You should check and properly inflate the tires. You don’t need nitrogen, just air, which is 80% nitrogen. This cold snap is enough to bring tires’ pressures down several PSI, which could trigger a low tire pressure indicator.
fyi, the gov’t requires cars tell the owner if any of the tire’s pressure is low. That’s what that light means. It’s done to improve the car’s mpg and thereby lowering emissions. It’s good for the owner too, more miles for the buck. But it is a little annoying, according to reports we get here. If all the tires show they are already inflated, the problem tire could be the spare, so check that too.
Pick up a dial type pressure gauge. I picked up this one from Sears as a spare, seems to work fine. It’s a good habit to check the tire pressure on a regular basis, regardless of whether the car has a TPMS system or not. Most gas stations have air hoses or you can pick up a small 12v air compressor.
My rule of thumb is that a tire pressure drops ~1 PSI every ten degrees. I had 4 tires installed on my Taurus. The tire shop set the correct tire pressure at 30 PSI in the 70 degree shop. I checked the tires at home and the pressure had dropped to ~27 PSI at 40 degrees.
The original reason for the federal mandate regarding TPMS was that low tire pressure in Ford Explorer tires exacerbated the blowout and poor handling problems of the Firestone tires with which they were equipped. That mandate began with SUVs and later expanded to include cars as well.
While proper inflation does indeed improve gas mileage slightly, and might potentially reduce emissions, those benefits were not the intention of the legislation that resulted in TPMS on modern vehicles.
I suspect that the service adviser gave a price estimate for repair but told her that no harm to vehicle if not repaired and to just monitor tire pressure the old fashioned way. Replacing the monitors at a BMW will be expensive.
honda TPMS reset is not automatic. you find out which tire is low and add air. than you go into menu and reset the system. on a low level civic the system does not say which tire is low. only that “A” tire is low. you figure it out. maybe on a fancy accord ex the system may tell you which is low?
On top of that, you need to drive something like 40-60 miles before it completes the process. When you’re using wheel speed to determine pressure variation, it takes a lot of averaging to get a new baseline…
If you’re driving with the wrong tire pressure, you might have less traction than you should, you might wear your tires out earlier than normal, and you might even have a blowout. Yes, you should address this issue.
It was actually an end result of the Ford Explorer problem of the vehicles too readily flipping over. People were dying. Lawsuits ensued. Ford claimed it was Firestone’s fault for telling them to run the tires low to compensate for handling problems. Firestone said it was Ford that decided to run the tires low despite Firestone warnings against doing so. Lawsuits were filed, Investigations ensued. The press had a field day.
I don’t recall the end results of the suits between Ford and Firestone, but the feds ultimately recognized that low tire pressure was a safety concern. New rollover testing was developed and statutory mandates were passed requiring all vehicles sold in the U.S. to have systems that notified the driver of low tire pressure on any tire.
It’s interesting that the US gov’t sees it primarily as a safety issue, but European and Asian agencies are seeing it as a way to reduce CO2 emissions. From Wikipedia
European Union (EU) and Far East legislators are looking at TPMS as a way of reducing CO2 emissions, and are presently (as at January 2009) considering compulsory tire pressure monitoring systems from this environmental stance. Starting in November 2014 (ECE-R 64 EU Directive), all new models of passenger cars must be equipped, in E.U., with a TPMS.
This is the slightly more modern version of the Accu-Gage tire pressure gauge that I have been using for the past 30 years or so. (Mine doesn’t have brass-plated trim…) However, I can’t guarantee that the new ones are built to the same standards as the one that I bought so many years ago.