We recently installed Truck Systems Technologies’ popular TST-507-RV-4-C Tire Pressure Monitoring System in our truck. Sure, a good set of tires, like our Cooper Discoverer AT3-XLT’s, can go a long way toward providing peace-of-mind on your travels, yet flats and other tire issues can and do happen. How can one detect such an anomaly early enough to avoid a disaster while hauling your truck camper? A good tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is the obvious answer. Fortunately, a good number of today’s trucks come with this important safety feature as OEM, yet there are still a good number of trucks on today’s road without it including our 2013 Ram 3500. After researching the pros and cons of several tire pressure monitoring systems, we decided to go with Truck Systems Technologies TST-507-RV-4-C.
The TST-507-RV-4-C comes with everything you need to monitor the tires on your truck. The system components include a color display measuring 4.6 inches wide and 2.99 inches tall, four cap sensors (one for each tire), and a signal repeater to amplify the UHF radio signal transmitted by each sensor. Additional items needed for the installation are provided as well including a 12 volt power adapter, a USB cable, a cradle mount and a suction cup mount for the TPMS display, and a propriety installation tool used to lock the sensors on each tire stem. The only standard tool needed was a small crescent wrench to install the repeater’s 12 volt battery leads. Overall, the programing and installation was quick and easy and only took about two hours to do everything. The TST-507-RV-4-C (hereafter referred to as the TST-507) lists for $432 and comes with a three-year warranty.
The purpose of any tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) worth it’s salt is to warn you of issues that may create unsafe tire conditions. According to studies, most blowouts happen due to underinflated tires. The TST-507 series system warns you not only about underinflated tires by displaying actual pressure readings, but also warns you of any overheating within the tire cavity itself. This overheating can be caused by a number of reasons including underinflated tires, failing wheel bearings, overloaded tires, and dragging brakes to name a few. The TST-507 monitor displays all readings in real time by scrolling between the four tires constantly. In the event an anomaly is detected, the monitor locks onto that sensor emitting an audible alarm and provides a textual description of the issue—fast leak, low pressure, high temperature, and low sensor battery. All alarm values can be changed based on the owner’s needs.
The TST-507 utilizes a small repeater to ensure adequate signal strength for the system. The repeater does two things. One, it amplifies the UHF radio signals (433.92 MHZ) coming from each tire sensor. Two, it eliminates electromagnetic “noise” from outside sources including passing vehicles like 18-wheelers with similar tire pressure monitoring systems. The repeater can be connected to any 12 volt power source, meaning it can be installed either in the camper itself or directly to the truck’s battery. Engine heat can be an issue for big rigs with inadequate air flow—like diesel pushers—but shouldn’t be an issue for full-size and mid-size truck like ours. The repeater can either be installed using two small screws or using simple hook and loop tape, which is what we did. We installed ours to the engine bay’s firewall and tied off the excess power cord with a zip-tie.
The TST-507’s power consumption is minimal. The system uses up to 100 milliamps when transmitting data packets or about 10 milliamps when the repeater is in standby. Maximum transmission power is about 10 dBm with a working voltage of 3.3 volts. Obviously, this power consumption, however small, can be an issue for boondocking, which is why we decided to install ours in our truck. We will see if this becomes an issue. How long does the individual CR2032 battery last in each sensor? According to Mike Benson, TST National Sales Manager, the battery can last up to 18 months, an impressive figure. When you change the batteries, the sensors retain the code lock so you don’t have to reprogram the sensors all over again. A very nice feature that makes the whole battery changing process quicker and easier.
TST’s tire cap sensors install quickly and easily. The sensors are female threaded and screw directly onto the metal or rubber valve stem of each tire. The installation kit comes with anti-theft hardware and a special installation tool, but we opted to not use this hardware to make it quicker and easier to remove and install each sensor. With all of the off-roading we do, we wanted this process to be quick so our tires can be aired up and down easily. Speaking of which, TST recently made a change to the anti-theft mechanism of each sensor from a cumbersome rotating shell to a locking nut that installs underneath. We like the change because it makes it a lot easier to remove and install each sensor even if you elect to lock it.
Truck System Technologies makes tire pressure systems of all sizes including gargantuan systems capable of monitoring a whopping 115 tires and four trailers or systems small enough for motorcycles. TST’s systems even monitor spare tires. TST offers several sensor types—low profile cap, flow through, internal, marine and large bore. These sensors can be used in any combination to suit your needs, so you can tailor-make a system to not only monitor your truck’s tires, but also the tires on the trailer hauling your boat or the four tires of your Jeep if you’re flat towing. Nice!
So far, we really like TST’s system. We love how we are able to monitor the status of our tires in real time. This increased awareness improves safety, can prevent breakdowns, enhances tire life, and can improve fuel economy. For our Cooper Discoverer AT3-XLT load range E tires, we typically run pressures of 65 psi front and 80 psi rear. At highway speed, we’ve noticed an increase in tire temperature (over the ambient temperature) of 5 to 9 degrees and similar numbers for tire pressure. Such increases in tire pressure, even for fully inflated, 80 psi tires is of no concern because such increases are built into the tire’s design.
As for tire temperature, most experts consider 195 degrees F as the high point when it comes to tire temperature. TST’s default temperature setting of 158 degrees is well below that number, which is a good thing because it provides a nice buffer from more damaging temperatures. Beyond 195 degrees, the temperature will start to impact tire life and above 250 degrees, a tire will start to lose structural strength and could experience a catastrophic blowout. TST’s system has really been an education when it comes to how tire temperatures and pressures increase or decrease as it relates to ambient temperature.
Look for a comprehensive Truck Camper Adventure review in six months after a thorough evaluation over winter.