By Roger Marble
This is a quick post on the need to know how to properly maintain your tire inflation; another personal opinion piece from this Tire Design Engineer.
I recently read this question on a Facebook page: “Where do you take your motor home to get air pressure in tires checked?”
There were a number of comments questioning if the person asking the question should even be driving. Some offered that they could get air at a truck stop. Others felt the person asking the question might not be sufficiently trained in the safe operation of a large motorhome.
I offered the following:
Safe operation of your RV, and car or truck, includes having the tires properly inflated ALL THE TIME. A tire failure is just not an expensive inconvenience. Your vehicle on the side of the road is a safety hazard for both you and every vehicle that passes your disabled vehicle. More than half of all tire failures can be traced to their operation with insufficient air pressure.
Every RV should have a TPMS
In my opinion, every RV, from a 45-foot motorhome to an 8-foot trailer, should have a tire pressure monitor system, or TPMS. It should be properly programmed and checked for operation at least once a year. Since 2005, almost all cars have been equipped with this critical safety device, as mandated by the Department of Transportation.
I can only guess why the DOT decided to exclude RVs from this safety requirement. Was there pushback from the RV industry and the importers of lower-cost ST-type tires – as there might have been when improved qualification tests were implemented on passenger and light truck tires in 2002 when ST-type tires were excluded from the requirement to pass more demanding testing? IMO, there is no excuse for not having a TPMS on your RV.
While it is true that personal injuries due to tire failures in RV application are minuscule compared to the number on cars and trucks, they are not zero. It does appear that reducing personal injuries is the driving force behind DOT safety requirements. With so few injuries occurring that involve tire failures on RVs, there is probably little or no pressure on the DOT to improve the safety of tires in RV application (ST-type tires).
Check the TPMS each morning before you get on the road
If you check the TPMS each morning, you should notice any loss of air pressure and can adjust the tire pressure while at the campground – where you don’t have a car passing 6 feet away at 70 mph. No tools are required to install a TPMS. No special mechanical knowledge is needed to program the system, either, other than being able to read the instructions.
Claiming that you check your air pressure at each rest stop isn’t good enough unless you can let us know how you check the pressure while driving 50 mph down the highway, or guarantee with 100% certainty that no valve core will ever leak after a tire had its pressure checked.
Have a tire question? Sign up for Roger Marble’s new Facebook Group: RV tire news, information and discussion, hosted by RVtravel.com and moderated by Roger. He’ll be happy to help you.