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Monday, April 10, 2017

Why isn't my TPMS accurate?

Comment on an RV forum
"I just bought a new TST 507  TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) and  I gotta say they could improve the documentation.
Definitely confusing as setting up is a bit complex. At one point you are told to press a button and wait for the second beep (not the first!) before setting the pressures or whatever.
But once that's over, it works as advertised. It does seem to take a while, once turned on, for all the sensor readings to be displayed. After that it just cycles through them every 5 s, and beeps when one is over or under.
Not sure how accurate the psi readings are. Will have to get out my pressure gauge and compare."
+++++++++++++++=
My reply

TPMS are primarily designed to WARN of a loss in pressure and are not intended to be your primary source of accurate pressure measurement. In my experience ALL TPMS will have one or more sensors reading a psi or two different than a hand-held digital gauge. For that matter even hand-held gauges are seldom accurate to +/- 1.0 PSI based on the calibration checks I offer at my tire seminars.

IMO best practice is to set your tire pressure as close as possible to the desired CIP (cold inflation pressure) using your personal, master digital hand gauge and then install the TPMS sensors. Wait about 5 min for pressures and readings to stabilize, then do a pressure check on the monitor. You will note slight variation, but all should be within the specified range (some spec +/- 2%  some spec +/- 2 psi) You will find that after a few days use you will get comfortable with the pressure readings showing some variation from each other. With a little experience you will get comfortable and know the range of normal variation.

What I do...
Each morning when I get up, I first turn on the TPMS monitor and go get my coffee. By the time I am done with the 1st cup - about 10 min - all the sensors have sent in a reading. I step through each tire on the system and based on experience, I know if the tires are ready to go as far as being properly inflated. Yes, the numbers vary, but as long as they all are in a range of a couple psi from what I got when I last set the tire pressure all is good.

With the above practice I am getting the "cool tire" pressure reading which is the only reading of importance. With my +10% over the minimum inflation needed for my Motorhome, I don't have to worry about a daily +/- 2 to 4 psi variation. However, if I have a few days in a row with the display pressures consistently showing a few psi lower than my CIP goal I know it's time to plan on a stop at the truck stop for a shot of high pressure air.

##RVT789

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