How To Check Which Tire Sensor Is Bad

Learning how to check which tire sensor is bad is crucial for every vehicle owner, as it helps ensure road safety and proper maintenance of your car. The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) plays an important role in monitoring the air pressure in your tires, which contributes to better fuel efficiency, longer tire life, and safer driving. In this article, you will learn how to determine which tire sensor is faulty and the steps to troubleshoot this critical component of your vehicle’s safety system.

Important Outline

To properly diagnose a faulty tire sensor, you need to understand the key points of discussion:

1. Purpose of Tire Pressure Sensors
2. Different Types of TPMS
3. Common Symptoms of a Bad Tire Sensor
4. Methods to Identify the Faulty Tire Sensor
5. Recommendations for Tire Sensor Maintenance

1. Purpose of Tire Pressure Sensors

Tire pressure sensors are small electronic devices installed in each tire that communicate the tire’s pressure to the car’s onboard computer. These readings are displayed on the dashboard, and if there is a significant drop in tire pressure or functioning of the sensor, the TPMS warning light will illuminate.

2. Different Types of TPMS

There are two main types of tire pressure monitoring systems:

– Direct TPMS: These systems use radio frequency technology to communicate pressure readings directly from the tire sensor to the onboard computer. If the tire pressure is outside the recommended range or if there is a sensor malfunction, the TPMS warning light will be triggered.
– Indirect TPMS: These systems rely on the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system (ABS) to monitor tire pressure. Indirect TPMS assesses variations in tire rotational speed caused by changes in tire pressure, but it cannot provide precise pressure readings.

3. Common Symptoms of a Bad Tire Sensor

Watch out for these signs that one of your tire sensors may be malfunctioning:

– TPMS warning light stays on or flashes intermittently
– Inaccurate or inconsistent tire pressure readings
– Tire pressure warning light comes on after a tire has been replaced or serviced
– Difficulty resetting the TPMS light

4. Methods to Identify the Faulty Tire Sensor

Follow these steps to identify the problematic tire sensor:

– Visually inspect each tire sensor for damage or corrosion.
– Use a digital tire pressure gauge to check the pressure of each tire and compare it with the readings shown on your dashboard.
– Reset the TPMS light by following the instructions in your vehicle owner’s manual. If the light comes back on after resetting, there is likely a faulty sensor.
– If you have access to a TPMS scan tool, connect it to your vehicle’s OBD-II port to get specific diagnostic information about your TPMS system. The scan tool will indicate if any tire sensors are not sending signals or if there are other TPMS-related issues.

5. Recommendations for Tire Sensor Maintenance

To prolong the life of your tire sensors and prevent malfunctions, consider the following tips:

– Maintain proper tire pressure according to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
– Regularly inspect tire sensors for signs of damage or corrosion.
– Replace the batteries in the sensors as needed.
– If a tire sensor needs replacement due to damage or battery failure, replace all sensors at the same time for consistent performance.

By understanding the purpose and function of tire sensors and how to diagnose issues, you can effectively maintain your vehicle’s TPMS system and ensure safe driving. Regularly inspect your tire sensors and keep your tire pressure at optimal levels to enjoy longer tire life, better fuel efficiency, and a safer drive.

Step by Step Guide

This section provides a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to identify and troubleshoot faulty tire sensors:

1. Park your vehicle on a level surface and turn off the engine.
2. Reference your vehicle owner’s manual for information on the recommended tire pressure for your specific make and model.
3. Use a digital tire pressure gauge to measure the pressure of each tire, noting down the readings.
4. Compare the pressure readings from the gauge with the recommended pressure levels. Ensure that all tires have the correct pressure.
5. Inspect each tire sensor for damage or corrosion. If you notice any damage, consider getting the sensor replaced.
6. If the TPMS warning light is on, attempt to reset it by following your vehicle owner’s manual’s instructions.
7. If the warning light comes back on after resetting, it is likely that one or more of your tire sensors is faulty.
8. Using a TPMS scan tool, connect it to the vehicle’s OBD-II port to get detailed diagnostic information on the sensor or any other TPMS-related issues.
9. Identify the specific tire sensor that is faulty or malfunctioning according to the scan tool, and plan to replace it accordingly.
10. Consult a professional mechanic if you are unsure or uncomfortable performing any part of this process, as they can help ensure correct diagnosing and replacement of faulty tire sensors.

Step by Step Guide With Bullet Points

– Park the vehicle on a level surface
– Reference the vehicle owner’s manual for recommended tire pressure
– Measure each tire’s pressure with a digital tire pressure gauge
– Compare readings with recommended pressure levels
– Inspect tire sensors for damage or corrosion
– Attempt to reset the TPMS warning light, if necessary
– Use a TPMS scan tool for more detailed diagnostic information
– Identify faulty tire sensor(s) and plan replacement accordingly
– Consult a professional mechanic, if needed

Pros and Cons

Pros of troubleshooting tire sensors:
– Improved safety through proper tire pressure monitoring
– Enhanced fuel efficiency
– Prolonged tire life
– Early identification and prevention of potential tire-related issues

Cons of troubleshooting tire sensors:
– May require the purchase of specialized tools (TPMS scan tool)
– Possibility of misdiagnosis if not performed correctly
– Time-consuming process for novices


Q: How do I know if my TPMS warning light is indicating a tire pressure issue or a faulty sensor?

A: A constant TPMS warning light typically indicates a tire pressure problem, whereas a flashing TPMS light might suggest a sensor issue. In both cases, a proper inspection and diagnosis is needed to ensure accurate troubleshooting and resolution.

Q: Can I replace just one faulty tire sensor or do I need to replace all the sensors at the same time?

A: While it is possible to replace only the faulty sensor, it’s typically recommended to replace all the sensors at the same time for consistent performance and to limit the likelihood of future issues.

Q: Does a broken tire pressure sensor affect the overall TPMS system?

A: Yes, a faulty tire sensor can impact the overall TPMS system performance, rendering it unreliable and potentially unsafe. It’s crucial to address any sensor-related issues promptly.


Identifying and troubleshooting a faulty tire sensor is essential for maintaining road safety and proper vehicle maintenance. By following the detailed step-by-step guide provided in this article, you can effectively diagnose and resolve issues related to your vehicle’s tire sensors. It’s important to remember that consulting a professional mechanic is always a wise decision when dealing with complex automotive systems, helping to ensure accurate diagnosis and resolution of any issues. With regular inspections and proper tire pressure monitoring, you can enjoy a safer and more fuel-efficient driving experience.

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