Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


A mix of issues

From reader inquiries and industry news, a mix of driving topics has come to mind.

TPMS strikes again

Reader T.M. wonders, “Is it against the law to mount tires without an operating t.p.m.s system?”

The topic of TPMS was a lively one when I wrote of it last fall. To answer his question, yes, it is officially forbidden (for commercial auto shops) to mount tires/wheels on a TPMS-equipped vehicle without installing TPMS sensors on the replacement wheels. That includes all vehicles built after late 2007 when the system became standard equipment, and earlier models with the option.

I have not heard of any strict enforcement, however, and that’s likely why some shops are willing to mount wheels without TPMS sensors on vehicles with TPMS systems. Around here, the mix of shops doing/not doing it falls unofficially at about 50/50.  TPMS sensors can be transferred from wheel-to-wheel, but it increases chances of air leakage or other failure. That procedure still adds about $60-$75 to a wheel swap, but installing four new sensors can cost $250-$500!

There has been some confusion, though, because when the law was initiated it was interpreted that simply installing sensorless wheels was not “making” the system “inoperative,” and that the customer would simply realize why their TPMS light was lit.

But last year, the sanctioning body for the law, the NHTSA, re-interpreted the act of installing sensorless wheels on TPMS cars as “making” the system “inoperative.”  As mentioned, I’ve heard of no enforcement reports (the forbidden swap is punishable by up to a $10,000 fine), and that’s likely why some shops are ignoring the latest interpretation of the law.

The good news is that consumers are not bound by the law, so if you want to install winter or custom wheels yourself and put up with the ever-illuminated TPMS light, you can do so with impunity.

Can’t be fixed department

I’ve previously discussed that some driving peeves are without solution and are simply part of driving.  R.H. reported a nuisance in that category when he wrote, “I drive a ‘traditional’ car.  If I am in the right lane at a signal waiting to make a right on red, occasionally a pick-up or SUV will pull up beside me in the left lane far enough to block my field of view (I can’t see over their hood) for what was an upcoming opening to make the right on red.  They mean no harm, they’re just unaware.”

While this annoys R.H., he takes the right attitude by realizing that this act is not generally perpetrated with malicious intent.

A bit more on peeves

Pet driving peeves have been a regular topic of this column.  Of course, our region is not unique in these annoyances, and responses from across the country to a recent “Question of the day” at Jalopnik (auto enthusiast Website) proved that.

The question was, “What traffic laws need changing?  Three of the answers reflect sentiments that indicate we are not alone in our disdain of certain, evidently universal, irritants.  Readers’ suggestions are listed, followed by Jalopnik comments.

1) Heavy tickets for left lane hogs.  We admire the cop who ticketed a driver doing two under in the left lane but we need to see this happen more, and we need harsher tickets as well. The left lane is for passing.

2) Fines for bad headlights.  Improperly aimed headlights, particularly poorly-aligned aftermarket kits, are a hazard to other drivers.  We need to ticket everyone.

3) Tickets for not signaling.  Jalopnik let the reader himself elaborate on this one:   ENFORCE %^@*#&+ TURN/INDICATOR SIGNALS.  I live in DC/VA and NO ONE uses an indicator.  Not to turn, not to change lanes, not to do anything and I wish people would be pulled over for it. I forget sometimes too but it’s a way of life here and my only response is to lay on the horn and rage.

Actually there are already laws covering these driver shortcomings.  The consensus here and elsewhere demands that, as with seat belt use and drunken driving, emphasis-enforcement should be instituted on these too-common safety violations.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at