We’ve finally got our butts on the coast (and yes, we are loving it), but before I reveal all the juicy details I wanted to complete a blog post that’s been on my pending list for a while. Those of you that follow the blog closely will recall that I put a TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) on my “big 5 wish list” late last year. For those not in the know, TPMS systems monitor how your tires are doing (pressure & temp) real-time on the road and can warn and potentially save you from serious/costly tire mishaps. I don’t consider them a “must have” item, but they sure are neat & provide nice peace of mind. Well, you’ll all be relieved to know we finally got one! In fact it’s been ~2 months since we’ve had it on the rig so that we could thoroughly test it out before writing about it.

Our final solution was the 10-sensor cap from Tire-Safeguard and overall we’ve been pleased with the performance.

After much ado here’s my full review:

Most Of The Major Suppliers Offer “The Basics”

Tire Safeguard

The 10-cap sensor from Tire-Safeguard

I should start by saying that most of the major TPMS suppliers (TST, Pressure Pro, EEZ, Doran etc.) provide very similar systems and I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with any of them. I was able to see (and hold) just about every model out there during the big RV show at Quartzsite earlier this year and they were all very similar in price in features. Pretty much all of them cost around $450 or so (for 10 sensors) and provide the following:

  • Temperature & pressure tracking
  • Audible & visible warnings for low pressure, slow air leak and high temp/pressure.
  • Flow-through or cap sensors with support for 10 sensors or more
  • Auto and manual set-up of threshold alarms
  • Warranty of at least 2 years

These are the basics. That said there are some differences between suppliers and a few reasons we got the particular model we did….

Positive Features of the Tire-Safeguard:

I like the size of our screen as well as that little green light on the top right

I really like the size of our screen as well as that little green light on the top right. Plus the range is excellent.

  • Larger Screen -> These guys offered a much larger screen than most of the other suppliers and that’s something I liked. I don’t want to squint to see what the system is doing while driving.
  • Much Longer Range -> When we bought this system the salesperson assured us we would not need a repeater for our MH+toad. I talked to all the major suppliers and Tire Safeguard was the only one who could guarantee that for our size. In fact I was down to choosing between TST 507 (also an excellent system) and Tire-Safeguard and this particular feature was the one that knocked me to Tire-Safeguard. I really like this since it’s one less piece of electronics to worry about. The great news is the claims were accurate. The TPMS has had no problem picking up all our sensors and was even able to pick-up our tow car while I was driving ~25 feet behind the motorhome out of a campsite.  We’ve been very impressed with the range and it’s probably my #1 “like” feature of this system.
  • User-Replaceable Batteries -> The batteries in the sensors for our system are easily changeable by the user. Older TPMS models didn’t offer this option meaning you had to send in the sensors (or buy new ones) when the battery ran out. Pretty much ALL the new TPMS systems offer this now and I consider it a “must have” feature.
  • Green Light -> This is a minor thing, but when plugged-in this TPMS monitor puts out a nice little green LED light at the top right when everything is OK (goes red if things are not OK). While I’m driving I really like the convenience of just glancing over and seeing that green light rather than looking at the screen for details. None of the other guys had this nifty little feature.

Details Specific To Our Set-Up

Pic of the cap sensor on one of our back duallys

Pic of the cap sensor on our back dually

We bought the caps (0.45oz) rather than the flow-throughs mostly because they are lighter and I don’t like the idea of a heavy thing rotating around on the end of our tire-stems. Many, many RVers buy the flow-throughs with no issues at all, so this is purely a personal preference. The caps come with a “collar” which is used to secure them to the stems but we chose not to use it. That way we can easily screw off the caps anytime we need to add air. There is no danger of the caps falling off, and the collar is mostly a security feature (so folks don’t steal the caps). We are OK with by-passing this for convenience and my inquiries on the forums reveals many other RVers do the same.

A little inexpensive anti-sieze is worth using

A little inexpensive anti-sieze is worth using before you screw on your sensors

When we got the system it was an easy task of taking off the existing caps from our tires and screwing on the sensors. We took the precaution (which I recommend) of using Anti-Sieze on all the caps before securing them onto the stems. This prevents potential galvanic corrosion issues between the metal of your stems and the internal threads of the sensors. Galvanic corrosion is a problem that happens when dissimilar metals come in contact with each other (e.g. aluminium and brass) and it basically causes them to “weld” together. It doesn’t happen to all metals (it depends on their Anodic Index), but it can be very costly if it does and it seems to be a particular problem with Honda CR-V’s (I’ve read of folks with CR-V’s who had to saw off their stems & replace them because of this very issue). Using anti-seize, or some kind of insulating grease like Vaseline is easy insurance. Also taking off the caps (if sitting still for a long time) can prevent this problem.

For installation we used the auto-programming feature and it was perfectly painless. The pressures on all the tires came within 1 PSI of the measured pressure (as taken by our manual pressure gauge) and temperatures matched very closely too (as taken by our handy dandy infrared gun). The entire set-up took less than 20 minutes.

Negative Features of the Tire-Safeguard:

  • Customer Service Was So-So -> We had a bit of a rough start with Tire Safeguard trying to contact the customer service and not being called back. We were buying the system with two other RV friends and they also had the same issues. That said, since we received the TPMS there has been no problem & we’ve had several additional conversations with customer service which were very well handled. We even returned one of the caps (suspected leak) and received the replacement promptly with no questions asked.
  • We’ve Had One False Alarm -> We had one tire show a false temperature of 144 degrees. Resetting the system cleared the alarm. From the forums I gather the occasional false alarm is not unusual in TPMS systems.
  • Acquisition takes Time From “Sleep Mode” -> We’ve noticed when sitting still that the sensors take a while to acquire after the unit is switched on. This is pretty typical of almost all TPMS systems since the sensors go into “sleep mode” when not in use to save battery life. Once the RV starts moving the sensors acquire quickly, but if we want to measure pressures before moving the rig (which we pretty much always want to do) we have to remember to turn on the unit ~20 minutes before we pull out. Not a big deal, but just something to be aware of.

Extra Tire Tips:

A TPMS is a pretty good safety system, but I think it’s important to understand some tire basics before you buy one:

We got our rig weighed at a CAT scale back when we first bought it & have since had 4-corner weigh done too.

We got our rig weighed at a CAT scale when we first bought it & have since had 4-corner weigh done too.

Get Your Rig Weighed: Before you install a TPMS system it’s critical to understand WHAT your tire pressure should be for the size of your rig. The #1 reason for blow-outs are either under-inflated or over-inflated tires. The only way to be accurate on this is to load your rig up, get her weighed (preferably 4-corners, but per axle is a good start) and then set the tire pressures as recommended by your tire manufacturer for your specific tire brand at your specific weight. There’s no better way around this. Loading and then weighing your rig should be one of the very first things you do when you get an RV. Don’t skimp this!

Understand How Pressure Varies With Temperature: Once you get your rig weighed and set your tire pressures, it’s important to understand how these pressures might naturally vary under different conditions. Pressure increases with temperature (it’s called The Ideal Gas Law PV = nRT) so as you’re driving your tires will get hotter and your tire pressure will increase. Similarly if your RV tires are sitting in the middle of Pheonix in summer the tire pressures will be naturally higher than if they’re sitting in the middle of Fargo in winter. To put this into numbers, air pressure in a tire typically increases 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature rise (and visa versa for drops). Big (sudden) changes in temp are signs of a problem, but these small changes are all perfectly normal and nothing to freak out about if you understand it properly. Here’s a neat little TABLE that shows how tire pressure varies with outside air temp.

EVERYONE should carry a simple truck tire gague

EVERYONE should carry a simple truck tire gauge

Always Have Back-Up Gauges: No matter how much you love your TPMS you should not forgo the simple back-up of a manual tire pressure gauge. What if your sensors fail? Or you need to check if they’re working? For under $20 everyone should have one of these in their rig. We’ve used a manual gauge for the past 4 years, checking our tire pressures before each trip in the rig. Easy and fast.

In addition, although not a requirement it’s nice to have an simple infrared gun as a back-up to check tire temps. As I mentioned above tire pressures will rise normally while driving, but if one of your tires is significantly hotter than the others this can indicate a serious problem. Also having an infrared gun is just plain cool :)

Know What To Do In A Blow-Out: I’ve linked to this video before, but it’s important enough to do it again. Did you know you should accelerate before you brake if you have a blow-out? Counter-intuitive right? EVERYONE should watch this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkwOE1yKY5c

Our nifty little tire covers

Tire covers are super-cheap insurance

Protect Your Tires During Down-Time: Anyone who’s left stuff sitting out in the hot sun knows how damaging it can be. Tires do best while driven and will deteriorate with UV and ozone exposure. There’s not much we can do about ozone (well, apart from not parking next to something obvious like welding equipment), but for the UV side we regularly protect our tires with Aerospace 303 and cover them with inexpensive tire covers whenever we’re sitting still for a few days. Overkill perhaps but it’s easy, cheap insurance in my mind.

PHEW! That ended up waaaay longer than I expected, but I hope it was helpful. We’ll get back to beach and easy, fluffy posts next :)

Related Posts:

Share the love (JPG)

You pay the same, we get a few dimes…

51 Responses to Monitoring Our Ride -> Review Of The Tire-Safeguard TPMS

  1. Ray Burr says:

    Great article Nina, thanks. They are on my wish list.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Glad ya liked it. These were on our wish list for a loooong time before we finally got them. Very happy with our purchase.

      Nina

  2. Richard Oliveria says:

    IMHO You need to get those woven extensions off your wheels… Disaster waiting to happen.

    Rich

    • libertatemamo says:

      We’re due to have our back tires replaced this year so I’ll ask the tire guy about them. Honestly haven’t heard of problems, but I’ll definitely look into it.

      Nina

      • Allison says:

        We’ve had the issue with leaking braided tire extensions. Our tires were constantly low, and then one was flat. Les Schwab (Washington state tire dealer) told us to get rid of them asap. So we did. We replaced them with a rigid extension and now our tire pressure is constant. Not everyone has problems, but it’s not that unusual.

        • libertatemamo says:

          Well now I have no excuse for not knowing. We’ve not had any issues for 5 years, but that’s not to say it won’t happen in the future. We’ll definitely get these switched out when we replace the tires this fall.

          Nina

          • Melvin Pierce says:

            Over the road trucks use a couple different tire air systems. Cats eye and Crossfire are two examples. Keep the pressure in both duals at exactly the same temp. They both use a braided line. I have had Crossfires on trucks for several million miles. Never had the braided line leak. Maybe they get theirs from a better supplier? Maybe some of just the extensions are a poor quality?

  3. Cherie says:

    Excellent article, thanks Nina!

    We have the PressurePlus 8000 system that we installed when we bought our bus 3 years ago.. and have been mostly happy with it. The sensors got a little wonky every so often, but that seems par for the course for a little device that battles road crime, weather and motion on a constant basis.

    A TPMS is by no means a replacement for good manual checks of the tires. We check the temps at stops, check lug nuts before departing and visually check everything over. We were even taught to learn the sound of your healthy tires when you thump a baton on them.

    We keep an IR Gun on board too… it has a built in laser pointer, and doubles as a cat toy. Everything in a RV needs multiple purposes :)

    • libertatemamo says:

      All fabulous tips, Cherie…especially the feline double-usage of the IR gun :)

      And totally agree that having a TPMS shouldn’t replace good, sensible manual checks.

      Nina

  4. Great post! Really appreciate your explanation of your selection process.

    We’re going to be on the Washington coast in a couple weeks (North Cascades first) and hoping to find some boondocking sites. Should be a challenge!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Lots of national forest campgrounds along the WA coast, but not so much free boondocking (that I know of). The NF campgrounds have a size limit so if you’re smaller you’ll have lots of good choice. We’ll be heading up the coast ourselves after our hosting ends in July, but we’re too big for most of the sites so we’ll be forced into private campgrounds :(

      Nina

  5. David & Kathy C. says:

    Great piece. I don’t know if you have touched on tires themselves. How to read the date on the tire and the life of the tire. Change them every 6 years and why. Aerospace 303 is good stuff, used it on my hot rods and cars for years.

    • libertatemamo says:

      The blog that I linked to at the bottom of my post “tire maintenance and handling tire blow-outs” goes through all of that :)

      Nina

  6. John and Pam says:

    One of our first purchases after our Progressive box for power monitoring was our tire monitoring system. Helps my peace of mind:)

    John has found that by loosening the cap it will “wake up” the sensor and he can tighten it and check the pressure before we leave. Good to know ahead if you need air.

  7. Gunta says:

    I skipped most of this. My old Prius told me when I had a slow leak from a nail. I’m assuming the newer model will also tell me. Ain’t all this technology wunnerful? :)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Our CRV has that technology too which is super-cool, but sadly it doesn’t help us when we’re towing it. I do wish the big rigs came with this stuff pre-installed.

      Nina

  8. Rowanova says:

    Great article, Nina. I definitely plan to use TPMS when. I hit the road fulltiming so this is useful info. Thanks.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Glad you liked it. It’s taken us a long time to get the TPMS, but I’m happy we have it now.

      Nina

  9. Gunta,
    Think you might want to take a closer read.
    Did your Prius’ monitor tell you “which” tire had the leak, or rather, just that you had a leak?
    Nice post Nina with lots of useful information.
    We’ve used some form of TPMS since 2004 and wouldn’t run without one.
    We have been “saved” on several occasions.
    I don’t find the temp. readings too helpful, however. The external sensor type are only able to measure the ambient air around the sensor, not actually inside the tire. Still, you are able to detect differences relative to the other tires.
    BTW, I like my IR thermometer as well. Very useful for many things around the RV.
    Good job on the post.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I find the temp monitoring kinda fun, but perhaps not too functional like you said. I’ll notice that if we’re travelling with hot sun on one side of the RV those monitors show a higher temp (and subsequently higher pressure). If we got a massive temp spike I’d be worried, but otherwise it’s more of just a fun extra data point.

      Nina

  10. Wayne Dyer says:

    Good review of TPMS..but did you understand the PV=NRV or whatever you said about it? I didn’t. What I know is if the gas exceeds the container, it blows up. You did some good research for the folks for sure.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I was a Science major (Physics, Chemistry, Maths) so that one I did actually understand :) But, you got the basics…not much more you need to know than that.

      Nina

  11. terry says:

    I noticed the antenna is different in the pics, can you help me out with the reason? thanks

    • libertatemamo says:

      Good catch Terry…and something I forgot to mention in the post. The antenna on the Amazon.com shot is not the one you get when it ships. You get a much longer antenna (~4-5 inches) which you can see some of in the pic with my hand. I’m not sure why they “cut” it off the Amazon pic…perhaps to make it look nicer or fit the pic better? The long antenna is part of the reason this device has such good range, but there are people who don’t like it for the same reason (they just don’t like the look). Our TPMS sits on left of the driver side so the antenna doesn’t bother me, and I much prefer to have the range, but that could be a negative to someone else. Thanks for bringing it up!

      Nina

  12. Jon says:

    I second Richard’s caution on the woven valve extensions. My tire shop services a lot of big commercial over-the-road trucks. They always advise replacing the woven valve extensions with solid metal ones.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Good to know. I’ll definitely address this when we get our back tires replaced in Sept.

      Nina

  13. mnwool says:

    Never heard of Anti-Sieze. Got to get me some. TST guaranteed I would not have a distance issues and when I did they sent me the repeater no charge. Well after discussions and resending them the emails of their guarantee. Your system looks great!

    • libertatemamo says:

      TST couldn’t guarantee me that I wouldn’t need a repeater when I talked to them at Q, so I guess they’ve learned not to offer. Still, I’ve heard great feedback from them as a company. People like the system and love (love) their customer service -> that’s worth a lot. They always come up on the forums as a good choice.

      Nina

  14. Doug says:

    Food for thought on the anti-seize: For galvanic corrosion to occur, there needs to be an electrolyte between the dissimilar metals. Your anti-seize could be playing that role. So on my TPMS, I just make sure the interface is completely dry. Plus, I periodically perform the “twist test” that John and Pam suggested. This would break up any corrosion that might develop.

    • libertatemamo says:

      To some extent this is possible, depending on the exact metals involved. Anti-sieze is a moisture barrier and water is the most common electrolyte out there, but there are some metallic elements in anti-sieze too. Paraffin wax or Vaseline would work too. The key is to keep water and salt out of the connections.

      Nina

  15. Stephen Agnor says:

    Nina, Borg Tire Supply is the source for the best dually valve stems. Not cheap, but you will not be disappointed.

  16. We had a Doran for five years. It didn’t have user replaceable batteries and we spent quite a bit on new sensors at $30/each as the batteries began to die. In Q this year we replaced it with the TPMS from Eez RV. We liked the size of the monitor and the fact that it didn’t have the external antenna like the Doran. The dealer told us if you turn off the monitor with the off/on switch instead of letting it go to sleep it would find the current tire pressure in just a few minutes, which it does. We are very happy with it so far.
    Gayle

    • libertatemamo says:

      Nice to hear the EEZ acquires so quickly. When we were at Q alot of our Monaco group had that model and liked it. I have to admit the monitor on the EEZ was the only other one I liked, apart from the Tire-Safeguard. It has a nice size.

      Nina

  17. Keepinontruckin says:

    Have you considered a pressure-equalizing system for the dual tires? That was becoming industry standard when I left tractor-trailer driving a couple years ago.
    I would agree with others that braided valve stem extensions are probably not a good idea, although I imagine they do make access easier.
    Your scale receipt showed you’re pushing the legal limits on axle weight, actually exceeding the rear of 20,000#.
    “Gauge” was mis-spelled, but I’m sure you realize that’s just a dyslexic error. :)

    • libertatemamo says:

      I’ll correct the dyslexia spelling :)
      We have not looked at pressure-equalizing systems. Actually haven’t heard of RVers using them, but now I wonder?

      I realize we’re just over the legal limits on the rear axel. Our subsequent 4-corner weigh showed us at 20,250 lbs, ~1% over. We don’t exactly carry much stuff back there so it’s simply the way the RV was built and it’s not an uncommon issue. Many of the 40-foot single rear-axle rigs exceed 20,000 lbs on their rear (some quite significantly) and this comes up quite often on the RV forums. They are actually rated to carry higher than 20,000 lbs, so from the mfg/spec point of view they are within limits, but (depending on state) they may exceed the legal limit. Since RVs rarely get weighed like commercial vehicles on the road it never really seems to come up as an issue, but yes it’s an accurate statement. I guess that also explains why you can’t really find many single-rear-axle 40-footers anymore (they’re mostly dual-axle now)…mfrs finally got wise.

      Nina

      • Will have to disagree with the “explains why you can’t really find single-rear-axle 40-footers anymore….”.

        There are several major manufacturers out there still making them. Tiffin, our manufacturer, has them in several of their models.

        • libertatemamo says:

          Indeed you are right. Looking closer at the new offerings out there the 42-footers are typically dual, but the 40-foot models still have a lot of single. I do think it pushes them far too close to the 20,000 lb limits.

          Nina

  18. Sherry says:

    Boy was this helpful Nina. Thanks so much for taking the time and obviously a great deal of effort to be so thorough.

  19. dan says:

    Good article Nina, and just in time for us. We are heading out in 9 days, and just ordered it. I think I clicked through you to get to the monitor with 6 wheels which works for us in a 5th wheel. We are heading to the NW from Texas to South Lake Tahoe, Oregon and then Washington State, maybe we will see you in Eugene again!
    Have fun and thanks for all the good information and pictures.

    Dan

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh excellent! And thanks so very much for using my link. Hope you like the system as much as we do and have a great trip!

      Nina

  20. […] I would highly recommend a tire pressure monitoring system if you are traveling.  We paid around $400.00 for it.  I think it is a small price to pay for your safety and the safety of your RV.  Do your research and decide what is best for your situation.  You can start with the link above to TST Truck System Technologies and go from there.  Also, a blog I follow called Wheelingit, has pretty much covered all the details.  She did an excellent review and reading it will give you a lot of insight toward making the right decision for you.  Hoover over this and it will take you to the excellent article on the Wheelingit site. […]

  21. Jimbo says:

    Nina a well done article I learned a couple of things by reading it. One I knew just did not think of the anti seize. I also had not known about acceleration after a blow out. I’ve had a few on trailers I was towing and always just let off the gas and slowly steered to the side of the road. It is obviously much different if the Tow vehicle has a blow out so a very informative article.

    • libertatemamo says:

      The procedure for a blow-out on a truck+trailer may be different (don’t know for sure), but in a MH the initial acceleration is an important step. Counter intuitive for sure.

      Nina

  22. […] Monitoring Our Ride -> Review Of The Tire-Safeguard TPMS […]

  23. JohnBJr53 says:

    Great review! Are you still happy with this system after some longer term usage? Getting ready to order one if so. Thank you!

  24. Tracy says:

    Great article and details. I have been looking for a TPMS with 10 sensors. I have looked at 8 companies and they all claim to be the best. Pressure Pro is made in the US and claims to be the first company doing this. They are also the most expensive and don’t have replaceable batteries. The one you chose has very little info on their website and are hard to reach by phone. Would you buy their system again? What would be your second choice today?
    thanks…

    • libertatemamo says:

      My second choice would be either TST or EEZ RV. Both offer systems with user-replaceable batteries (which I think is key) and both get good reviews from RVers. If you want a smaller screen TST is the best (and their customer service is top notch). EEZ RV is very similar to our system in size of screen.

      Nina

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.