Canadian Winter Woes: How Contaminants Cause TPMS Issues and How to Fix Them

Dear Mike,

I was wondering if you could help me with a frustrating issue I’m experiencing with my car. Every time the temperature drops, the TPM S light on my dashboard comes on and stays on until it warms up again. I’m not quite sure what’s causing this problem or how to fix it. Have you ever encountered this issue before? Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to address it?

Thank you for your time and expertise in advance.



Dear Lysander,

Thank you for reaching out to me with your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) issue. I’m sorry to hear that you’re experiencing frustrations with the Canadian winter season affecting your car’s TPMS.

As you’ve correctly identified, this issue is often caused by contaminants, such as salt and de-icer, that find their way between the rim and tire of your car. As the moisture from these contaminants oxidizes the aluminum alloy of your wheel, it creates imperfections and unevenness between the rim and the tire. As the temperature drops, the rubber on the tire shrinks, which can result in a minor gap between the tire and the imperfections on the rim, causing a “rim leak.”

To confirm that this is the issue at hand, you can spray soapy water on your tire and rim. If bubbles form at the rim and tire connection, you’ll now know what the problem is.

The good news is that there is a relatively easy fix to this problem. You’ll need to dismount the tire off the rim, grind down the oxidation using a wire wheel, reseal the rim using a tire sealant, remount the tire, balance the wheel and reinstall it on the vehicle. The typical cost for this type of repair is anywhere between $20 and $40 depending on the size, type, and shop supplies required for your particular model.

But let’s not forget the importance of maintaining proper tire pressure, especially during these harsh Canadian winters. It’s essential to ensure your TPMS is functioning correctly and to keep your tire pressure at the recommended level, as this can impact fuel efficiency, tire life, and your overall safety while driving in snowy conditions.

In addition to the seasonal wear and tear, it’s always essential to keep an eye on your tire pressure regularly. Remember, tire pressure can change with temperature fluctuations, so monitoring it regularly will ensure your car is always running smoothly.

So there you have it, Lysander. A simple solution to a frustrating issue with your car. Don’t let this problem keep you down, and always remember to keep your tires inflated and TPMS functioning correctly. If you have any further questions, feel free to drop me a line.

Until next time, drive safe.


Mike Urban, Founder of Urban Automotive, the top Google rated auto repair shop in Oakville, Ontario.