Originally Posted by Steve Ownby
We all have to decide what tools make sense for us. Certainly checking psi cold each travel morning should be thought of as necessary. I, however, have never been able to tell a 10/15/20 psi difference by thumping. What is a "pain" about having a properly operating TPMS. I do understand that they are somewhat expensive. I have used a TPMS for about ten years now and I'm comfortable with the accuracy of the monitors. On a travel morning I step through the tire positions on the monitor and look at the cold pressures. The big thing you get with a TPMS is protection it the case of an over the road lost of pressure from what ever cause. I had this happen on an inside dual. The puncture happened early on a travel day. Without the TPMS warning I would have run flat for some time and perhaps blown out the outside duel from being grossly over weight. On a motorhome, a lot of couch damage can be caused by a blowout and anything I can do to prevent one is high on my list. I made my decision on TPMS ten years and about 75k miles ago and I would not want to travel without it.
The purpose of thumping is just to see if the inside or outside duel is inflated or not. It is not to gauge with any accuracy the exact tire pressure. Agreed you can't tell 10-20lbs difference. When a trucker tells me they can hear the difference in 10lbs at a truck stop with 100 rigs running I am quick to say...hey let's put a hundred bucks on it....Ive yet to have anyone take me up on the offer. Same with the drivers my company employs.
10 and many times 20 lbs isn't going to make a difference or shouldn't make a difference on big rig tires unless they are being run at the exact capacity and psi required for the weight. Hopefully, RV owners and truckers have some contingency built into whatever PSI they decide to run based on weight.
However, you can tell a difference in 50 or more pounds and you can definitely tell the difference between full and flat.
I put a gauge on my tires once a weekish. I do a visual inspection at every fuel stop and every morning before departure with a flash light. You would notice during a visual inspection a substantially low front tire. However an inside or outside duel may look perfectly normal and be completely flat. A thump lets you know this.
IMO the most important things regarding the tires cannot be determined from a TPMS. Its a fact with more automation and monitoring people pay less attention. Accidents rates went up with the introduction of ABS brakes because people felt the technology would enable them to drive faster in bad conditions. The most recent example has got to be the Asiana Boeing 777 crash in San Francisco. (Coincidentally I was at the airport that day to fly out for a business metering and watched the plane crash).
In this case all (5) of the pilots on board that day were clueless how to land the plane in absolutely perfect VFR conditions because they has so over relied on automation.
Back to tires.....
There is no TPMs that can look at the condition of the tread. I look for any chunks of tread mission, cuts, deep scrapes, sidewall damage or cracking and I feel the top and outsides of the tires...with gloves on gotta protect my hands lol......and I feel for any lumps, bumps and bulges. I visually look for any foreign objects that may have punctured the tire. Very often a tire can have a nail or spike imbedded in the tire but not be leaking. When that tread gets hot from friction and if the belts have been pierced with the object still embedded a nasty separation can occur often without any warning even from a TPMS.
A tire an be perfectly inflated but be tremendously unsafe to drive on.
I've hinted I own a company that is in the RV industry and I have taught.....well over 1,000 people hands on.....how to drive, operate and maintain their coach. I am often asked my option of TPMS and I universally have been against them.
My biggest concern is over reliance on a TPMS and someone not doing a full walk around / inspection before departure and at fuel stops.
This doesn't mean I'm any more right or wrong than anyone else. Just my humble opinion.
I always suggest buying good quality tires. If the coach has Goodyears trash them...use the TPMS money to do so if needed. Lol. I'm not a fan of buying Doublecoins and Hankooks and all of those other brands I can't pronounce. Again....my opinion.
I always have a chuckle when someone spends a ton of money to buy a coach or TT then wants to put cheap tires on it.....to each their own. My uncle would buy an 80-100k car and put the cheapest no name tires on it.....really didn't understand it.
As far as a TPMS being a pain, when I still owned my dealership my service department installed a couple of different brands of TPMS systems. I can't even remember the brand now...but they were horrible to get to sync up and the longer coaches had difficulty without adding a signal booster. Also, if we got them working they usually failed after a brief period of time.
Granted this was in the earlier days of TPMS so perhaps the technology has improved.
I also am a believer in less is more specifically with buttons and gauges to distract a driver when driving. TPMS just adds another item for someone to get focused on and have tunnel vision trying to cycle through or interpret a warning. I am not a fan of half of the gauges and buttons manufactures put on the coaches or cars in general. IMO the turbo boost psi is useless as well as some of the other gauges. Does a person really need a button to toggle from a car horn to air horn? Same with the dash radio on / off. Here's an idea just wire it up to always be on and if you want it off use the on/ off button from the head unit.
I'm sure antidotally there are people who have success stories with a TPMS avoiding a problem....like the one you shared. In my experience with an extreme amount if miles driven in RVs and by my company trucks / coaches......I do not believe it is a worthwhile expense.
Just my opinion.