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      10-30-2012, 11:37 AM   #1
morrisryanc
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Hurricane Sandy Affects Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

Wife just called me from the road in our week-old '13 X3 M-Sport. She said all four TPMS (tire pressure monitor sensors) had gone off and the graphic warning was showing 4 tires in yellow. I knew it would be almost impossible for all tires to be low like that at the same time...so I turned to the forums.

My hunch was that since the tires are filled with air, they would be susceptible to pressure losses/gains as a result the drastic temperature change (it's been in the 60s (Fahrenheit) the last several days, but then Hurricane Sandy came and it dropped 25-degrees. Also, the barometric pressure went nuts as a result of the Class-1 hell-raiser.

I found a post from a 3-Series thread that was several years old and it stated that drastic temperature changes or massive changes in barometric pressure can affect the amount of pressure your tires keep. Phew.

The tires of our 1-Series are filled with nitrogen instead of air. I haven't driven it today, but I'm betting the TPMS doesn't go off, as nitrogen isn't affected by temp/pressure changes like regular old air.

Do you live in the area affected by the hurricane? Did you experience an "all four tires are low" warning this morning? Sound off!
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      10-30-2012, 12:21 PM   #2
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Had the same issue this moring with my X3 and 1er, I broke out my contikit and equalized all the pressures and reset the TPMS.
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      10-30-2012, 12:34 PM   #3
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I experienced this on our first 'cold' night of the season. The temps had dropped down to a brisk 52. I started the car and all 4 wheels had low pressure. I pumped each tire up and reset the TPMS and it has been fine since. I always keep a close eye on tire pressure, so this will keep me on my toes!
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      10-30-2012, 10:46 PM   #4
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Very roughly:
+/- 10 degrees F = +/- 1 psi
+/- 2500 ft elevation = +/- 1 psi
Tires lose about 1 psi month
Air is about 78% nitrogen
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      10-31-2012, 01:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morrisryanc View Post
The tires of our 1-Series are filled with nitrogen instead of air. I haven't driven it today, but I'm betting the TPMS doesn't go off, as nitrogen isn't affected by temp/pressure changes like regular old air.
Nitrogen or not, it is still a gas, thus the ideal gas law still applies. Although has slightly better characteristics than air, but the keyword is SLIGHTLY, and as such, any and all nitrogen filling is a ripoff, IMHO. I usually fill my tires with a healthy mixture of mostly nitrogen (78%), some oxygen for a good measure (about 21%) and some other gases (argon, helium etc.) for a great taste!
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      10-31-2012, 05:52 PM   #6
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Dandanio is correct - air or nitrogen would have no noticable difference in response to changing temperature.

96_Impreza's approximation of 10 degree F temperature change = 1 psi pressure change is pretty good. So a 25 degree drop in temperature could drop your tire pressure 2.5 psi. This is likely the cause of the sudden alarm on 4 tires. The tires were probably already toward the low end of acceptable and the temperature change moved them low enough to alarm.

I would need to know more about how the TPMS works to comment on the affect of a hurricane (low atmospheric pressure) would be on the TPMS reading. But a normal pressure gauge actually measures the difference between the inside tire pressure versus atmospheric pressure. A drop in atmospheric pressure from a hurricane moving through would show a INCREASE in tire pressure. The pressure inside stays the same but the gauge reading would go up since the reference atmospheric pressure went down. Plus the most impact on pressure you would likely see is about 1 psi difference one way or the other unless you are checking your tires as a Cat 3 storm passes over you. I've been in a Cat 3 storm and I was NOT worrying about my tire pressure! Sandy, while a large storm with a huge impact on people, was only a Cat 1 storm.

All of this assumes the tires don't change in volume too much with changing temperature and atmospheric pressure. I have no data on that!
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      11-01-2012, 08:07 PM   #7
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Funny - I live in western Massachusetts and although we had high winds and some rain, we did not really get slammed.

Still TPMS went off show all 4 tires in yellow. Tires were 30 in front and 34 in rear with none showing any flat signs.

I will go to gas station and fill them up and see whats up.

Weird.
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      11-01-2012, 10:27 PM   #8
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Remember, it's not whether or not the tire pressures are within spec, it's whether or not the tire pressures are in the range that the TPMS considers normal since it was last reset. As temperatures fall at this time of year more people will see TPMS errors, especially those who have not been diligent about checking and correcting the air pressure of their tires over the last few months.

Sadly, at least in the US, when TPMS detects a problem it shows all four tires, not just the problem tire. (This may be changeable with coding. Perhaps April1 will comment on that.)
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      11-01-2012, 10:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 02420X3 View Post
....Sadly, at least in the US, when TPMS detects a problem it shows all four tires, not just the problem tire. (This may be changeable with coding. Perhaps April1 will comment on that.)
..
Our '07 Chevy's TPMS displays digital psi for each tire but our '11 X3 35i displays four yellow or green tire icons.
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      11-01-2012, 11:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 02420X3 View Post
Remember, it's not whether or not the tire pressures are within spec, it's whether or not the tire pressures are in the range that the TPMS considers normal since it was last reset. As temperatures fall at this time of year more people will see TPMS errors, especially those who have not been diligent about checking and correcting the air pressure of their tires over the last few months.

Sadly, at least in the US, when TPMS detects a problem it shows all four tires, not just the problem tire. (This may be changeable with coding. Perhaps April1 will comment on that.)
It's not correct, I had a problem with one tire and it pointed out the right one. Also through coding, you can always monitor the pressures of all tires before proceeding on for a long drive.
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      11-02-2012, 07:29 AM   #11
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Its is the change in atmospheric pressure that is causing the problem. The centre of the storm is a very low pressure - 930mB normal pressure is around 980mB - this would cause the differential pressure between the tyres and atmosphere to change.
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      11-02-2012, 08:37 AM   #12
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My tires were filled correctly to 32 front/38 rear and my TPMS was reset. I checked them the other day and they were all down 2lbs air. I didn't get any warnings. What is the amount of air loss that will set off the warning? Do you get a message displayed on the instrument screen that warns of air pressure loss or do I need to go into vehicle status to see if I have low air?
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      11-02-2012, 08:49 AM   #13
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You get first a message on instrument console followed with a yellow triangle as a warning status.
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      11-02-2012, 02:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by April1 View Post
You get first a message on instrument console followed with a yellow triangle as a warning status.
Thanks. but how much air pressure loss will it take to set off the warning?
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      11-02-2012, 02:34 PM   #15
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Wow. Weird coincidence. My wife called me this morning and all 4 tire pressure sensors also alerted her of low pressure. We're nowhere near the east coast. We're in the Bay Area. I checked all four and sent her on her way.
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