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TPMS alerts drivers when their tyres are deflating or are at a dangerously low pressure – which can lead to poor vehicle handling, increased stopping distances, aquaplaning and premature tyre wear. All new car models sold in Europe since November 2014 must have TPMS but the systems are underperforming in real world conditions. Furthermore, it’s not legally required to be fitted to vans and trucks although the Commission recently proposed to extend the requirements to all new cars, vans, buses and trucks on the road to have TPMS systems and improve the testing methodology.
Florent Grelier, clean vehicles engineer at T&E, said: "TPMS has been shown to improve safety for drivers and it can also help save fuel. It’s a no brainer to have these systems on all cars yet there are millions of road users that buy vehicles without TPMS. The General Safety Regulation is a unique opportunity to change this and make TPMS mandatory for all new vehicles".
There are two main types of TPMS, direct and indirect systems. In the field survey performed, both the direct and indirect TPMS do not work to their full potential in real-life conditions and could perform better if they’d be optimised for real world driving, the study found. Indirect TPMS was found to be between 27% and 40% less reliable than direct systems, less than previously expected. Around 330,000 new cars sold in Europe last year have imperfect TPMS technology that put drivers’ safety at risk.
T&E said the EU should fully transpose the latest UNECE (1) regulation on TPMS into law as it requires the systems to work "over a wide range of road and environmental conditions" – instead of in the test procedure only. Furthermore, EU law should ensure that TPMS works throughout the lifetime of the vehicle and on replacement tyres.
Florent Grelier concluded: "What matters for safety is not what happens in a test lab but what happens on the road. The UNECE has made improvements to TPMS testing to make it perform better in real-world driving conditions. The new General Safety Regulation should make sure TPMS systems are tested in the real-world and are effective for replacement tyres".
The study, by Dekra for T&E, surveyed about 1,000 randomly selected cars in Italy and Portugal.
(1) UNECE stands for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. This UN regional commission develops regulations for motor vehicles on safety and emissions for instance that can be transposed, partly or entirely, into the EU law.