TPMS stands for tire pressure monitoring system. Cars and SUVs sold in the US after 2008 have TPMS systems built in. That dashboard light with the image of the tire with the exclamation point in it is there to indicate that one, or more of your car’s tires are under inflated by at least 25%.
RVs, fifth-wheels, travel trailers are not required to be equipped with a TPMS. However, there are very solid reasons for wanting a TPMS system on your RV. You may even want an after market TPMS on your car or SUV if you are towing a trailer with it because the aftermarket systems have features not always found on the factory installed versions.
Sudden Tire Failure is a Nightmare.
Tire integrity is very important in the operation of any RV rig. Whether you tow a fiberglass lightweight, or drive a 40-foot behemoth motorhome, you simply can’t afford to take your tires for granted.
A sudden tire failure can cause thousands of dollars of damage to your RV. Worse, it can result in an accident that causes serious bodily injury or even death.
A TPMS system, properly set up, can help you monitor your tires and make you aware of two conditions that can lead to a blow out. Those conditions are tire pressure and tire heat.
No TPMS system can accurately predict all sudden tire failures, but having one can give you another line of defense. It will help you avoid tire failures due to leaking or overheating.
A typical TPMS system comes with small sensor/transmitters. These devices simply screw onto the threads of your tire’s stem valve. You put one of these on each tire. The sensor/transmitter sends your tire’s pressure and heat information to a monitor that you mount on your dash.
TPMS systems as described here, can cost anywhere from about $250 to over $500. You may have to buy extra sensors because, you need a sensor for each tire. If you have a long rig, you may need a signal booster so that the sensor signal can be received by the monitor. If you are pulling a toad, get sensors for every wheel that touches the street.
In addition to the added safety, a TPMS can help you maintain proper tire pressure which can improve fuel efficiency, prolong tire life, and avoid abnormal wear of vehicle parts.
A Relaxing, Enjoyable Trip Begins with Tire Safety
To ensure safe RV operation, you must know the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVW/GVWR) and the proper tire pressure for the load you are carrying. You get the tire pressure recommendations from the tire manufacturer. The tire pressure ratings on the placard that comes from the chassis manufacturer may have been correct at the factory, but there is no way to know what may have been changed in the process of building or modifying the RV.
In short, you need to weigh your rig and adjust your tire pressure to conform to the tire manufacturer’s spec for your load.
You set up your TPMS system for the tire pressure you want to monitor. The system shows the pressure as you drive and many systems will alert you when the pressure changes, usually by two pounds psi either lower of higher.
Many TPMS systems will also alert you when your tire’s temperature reaches a certain threshold.
Good TPMS systems will alert you of a slow leak, or a fast leak. The warning will give you time to get your rig off the road safely and see what needs to be done about your tire.
There are Many Systems Available
TPMS systems have become very popular. There are many systems available in the marketplace. Make sure the system you buy is able to monitor the number of tires you will be rolling on the road, in other words, all the tires of your rig and anything it tows or tows it.
These are among the most popular features:
- Flow through valve on sensor. Air can be added without removing sensor.
- Sensor batteries can be replaced.
- Sound and visual alerts.
- Device automatically stops monitoring trailer tires when disconnected.
- Additional sensors can be added to the system.
The most popular systems for RVers are:
- Tire Minder A1A. Comes with 4 sensors.
- EEZ Tire Monitoring System. Comes with 6 sensors.
- TST 507. Comes with 4 sensors.
- Tire Safeguard RV-6. Comes with 6 flow through sensors.
- Carchet Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This system is solar powered, but also has an internal, rechargeable lithium battery.
- TireTracker TT 500. Systems available for up to 10 tires. Manufacturer claims to offer lifetime warranty.
A Blow Out or a Wreck Makes for an Unhappy Camper
It pays to take care of your tires. The popular TV commercial reminds you that you have a lot riding on them. It’s true, isn’t it? Your family, the investment you have in your rig and gear, the people with whom you share the road. You wouldn’t want your good time away to end up in damage to your RV, injury or tragedy.
Pay attention to your tires. Know their age. Check often for wear, tread separation and signs of dry rot.
Inspect your tires every time before you set out on the road. If you are parked out in the sun for a while, invest in tire covers to protect them from harmful UV rays. Invest in a good tire gage and carry it with you.
Take Care of Your Tires and They Will Take Care of You.
Tires are not sexy, but they are important. When you are sitting around the campfire, roasting marshmallows, or just sharing stories of the busy week you left behind, as you enjoy your rig trip after trip, season after season, you will be glad you took care of your tires.
Do you have a TPMS? If so, what brand and what is your experience with it? I’d love to hear about it. What do you do to ensure tire safety? Please leave me a comment below, I’d appreciate your input on this important subject.