RV Shrink: Avoid pulling a flat-tired toad – or you’ll be sorry

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Dear RV Shrink:
We tow a Saturn behind our motorhome. I think we should have some type of alarm system or indicator to warn us if a tire goes flat on the Saturn. While driving I can’t see or feel the car. It only weighs 2400 lbs. I know my husband can’t see it either, but he refuses to look into a system that will give us some warning if a tire goes flat. He says they cost too much and that he would be able to tell if we had a problem. I don’t agree and I don’t want to find out the hard way. Can you tell me how to pound some sense into him? —Flat Out Nervous in New Orleans

Dear Flat Out:
There are systems that work on tire pressure sensors. A lot of rigs come standard now with backup cameras for visual monitoring. Many people still do not have any way of monitoring their towed vehicle. I agree it is rolling the dice.

I can tell you from my wife’s experience that your husband will not be able to tell when and if the car has a flat. While I was doing a long hike through the mountains, my wife drove the motorhome ahead a couple hundred miles to meet me. She was crossing 30 miles in Idaho on a well-graded gravel road. She was following her sister’s van.

Near their destination, her sister decided to let my wife take the lead. Once behind our rig she noticed the car looked odd and seemed to be dragging to the right. By the time my wife knew she had a problem, the tire was gone, the aluminum wheel was almost worn away, the strut was bent and the alignment was shot. I can tell you that the cost of all those items would buy you a pretty nice system.

When I first started towing a car behind the motorhome, I could hardly tell it was there. I would tell my daughter, “Go look out the back window and see if we still have a car – I haven’t seen it in awhile.”

“Out of sight, out of mind” works, but only if you never look. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

[Editor: Check out the TireTraker TPMS system. We highly recommend it, or we would not have run TireTraker’s ads for years.]

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including the new Book 2 in his two-book series: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.

 ##RVT905

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Don Baker
2 months ago

Many years ago on the Payette River in Idaho there was a gentleman pulling a toad behind his motorhome and the toad had a flat. People approaching him and following him tried to signal him to get him to stop, but he refused to do so for many miles. This was in the summer and it was extremely hot and dry. Before he was finally stopped the toad tire had completely disintegrated. However that was the least of his problems. Once the tire had come off the toad started spewing sparks that started spot fires over several miles of steep canyon walls. The fire was eventually contained weeks or months later after burning several hundred thousand acres, causing the evacuation of a small community and several residences and businesses burned to the ground.
If you travel that road today there are still barren hills and an occasional burned tree that falls next to the road.
My understanding is that he was sued for the costs of fighting the fires and the totals ran into the several millions.
His reasoning for not stopping when he testified in court was that he was afraid people were mad at him for holding up traffic.

JC Travel Stories
11 months ago

I have a TPMS. Its soooo comforting. My first RV and toad I couldn’t see it unless I was on a curve in the afternoon’s low sun and then I could see its shadow. I used to think …. if its gone, do I really want to know or just keep going and head for Mexico? 🙂

Ron
11 months ago

With all due respect, you married a fool. There is just no excuse for thinking a TPMS is not needed.

John Koenig
11 months ago

When I activate my 4-way emergency flashers, my rear view camera comes on. I can only see about 6~8 feet behind me but, I guess it’s better than seeing nothing at all. I’ve been wondering if I can upgrade to a better camera; one that would allow me to have it pan up and down and maybe side to side?

tom,
11 months ago

Wrecked or damaged toad is more expensive than a tire pressure tracking system.
Been there, done that. New to me toad with tires I did not inspect. My bad.
Cost a rim, a tow, and 4 new tires. I also replaced the tiny donut spare with a real rim and tire. Amazon has new rims.

Vanessa Simmons
11 months ago

One word…MEN! 🙂

Jim Schrankel
11 months ago

Years ago a couples toad blew a tire, shredded down to the rim, sparks caused a massive roadside fire and they were charged with the cost of the damage and fire suppression. It’s not just an inconvenience, it’s a potential financial devastation.

Dean Y
11 months ago

We had a Tire pressure monitor system on both our Class A and on the flat tow car. We were in a small northern Indiana town and the alarm went off in the RV that we had a low tire. My wife wanted to turn off the irritating noise. We did not and I pulled into a shopping center parking lot and a tire was low on the toad. We had a valve stem fixed and we were on to the rally. I told a number of people and was told that flat tires on a toad can cause a fire and has burned up a toad and the RV towing the toad. I always had a system on every toad and stopped when the alarm sounded.

Diane Mc
11 months ago

We have a TireTraker system. Unfortunately, only on the motorhome. We got flagged down by a nice motorist on I-80 in Nebraska. The right front tire on our Mini Cooper was gone. Down to the rim. We have a back up camera, but never saw it. Not sure if it was a slow leak or a blow out. In either case, with a slow leak would have go caught much earlier and not damaged the front of the Mini, possibly. If. a blow out, TireTraker wouldn’t have prevented it. However, it would have alerted us and prevented a potential disaster if we had been somewhere not well traveled. (We sometimes take 2 lane back roads instead of interstates. Riding on the rim could have set the Mini on fire which could have reached the motorhome. We now have TireTraker sensors on the MIni. In fact, called them that evening and had them send to our next destination. Been nagging my husband about the MIni……lesson learned! PS….why do men think they can always “tell” things. LOL!

Howard
11 months ago

Know how to drive like a professional, just cause you have the money to buy it or make payments doesn’t mean you can drive it. Truck drivers stop and check tires, know what to look for. Your driving a personal big rig so you better know how to handle it. I know many won’t like this answer BUT it is truthful.You drive a big rig act like it. People don’t just buy a plane and decide to travel by air with our proper training.

Wolfe
11 months ago

TireTracker appears to be the gold standard, but if you don’t have as much gold, pick up a $20 Chinese 4-tire system (several as needed). Mine works flawlessly on a 35′ + crew pickup combo. Only caveat is you may need to add $10/4 for metal tire stems if you don’t have them already and use external sensors.