by Pat Goss
Low tire pressure is becoming a national epidemic. Some experts estimate that as much as 80 percent of all of the cars riding around on the highways have dangerously low tire pressure in one or more of their tires. That’s bad news, because it is dangerous. So you really need to pay attention to the pressure in your tires, either with an old fashioned gauge, or with some of the more modern things that are on the market.
Here’s one that’s inexpensive, it’s passive, and it does a fairly good job. These are replacement valve stem caps [Tire Minder]. Now they have colored indicators in the tops of them. When the tire pressure is correct, they will be green, just like it is on this tire down here. That’s what you hope for. As the pressure goes down, they turn to yellow, meaning caution, and when it gets dangerously low, they turn to red. You do have to walk around the car periodically and look at them, though. And you have to make sure that they’re kept tight so they don’t leak.
But now, this is such a big problem that the federal government is mandating that in the very near future all new cars will have some type of electronic tire pressure monitoring system, just like the standard equipment on this Corvette. Well, the Corvette uses a sensor that replaces the valve stem. It sends an electronic signal to a module, which displays information about tire pressure in the vehicle’s information center.
All right, but suppose you want to retrofit your car. You can do that. SmarTire was the originator of an after-market kit. They use sensors that get clamped to the wheels like this, and these send a signal to a sensor inside the car, senses the signal and reads out a display about the tire pressure. It’s very effective, it works very well, and it’s moderately inexpensive, especially when you consider the benefits of having the system on your car. So pay attention to tire pressure, folks. It is critical.
If you have a question or comment, write to me. The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.