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Monday, March 5, 2012

Tire Monitoring

Pressure Pro

I know a lot of truckers choose pickup trucks pulling 5th wheel trailers as their RV of choice.  In 2003, I bought my first 5th wheel trailer to tow behind a Silverado 2500 HD with a Duramax diesel and Allison transmission.  I have been more than happy with and still own both of them.  My wife and I make our annual trip back to Wisconsin towing our fifth wheel and have a blast.
Along about 2005, I had an incident happen that scared the heck out of me.  I was on vacation in southern Utah and stayed overnight at a campground.  The next morning, I got up and prepared to drive to my destination, which was Grand Junction, CO.  As always, I did a complete walk around of the truck and trailer which included a close inspection of all tires and wheels.  Everything was good, so I took off going west on I-70 towards Colorado.  

From the driver’s seat of my pickup, it is impossible to see the back tires of the tandem axle trailer.  The tires on the forward axle are the only ones visible.  Cruising down the interstate at about 65 MPH approximately 40 miles later, I noticed out of the corner of my eye some black chunks of something flying towards the median on the driver’s side.  Thinking they must be small birds flying back there, I looked more closely and sure enough, it looked like tire rubber.  That was absolutely the only clue that I had, a back tire went flat.  I felt nothing abnormal in the steering or control of the unit.  That scared me!  Think, if it had happened after dark,  I would probably have never known until the other tire heated up and exploded on that side of the trailer.  You can imagine what could happen while cruising down the interstate at 65MPH after that trailer dropped to the wheels!

So that started me looking around the Internet again.  I had heard about tire pressure monitors, but never really paid much attention, as I did not really see a need for them, myself.  After a lot of surfing and research, I found a great system that fit my needs and did not break the bank.  The name is Pressure Pro and I have been using since 2007!  For under $800, I got a monitor for the cab of the truck, 10 wheel sensors that screw on to the valve stems of the wheels and a signal booster that boosts the sensor signal from the trailer to the truck.  Part of that $800 was $70 for the booster, which I don’t think I even needed.  As long as your sensors are within 40 feet of the monitor, I think I would be fine without it.

The piece of mind that I have experienced while towing is worth much more to me than the cost of the system.  Although, since I started using Pressure Pro in 2007, I have not had a trailer tire go down, the system started to pay for itself last September on our trip back to Wisconsin.  In Minneapolis, towing our fifth wheel, during Sunday afternoon rush at 65 MPH, the monitor started beeping.  I looked up and it was a rear tire on the truck going down.  I was able to get the unit stopped off an exit before tearing up the tire.  As you veteran drivers know, when you have a tire carrying it’s maximum rated load, it doesn’t take much to destroy a flat tire at highway speed.  The ten ply tires on my truck cost way north of $200 each and I think the cost of a new one was saved!  A tire shop was able to make a simple repair (cracked valve stem) and that tire is still on my truck today.  Not so incidentally, I will now and forever, always have metal valve stems installed with any and all tire changes!

In some states out west, it is legal to tow a small trailer behind a fifth wheel trailer.  I have seen many odd combinations out here in Utah.  People will pull a small trailer out back with a couple motorcycles or 4-wheelers on it.  Problem is, that trailer is totally invisible to the driver!  If a tire goes down, their only warning might be when that trailer is flipping around behind them, tossing their expensive toys all over the highway.

I will put a link to Pressure Pro here and I want to state that I have no personal or monetary interest in promoting Pressure Pro.  This is a product that has served me well and I am sure there are competitors out there.  Over the last few years there may be better or worse products on the market.  Pressure Pro has probably made improvements to their system as well.  I hereby leave the research up to you!

PS  I the current pricing when I looked at their website.  The monitor is priced separately at about $200.  Make sure to get the one that shows enough wheel positions, not only the towing unit, but the towed unit.  The wheel sensors are priced at $50 each!  That is quite a shock, It's about the same pricing as back in 2007!  Do the RESEARCH!  There is a cheaper way though.  Buy only enough sensors for the tires you need to monitor, especially the tires you cannot see. You can get a monitor and 6 sensors for about $500. Driving your towing unit, you should be able to feel a tire going down and really not need sensors on that. Check out the competitors, but this product worked for me.

Click on the link below to go right to the Amazon Store, Thanks, Dan

PressurePro 6 Wheel TPMS System

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