Thousands of British motorists are failing to maintain essential road safety systems on their vehicles and thereby endangering themselves and other road users around them. Data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, reveals nearly 20,000 cars failed their MoT due to faulty or defective Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) between April 2014 and March 2015. The fitment of TPMS became mandatory on all new passenger vehicles on 1st January 2015 and is designed to help drivers ensure their tyre pressures are correct while driving.
TyreSafe, the UK’s not-for-profit tyre safety organisation, is urging all drivers to regularly check their TPMS is fully functional to reduce risks of tyre-related incidents on the roads.
TPMS provides drivers with information on their tyre pressures while the vehicle is being driven. It does this by either using individual sensors mounted to the valve inside the tyre, sending data wirelessly to the control unit, or by calculating the pressure using the ABS system. However, either system can fail.
Regular checks and servicing will help ensure your TPMS system continues is operating properly. If the TPMS sensor does need replacing, it should never be replaced with a ‘standard’ valve — you’re not only increasing your risks on the road but your vehicle is also likely to fail its MOT.
If the TPMS system isn’t working properly, drivers may be unaware they are losing air pressure in their tyres, which will increase the risk of a tyre-related incident. If a vehicle’s tyres are below the recommended pressure, they are more vulnerable to damage, negatively affect how the vehicle brakes and corners, and increase tyre wear and fuel consumption.
Stuart Jackson, Chairman of TyreSafe, said: “Ensuring tyre pressures are correct is a cornerstone of road safety. TPMS is a potentially life-saving technology which helps the driver monitor those pressures when they need it most — out on the road. As with all safety systems, drivers need to check their TPMS is fully-functioning regularly, not only to pass the MoT but to help reduce the risks of a tyre-related incident whenever they drive.”
While no study has been carried out on TPMS effectiveness in the UK, in the USA the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) research revealed: “TPMS was estimated to result in a statistically significant 55.6 percent reduction in the likelihood that a vehicle will have one or more severely underinflated tyres, also a 30.7 percent reduction in the likelihood of severe over inflation.” TPMS became mandatory for all new vehicles in the USA on September 1, 2007.
TPMS technology is widely-recognised as providing essential safety information for drivers on the move, but it is not a replacement for manual checks. Drivers should refer to their vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressures in the handbook, door shut or in the fuel-filler cap and test them at least once a month or before any long journey using an accurate pressure gauge when the tyres are cold. At the same time, the tyre should be given a thorough visual inspection as well as ensuring the tread is not excessively or unevenly worn.