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.
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.
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