Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Maintaining the correct tire pressure is good for your bike, important for your car, and extremely necessary for your motorhome.  There are dozens of articles and videos about this.

Many late model cars have Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) already installed.  These allow you to press a button or two and see the pressures in all four of the tires.  RVs don't typically have them, but you can get the systems from several manufacturers.

Motorhomes carry a lot of weight.  The eight tires on my motorhome will be supporting over 22 tons of fuel, steel beams, a large engine, tile, cabinets, water, and passengers while cruising down the highway at more than 60 miles per hour.  The last thing in the world I want is a blowout.  In a car, you can often tell if something's wrong with a tire and certainly know when there's a blowout.  In an RV, you won't necessarily be able to tell if a rear tire blows because there's another tire beside it.  And if you're pulling a toad, you won't feel anything when its tires have problems or blowouts.

One of your best chances of avoiding catastrophe with your tires is to install a TPMS.  A typical system consist of little transmitters that screw on your tire's valve stems in place of the cap, and a receiver that is located in view of the driver.  The TPMS display shows a small graphic that represents the locations of your wheels and, beside each of them, the tire pressure.  A good TPMS can also monitor the temperature of the tires, as an overheating tire is a sure indication of trouble.

When you get the TPMS, you are guided to put on each sensor and link it to the monitor (so you can match the sensor to the appropriate tire's graphic).  Then you set the device's limits for things like warning thresholds for pressure and temperature.  If those measures pass the threshold, you'll get an audible and visible alert.  

Like several of the things we'll be getting, I've never held one in my hand - but I think I know what I'm going to get based on reading reviews, watching videos and searching forums for information.  TireMinder, Pressure Pro, EEZ, and TireTracker are often mentioned and seem to be popular.  Honestly, it seemed almost a coin toss between them.  

I finally selected the TireMinder A1A because it had all of the necessary features, good reviews and its display looked better than any of them.  It was important to me that the unit be capable to also put sensors on the toad.  That's 12 total sensors.  You can also take the portable display with you when you take the toad out on trips without the motorhome and switch it to "car mode only" so you're just watching the toad's tires.  There is an optional signal booster that receives and repeats the toad's transmitter signals because of the long distance between them and the driver of the motorhome.  The TireMinder A1A isn't cheap:  12 sensors, the display and the booster will clock in at about $700.  If anyone knows where I can get a coupon or something, let me know.  And if you think I'm making a bad choice, let me know about it.

If interested in the TireMinder, check out my article called Installing the TireMinder TPMS.

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