OVER the years I’ve used a number of brands of different tyre-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) but more recently I needed one that kept a check on my camper tyres as well as the tyres on my tow rig.
The importance of that came to light when we were up north a while back and I destroyed a tyre on the camper, which on investigation had been slowly deflating to the point of overheating and delaminating. With my old system limited to just monitoring four tyres, I went looking for something else that could handle at least six tyres.
Nowadays there’s even more makes and models of TPMS around but after a bit of investigation I settled on the TPMS from ARB. They are not the cheapest you’ll find, nor are they the most expensive monitoring system, but I liked the way the display was part of the cigarette plug and you don’t have a separate display taking up space or vision at windscreen level. And there were other advantages.
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There are two different versions available in the ARB TPMS line-up: one with internal sensors or the one with external sensors which I chose. I’ve had monitoring systems before with internal sensors and they always seemed to get destroyed when some heavy-handed tyre fitter changed or repaired a tyre. I know these ARB units are different to the ones I had, but the suspicion remains and I’ve never lost or damaged an external sensor (yet?).
As previously indicated the complete kit comes with a display unit as part of the 12-volt power plug that also incorporates two USB charge port outlets. There are four tyre sensors in the standard kit which screw onto the tyres’ valve stem and the sensors powered by an internal replaceable battery which will generally be good for two years of operation. Also, a lock nut and a small spanner is supplied so that the sensors can be locked onto the valve stem to stop would-be thieves helping themselves.
For the camper trailer monitor kit there are two more sensors (up to a maximum of four) along with a transmitter extender, which is a small box that mounts somewhere on the front of the trailer’s A-frame. This extender needs separate power which can be either hard-wired into the trailer circuitry, or you can insert a couple of AA batteries to power up the unit.
SAND DRIVING? Let down your bloody tyres!
I chose the latter and they have been working for some time now as the extender unit only powers up when it senses movement. With the trailer extender unit, the communication range is, by all accounts, good to at least 30 metres, which means it will handle everything up to a semi-trailer.
The TPMS kit also comes with four pages of instructions on how to set them up for the tyre pressures you normally run … and, I gotta say, I had difficulty initially with this. It turned out I had a faulty display unit and when that was replaced under warranty the set-up was pretty simple and straightforward, but a little too long-winded to go into here. And you need to follow the set-up correctly and holding the ‘Set’ button for exactly the right amount of time, as indicated in the different steps of the instructions.
The sensors use an audible and a visual alarm for tyre leakage, low pressure, high temperature, high pressure, low battery voltage and variations of +/- 25% of the set monitored psi. The kit can monitor up to five tyres as standard, and with the optional trailer kit it can monitor up to four extra tyres. As you’d expect you can set different pressures on the rear axle compared to the front wheels compared to the trailer wheels and still benefit from all the features of the TPMS kit.
One of the other great things about the ARB TPMS kit is that you can select one of two tyre-pressure profiles for on road and off road use, without having to go through the whole pressure set-up procedure each time. Pressure monitoring ranges from 5 to 30psi for off-road work and 23 to 80psi for on-road operation.
Once you have the sensors and display unit installed and set-up, the display unit will blink and then go to a solid readout as each of the tyre sensors connect wirelessly to the display unit. This normally takes a minute or less of driving and in my experience, all tyres are reading their appropriate pressures before I get out of my driveway.
So now I can drive our byways and highways safe in the knowledge that my tyre pressures are being monitored constantly with a visual readout to keep me informed, while any deviation from normal will sound an alarm to warn me of a problem. That’ll often save a tyre from being irreparably damaged, rescue a rim from irrevocable harm and safeguard some dollars, thereby paying for itself in just one saved tyre. And they could possibly save an accident or even a life!
Why would you not have one?
Sensor kit (4 wheels): $169
Trailer Sensor kit (2 wheels): $85
Display unit: $139
Trailer Extender: $95
Extender wiring kit: $26
Ideal for the 4WDriver and cheap tyre insurance.