The rule would require vehicles to have a yellow light that would illuminate when the pressure on any one of the four tires was underinflated by 25 percent or more.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the proposal would likely cost up to $69.89 per vehicle, or a total of $1.1 billion for the industry. But the agency said the requirement would save as much as $1.7 billion in fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.
Dan Zielinski, a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association, said tire makers will protest the proposal because it disagrees with setting a flat rate of 25 percent underinflation.
"For one vehicle that might be fine. For another, it might not be," Zielinski said. "If you want to make a system that warns people, you should warn people before they're in danger."
NHTSA said approximately 4 million vehicles already have tire pressure monitoring systems.
The proposed rule would require the systems when a vehicle is first sold, but it wouldn't require the systems to work when the tires are later replaced. NHTSA said most systems will continue to work, but it's not possible for automakers to anticipate the variety of replacement tires that owners would put on their vehicles.
Congress ordered NHTSA to require tire pressure monitors as part of its response to the Firestone tire recall, which began in August 2000.
By Dee-Ann Durbin