Today’s RV gadget review is of the TST tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) that came with my new Rockwood Mini Lite 2205s. How is this relevant to you? Stick with me, fellow camper.
I have been well aware of tire pressure monitoring systems for years, of course. These have been coming with several RV brands for a while, and I have friends in my own Rockwood Facebook Group that have these installed on their rigs.
But I also thought that there was no reason to really want this gadget only because I’m pretty good about checking the air pressure in my tires before I head out. Further, my previous trailer had MayPop tires and I replaced those with Goodyear Endurance. This new trailer already came with Endurance tires.
So why do I need this kind of gadget? I was surprised by the number of reasons.
Not just tire pressure
The most obvious thing the TST tire pressure monitor does is relay the tire pressure to a small screen that came with the device. This screen is intended to be in the cab of your tow vehicle, of course.
But in using this, since it came with the rig, I found that it also relays temperature of the tires.
All tires heat up as you roll down the road. The maximum tire inflation pressure is there because tire manufacturers calculate what the tires can hold weight-wise with the understanding that tire inflation pressure increases with heat.
That heat comes from the friction of your tires going down the road, essentially.
With the tire pressure monitor relaying how hot a tire is, it’s a point of interest. But, more than that, if you see one tire that is notably different in heat or inflation pressure, then you know something’s not right.
This could be a wheel bearing or a bad tire or any other cause. And knowing that there’s an issue before that issue becomes a roadside hazard is a good thing. A very good thing.
As we’re driving down the road I occasionally check the tires and make sure that they’re all about the same pressure and temperature. This is easily done by simply looking at the screen. That screen indicates each tire in green when things are within a range you have specified.
You also get an audible sound if a tire gets out of range—so you don’t have to keep an eagle eye on the display.
The lazy way
I had mentioned also that I was in the habit of checking all the trailer tires before I headed out, but I didn’t mention the truck’s tires. The reason I didn’t get my tire pressure gauge and check the truck’s tires is that there’s a display on the instrument cluster that shows me the tire inflation pressures.
I check this before we head out.
Now I can also simply check the tire pressure monitor display for the trailer as well without busting out my tire pressure gauge. This is pretty nifty.
I’ve often written that if you want to know the laziest way to accomplish anything, ask someone who looks like me. I’ve mastered the art of getting things done with the least amount of effort, but that way I can write more stories for all of you. It’s all about efficiency.
Setting this up isn’t that complicated, but it is a bit nerdy. You take the screen and bring it close to the tire you want it to read. Through a series of menus it “finds” the tire pressure monitor and you assign it a position on the display.
The reason it’s done this way is so you can accommodate all sorts of rigs. You could use this on an 18 wheeler, a passenger car, or even several vehicles.
Once the system is set up, you just flip the switch on. After a few moments, it has found all the tire pressure monitors in your rig and starts showing what they’re reading. Turning this thing on has become standard operating procedure now before any trip.
There are several types of tire pressure readers that TST makes. Mine happened to come with the trailer so they were inside the tires mounted to the wheel, much like inside the tires of my truck.
But you can also get readers that simply screw onto the ends of the Schrader valve, which is the valve stem of the tires on your vehicle.
These might really be helpful if you have a motorized rig that has duals where the inner tire is difficult to read. Having a system like this installed simply takes a glance at a screen to keep tabs on things.
Speaking of tires
A few questions I see asked in various places about tires include whether or not it’s a good idea to fill them with nitrogen.
It doesn’t hurt and, according to Continental, nitrogen-filled tires are advantageous because nitrogen gas doesn’t support moisture or combustion. Compared with ambient air – which contains roughly 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, plus miscellaneous gases – pure nitrogen is an inert, non-flammable gas. Essentially, it’s dry air with the oxygen wholly removed.
If you have nitrogen-filled tires, you can certainly add just plain air. But if you want to fill with nitrogen, you can do so at many warehouse clubs when you’re a member. Some tire dealers, too, will top off the nitrogen in your tires.
It’s always best to measure your tires in the morning before the sun has a chance to really affect the inflation pressure.
Further, check with the manufacturer of your vehicle for the proper inflation pressure. This is true of all vehicles, including towables, as well as anything with an engine or motor. Typically they calculate what load the suspension and vehicle are designed to carry and then what inflation pressure results in the best balance between ride comfort, fuel efficiency and safe handling.
Just because the tire has a maximum inflation pressure on the sidewall doesn’t mean that that’s the best choice for the tires on your vehicle.
Now that I have the tire pressure monitoring system I see the value in it. I was being cheap, which is another of my traits. But I don’t think I’d have an RV without a tire pressure monitor again, quite frankly.
I like that you can monitor the tires as you’re shuttling down the road. You can also keep an eye on things that could become problems before they take you off the road.
Most of all, this is a much lazier way to do a much better job at keeping an eye on your tires. As I’ve often said, anything that puts a feather in your cap from a safety standpoint is absolutely worth considering.