Like any vehicle, the Jeep Wrangler can have issues with its TPMS. However, it can be especially prone to them if you’ve switched to off-road tires or frequently air down to hit the trail. While there’s not always an easy, quick solution to figuring out your TPMS problem, this guide will help you troubleshoot what’s wrong.
What Is a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)?
A TPMS uses sensors to monitor the air pressure in a vehicle’s tires and alerts the driver if it’s too low. If the PSI (pounds per square inch) measurement of a tire indicates low air pressure, a signal is sent from the sensor to the car’s computer. A warning light on the dashboard indicates when the tire pressure level drops.
TPMS implementation has been required for all new vehicles in the U.S. since September 2007. The technology was available as far back as the ‘80s though. The Jeep Wrangler began using TPMS once it was mandated, beginning with the 2008 model year.
What’s the Correct PSI for a Jeep Wrangler?
The usual cold temperature pressure for the Wrangler JK is 37 PSI and the Wrangler JL is 35 PSI (though this will vary slightly by trim). Check your door or door jamb to find the manufacturer-recommended tire pressure level for your Jeep. If you’ll be off-roading, it’s a good idea to deflate them to around half of their usual pressure.
What Does the TPMS Have to Do with Off-Roading?
Off-roaders, and even Jeep, recommend airing down your tires before going off-road. You’ll typically want to take them down to 15-20 PSI for most terrain.
Even though this is the proper procedure, it will generally set off the TPMS light. Most will simply ignore the minor annoyance of the warning light until they increase the tire pressure again. But a custom tuner, like SuperChips TrailDash2 for JK or FlashPaq5 for JL, can be used to monitor tire pressure and adjust the threshold of the warning. Some even give you the option to completely turn off your TPMS warning, but you may have to sign a digital waiver to get this feature.
The TPMS light can also be an issue for those who have purchased aftermarket tires but haven't properly reprogrammed the TPMS sensors. This is something that will usually be done at a dealership or tire shop.
TPMS sensors are included with many off-road tire packages, so you shouldn’t have to buy them separately. A customizable Wrangler wheel and tire package will even let you pick the exact TPMS sensor you want.
Replacing the sensor manually is a hassle unless you have a well-stocked garage. You’ll need to fully air down the tire and use a tire remover to get it off the wheel. By getting TPMS sensors included with your new tires, you’ll be ready to hit the trail right away.
Jeep Wrangler TPMS Problems
There are several common reasons why the TPMS system might not be working properly. Check each of these issues to see if it’s affecting your Jeep. If not, you may have to “reset” the TPMS system.
Interference with the Sensor’s Radio Waves
The TPMS sensors are attached to the valve stem inside each tire. Since they use radio waves to communicate with the car’s computer, they can have their signal disrupted or jammed by certain things. These include:
- Tinted windows
- Tire chains
- Snow, ice, etc
The Sensor Is Damaged or There’s a System Issue
A steady tire pressure light means that your tires are low. However, if the light flashes for about a minute before staying on, that means there’s an issue with the TPMS itself, not the tires. The sensor is likely damaged, but there could also be a software issue with the computer. This will require reprogramming, which should be done at a dealership or tire shop.
The Sensor’s Battery Is Dead
Since the sensor battery is embedded in the sensor, it can’t be replaced. Unfortunately, this means you’ll need to replace the entire TPMS sensor.
You’re Using an OEM TPMS Sensor with Aftermarket Tires
Using OEM TPMS sensors on aftermarket tires is another reason the system may not have an accurate reading. If your new tires didn’t come with sensors, you can put your original factory ones in there. However, you’ll need to reprogram them.
What Can You Do to Check If Your TPMS Is Working Properly?
Even if you already have properly-inflated tires, your TPMS warning light can still turn on. Hopefully, it’s simply a matter of cold weather tricking the sensor. When filling up warm tires, the pressure should be increased by 4 PSI (at most) beyond the tire’s recommended pressure in order to turn the TPMS light off. Cold weather can cause the TPMS to alert due to air being denser in colder temperatures.
If you’ve manually checked each tire (including the spare) with a pressure gauge, you’ve done your due diligence. If the TPMS light is still on, it may need to be “reminded” that the tires are good to go. To do that, you’ll need to reset the TPMS.
How to Do a Jeep Wrangler TPMS Reset
Sometimes, the TPMS light is stubborn and won’t turn off when it’s supposed to. Let’s assume you’ve done your due diligence and have confirmed your tires are all at the proper air level. At this point, you’ll want to figure out why the sensor is still triggering.
Unfortunately, there’s no TPMS reset button on the Wrangler to make this issue go away. The TPMS light will remain on until the issue is “solved.” See if you can “remind” the sensor that the PSI is actually at the proper level. There are several steps to try and do this.
Inflate, Deflate, Then Reinflate Tires
Inflate every tire (including the spare) to around 3 PSI over the proper pressure value. Then, deflate them to a bit below the correct pressure. Finally, reinflate to the correct pressure.
Drive for 20 Minutes
Driving for 20 minutes above 15 mph should also get the light to turn off. If your tires are at the correct PSI, this should get them warm enough for the system to reflect the reinflation.
Check with TPMS Programmer
If all else fails, a TPMS programmer might be needed. This means a sensor has gone bad and needs to be reprogrammed. Your local dealer or mechanic is the best place to go. It’s likely not worth buying your own.
Replace TPMS Sensor
If the TPMS programmer does not solve the issue, it’s likely the sensor itself needs to be replaced. Some TPMS programmers will even tell you so. Replacing the sensor is a bit of a pain to do in your own garage, and the individual sensor is about $100 for an OEM unit. Fortunately, aftermarket TPMS units that work just as well can be bought for less than half that.
Keeping Your Tires at the Proper Inflation Level
Remember that the TPMS sensors aren’t a substitute for proper tire maintenance. It’s your responsibility to keep your tires at a safe inflation level. While you’re checking them, ensure that the tread is also looking good. This is critical for safety.
Tires are responsible for taking everything the road throws at them, including high speeds, corners, and braking. No matter what you drive, make checking your tires a part of your routine auto maintenance.
Sources: Jeep | Modern Tire Dealer