tyre pressure

Do You Know How Much Pressure Your Tyres are Under?

Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) may not be mandated on cars and trailers in Australia, but from what I’ve experienced, you’d be mad not to have one.

Especially, when you can buy a TPMS at a very reasonable price. Yes, there’s more expensive ones around and I welcome you to compare the lot.

They Monitor Your Tyres’ Pressure and Temperature

Well, that pretty much says it all. By fitting small sensors to your tyres you get real time information on the pressure of the tyres and their temperature.

It’s important to know your tyres’ pressure because this can be the indicator to a puncture or slow leak. Also, as your tyre gets hotter (by driving down the road), incorrect tyre pressures can cause your tyres to get too high.

Tyres can get hotter when travelling on gravel / rough roads. So, again, its important to know the pressure in the tyres.

As I mentioned above, the tyres get hotter when driving. The temperature and pressure go hand in hand – so, it’s often a balancing game that you need to play and be aware of.

TPMS on sale at Amazon
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System

How Do They Work?

From my digging, there’s two different ways in which the TPMS works and this is based on where the sensors sense the temperature and pressure of the tyres.

One type are mounted internally (inside the tyre). This makes them harder for the basic owner to replace if needed and you need to tell the tyre shop or garage when they go to repair or change tyres

The second, simply fits onto the valve stem and sits outside the tyre. This may make it easier to be stolen, but there is a locking nut and there’s only so much you can worry about in life. These sensors are easy to get at and change over when you rotate the tyres etc

One small point is that the TPMS sensors need to be removed when you adjust the pressure in the tyres – inflate of deflate – but the benefits far outweigh any inconvenience.

Tyre Pressure
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Tyre pressureBe Alert and Not Alarmed

Unless, you experience a sudden catastrophic puncture / blowout, I believe that the TPMS should give you adequate warnings in the lead up to the vast majority of tyre failures. The TPMS can be programmed to alert you when the pressure gets too high or too low, and when the temperature gets too hot

The beauty of this alarm is that you get a chance to pull over in a safe manner and even take evasive action to save a tyre before it is irreparably damaged by not driving on it flat.

Pressure tyre
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The Perfect Tyre Pressure…

While I’m not a tyre pressure expert, I have spoken to tyre mechanics in Cunnamulla and Copley and, with the exception of sand and mud, I lean towards what they say when they tell me they keep their pressures the same but adjust their speed for the conditions. I say this because I understand that maintaining higher pressures can save the thinner tyre walls from sharp rocks on gravel roads.

I’ve recently changed to tyres with an ‘E’ Load Rating that effectively equates to a 10 ply rated tyre. With that and a GVM upgrade of 3.5 tonne means I run at higher pressures than others but I can also go lower with less bellowing of the sidewalls. It’s a long road to learn that I’m still on.

Regardless, the TPMS can be adjusted to cater for the new pressures with appropriate threshold warnings.

My Experiences travelling without a TPMS

In August 2018, I went west over the Simpson Desert and down part of the Oodnadatta Track and back up through Cameron Corner – without a TPMS. I suspect now that I may have saved myself around $400 if I had some warning that I had a puncture and could have perhaps saved the sidewall being destroyed just within sight of William Creek.

My first experience with TPMS was in Wales, United Kingdom, earlier this year when I was travelling along the M4 at night and hit something on the road. Naturally, my first reaction was to go through the mental checklist to identify any hull damage, engine or propulsion damage (much like Captain James T. Kirk on the USS Enterprise when he would have a frantic discussions with Scotty and other crew members). All clear… or so I thought.

Nek Minnit… the claxons sounded and the dashboard lit up! The TPMS was showing that the rear drivers side tyre was losing pressure. While it was not enough to lose control, I suspected that that moment wasn’t too far off – and I was on a motorway, in a strange (but very nice) country at night. So, I found my next exit (28PSI), found my next service stop (20PSI and found a nice safe place to stop outside a coffee stop (14PSI). I swore then that I’d get a TPMS when I got home to Australia and thanked myself for the forethought of paying extra for the tyre cover on the rental agreement.

Avoiding Punctures by having a TPMS

My second experience with a TPMS was just last week (about two months after I fitted my TPMS unit on Pedro the BT50), when I saw that the passenger side rear tyre was lower that the other three. At first, I blamed the guys who did the last service and checked my tyre pressures – but, the tyre lost about 6PSI after about 2 weeks. After a quick visit to the tyre mechanic, they’d checked the tyre for punctures and replaced a faulty tyre valve

Then there was the two punctures I had writhing 30 minutes of each other on a track that not many use. Check out https://www.facebook.com/2212201155696119/posts/2709287062654190/.

Tyre pressure unit

Priceless – When You’re Far From Home (and Around the Corner)

In my mind, my TPMS has paid for itself many times over. So much so, that I’ve bought another set which I’ve put on my camper trailer. This saved me a tyre when I travelled down the Darling River Run.

I have tried fitting them to my 19’ caravan but I think that they may be outside the range of these units and may need a different unit with a separate receiver.

My next task is to check with a tyre expert and work out a strategy on how to best use the TPMS intel’ (with its minimums and maximums) to give me the ‘good oil’ as I travel and camp this big brown land – and to keep you posted.

If you’re Out&About like me, you probably have a compressor and a tyre gauge – why not get a TPMS too.

Tyre pressure
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