Remember the Ford Explorer/Firestone tire debacle from a decade ago? Thousands of the 'utes rolled-over and much of the blame fell on insufficiently inflated tires, costing the Blue Oval billions of dollars to replace the tires on just about every Explorer still left on the road. The other fallout from Explorer-gate (or Firestone-gate) was institution of the Tire Pressure Monitoring System that's now a legal standard on every car and truck built since 2008.

TPMS sensors constantly measure the pressure in all four tires, and when one or more tires is more than 25 percent below the recommended amount, a light illuminates on the gauge cluster. Most of us know the light (on right) and if you do, you're among the 54 percent of drivers who know what it means. But more importantly, less than half of the population doesn't.

TPMS maker Schrader recently surveyed drivers to see if there were knowledgeable about all things TPMS, and the results had to be a bit disappointing. First, the good news: 96 percent of all drivers surveyed felt that under-inflated tires were a serious safety problem. Now the bad news: Only 44 percent of drivers polled regularly check their tire pressure. Furthermore, one third of drivers surveyed didn't know what TPMS was or what it was used for. Another 44 percent were unaware what the symbol was supposed to represent, while still another 14 percent thought the symbol identified a problem of the non-tire variety.

In order to combat some of the ignorance among motorists about one of its main products, Schrader has introduced its TPMS Made Simple website. While it's not exactly riveting stuff, the site is chock full of information about TPMS, including what to do when that (apparently) inscrutable warning light in your gauge cluster illuminates (Hint: check your tires) and the economic benefit of properly inflated rubber, including improved fuel economy and longer lasting tires. Head over to the site to become a TPMS expert.

[Sources: USA Today | TPMS Made Simple]