This seems a bit strange.
I have had this Outback since new, and have not seen this dash warning
before. Nor can I find it in my user manuals. Nor on the web.
It is a yellow possible lower case 'i' within brackets appearing in
the small transmission drive window on the left side of 'D'.
The too distant dealer I bought it from is OOB.
Found on the web searching for "outback 2016 dash indicators":
Maybe the parking brake is still on and your brake pads are getting
worn? If it is not one of those shown, take a pic of your dashboard to
show the indicator, and upload the photo to online storage (e.g., imgur,
tinypic) to provide a URL to the photo, so we can see what you see.
The low pressure indicator looks like a cutout view of a tire (sidewalls
and tread) with an exclamation mark inside. There are transmitters in
each tire. If they get replaced, like the tire valve went bad, the new
ones have to get paired up to the car. Any shop that replaces the
transmitters have to link new ones to the car's TPMS (Tire Pressure
Monitoring System). They have a battery because they are wireless
transmitters, so the battery might've gone dead. Don't know how long
the batteries last, so maybe 4 years, the age of your car, is about when
they get too weak or die. Take it to a car shop to have them check the
batteries in each tire's TPMS transmitter and re-sync it to the car's
If the battery has gone weak or dead, they are not replaceable. The
sensor is sealed with the battery inside. You have to replace the TPMS
sensor in the car. That means removing the tire, replacing the sensor,
put the tire back on the wheel and balance it, and sync the new sensor's
ID to the car. The lithium batteries inside newer TPMS sensor last
anywhere from 5 to 10 years, but some stuff breaks early, and old models
die after 5-6 years. The sensor only broadcasts when the car is in
motion (maybe they have an internal g-force switch that activates when
the wheel spins). Someone who drives little will incur a longer battery
life than someone that is driving continuously during their work hours.
TPMS sensors were available since early '90s, but became legislated in
2008 as mandatory on new cars. While new cars since 2008 must have
TPMS, there is no legal requirement to replace a sensor that later goes
defective which causes the dash light to come on. The type that have a
metal nut to hold the valve stem and sensor in the wheel are subject to
corrosion hence failure. The snap-in or rubber molded ones don't rust.
If the valve stem fails due to corrosion (water, salt) and a replacement
stem core won't work, the valve leaks, have to get replaced, and the
TPMS sensor is integral to the valve stem. Any use of leak sealer
inside the tire can cause sensor problems, along with screwing up the
balance of the wheel. All batteries are chemical hence they don't last
forever, or even for that many years when in use.
I suppose the TPMS sensor in the car could get out of calibration, and
report a tire as having low or high pressure when not true.
If you swap tires, like having a set for summer and another set for
winter, you have to sync the TPMS transmitters in the tires to the car
each time you swap the tire set.
Figure a shop will charge about $5 to $10 per wheel to sync the TPMS
sensor inside the wheel, along with some hourly charge and shop costs.
If they're not replacing the sensors, it's just their labor to use their
electronic gear to scan and sync the sensors to the car. You could buy
the same tools ($10 to $180). There are cheap tools, but you have to
enter the sensor ID which means you have to know what is the sensor's ID
by taking the tire off the wheel, or record the IDs when the TPMS
sensor(s) get replaced, both of which require rebalancing the wheel..
The more expensive TPMS tools can scan for the radio transmission of the
sensors. They can read the sensor ID to then sync it to the car.
If they have to replace the battery, that means removing the tire from
the wheel, and might incur having to rebalance after putting the tire
back on the wheel.
Don't know what you mean by "second one". I see only 1 indicator for
low tire pressure listed in the mentioned article.
There is the normal yellow warning indicator looking like a tire with
"i" in it plus the second yellow warning indicator looking like
brakets with "i" in it. That said, thank u for your detailed
Do all new cars have this TPMS system? Does replacing a tire consist
of a trip to a tire dealer plus a trip to a car dealer? Or does the
tire dealer eal with the TPMS also? All this I don't want or need.
TPMS has been mandated in the USA since 2008 on all new cars. Only if
you bought a new car before then, or bought a used car that was made
before then might TPMS not be used.
Been a long time since I bought tires from just a tire-only store. The
shops I use sell tires and do service, so they have the TPMS tools. If
the battery is dead or the sensor went bad, the new one is likely a
generic that has standard scan codes instead of a manufacturer specific
unit with unique codes hence making later re-sync easier to do.
However, if the sensor has to get replaced (dead battery, damaged) then
the tire must be removed from the wheel. No way to squeeze the sensor
package through the tiny hole for the air valve stem. That incurs labor
along with rebalancing the wheel after putting in a new sensor and
putting the tire back on. Then the tech has to sync the new sensor to
the car, so the car can connect to and read the sensor. You can call
your favorite car shop or the dealer to get prices on sensor replace and
sync. It won't be cheap per wheel. Unlike replacing tires on an AWD
requires replacing all 4 tires at once, the TPMS sensors can be replaced
one at a time.
TPMS sensors aren't particularly accurate. The recommended tire
pressure might be 32 PSI, but the sensor won't fire a warning until the
tire is rotating and pressure has dropped to 25 PSI. When the tires
have worn and need replacement, that's a good time to replace all TPMS
sensors in all wheels. TPMS is legally mandated to be present in new
cars sold since 2008. There's nothing mandated that car owners must
replace defective or battery-dead sensors. However, with or without
TPMS sensors, you should be checking your tire pressures regularly. The
recommendation is every month, but I usually don't bother until 3 month
intervals (because I put very little miles on my cars), or whenever I'm
working on or around the car. I have a digital guage which records the
peak air pressure (so I can remove it and then look at the reading) and
a small 2-gallon air compressor in the garage, so checking and inflating
are pretty easy on the car after sitting in the garage to cool down.
PSI also drops about 1 PSI for every 10 degree drop in temperature. If
you drive your car everyday, don't be surprised if you lose 1.5 PSI
If you haven't disconnected the battery since the error codes went away,
an OBD tool should be able to check for TPMS error codes from history.
I got an OBD2 tool to plug into the OBD port on the car (under the dash
on the very left side near the hood release latch) which has an Android
app to read error codes, look at history, and other diagnostic data.
The OBD meter at the shop will likely be more complex, plus the shop
will likely have different models to read different year ranges of cars
and different cars to understand the data. I'd have to do the same
online search to find out what are the codes for TPMS errors.
If the dash indicators went out, that was because you corrected the low
pressure by inflating the tires up to their recommended PSI (fronts are
often different than rears). That indicates the battery is okay in the
TPMS sensor(s) inside the affected tires. TPMS is still working. I
wouldn't recommend deflating the tires down to 25 PSI and drive around
(to activate the sensors) to see if the light comes back on. If you
keep the tires properly inflated, you won't see those indicators again.
However, you said it's a 2016 Subie. If you haven't changed the tires
since buying it new then you're probably about due for new tires
depending on your daily average mileage. Figure to replace the TPMS
sensors in all wheels when you get a new set of tires. No point in
paying for a new set of tires plus installation and balancing while
keeping the sensors to only have to remove the tires to replace them a
year or two later.
If you swap tire sets, like between winter and summer sets, you'll need
a TPMS tool to sync the different set of tires to the car. As far as I
know, the car records only 1 code per tire position; i.e., you cannot
have a code set for winter and another code set for summer.
But! one can purchase _programmable_ TPMS sensors and 'clone' the existing
sensors, so that you can have a summer and winter set of tires and change them (all four at once) seasonally without having to re-program the car.
None of my Subarus track TPMS and tire _position_, so I can rotate positions without causing problems.
There are actually two different general categories of TPMS. The oldest
simplest and least-accurate is the sort where when the tire pressure drops
to some preset level it sends a notification to the computer saying, in
general, "hey, one of the tires is low". There is no indication of how low
or which tire. The more modern sort found on fully-optioned Subies is
pretty precise and will display what the pressure is in each tire
continuously and will even detect the difference in pressure between the
tires on the sunny side of the cart from the shady side. I've checked mine
against a known-precise tire gauge (two actually, on digital one analog)
and find a virtually precise match.
Makes me wonder how many codes they are, like are they tied to the
manufacturer's ID, model ID, and then a serial number the manufacturer
never duplicates. Else, seems you could pickup someone else's
transmission from their TPMS sensors when driving or idling next to
At that point when you install the programmable TPMS sensors, you might
as well go with the non-programmable TPMS sensors if they are cheaper,
plus the non-programmable ones wouldn't require any tools to code them.
Just use the IDs from the non-programmable ones. After all, you'll be
removing the tires from the wheels to put in the programmable ones (and
you'll still need to record what IDs you recorded into them), so just
put in the non-programmable ones and record their IDs. Whether you
program them or use fixed IDs, you'll still have to know what are the
IDs, so I don't see the advantage of programmability.
Also, since the TPMS tool will scan for the IDs, I don't see why you
care if the sensors are programmable or not. How are you going to
program sensors to set their IDs without a TPMS tool? Since the IDs get
matched up to their position (FR, FL, RR, RL), how are you going to sync
the IDs when (not if) the tires get rotated? Maybe that's why the
indirect TPMS systems are making a comeback, because no interior sensor
is need that use batteries that die after awhile and the position of the
tire is irrelevant.
At first, the TPMS sensors were the direct type. They went inside the
tire on the wheel. Later came the indirect TPMS systems that don't have
a sensor inside the tire. For example, Honda Accord models used direct
sensors until 2013 when they switched to an indirect TPMS system.
Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) are the systems that
do not have air pressure sensors inside the tires. Rather, they detect a
low tire by comparing relative wheel speeds via the Anti-lock Brake
System (ABS) wheel speed sensors. When a tire loses air, its diameter
I went to a car parts site and searched on "tpms" and selected 2016
Subaru Outlook 3.6 for the car model. Direct sensors came up, so the
OP's car has a direct TPMS system. Eventually the batteries die, so the
sensors must get replaced whether programmable or not. Since the IDs
can be read off the sensors when replaced, don't see the advantage of
paying more for programmable ones, plus how are you going to reprogram
them when the tires get rotated? From what I've seen, the TPMS tools
aren't cheap. For example, the OTC 3838 costs over $800. There are
cheaper TPMS tools, like the Autotel TS501 for $225. I've never
bothered with this TPMS stuff, especially since I don't want to buy the
tools to use once in a blue moon. My tires get rotated at the car shop,
new tires get mounted by the car shop (at which point new TPMS sensors
should be installed since they only last 5-7 years, so would be dead
with the next set of tires), and if there was a TPMS problem then I let
the car shop handle it. They have the tools, because they expect to use
them on LOTS of cars, not just mine.
"None of my Subarus track TPMS and tire _position_, so I can rotate positions without causing problems."
I have a 2014 Forester and a 2017 Legacy. I can swap the set of summer tires for winter ones and vice-versa (even putting tires in different positions on the car), without doing any programming at all.