After having the Doran Pressure Pro and Tire Sentry tire pressure monitoring systems on my RV, I recently completed a conversion to the SmarTire system. Whereas Tire Sentry and Pressure Pro use external sensors, the SmarTire system uses internal sensors. Not only are these sensors theft proof, but they also afford the ability to to report tire temperature as well as pressure. Internal sensors also made it easier to add air to the tires because I was able to return to the small valve caps that the chassis originally came with. So, after having some level of success with the Tire Sentry I decided to make the move to the SmarTire system.
The SmarTire system is a bit more pricey and it does require professional help in order to dismount and remount the tires when installing the sensors, but otherwise is a very clean install.
The basic system consists of 6 sensors for every wheel on the RV, a receiver unit, a remote display, and a three antenna arrangement.
In addition, I also ordered a complete set for the Wrangler which consisted of 4 sensors, a receiver unit, and a remote display.
The toad kit did not require an external antenna because the receiver was easily capable of picking up the signals from the Jeep. Now, I didn't have to get this entire setup. I could have just ordered the 4 sensors if I wanted to monitor the Jeep while towing. However, when using my Tire Sentry I did have a blowout on the Grand Cherokee that destroyed the tire. Unfortunately, while driving the toad I was 15 miles away from the RV so I didn't know I had cut the tire on a rock and has a leaking tire until it was too late and the tire was destroyed. I also had to remember to remove them from the Wrangler when off-roading or else risk knocking them off on rocks.
The hardest part was removing the tires and taking them to a truck tire center to install the sensors. The Bus did look strange sitting in my driveway on jack stands without any wheels during that day.
The sensors attach to a worm drive hose clamp which goes around the wheel rim. Once the tires are off it's a simple install.
I ordered the SmarTire system from Bob Dickman Tire Center
in Junction City, Oregon. They are located right across the street from Country Coach in Junction City and are the largest distributer of SmarTire systems and I received excellent service from them. I was able to talk to 3 different persons on 3 separate occasions and everyone was very knowledgeable and more than willing to assist. Country Coach, as well as a number of other high end brands use the SmarTire system as OEM equipment.
I found that the SmarTire setup was really a class act. In order to conserve battery life, the sensors only report data when the tire is turning. These new generation II sensors are purported to last 7 years until needing service. At that time, I'm assuming that you have to send them in for exchange or whatever, similar to the Doran sensors. The only drawback to that is that you have to pay to have the tires dismounted/mounted. Although, with a 6 year life expectancy on RV tires, maybe that could coincide with a tire replacement anyway.
The new sensors will report a seriously low tire as soon as the ignition is turned on but normal reading occur within a few revolutions of the wheel. I found the construction quality to be far superior to that of the Doran or Tire Sentry sensors.
The temperature feature was also helpful. You may have equal tire pressures but you might find that one wheel is running hot. This could happen from a number of conditions. You may have a brake dragging, a wheel bearing starting to go, or you might just be a bit overloaded on that one wheel. The system will warn if the temperatures get too high in the same manner as it warns for low tire pressures. Another advantage of monitoring temperature is that the pressure warnings are temperature compensated. This means it won't give false alerts based upon temperature changes. If you want to know more about this check out the Dickman Tire site, who has more information on this.
The SmarTire system has the ability to display this information in a number of ways. The most popular is the remote display adapter.
I chose to install this display unit in the Wrangler. You can use it to program your tire pressure as well as temperature thresholds and also handle any tire rotations. By far this is the most popular adapter. For the RV, I chose to use the new round in-dash gauge display unit.
This unit is back lit with a white light that is controlled by the dash lights dimming circuit. It will flash amber and an alert will sound in the event of a pressure or temperature alert. This fits into a standard 2" gauge hole and was an excellent match with the Freightliner white faced gages with chrome bezels.
Because the round gauge doesn't have any pushbutton control, like the rectangular display does, it came with a separate switch pod. Three back lit buttons controlled the same functions as the three buttons on the rectangular display module and I located this on the side console within easy reach.
Geting signals to the receiver was easy. It came with three coax cables and antennae - one 20' antenna cable went near the front axle while a 40' antenna assembly went just ahead of the rear axle. Yet a third 60' antenna setup went to the rear bumper area to pick up the toad. This 3 antenna system gave perfect reception with good strong signals that never once blinked.
If you don't want to have a display module there are some other alternatives. The SmarTire can communicate with a JIB (J1709 Interface Box) that taps it into the J1709 data buss that your engine computer uses. You can display this information on a Silverleaf trip computer display (that's the way Country Coach and Marathon Coach do it) or a TripTek system. This gives you lots of options in deciding just how you would like to integrate the system into your RV. I chose the 2" round gauge because it looked the most OEM. Besides, I already had a 2" hole in the dash where the Tire Sentry used to be so it had to be filled with something and a guy only needs so many clocks.
The helpful folks at Dickman Tire preprogrammed everything to my exact tire pressures for both the Jeep and the Allegro Bus. When the package arrived (same day shipping - even with the programming) I immediately wired up the receiver and ran the antenna cables. The next day I had the tires mounted and by the time I left the driveway I was reading pressures and temps.
The display will alternate between the RV and toad. Under normal conditions it'll just sit there quietly until either a low pressure or high temperature warning is given. If you want, you can cycle through the tires displaying each wheel's pressure or temperature. You can also cycle through in a pressure differential mode. This mode will tell you how much that tire's air pressure varies from the normal pressure and will read in plus or minus PSI. The same holds true for the Jeep. When not towing, the RV's system will ignore the fact that the toad is not there. As soon as it's in range it'll automatically add it to the system. You can have two toads programmed if you want and it'll replace the one with the other should you switch toads. All with no operator intervention. All in all I really like this system and am very glad that I made the switch.
For more information you can check out the SmarTire
or Bob Dickman Tires
website (he has lots of installation "PDF" docs you can print or download). Also, Camping World is now selling and installing the SmarTire system.