Car makers and suppliers worldwide have spent billions and billions of dollars since the late 1990s to develop and implement effective tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).
Despite all those efforts and bucks, four out of 10 drivers in the U.S. don't have a clue what that little yellow warning symbol on the dashboard means.
That's right. According to the results of a survey conducted recently by TPMS developer Schrader International Inc., 42 percent of drivers in North America can't identify the TPMS warning symboland of those who do know what it is, 17 percent of them admit to having ignored a warning and kept on driving.
Why is that of interest to you?
It points out another opportunity for tire dealerships and automotive service shops to engage more closely with their customers. Tire pressure monitoring systems provide two essential benefits to driverssafety and economythat are fundamental talking points for tire/auto service store personnel.
On the safety front, vehicles with tires underinflated by 25 percent or more are three times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident where tire issues play a role, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
On economic terms, studies show drivers could improve their fuel economy by 3.3 percent simply by keeping tires properly inflated.
Schrader's study reveals that 94 percent of drivers believe TPMS is an important safety feature, and 79 percent indicate it could have an important environmental impactso at least some of them are getting the message.
As a result of the study, Schrader said it has developed and is working to implement creative point-of-sale materialsdisplays, posters, videos and handouts plus online contentat automotive aftermarket establishments.
At Schrader, we're committed to make a difference in driver safety, Hugh Charvat, Schrader's president and CEO, said upon release of the survey results.
This begins with consumer education around how to recognize and what to do in a low tire-pressure situation, he said.
Schrader points out there are an estimated 104 million vehicles in use in the U.S. equipped with TPMS and that by 2023 more than nine out of 10 vehicles will have the technology.
Among the resources Schrader has developed is the website www.tpmsmadesimple.com, which offers consumers and professionals alike considerable information and advice on TPMS.
Dealers and service shops should take advantage of the educational materials available to help bring their customers to some level of understanding about TPMS.