Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way. I’m not affiliated with, recommending or receiving payment from Truck System Technologies or any other companies that manufacture Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. I simply wanted to share our experience, just in case any of you are interested.
Alan and I log a LOT of road trip miles. Our first travel trailer had over 40,000 miles on it when it “retired.” Our current travel trailer is closing in on 15,000 already. Earlier this year, Alan and I decided to invest in a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) so that we could monitor the temperature and pressure of our travel trailer tires while we were on the road. Our reasoning and my very non-technical research can be found in my post from February called “The Least Technical Post You’ll Ever Read About Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems” (link HERE). We decided against a flow through system and chose a cap sensor system instead. Our purchase was the 507 Series 4 Cap Sensor system from a company called Truck System Technologies (TST). At the time we bought it, we still had snow on the ground and limited access to the tires of our travel trailer. Alan ended up installing the system shortly before our trip to the Florida Keys in May – a trip that provided a test of more than 4,000 miles for the new system. If you’re interested in our experience setting it up and a report based on our road trip experience, read on. If the thought of slogging through a post on a TPMS bores you to tears then, by all means, please go read a post on another one of your favorite blogs – but please be sure to come back another day! (We’ll all miss you if you don’t!)
Before I continue, let me provide you with the link to the TST web site where you can find a complete description of the TPMS we bought – 507 Series 4 Cap Sensor System with Color Display (link HERE). This way, you’ll have all the information at your fingertips (and I don’t have to type it all out).
|Photo credit: www.tsttruck.com|
Please note that we did not buy our TPMS directly from TST at the cost of $349.00 which was the price noted on their web site when I drafted this post; we purchased it from Camping World for $296.99 plus tax and with free shipping. Now you can understand why I referred to a decision to invest in a TPMS. The systems don’t come cheap but, if they work properly, they can up your safety-on-the-road quotient and provide relatively inexpensive insurance against more serious trouble by alerting you to potential tire issues as they arise. That’s our position anyway.
|See the 3 greenish rectangles? We're waiting for the monitor to recognize the 4th tire sensor.|
We ran into one glitch when we pulled the TPMS out of its box and began to program the sensors so the system would correctly report the status of Tire #1, Tire #2, Tire #3 and Tire #4 on the travel trailer. We did not need to program the four tires on our GMC Sierra 2500 because the truck already has its own internal TPMS. However, one of the reasons we did choose the TPMS from TST was due to the option of adding additional cap sensors in the future for both our boat trailer and our utility trailer. This system can monitor up to 110 tires – 14 in the power position and 4 individual trailers at 24 tires each. (Mind-boggling, isn’t it?) For now, though, we just had the 4 cap sensors to install on our Outdoors RV travel trailer.
The glitch we ran into was that, when we first started trying to program the sensors (or, in more basic terms, teach the TPMS where each tire was located on the trailer – such as “front driver side” or “back passenger side”), we couldn’t get the system to recognize any of the sensors. You do this by numbering your cap sensors (from 1 to 4 in this case), choosing which number will be assigned to which location on the trailer, selecting that particular tire location on the monitor while holding its matching cap sensor near the monitor so they can talk to each other. We had to read through the directions several times to get the button-pushing sequence down, but programming the TPMS was not a difficult process. However, we spent about 45 minutes trying to get the system to accept the tire locations and it just wasn’t recognizing anything. So, we bought a new set of batteries and tried again. Still nothing. (Another reason we purchased this particular TPMS was because the batteries in the sensors are relatively inexpensive and we can easily change them ourselves. Apparently, this is not the case with all systems.) In the comments on the iRV2 forum I had read in February, TST was reported to provide excellent customer service and we certainly could have called them for help when we ran into difficulty. But, before it came to that, Alan figured out that there was a “sweet spot” near the bottom of the monitor in the middle. If he held the cap sensor at that particular spot, the system immediately recognized the sensor and assigned the appropriate location to it. After Alan finished programming the sensors, he decided on settings for the alerts (high pressure, low pressure and high temperature) and entered those, as well. That was it – done! Successful programming completed! Now for the installation of the cap sensors.
|This pic shows exactly how far out from the tire the sensor sticks out.|
To install a sensor on a tire, you simply remove the valve cover from the tire and screw the sensor on in its place. The sensors in this particular TPMS came with a theft deterrent feature. A “key” is required to “unlock” a sensor so that it can be removed from the tire while air is added. Two keys were included with the system – be sure to keep one readily available and know the location of the backup! This feature truly is optional; if you wish, you can remove the theft deterrent devices from the sensors. Replacement sensors cost approximately $40.00 to $45.00 each, so you can decide for yourself whether or not the theft deterrent feature is worth any inconvenience.
|The sensors look like chubby valve caps and aren't very noticeable.|
This particular system comes with two options for your display monitor. You can place the monitor in a bracket that suction cups to the windshield or you can set it in a small, non-skid rubber holder that sits on your dash. (The monitor is 2.5” x 4.5” and the rubber base is 4” x 4.5.”) Since the truck doesn’t have an internal GPS system, we run with a Garmin GPS unit suction-cupped to our windshield and we didn’t really want to add another monitor there. So, Alan tried driving with the TPMS monitor in its little rubber holder tucked into the driver’s side corner of the dash. Perfect! At a glance, he can easily see the monitor as it goes through a continuous cycle of reporting the temperature and pressure of each of the four travel trailer tires. Our system has a color monitor, as well as both audio and visual alerts when it detects a problem. Just so you know, the system does take maybe five minutes or so to acquire signals from all the sensors. So don’t turn it on and expect an instant readout. Below is a 17 second video of the unit cycling once through all four tires on the travel trailer. You'll see each of the four little green "tires" blink in sequence and the monitor will indicate the temperature and pressure of each. (Yes, I do know that I should have used a tripod, but I didn't feel like walking all the way back to the house to get it.)
The individual sensors run on those flat round batteries that are used in a number of electronics (#CR1632 – just in case you want to check the price of replacement batteries), but the monitor has a rechargeable battery. Whenever we got a low battery signal, we would simply shift the monitor’s location on the dash and plug it into a USB port in the truck console for a few hours. A 12 volt charging option is included, as well. Easy peasy.
This TPMS system comes with an extender (also known as a repeater) which will help if your trailer tires are too far from the monitor in your vehicle. Our travel trailer is about 32’ including the hitch and we had no problem with the signal from the cap sensors on the tires reaching the monitor without the extender. For anyone dealing with a longer distance between the sensors and the monitor, the extender can be attached to the rig somewhere in between the tires and the monitor, inside or outside. If you have a travel trailer, the hitch would seem like a good place for the extender, especially because the extender does require a steady, 12 volt power supply and, in that location, it can be easily attached to the battery and secured in the battery box. That’s where Alan was planning to put our extender if we needed it.
As for the unit’s performance, the good news is that we encountered no trouble with our tires throughout the trip. So, the bad news is that I can’t report how the TPMS worked when an issue came up. Honestly, I hope to never have the opportunity. But having that small monitor sitting unobtrusively on the dashboard, constantly reporting the status of our trailer tires, provided great peace of mind. Do we consider the purchase of a TPMS a worthwhile investment? Absolutely! Are we happy with the 507 Series 4 Cap Sensor system from TST? So far, so good! Due to our limited experience with this TST TPMS, it’s hard to say whether or not it was a good choice – we just don’t have enough of a track record with it yet. But I will say that we’re off to a good start!