Installing an aftermarket tire-pressure monitoring system on tow vehicle and trailer wheels goes a long way toward on-the-road safety and peace of mind
When getting ready to hit the road, RVers should have a checklist that goes beyond snacks, folding chairs and outdoor toys. At the top of that list, which should include ample fuel, a secure hitch and functioning headlights, taillights and turn signals, should be properly inflated tires. Checking tire pressure is an important safety measure, because under-inflation not only decreases fuel mileage and tire life, but also makes tires more susceptible to costly and potentially life-threatening blowouts.
With today’s tire technology (stiffer sidewalls coupled with a radial design), once the tire begins to appear underinflated, it’s likely already severely underinflated and possibly damaged. A visual check may not be enough to ensure that your towing combo is ready to roll safely down the road.
In the past, the best way to check tire inflation was a tire-pressure gauge. Now, that important task — and much more — can be accomplished with the relative simplicity (and advanced electronics) of a tire-pressure-monitoring system (TPMS).
A TPMS is already in the passenger car or tow vehicle you drive, if it was purchased new after September 1, 2007. Sensors are placed on the wheel of each tire to monitor pressure. The sensors send tire data to a centralized control module; if there’s a problem with one of the tires, the data is wirelessly transmitted to an in-cab display. These displays feature visual and/or audible alarms when a tire falls below a preset psi threshold or reaches a certain temperature (assuming the sensors also monitor temperature), allowing the driver to pull over and assess the situation. This enables early detection, which saves money and helps prevent dangerous blowout situations.
Even if your tow vehicle is equipped with a factory system, adding an aftermarket TPMS will allow sensors to be installed on the trailer tires to keep tabs on them as well. Here are some of the more popular systems on the market, including those made specifically for RVs and tow vehicles.
PressurePro’s TPMS sensors screw onto valve stems to provide real-time tire pressure and temperature information. Sensors sample pressure every seven seconds to provide immediate alerts to high temperatures and low/high-pressure situations via a 300-foot line-of-sight RF signal. PressurePro is capable of monitoring up to 10 wheels on the primary vehicle and six on the trailer. The cell-phone-size monitor comes with built-in RS232 communication protocols and data-logging capabilities. Sensor batteries have an average life of five-plus years, according to the company. For more monitoring capabilities, PressurePro’s new Pulse TPMS features an easy-to-read LED display, customizable vehicle configurations and alert levels, and two new warnings: a quick-leak alert and a cross-axle alert. Pulse offers data-logging capabilities utilizing a micro-SIM download and supports up to five stored vehicles and 80 tires.
MSRP: $505 to $705 (six-wheel setup)
800-959-3505 | www.advantagepressurepro.com
Dill Air Control Products offers a 40-foot wireless line-of-sight TPMS that is versatile and easy to use. Dill’s system utilizes in-wheel valve-stem sensors that are protected from the elements, impact damage and theft. Dill maintains that, since the sensors are inside the tire’s air chamber, true temperature readings can be achieved. Drivers are notified via a 12-volt-DC-powered display once the tires reach 20 percent below the user-set cold-inflation pressure or 30 percent overinflation pressure. The standard two-sensor kit can expand to monitor up to four tires, and the four-sensor kit can expand to monitor up to 10 tires (additional sensors and valve stems are sold separately). When the tires are rotated, sensor positions can quickly be reassigned. The display for the four-sensor system measures 4.5 by 2.1 inches and is less than 1-inch thick. The system has a five- to seven-year battery life, according to Dill, and an optional signal booster is available for longer setups.
MSRP: Starting at $230
919-692-2300 | www.dillaircontrols.com
Designed for RVs, the 360RV TPMS from Doran Manufacturing uses valve-stem-mounted sensors to transmit tire pressure and temperature data wirelessly to the monitor. The durable, spin-welded sensors are manufactured with a unique three-piece seal design to maximize valve-core depression and minimize leaks. The LCD display is easy to install and program in less than an hour, according to Doran. The monitor (about the size of a chalkboard eraser) comes with a standard 12-volt-DC adapter plug and has multiple mounting options. Once the baseline psi is set, visual and audible alarms alert the driver to low- or high-pressure situations. A FastLeak alarm activates with a pressure drop of 4 psi in less than 16 seconds. A high-temperature alert is triggered if the sensor reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit. The 360RV comes with a two-year warranty, and up to 36 wheel positions can be monitored on multiple vehicles.
MSRP: $299.99 to $599.99
866-816-7233 | www.doranmfg.com
HawksHead Systems offers the Talon 22, which monitors up to 22 wheels utilizing either cap or feed-through sensors. Both sensor types mount on the valve stem and come with replaceable low-cost generic button batteries, eliminating the need to purchase new sensors when they no longer function. The monitor has its own rechargeable power pack that allows it to be removed from the cab and used as a wireless tire-pressure gauge. All alarms are both visual and audible, and alarm parameters are user-customizable. Temperature alarms can alert for dragging brakes, wheel-bearing issues and overcompensated cab-controller brake adjustments. The Drop Trailer feature allows the trailer (or dinghy vehicle) to be removed from the monitor, which then displays the tow vehicle only. The system comes with sensor locks to avoid theft. For smaller truck-and-trailer combos, the Talon 6 Bi-Mode monitors up to six wheels.
MSRP: $339. Additional sensors: $45
888-321-8767 | www.tpms.ca
Tire-pressure sensors for the EezTire T515 system replace the tires’ original valve-stem caps. Powered by replaceable batteries with an expected three- to four-year life span, according to EEZ RV Products, the antitheft sensors extend only 1 inch past the standard valve stem, making them a good choice to avoid accidental curb or debris damage. The system’s easy-to-read 3.5-inch monitor contains a motion sensor that shuts off the unit after 15 minutes of inactivity. The display automatically cycles through each tire every six seconds, checking for low and high pressure and temperature, rapid pressure loss and catastrophic failure; manual selection is also available. The system can handle up to 22 tires and comes with three mounting options: suction-cup, dash stand or fixed.
MSRP: Starting at $249. Boosters (recommended for longer RVs): Starting at $49
510-910-5397 | www.eezrvproducts.com
Minder Research has introduced two new models of its TireMinder TPMS. The TM66 and A1A alert when a tire loses 15 percent or more of the baseline, raises above 20 percent of the baseline, loses 3 psi or more in two minutes, loses 6 psi or more in 10 minutes, or the internal tire temperature reaches 167 degrees Fahrenheit. Features specific to both models include Disconnect Mode (drop the trailer from the display) and Auto-Search Mode (push-button status updates). The 3.25-inch screen and portrait-style layout clearly show where an issue is occurring. The new interface makes it easy to add transmitters and set baselines, and a signal booster is now paired with every TM66 and A1A kit. Both kits come in four- or six- transmitter configurations that mount on the valve stems with the ability to monitor up to 22 transmitters.
MSRP: TM66: $362.99 to $435.79. A1A: $389 to $459
772-463-6522 | www.minderresearch.com/tireminder
Tire-SafeGuard, manufactured by HCI Corporation, offers a wide range of TPMS systems including those with a portable or fixed two-piece monitor, with sensors mounted inside the rims, inside the valves, on the valve’s external dust-cap and even valve-stem-mounted flow-through caps. All Tire-SafeGuard units monitor tire pressure up to 199 psi and continue to monitor even when the vehicle is parked. The sensors detect rapid pressure changes, slow leaks and high temperatures in tires, and the system immediately alerts users to abnormal tire situations, identifying the location of the problem.
MSRP: Varies based on type and number of tires
818-400-9976 | www.tiresafeguard.com
Offering an internal valve-stem-mounted solution similar in design to those used in cars and passenger trucks, TST (Truck System Technologies) systems spare users the rigors of broken internal bands and the subsequent shrapnel that can circulate within tires when the banded sensors fail, according to the company. TST systems monitor both tire temperature and psi in real time, notifying for gradual and sudden changes. Customizable alerts can be set to accommodate tires with psi ranging from 10 to 175. TST makes systems for RVs and commercial trucks, and is the exclusive aftermarket TPMS of PACCAR, parent company of both Peterbilt and Kenworth. Kits come with a three-year warranty.
MSRP: Starting at $259 (four-sensor 507)
770-889-9102 | www.tsttruck.com
The TireTraker TT-500 TPMS features a large, easy-to-read display, continuous pressure and temperature monitoring, automatic update and the ability to monitor any tire from 0 to 232 psi. The TT-500 provides visual and audible alarms for low pressure, high pressure and high temperature, as well as rapid pressure loss. The rechargeable monitor is reminiscent of a smartphone display and incorporates USB charging. The .5-ounce sensors mount on the valve stems and are powered by user-replaceable batteries to avoid buying new sensors when the original batteries lose their power. The TT-500 is backed by a lifetime warranty, the only one of its kind in the industry, according to the company.
MSRP: Starting at $289 (four-wheel setup)
Additional sensors: $35 each
866-200-9773 | www.tiretraker.com
Valor’s TPMS features sensors mounted internally on the wheel rims for accurate temperature and pressure ratings. Valor has designed the unit to display individual tire and axle positions for an at-a-glance user interface. Sensors last from five to seven years, according to the company, and offer real-time, round-the-clock monitoring for high and low pressure, rapid and slow air leakage, and high temperature. The system is easy to set up, reports Valor, and can be utilized on a number of applications, making it easy to keep tabs on multiple sensor-equipped recreational trailers.
MSRP: Starting at $670 (truck and trailer)
800-568-9188 | www.valortpms.com