That black piece of ducktape you stuck over the blinking (!) TPMS light on your dash isn’t fooling anybody. It’s also not safe to be clueless about your tire pressures, and if you bought a passenger car after September of 2007, you have a tire pressure monitor system enforced on manufacturers by Federal law.
So, before you do reset your tire pressure monitoring system, I recommend you read this educated guide to avoid any curveballs that might come your way. We’ve created this step-by-step guide for your success:
What You Need To Know About How To Reset Tire Pressure Lights
Is there a TPMS reset button? On some cars like Toyota Camry, yes. Other cars might require that you arrow through the steering wheel/dash settings to the TPMS section in the vehicle’s user interface (like the schedule service reminder), and some vehicles might even require connecting a diagnostic scanner to fix the problem.
Why the flashing tire pressure light?
Many people complain about the constant flashing light when they don’t want to spend money on a new TPMS sensor. This is understandable because it’s a ~hundred bucks that didn’t have to be spent.
Some Nissan cars, for example, are annoying as hell to drive around with a TPMS fault because the light never stops blinking—on other cars, it will stop flashing and simply stay illuminated on the dash.
The main reason for the blinking is to keep you safe. Your car wants you to know about the loss of tire pressure immediately because tire blowouts are dangerous. They’re also annoying. If you’re driving a Jeep or a truck and you lose a tire, you’d better have both hands on the wheel.
Driver safety is a much bigger deal to the actual car companies (and the government) than it used to be.
Even if the tire has a slow leak, it’s good to be notified so you can make it to the tire shop/repair it before it goes completely flat.
How long for the tire pressure light to reset?
It depends on the car. Typically, if you manually reset the TPMS light, it will go off immediately.
If you correct the tire pressures without performing any type of reset, chances are the TPMS light will go off in the next few miles of driving. Sometimes the light stays on until the driver or tech hits the right combination of buttons for reset. You’d be surprised at the different trim levels’ technology variance.
Why won’t my tire pressure light reset?
You’ve filled your tires with the recommended amount of air (I use nitrogen), pressed the tire pressure monitor reset button, and still no dice?
You might need a new tire pressure sensor. Or even worse, you’ve bought a car with aftermarket tires, and the vehicle’s owner neglected to tell you that he didn’t install the tire pressure sensors.
Random problems do happen in car electrical systems, so it could also be another problem. Sometimes rats chew through the cables, sometimes cars get fully submerged underwater, and sometimes even software updates mess things up.
Supplies You’ll Need For Resetting Tire Pressure Lights
If you’re not a DIY kind of person, just take your problems to your local auto shop or dealership for a quick fix. The stealership doesn’t charge most of the time for simple tire inflation repairs as long as there’s no puncture or other issues.
For all of you motivated folks, here’s some fun stuff to buy for staying on top of your tires!
Tire pressure gauge
Smart drivers always keep a tire pressure gauge in their glovebox. These are so inexpensive at auto parts shops/Amazon that there’s no excuse for not having one.
Buy an air compressor, hose, and tire chuck if you don’t already have them. They’ll help you stay on top of your tire maintenance and save you unnecessary trips to the stealership.
Socket set with extensions
If I were you, I’d keep a socket set on hand with some extensions to help you unplug the negative battery terminal if you ever need to reset your car’s computer.
Diagnostic scanners also come in handy when resetting tire pressures, oil-change reminders, check engine lights, etc.
You’re going to need those nimble fingers for inflating/deflating the tires and navigating through your car’s TPMS settings.
Tire valve stem tool
Sometimes the tire is losing air simply because its valve stem is slightly unscrewed. Never a bad idea to go around and firm up each Schrader valve stem to make sure they’re not causing tire loss issues.
If you’re trying to identify an air leak, spraying the tire down with a solution of water mixed with dish soap (or any other soap) is a great way to get a visual indicator.
Emergency tire repair kit
I always recommend for drivers carry an emergency tire repair kit in the car with them at all times.
There are plenty of different tire repair kits you can buy off of Amazon, and my favorite ones are complete with a cigarette lighter-powered air compressor that reinflates your tires after you’ve plugged up the hole.
Owner’s manual/Internet search
If you don’t have an owner’s manual, check online how to reset the TPMS light for your car.
Each car model has specific procedures for resetting the tire light, but if you keep these five steps below in mind when solving the problem, you’ll be able to reset the tire pressure system on virtually any car/vehicle.
You’ll see thousands of Youtube videos like these of DIYers teaching people how to reset the tire pressure light on their specific car:
How To Reset Tire Pressure Lights (5-Step Guide)
- Set all tire pressures to the PSI spec
- Reset the light specifically to vehicle make/model
- Verify constant air pressure
- Replace TPMS sensor/Repair tire (if necessary)
- Reset the light again
Step 1: Set all tire pressures to the PSI spec
The driver’s side door panel (the part that nobody wipes down when washing the car) contains the PSI recommendations for your specific car. Some cars have different numbers for front and back tires.
Set your vehicle’s tire pressures the best way you know how. If you have an air compressor, use it along with a tire pressure gauge. You could also go to a gas station or your local dealership.
Don’t forget to set your tire pressures to exact spec. Over-inflated tires eventually have uneven treadwear in the middle of the tire and cause dangerous handling situations while under-inflated tires drastically wear down faster on the inner and outer parts of the tread.
Step 2: Reset the light specifically to vehicle make/model
Each car has a different set of instructions for resetting the TPMS system. Sometimes there’s a physical button for tire pressure reset, and sometimes you’ve got to hit a combination of buttons on the steering wheel or dash.
Technicians can also reset tire pressure monitors by connecting the car with an OBDII scanner and using the device to communicate with the computer.
Another way to reset your car’s tire pressure light is by unplugging the negative battery terminal for a minute or so to reset the entire system.
I’ve seen guides where they tell you to disconnect the positive battery cable, and that’s a big no-no!! Always disconnect the negative cable first from the battery to avoid catastrophic damage to your ECU. At Mercedes, we always disconnect the negative first—just sayin’.
Step 3: Verify constant air pressure
Drive the car around the block a few times to see if the warning light stays off.
If it comes back on, check the tire pressures to make sure you aren’t losing any air. You can do this by spraying the tire and wheel down with soapy water (I would safely remove the wheel first).
If the tire pressures are on point, the next step is to scan the car with an OBDII scanner to look for faults in the system.
Step 4: Replace TPMS sensor/Repair tire (if necessary)
In the saddest of cases, you’ll need to replace the TMPS sensor itself or possibly repair/replace the tire.
You might even hear the tire pressure sensor completely broken off and making a ruckus inside the wheel when you drive at slower speeds. At any rate, if you’re a responsible car owner, you’ll spend the extra cash to have the issue taken care of.
Car owners who come to grips with the fact that owning one is expensive usually stay safer by keeping every single little problem under control at all times.
Step 5: Reset the light again
Now that you’re positive that you’ve set recommended tire pressures and all the tires are staying inflated, reset the light and drive it around the block again.
If there’s still a fault and all the TPMS sensors are new and installed and tire pressures set to spec, well then you may have a more complex problem with your car’s onboard computer. The car could need a software update, there could be a fried pin/wire connection issue, etc.
Other Valuable Resources on How To Reset Tire Pressure Light
Car technology just keeps getting better and better. Did you know that scientists are even developing treadwear sensors that measure the exact treadwear on each tire and display it on the dash? That’s freakin awesome.
Low tire pressure? Taking it to your local service center isn’t a bad idea. Sometimes it’s not worth the lost time to be fussing with things like your car. Let the technicians handle it.