the light legally.
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What Triggers the Tire Pressure Light on Your Dash?
Inside each tire rim is a tire pressure monitoring sensor. It transmits real-time pressure readings to a receiver on your car.
Most systems light up the dashboard warning lamp when pressure in any tire drops 25% below the vehicle’s recommended inflation level.
So if your model calls for 35 PSI, you’ll likely see the light around 26 PSI or lower. Some vehicles display individual tire pressure figures if equipped with more advanced TPMS.
This early indicator encourages drivers to address lower inflation before it degrades handling, fuel economy, and tire lifespan.
Will TPMS Cause an Inspection Failure?
The inspection process focuses on checking that key safety, emissions and mechanical systems meet regulations. In most jurisdictions, TPMS itself is not an inspection failure point.
Having the low pressure warning light glowing alone won’t lead to a rejection sticker in these areas.
However, some stations may conduct a more thorough visual inspection of the tires if TPMS alerts them to a potential issue.
How Improper Tire Pressure Can Trigger an Inspection Failure
If tires are visibly under-inflated upon inspection, the vehicle may still fail for these reasons:
- Tread depth – Low pressure causes more rapid tread wear. Worn tires may not meet minimums.
- Tire damage – Under-inflation leads to excessive sidewall flexing and puncture likelihood.
- Tire mismatch – Need for single replacement from pressure-related damage can cause non-compliant mixed tire sizes.
- Vehicle handling – Critically low pressure impacts ability to balance and control the vehicle.
So while TPMS alone won’t cause a failure, it may prompt scrutiny revealing related issues that do warrant rejection.
How to Clear the Tire Pressure Light Before Inspection
If your dash light is on, but tires seem visibly ok, you may want to reset the light prior to inspection just to avoid any questions. Here’s how to clear it properly:
- Use a tire gauge to check all pressures and inflate any under-filled tires to the door placard spec.
- Drive for several minutes above 25 mph to allow sensors to update pressures.
- Use the TPMS reset procedure in the owner’s manual to clear the light.
- Retest by driving until the light goes out and stays off.
The light should extinguish and stay off now that all tires are properly inflated. This prevents any inspection hassles.
Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure and TPMS Function
The best practice is keeping all tires inflated correctly throughout their use:
- Check pressures monthly including the spare.
- Use an accurate tire gauge for best results.
- Inflate when cold to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.
- Evaluate tire condition with regular inspections to watch for damage.
- Perform TPMS sensor battery replacement around 5-7 years per factory maintenance schedule.
With TPMS doing its job to monitor inflation, and you diligently maintaining proper pressures, the warning lamp should never be an inspection concern.
While illuminated low tire pressure warnings may attract some extra inspection scrutiny, they won’t alone cause a failure in most jurisdictions. But taken as a cue, they may reveal genuinely unsafe tire conditions that do warrant rejection.
The proper solution is maintaining inflation diligently, inspecting tires routinely, and resetting the TPMS light pre-inspection if needed. With pressures optimized, your vehicle inspection should cruise smoothly past the tire checks.