Why You Need to Know This Dashboard Symbol

Did you know cars have been required to have this light on the dash?

— -- Did you know that since model year 2008, all cars have been required to have a light on the dash that tells you if your tires are under-inflated? According to Schrader, a company that makes sensors and valves, nearly half of consumers are in the dark about this little light.

It was news to me, too, thanks to my belief in buying used cars to save BIG —and then keeping them as long as possible to save even more. I don’t have one of these on my dash, but I wish I did.

The dashboard symbol looks like a cross-section of a tire with an exclamation point inside.

And here’s why you should care:

1) Blowouts.

Worst case scenario, under-inflated tires can cause blowouts because the sidewalls sag onto the roadway and get beat up.

2) Fuel Economy.

Soft tires wallow around on the road, causing too much contact and friction and using up gas.

3) Poor handling.

When your tires are under-inflated, they give your vehicle a sloshy, wallowing ride that’s not only unpleasant but unsafe.

4) Slower braking.

Under-inflation can also hurt braking distance, so that it takes longer before your vehicle comes to a stop.

Opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

Elisabeth Leamy is a 20-year consumer advocate for programs including "Good Morning America" and "The Dr. Oz Show." She is the author of Save BIG and The Savvy Consumer. Elisabeth is also a professional speaker, delivering talks nationwide on saving money, media relations, and career success. Elisabeth receives her best story tips from readers, so please connect with her via Facebook, Twitter or her website, to share your ideas.