2009 Dodge Ram 1500: Yet Another Roadside Stranding Prevented by TPMS
April 02, 2010
It was cold, it was dark, it was 5:35 in the morning. I was running about 15 minutes behind scheduleand I was in a hurry to get onto the freeway before traffic started to build.
And then this happened: the TPMS warning light on our 2009 Dodge Ram's dashwinked on along with a "Low Tire Pressure" message on the display as Iwarmed the truck'sengine.
I grabbed my trusty tire gaugeto see which one it was, first glancing at the door jamb to confirm the recommended tire pressure, which turned out to be 35 psi. Three out of four were bang-on that mark, but the right front was down to 26 psi.
I heard no hissing and the nearest gas station was only two miles away, so off I went. After all,the Ramhad been parked all night andthe tirewas nowhere close to flat. Sure, I could have fired up my garage compressor, but in the pre-dawn light my neighbors would not have been amused.
At the gas station, I added air, overfilling the tire somewhat to 38 psito give me a buffer in case some leaked out on the 50-mile drive to work. If the pressure did come down and the light came on again, I reasoned, I could always stop once more, refill, and hopscotch my way to the office.
That turned out to be unnecessary. I made it in one go and the TPMS light did not come back on. Once in our garage, I measured the tire pressure again: 38 psi. No change. Try as I might, I couldn't see a nail or any other reason forthe low tire. We decided to monitor the right front for awhile before taking it in for repair.
Today, one day later, Josh has the truck. As of an hour ago, it's still at 38 psi.It must be a very slow leak, indeed. Maybe some crudwason the valve seal and it got blown out when I put the gauge on. Maybe there is a very tiny brad or staple hiding where we can't see it. We'll keep aneye on it.
Whateverthe root cause of the air loss, TPMS hasyet-again warned us well beforeprolonged low-pressure driving due to an unnoticedslow leak could turn into a roadside flat or blowout. Since the systems became mandatory a couple of years ago, we've had over a dozen such warnings on various cars in our long-term fleet that were easily handled with low-stress flat tire repairs at a tire shop, at our convenience.
Unlessthe test carhit something really big and developed a very fast leak or a sidewall tear, no one has had to call AAA, no one has had to break out the jackand spare.
I'm a big fan of TPMS. It's one of the best new NHTSA safety regulations to come along in a long time.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 25,185 miles