Most of the cars we take in from customers have the Tire Pressure Monitoring System ( ! ) light on the dash. We notice that most people get used to seeing it and ignore the light. There are multiple causes for a TPMS light to be on, but it is a light that should not be ignored. New York City is infamous its potholes and torn pavement with roads that can be damaged for months before being repaired. Driving on these types of roads are known to damage suspension components, but they also tend to damage your tires and wheels which will set your TPMS light on your dashboard.
Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems were government mandated starting 2008 to warn drivers that their tires were low on air pressure. The ( ! ) symbol would come on the dashboard when your BMW has a tire that is low on air pressure, but the light will also turn on when a sensor has failed. There is a sensor inside each tire that reads and reports air pressure data using unique radio frequencies and because of their complexity they can fail often. This causes dash boards across BMW and other brands to be perpetually illuminated with the tire pressure warning light, which drivers then tend to ignore.
Problems arose when people actually had low air pressure in their tires and would drive on nearly flat tires causing all sorts of issues. The tires on your BMW also protect the rim serving as a cushion against pot holes and cracks on the road. With low air pressure your rim can easily bend or crack when the entire weight of your BMW lands on a corner of your rim against broken pavement. In that same scenario the rim hitting that pothole can also cause it to cut into the internal steel belt of the tire causing it to lose structural support and need replacement as well.
As BMW is well known for making cars with handling prowess over the years they have designed cars with rims that come in larger diameters and tires with smaller sidewalls. This has made keeping proper air pressure in each tire more important than ever before as on modern BMW models with sport tires are near impossible to tell when they are low on air due to the sidewall being smaller. BMW designed their newer cars with smaller sidewalls to allow their cars to corner better, but with bad roads in Queens and the New York Metro area low air pressure leads to bents rims and damaged tires.
To prevent unexpected repairs once at least once a week go around your BMW and visually inspect your tires. Look out for tires that look low on air pressure. Once a month go around to each tire and measure the air pressure. If any tire is low then add air. And simplest of all, don’t ignore the low tire pressure warning light on your dashboard.