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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Even The Simple Things - Tire Pressure Gauge

My TPMS Readout On The dash
    It's really important to make sure your tires are inflated properly! My RV has only 4 tires, so it's ESPECIALLY important. If I lose one, it would be catastrophic. A while back I replaced all four of my tires since the had gone well past the manufacturers expiration date. They likely would have been fine for a while longer. Exhibited no dry rot or cracking and had plenty of tread depth left. Nope. Better safe than sorry. Before every trip, I check my tire pressures. Even though I have a TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) it pays to be sure everything is OK. Last week I found out that my traditional mechanical gauge was WAY off...so I went to find a digital replacement.

Cheap, But It Works!
Oh My! There are so many to choose from! I went to the local Wally world and a couple of automotive parts places. Each one had at least a dozen different types, mostly digital with a few analog/mechanical version thrown in. There was the "traditional" slide style. This is the kind that the pressure is read from a sliding plastic piece that extends from the end of the gauge when you apply it to the tire valve. I had one of these that read up to 120 PSI, but was wildly inaccurate. They are inexpensive at $4 a piece. I guess you get what you pay for! The digital models ranged in price from about $6 all the way up to $29.99. As usual, I figured I'd start at the low end and bought the least expensive (cheapest!) one they had.

It is a simple plastic tapered oval that has an LCD (unlit) display and a single button the face. Press and hold the button to turn on the unit. Once on, it will set itself to zero and it's ready to use. If you then press the button, it will switch from PSI to BAR and even kP (KiloPascal) readings. Leave it alone and it will shut off after a while. Since I'm in the United States, I'll stick with PSI thank you very much! On the back is a fitting that will fit over the tire valve. It's at a 45 degree angle to it will be easier to read and use. I didn't have any issues with it at all, however it looks like it MAY crack or split where the plastic is thinnest. Won't look very nice, but will likely still function.

Look, It's My Thumb
I have a TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) I've tested it with a few pressure sensors and have found out it's accurate to with +- 1 PSI or so. My Front tires are inflated to 65 PSI and my rear tires to 70 PSI (Best compromise for handling, ride comfort and tire longevity on my RV) My old slide style gauge was WAY off, it said the front tires were at 75 PSI and the rears at 80 PSI! Obviously that would never do. The new digital gauge was reading 64.5 PSI for the fronts and 69.5 PSI for the rears. Close enough! The digital gauge does require battery replacement, but I'll wager it lasts a long time. I'll let you know just how long.

I've seen some pretty nasty disasters related to improper tire inflation, it's REALLY cheap insurance to heck your pressures before each trip. I do, even though I have a TPMS...you know, belt AND suspenders approach.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com