We have been using a tire monitoring system since shortly after we started fulltiming in 2000. It has saved us from problems
on numerous occasions by allowing us to catch tire inflation problems before they resulted in a blowout. It has been argued
to me that if you check your tires every morning you don't need a monitoring system. I used to believe this too, until I picked
up "road hazards" between checks (I check tires every time I stop) which caused catastrophic tire failure due to heat
buildup from low pressure. Believe me, unless you are VERY lucky, just the damage repair savings from one bad blowout will
more than pay for a tire monitoring system. The peace of mind, alone, is worth it to me.
Until the summer of 2004
we used a SmarTire system, which we really liked. The SmarTire system we had monitored up to 6 tire positions, and wirelessly
transmits temperature and pressure for each position. It worked well, but its weakness is the number of positions it will
support. We need to monitor the tractor, as well as 6 positions on the trailer. This prompted us to look for a system that
would support more than 6 tires. Another thing I disliked about SmarTire was it's inability to report over 127psi (this may
have been corrected on later versions). On high pressure trailer tires (110psi) you can easily exceed the 127 psi limit in
hot weather. [Note: As of 2005 SmarTire has a monitor system available that supports the number of wheel positions we would
There are two basic types of tire monitor systems available: those that attach to the valve stem (like PressurePro),
and those that place sensors inside the tire (like SmarTire). There are pros and cons to both types of systems. The largest
negative to the internal systems is the difficulty and expense of installation. SmarTire, although difficult to install, does
report internal tire temperatures as well as pressure. If you think you would like this feature, they are worth checking out.
are a number a systems on the market that support 12 or more tire positions, and use the valve stem sensor to transmit pressure
information. However, until PressurePro was developed there were significant issues with each of the systems, in MY mind,
Some systems require relays on the trailer and truck, since they will only transmit a short distance. Even
SmarTire required that we install an auxilliary pickup antenna on the rear of the truck, due to the overall length. Some systems
require transmitters to be custom built for a specific tire pressure. This means you can't move the sensor from the trailer
to the truck. This also means you can't decide to upgrade tires on the trailer from (say) E rated tires (at 80psi) to G rated
tires at 110 psi. Or even to change the inflation pressure based on loading.
the following desireable characteristics:
- it will monitor up to 34 positions, so it is expandable
by buying additional sensors.
- the sensor installs on the valve stem, so it is trivial to install (anyone, even the mechanically
"challenged" can do it). No rebalancing is required.
- each sensor is independently programmed by the user for the
position it is used in. Tire pressure is easy to change simply by taking the sensor off, adjusting the tire pressure, and
replacing the sensor.
- the sensors can be moved to any position.
- tire rotation is simple.
pressure range reported is up to 150 psi.
- the transmission range of the sensors is suitable for a 40' motorhome
with a toad, or a 40' trailer, pulled by a tractor, without adding an external antenna. Some longer units may require the
external antenna or repeater. We have not had a problem with reliable reception without the antenna when towing just our 38'
trailer. We did add the external antenna when we started towing doubles.
- an optional external antenna or repeater
is available if needed, but that is unlikely.
- the system reports pressure about every 5 minutes, EVEN IF you are still. This means you can check the truck and
trailer in the morning before you pull out simply by running through the display. You don't have to start moving to activate
the sensors just to find out you have a low tire you might have liked to top up. And you don't have to manually check the
tires with a gauge.
- it is easy to separate the tow and towed vehicle without causing false alerts because some tires are "missing".
You can move the display between the tow vehicle and the towed vehicle, like you might want to do in a motorhome.
- the display is very thin and can be mounted anywhere with velcro (see the picture for my mounting location).
- the sensors do not have a removable battery. They are sealed units and
need factory service when dead (about a 3 year lifespan). You do not have to pay $50 for a new sensor; the factory will send
you replacements for under $20 ad you can send your old sensors back later.
- because the sensor installs on the valve stem you should probably use metal valve stems. But you should be using
them anyway :-).
- the sensors are easily removed, so MAY be subject to theft. This would be true of any valve stem sensor. This is
probably not an issue for fulltimers, but if you put your rig in a remote storage area you may want to remove the sensors.
all the pros/cons, I think this is the best valve stem system available (as of 4/05).
Note: We have heard of at least one unresolved issue with a motorhome and toad. The toad has a manufacturer
(OEM) tire monitor system. Installation of a PressurePro on that vehicle resulted in inconsistent and sporatic data from the
toad. It could be that there was crosstalk with the OEM system. You should be aware of this potential issue if your toad has
a monitor system already installed. On the other hand, we ran a Smartire system in parallel with PressurePro without a problem....they
both worked at once.
For a comparison of the features of the various brands of monitors available (as of November 2006) you can download the
Excel file that follows.