If you are driving a recent model vehicle then you could come across a signal that you’ve never seen before. Do you recognize it? You can see the symbol on the left.
This symbol is the low tire pressure signal. It looks funny, but the U shape is suppose to represent a car tire. You’ll have to imagine that the top of the tire is there to complete a full circle. Notice the treads? The exclamation point in the middle emphasizes that you are running low on tire pressure.
An article on the tire pressure symbol states that one out of three drivers don’t recognize it. So you are not alone.
The low pressure tire signal is a requirement on all vehicles manufactured in 2008 or later. It’s a warning signal that notifies you when one or more tires on your vehicle are at least 25% below the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.
Tire pressure is important for safety and other reasons. Most drivers know that it affects your vehicle’s gas mileage. You could lose a mile or two in fuel economy if your tire pressure is too low.
But tire pressure affects other important driving factors as well. A low tire pressure, for instance, makes braking less effective and long-term low pressure could lead to more wear and tear on the brakes. Tire pressure is also important for turning corners. You’ll get better traction if your tires have the correct air pressure. And in inclement weather it could lead to a decline in driving safety, maybe even causing an accident due to less traction in the rain or snow.
Tire pressure can also affect acceleration and driving stability. In 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone found itself to be the center of a controversy surrounding tire pressure, which also led to some lawsuits. As a result, federal legislation was enacted to address tire safety issues and the low tire pressure monitoring system, along with the warning signal pictured above, was enacted.