Can Low Tire Pressure Cause the Check Engine Light ON?

It’s always a little nerve-wracking when the check engine light pops up in your car. It’s like your car’s way of saying, “Hey, something’s not quite right.” One common question that comes up is whether low tire pressure could be the reason for the check engine light coming on. In this guide, we’ll take a look at this question and help you understand how tire pressure and the check engine light are connected.

The check engine light is part of your vehicle’s onboard diagnostics system (OBD-II). This system monitors various components and systems in your car, including the engine, transmission, and emissions control system. When the OBD-II system detects a problem, it triggers the check engine light on your dashboard. The light can either be steady or blinking, with a steady light indicating a less severe issue and a blinking light signaling a more serious problem that requires immediate attention.

Low Tire Pressure

Modern vehicles are equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), which are designed to alert drivers when tire pressure is too low. TPMS works by using sensors either inside the tires or attached to the wheel to measure the pressure. If the pressure drops below a certain threshold, the TPMS warning light will illuminate on your dashboard.

Can Low Tire Pressure Trigger the Check Engine Light?

While the TPMS warning light is specifically designed to alert you to low tire pressure, the check engine light is generally not directly triggered by tire pressure issues.

However, there are some indirect ways in which low tire pressure can contribute to conditions that might cause the check engine light to come on.

Impact on Vehicle Performance

Low tire pressure can affect your vehicle’s overall performance. Underinflated tires create more rolling resistance, which means your engine has to work harder to move the vehicle. This increased workload can lead to higher fuel consumption and potentially cause the engine to run inefficiently. Over time, this inefficiency might trigger the check engine light if the OBD-II system detects that the engine is not performing optimally.

Influence on Emissions

Your vehicle’s emissions control system is designed to reduce harmful emissions and ensure the engine runs cleanly. If low tire pressure causes the engine to work harder and run inefficiently, it could affect the emissions. The OBD-II system constantly monitors emissions and will trigger the check engine light if it detects a problem. Therefore, while low tire pressure itself might not directly cause the check engine light to come on, the resulting impact on engine performance and emissions could.

Stress on the Engine

Driving with low tire pressure can put additional stress on your vehicle’s engine and other components. This added stress can lead to overheating, increased wear and tear, and potential failure of engine parts. If any of these issues are detected by the OBD-II system, the check engine light may come on to alert you to the problem.

Steps to Take if Your Check Engine Light Comes On

If your check engine light comes on, it’s essential to address the issue promptly. Here’s a step-by-step approach to take:

Step 1: Check Your Tire Pressure

Since low tire pressure can indirectly contribute to check engine light issues, the first step is to check your tire pressure. Use a tire pressure gauge to measure the pressure in each tire and compare it to the manufacturer’s recommended levels, which can usually be found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door.

Step 2: Inspect the TPMS Warning Light

If the TPMS warning light is also on, it confirms that there is a tire pressure issue. Inflate your tires to the correct pressure and see if both the TPMS warning light and the check engine light turn off after driving for a short period.

Step 3: Use an OBD-II Scanner

If inflating your tires does not resolve the check engine light issue, use an OBD-II scanner to read the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) stored on your vehicle’s computer. These codes will help identify the specific issue causing the check engine light to come on.

Step 4: Address the Root Cause

Based on the DTCs retrieved, address the underlying problem. This might involve fixing an engine issue, repairing emissions components, or resolving other mechanical problems.

Preventing Check Engine Light Issues

Maintaining your vehicle properly can help prevent issues that trigger the check engine light. Here are some tips to keep your car in good condition:

Regular maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your vehicle running smoothly. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule for oil changes, filter replacements, and other routine maintenance tasks.

Monitor Tire Pressure

Regularly check your tire pressure and keep your tires inflated to the recommended levels. This not only helps prevent TPMS and check engine light issues but also improves fuel efficiency and tire longevity.

Pay Attention to Warning Lights

Do not ignore the warning lights on your dashboard. If the TPMS or check engine light comes on, address the issue promptly to avoid more significant problems down the road.

Just a friendly reminder to make sure your tires are properly inflated. Although low tire pressure doesn’t directly cause the check engine light to come on, it can lead to conditions that might trigger the light. Keeping your tires properly inflated can help maintain your vehicle’s performance and emissions, potentially preventing the check engine light from coming on.

If your check engine light does come on, don’t worry! Just follow the steps outlined in this guide to figure out what’s going on. Remember, regular maintenance and paying attention to warning lights will keep your car running smoothly and help you avoid costly repairs. By staying informed and proactive, you can make sure your vehicle remains in top condition.