How did drivers survive the 20th century without the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)?
Firestone sold some defective tires a few years back, and they most likely caused several vehicle rollovers, some of which resulted in death. There were headlines. There were breathless TV reporters. And there were lawmakers who saw this as a calling for more laws. The result was the TREAD Act which mandates TPMS in cars which Bill Clinton signed into law adding yet another reason to remember him.
Apparently there are two types of TPMS. The "direct" type monitors the air pressure with a sensor inside each tire. The "indirect" method monitors each tire rotation speed in relation to the others in the theory that rotation will be slowed in a low tire. Source.
So do they work? Yes, but flat tires have their own very low tech way of getting the driver's attention. And the dashboard alert is redundant in that situation. As for low tires, both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers recommend actual physical tire pressure checks once a month anyway. So what's the point?
The reason for this rant today is that I've had two flats in the past two weeks -- puncture wounds both times -- in a car with the direct version TPMS. Contrast this with my old SUV which has tires with sealant in them. They've had lots of puncture wounds, but not once has a tire containing the sealant gone flat. But here's the problem. Sealant will damage the direct version of TPMS. What a development.
I would like to think that changing a tire is a small price to pay for a life saved. But that's baloney. The problem that caused all of this was a tire manufacturing defect which was found and fixed. The TPMS requirement was an overly complicated government solution to a problem that was easily cured by the marketplace.
It wasn't the first time that has happened. And as long as lawmakers' primary concern is making their marks on history, it will happen again.