Dear RV Shrink:
I have heard that owning a motorhome or a boat has been compared to throwing money into a black hole. We have been experiencing that lately. We bought six new tires a couple of years ago at the cost of almost $4,000.
Recently, we decided to add a tire pressure monitoring system that we see advertised in RVtravel.com (TireTraker). What we didn’t realize is there is a possibility of problems if our tires have balance beads in them. We never even thought about this when we purchased tires. We now see on our tire invoice that our tires were balanced with beads instead of weights.
My husband wants to just buy the monitor system and take our chances that everything will be fine. I don’t want to spend $500 to see if the beads will clog the sensors or not.
Can you talk some sense into my husband’s careless attitude about sensors? —Tired in Tucson
I emailed TireTraker and received this answer from the company:
As long as a filtered valve core was/is installed there would be no issue. If it’s just the normal valve stem, then the beads could leak and damage the sensors. The Lifetime Warranty covers the monitor and the sensors should they fail by no fault of your own. We would repair/replace any components for the duration of your ownership.
You might monitor the comments on this post. Perhaps someone has tried using a pressure monitoring system with balance beads and will post their experience. I do know you will spend as much to have your beads removed as you will on the system. I also have balance beads and, like you, had no clue I was getting them. I just assumed when I bought tires I would get weights.
For those thinking about tire purchase it would be wise to make that decision ahead of time and not let some tire business make it for you without even asking. Someone specializing in RV tires will probably have the equipment to balance large tires. Many businesses do not and opt to toss a bag of beads or powder in each tire for balancing. I am no tire expert, but have been told by a few professionals that the powder can damage tires and wheels.
At this point your cheapest option would most likely be new filtered valve cores. We asked RV tire expert Roger Marble at RVtireSafety.com to weigh in on this subject, and his comments are posted below.
Until then, keep a close watch on your husband’s beady little eyes and don’t let him do something foolish without first exploring all other options. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink