Low tire pressure warning light

Above: the low tire pressure warning light means one or more tires has unusually low tire pressure and needs attention

The light you’re most likely to see on your dash on your modern Toyota or Lexus is the low tire light, as seen above.  There are many causes of a low tire light, not all of them requiring repair, and most that do any auto mechanic can take care of.  But first, what does the light mean?

A solid low tire light indicates a tire on your Toyota or Lexus is below a predetermined pressure threshold.  The causes of this vary from a decrease in outside temperature (cold air contracts, losing pressure) to debris stuck in the tread causing a leak, to a leak between the wheel and tire itself like in this previous post.  It is important to check all of your tire pressures when the low tire light comes on – driving with an under-inflated tire increases the risk of a blowout and loss of control.  Some vehicles have sensors in their spare tire as well – don’t forget to check!

A blinking low tire light indicates a malfunction with the tire pressure monitoring system itself.  This could be several things and requires additional diagnose before any part of the Lexus or Toyota undergoes repair.

Owner should note that there are two types of tire pressure monitoring systems used on Toyota and Lexus vehicles – direct and indirect monitoring.  Direct monitoring has sensors installed in the wheel and tire assembly as part of the valve stem, broadcasting tire pressure and temperature information periodically.  Indirect systems use the anti-lock brake system to measure the relative speed of the wheel against each other and against a benchmark – any wheel that rotates marginally faster (and hence has a smaller diameter) is likely to be low on air, and will set the light on.

Low Tire Reset Button

So you’ve checked all your tires and didn’t find any leaks, but the light is still on.  Now what?  Resetting the system’s baseline readings might be in order.  You’ll find the button somewhere in the driver’s footwell.  For direct-type systems (look for metal valve stems) you’ll need to push and hold the button for 3 seconds until the low tire light flashes three times.  For indirect system you’ll need to do this twice – once resets the system (turns off the light), the second resets the baseline wheel diameter and prepares the ABS module to relearn the size of the tires over the next few miles.

Confused?  CARspec offers free low tire checks.  Stop in to our Eden Prairie shop and let us figure what’s causing the light to come on for you!