Tire Pressure Monitoring System Indicators

Tire Pressure Monitor SymbolThis is the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) or Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM) warning light symbol. It is also used as Flat Tire Monitor (FTM), which seems redundant. The tell-tale comes on when the inflation on one of the tires is reduced about 25% or more. In most cases, that will be about eight pounds. This is easily the most misunderstood symbol you will ever see on your instrument panel.

So, what’s the story here?


This is a common light in the fall and winter when outdoor temperatures drop, which has the effect reducing the pressure in your tires. This is a bit oversimplified, but cold air takes up less space than warm or hot air. In addition, a single leaking tire will also trigger the light, regardless of season.

If you typically park in a warm garage, the light may show up sporadically after the vehicle has been parked outside for a time, and then returned to a garage. This is a normal response to temperature change, but it would be best to ensure that the tires are properly inflated. Remember that your spare tire may be part of the system and its pressure should also be checked.


The upshot here is this: If your are at high speed, reduce your speed. If the tires do not seem to be visually low, it is likely safe to proceed to the nearest service station. The TPMS system will tell you when a tire is low, yes, but one of them leaking quickly is a greater danger.

Rare Tire Pressure Light w/ArrowsThis version features a two arrows pointing at a ball in the center. It is most commonly found on a reset button on the dash, if one exists. It can, however, show up on the instrument panel of older vehicles and likely means that the system needs to be reset or could mean that a tire is low as well. Regardless, the tire pressures must be checked for the sake of safety.

TPMS Malfunction IndicatorThis light holds the system’s primary acronym, TPMS. It is a Malfunction Indicator only. If your vehicle is equipped with this additional tell tale and it remains lit, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System is not operating and needs to be checked by a qualified repair facility.

If your vehicle has only the picture symbols, they will flash to indicate an actual malfunction.

Finally, it is important to note that the light could be activated by other factors. These include radio interference interrupting the system. This will clear when the signal is left behind. Or a wheel, such as the spare, may have been mounted on the vehicle that is not equipped with the TPMS sender.

To be safe, check your tires.

Check out the video below.

And one checking and filling the tires.

Related posts:

The Single Most Misunderstood Warning Indicator on Your Instrument Panel – Part I

Be Ready for your Car’s Seasonal Tire Pressure Check

Seven Things to Know About Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems


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