Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

On the RV-Net Forum there was a recent post about a triple Fatality which resulted from a blown tire in a motorhome.
Three people were heading north from Naples, Florida.  They evidently had a blowout on the front tire of their motor home and lost control.  The motor home caught fire and all three perished.  It is such a sad thing, and it made me think (again) about some safety issues.
One of the things we have been wanting to get is a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.  You attach small sensors to the valve on each tire (motorhome and toad) and the system monitors the heat and tire pressure in all the tires.  There is a monitor you keep on your dash and it will alert you to any changes in your tires, hopefully before you have a blowout.
Al always checks the tire pressures before we leave for a trip, but what happens if you have a blowout on the toad (towed vehicle) while driving 60 miles per hour.  Would you even notice?  This system may not help if the blowout was very sudden, but then again, maybe it would give you just a few seconds to at least grab hold of the steering wheel a little tighter!
These are the ones I have been checking out and what I have found out so far.

Doran TPMS
Cost for monitor and 10 sensors is $599.  It not only  alerts you to pressure changes, but to temperature changes as well, which  I think is very important.  A hot tire is a dangerous tire.
You can hard wire the system so that it’s only active when you turn on the MH ignition, or they also work wirelessly on 12 volt.  The batteries in the sensors are non-rechargeable and non-replaceable.  So every few (5?) years you have to replace the entire sensor!  Ouch.  This seems to be the norm though.  If you hard wire it, you would save wear on the batteries, or just take the sensors off when you’re not using the vehicle for long periods.
There may be cheaper places to purchase this, but for now I’m just comparing brands.

Pressure Pro
The cost of the monitor is $190 and the sensors are $50 each.  The total for our MH and toad would be $690.  Whew! 
This is the system Howard and Linda of RV-Dreams fame use.  Howard is the type of person that does a LOT of research before he buys something, so the fact that he uses this one, puts it ahead of the pack….except for the price…whew…
This system monitors low and high pressure, plus high temperature.  They say you may need a “repeater” for better reception in rigs over 38 feet…which would be most of us. That’s another $95.  Whew! Of course, I may find this system cheaper somewhere else???

Truck System Technologies
This system seems to be the one most people on the forum use, per a recent poll.  It may be because it is sold at Camping World.
This one is currently on sale for $299 for the monitor and 6 locking sensors.  The extra sensors are also on sale for $75 for two.  The total on this one would be $450.  Much better.  It monitors pressure, high and low, and also high temperature.  I read the reviews on the CW website though and there were quite a few issues with faulty sensors.  Also from the picture in the CW catalog, the monitor looks kind of hard to read.  I want one like the Doran which has a green light, and green means good!  When you’re driving a MH down the road you don’t need to have to decipher the tire pressure monitor.  I may be wrong about it, but the catalog picture is not real clear.
So what I have found so far is the prices vary from $450 up to $690.  It appears all have non rechargable, non replaceable batteries which have to be replaced when the batteries die.  One of those said the cost to replace is just the cost of the battery though.  I need to re-read and see which one it was.
Truck System Technology (TST) has good reviews for good customer service…an important factor.

I  just found this system on Amazon   .Hopkins 30100VA nVision Tire Pressure Monitoring System
This is a new one to me and I haven't had a chance to research it yet.  The photograph looks familiar though, so we may have seen it at the RV Show?

Actually there were several others on Amazon.  I'll leave that research to another day.  It's happy hour :)

This is something we will definitely want to have before we start fulltiming, but it's also something we should have now.

**** Did you know that there have been problems with the valve extenders causing tires to leak?  Most of us have these extenders at least for the dual tires.  The rubber ones are notorious (so I’ve heard) for causing tires to leak, and even the weaved metal ones (like we have) are not good.  What they recommend are heavier metal ones that you get from truck stops.  Also I read something about the extenders moving back and forth causing a leak right at the valve stem.  For more info on that do a search on valve stem’s on RV-Net Forum. 

Poor Al, gets so tired of me finding more work for him to do, every time I read the forum.  I learn so much there, but most of the time it costs us money or means more work!


  1. Nice blog post!

    We have the Hopkins... it works good, but we did have trouble with one sensor bulging out on the sides. They sent another one in 2 days via UPS along with a shipping sticker to return the bad one, free of charge. Nice customer service.

    We sure like knowing the tire pressures at any given time and once got a low warning, so we know it works well.

    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com/

  2. We have a Hawkshead TPMS.
    The point is not to check the tire pressure before starting out (it won't) but to scream bloody murder if anything goes drastically wrong. It's a tire pressure/temperature alarm system.
    We set it to 65psi and if there's a serious deviation from the preset psi or temp it will indeedy scream. It _may_ provide enough warning to prevent a blowout; I think it depends on how you react. Do you pull over instantly or do you try to figure out what's going on and think about it a while? A while may be too late.
    One can get too wrapped up in tire pressure/temp and forget to drive. It should be an alarm; if it's not screaming then you're good.

  3. I thought we should buy a tire pressure monitoring system but Roger says no. He thinks it isn't necessary and expensive. I hope he is right. The systems don't always work correctly. He feels it is better to check them himself. I've read more on forums about the subject than he has so I worry a lot. When it comes to safety, I would rather spend the money for a system and wouldn't worry as much with him checking the tires and having the system as well.

  4. Margie,
    I understand. I read the forum and am always telling Al something else he needs to do for maintenance or safety issues! I think he is wishing I would quit reading it.

    Al always checks the tires before we leave, BUT, what if you have a slow leak from a nail or something? With the Tire Pressure Monitoring System, you would know before you ruined the tire.

    OR, what if the toad had a flat....how long would it take to figure that out? You could do a lot of damage to the toad. I handled a claim once where the guy forgot to take off the emergency brake on the toad, and didn't realize it until someone came along beside him and told him the toad was on fire.

    I sure hate to spend the money on the TPMS, but I would rather have some kind of warning if we had a sudden loss of pressure. Some systems also tell you when the pressure raises, which indicates a hot and dangerous tire.

    Unfortunately, there are quite a few things we need, but not enough money for them all right away. Of course most of these are one time expenses, thankfully.

    Can't wait for your new adventure to start!


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