Mod #68: Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Mod #68: Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Submitted on: 01/22/09

     Category: featured, tires, wheels
Mod Rating: 12345

(33 ratings)

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Mod Description:

If you have ever experienced a tire blowout with your RV, you know first hand how scary it can be. And you also know how much damage can occur, especially with a towable RV. Hopefully, you were able to control your RV enough to pull over to the side of the road safely and get the tire changed. Blowouts seem to happen without warning. So how can you help prevent blowouts from happening in the first place? The tire pressure monitor mod is great way to start.

Mod Difficulty:

So what causes a tire to blow out seemingly without explanation? There are many reasons why but a few that are very common include under-inflation, overloading, and age. While there is nothing a tire pressure monitoring system can do for the last two, the first reason is why you need to do this mod. Under-inflation is the leading cause of almost every tire blowout, RVs and cars alike.

There are two types of tire pressure monitoring systems and they are mainly distinguished by the type of sensors used. One type uses a pressure sensor that screws on to the valve stem, just like a regular valve stem cap. The other type uses a sensor that is mounted on the inside of the tire using a band that goes around the wheel or rim. This type also has the advantage of being able to measure internal tire temperature as well as pressure. However, the sensors are more costly to install since any tire you want to monitor pressure for must be dismounted to install the sensor band. Something to keep in mind if you are cost conscious.

Each system works the same though. Tire pressure and/or temperature information is transmitted using a wireless connection between all of the wheel sensors and a base unit you mount in your tow vehicle or motorhome. Looking at the diagram above, you can see the typical location of the monitoring system components in a motorhome. Number 1 is the base unit or display. It displays information received from number 4, the wireless receiver, sent by number 2 and 3, the wheel sensors. The system as a whole is actually quite simple and just as simple to install.

The installation instructions with any of the monitoring systems are very specific in the sequence the system is installed and configured. Basically, you mount the display first. You have multiple options for mounting the monitor for viewing. You have the option to place on the sun visor, attach to the windshield, fasten to the dash, attach using the pedestal mount, or the ability to use hook and loop pads to fasten the monitor to a flat surface. Choose the one that best suits your needs.

The next step is to connect the display to a power source. This can be done in one of two ways: using the supplied 12-volt receptacle connector, or hard-wiring. Using the supplied connector is the easiest but there a few things you should be aware of by going this route. Using the adapter plug for your power source will delay information to the monitor if the power is removed when the vehicle is turned off and the power is removed from the receptacle. However, if the power remains on to capture warnings that occur during the night hours, audible and visual alarms may activate,
disrupting your sleep.

Hard-wiring the display to a switched power source will allow the unit to work optimally. This type of connection will allow the monitor to receive signals when the vehicle is not running, and update the monitor in real time. When the key is turned on you will have the current information for your tire condition immediately before you begin your next trip.

Next, you will program the monitor to know which sensors are on which tires. Most monitors can read up to 24 wheel positions, or more. This will allow almost any combination of motorhome and toad, tow vehicle and 5th wheel, travel trailer, etc., to have their respective wheels monitored. The installation instructions provide you with a little chart where you write down the code on each tire pressure sensor. This both ensures you can get through the programming steps quickly and gives you a record of where each sensor is in the event you have to replace one.

After you are finished programming the display, it’s time to install the sensors. Using your sensor position chart, install each sensor on it’s respective tire’s valve stem. You should hand-tighten only or you may damage the sensor. It’s also a good time to inspect your valve stems to ensure they have no cracks and that the valve inside the stem is working correctly. Checking the valve can be done using a dill pin gauge. When the gauge is used, it should depress the dill pin enough to allow air to escape the valve stem. If air does not escape from the valve stem, then you must use a valve stem tool to adjust the dill pin out far enough to allow the dill pin tool to release air from the valve stem. This step will ensure proper operation of the sensors.

When you have all the sensors installed in their proper positions and the monitor is powered on, you should start seeing pressure readings. But it could take up to 5 or 6 minutes to fully read all sensors. If it takes longer than that, you may have a mis-programmed sensor, or you are too close to an object, like metal siding or a building, causing signal interference. Try moving your RV a few feet and see if that fixes it.

And that’s all there really is to this mod. The only difference in the steps you might encounter is if you opt for the pressure sensors that are mounted using a band that goes around the wheel. Make sure that if you go this route, you write down the sensor codes before you have the sensors mounted by a tire shop. Otherwise, programming will be pretty much impossible.

TipIf you have a particularly long RV, like a large class A with a toad, or you are towing double trailers, you may require a signal booster or repeater. All wireless tire pressure monitoring system manufacturers offer a booster that will help amplify the tire pressure sensor signals in the event the sensors are too far away from the display. Mount the repeater halfway between the farthest sensor and the display, away from any metallic panels, framing, or anything else that is metal, to ensure the best possible signal reception.

ModMyRV recommends these parts for this mod:
Wagan 2459 Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Hopkins 30100VA nVision Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Hopkins 30101VA nVISION Tire Pressure Monitoring System Sensor - Pack of 2

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16 Comments For This Mod

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  1. cccale

    This looks like a good idea. I returned from a trip not too long ago to find one of our rear tires was completely deflated. It could have gone much worse. Has anyone had experience with ‘Hopkins Tire Pressure Monitoring System’?

    http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/hopkins-tire-pressure-monitoring-system/43965

  2. Bob Vaughn

    These things must be selling like hot cakes…I went to CW they were out so I went to their web site and they were out. I had a blow out luckily I was just getting on the interstate so I noticed it as soon as it happened. My friend with a fifth wheel wasn’t so luckly. He had a blow out on the front tire on the curb side so it was a while before someone waved to him and kept pointing to the trailer…He pulled over but the damage to the trailer had been done…..his deductible would have paid for a set of these…

  3. ModMyRV

    I have no experience with the Hopkins brand. It looks similar though. My F150 has the TPMS from the factory. It uses the bands that go around the wheel instead of the valve stem type. I had a sensor fail not too long ago and the tire had to be removed to replace the sensor. Warranty took care of it but it something to think about if you’re on the fence between the two types of sensors. The valve stem sensor is definitely easier to replace but might also be prone to theft. Dang those little valve stem sensor stealer thugs…

  4. jmt

    Is this really worth all the time and expense? Sure something about piece of mind having it but I’m just not sure.

  5. Bob Vaughn

    JMT once a tire blows you have almost no time to get off the road before the tire starts to come apart and starts destroying the underside of your camper….a friend of mine blew a rear tire on the curb side and before he knew it it had done 2000 dollars worth of damage to the wheel well area of his camper…He wishes the had spent the dollars for a pressure system…..

  6. Randy C

    I had the 2 on my 5th on the curbside blow out on the way to California in Nov 08. Did over $3000.00 damage and 8 hrs down time in Arizona. On the way back in Feb 09 I started stopping every 2 hrs to check the tires. When I stopped in Kingman, AZ I found a knot on one and a twisted belt on the other, both on the left side. Upgraded all 4 to G rated 14 plys. Feel better but I am in the market for a monitor before I hit the road again next month. Deductible would more that paid for any system.

  7. Bob Vaughn

    Over on the Trailer Life Forum/Woodalls/RV Net. forums there is a heated discussion about the brands available for this mod…..after reading the posts I quickly changed my mind about the brand I thought I would buy. I think it is going to take a lot of searching and doing my homework before I make my decision…….

  8. ModMyRV

    What seem to be the issues and what brands are having problems?

  9. sundancer268

    I have this unit and my sister also has the same unit. She lost a tire and the unit did alarm but the damage was already done. My brother-in law was looking in the rear view mirror when it went and saw the explosion at the same time as the alarm went off so it will not give you a warning of an impending failure unless it is due to a slow leak. According to my sister the tire pressures on all of the tiers were normal through out their trip including the normal pressure increase when the tires were warming up. I still will not be with out my unit for any reason.

  10. gnarlykaw

    sundancer, you are right. I have a TPM unit too, and we had two tire failures last year, and I caught them before the alarm went off.
    It is nice to see the tire pressure while driving, But i still kep an eye on the tires every few minutes of dsriving. If you get your tires filled with nigrogen, you wont get that increase when the tires heat up……..

  11. JosephCrawford

    I am almost blind and my wife does all the driving on our 40/RV foot Allegro Bus , we have only been doing this since 2005 and we had a Pressure pro system since we started . This absolutely the smartest thing to do to a motor home /RV for ultimate safety !

  12. mstrbll

    I had a blowout last spring on the way back to the East coast - 2 others were ready to go also
    When I bought this new 5th,I decided to invest in a TMS. After researching some of the various products available, I purchased a 10 tire RV system from TST.
    Used it this fall while traveling back to Arizona — feel safer every morning when system is on and viewing the pressure and temp.

    http://www.tsttruck.com/Product_List.html

  13. Steven

    A tire monitoring system will not alert you that a blow out is going to happen. Think of a balloon holding air ever so nicely, and then you prick it with a pin. It will alert you when a tire is losing air slowly, and give you time to pull off the highway to repair the problem. No tire monitoring device will ever replace visual inspections, just help a little.
    Steve

  14. ackro

    I would venture to say that if you do any traveling at all in your RV, you stand a large percentage chance of losing a tire at one time or another. I have had it happen to me 60 miles from home, after a 1400 mile trip, and twice, on the same 2000 mile trip. Both were on Class “C”’s. Mine was on the right rear, my friend’s on the left rear. I have seen the damage a tire coming apart can do to the front wheel-well of a large coach also, recently, when a Dutch Star limped into the infield at the Atlanta Speedway. Damage is almost always major, depending on what the tire shreds as it comes apart. I cannot express the comfort I have now, since buying a TMS. Mine alerts to high pressures/and lows. At least you have a fair chance of getting slowed down before the tire goes. Of course, it does not remove the need for common sense….tire pressure checks before starting out, inspection, etc. This is a must have safety item for you and your family!

  15. gayle condit

    we had a tire de tread(??) made a real mess under rear curb side of our Gulfstream 5th wheel. In fact, thats why we have a newer Coachmen 5th wheel. Planning on heading from Cape Cod to Alaska next spring. Next purchase is Tpm for camper Looking into Doran??? any suggestions

  16. tvman44

    I have the TST TPMS and the peace of mind is so worth it.

2 Trackbacks For This Post

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