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We had chance to test the TyrePal TPMS on a recent trip. The unit lent to us for review by Tyre Pal was the TC215B and included wheel sensors for the car and caravan.

SPB_5D_098448The kit arrived in a sturdy box with all the items you need, including two small allen keys for locking the sensors in place on the tyre valves, and spare hex screws used to lock the sensor just in case you have the misfortune to lose one. The unit itself has a rechargeable internal battery that will run the unit for around 60 hours of monitoring and there is a 12 volt charging lead supplied that simply connects to the unit and plugs into any 12 volt cigarette lighter socket.

To mount the display there is a handy suction mount that will hold the unit in almost any orientation, and the sucker unit in use is really quite strong.

SPB_5D_098449

Reading the installation manual it looked like a lot of button pushing to set up. However in reality it was ridiculously simple and I had the 4 sensors installed in the Freelander in less than 5 minutes.

The first step is easy, remove all the existing valve dust caps and check your tyre pressures. I followed Land Rovers recommendation for the tyre size and type for towing and set the pressures to the correct reading, checking with my digital tyre pressure gauge.

Step two: lay out everything you need out of the box, and have another read of the instructions. The TC215B unit can monitor up to 22 pressure sensors and will allow you to configure tag axle motorhomes, twin wheel vans and up to three twin wheel axles on a trailer. So that should just about cover any combination imaginable. The sensors are interchangeable and can be registered at any of the 22 positions. Once all the sensors have been registered, only the tyre positions used are displayed. In standby mode press and hold the ‘CODE’ button for three seconds and release it after the beep….

SPB_5D_098451To register a sensor simply screw it on to the valve stem and within a few seconds the code number for that sensor is displayed on the screen.

Press either the ‘+’ or ‘-” button to move on to the next wheel…. it’s position is  indicated by it flashing on the screen…. and screw on the next sensor for that wheel. Repeat until all the sensors are installed. When all the sensors are registered press and hold the ‘CODE’ button again to exit.

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Step three: Well there isn’t one – it’s that simple to install. The only other thing you need to do is set the high and low pressure alarms and high temperature alarm which again is really easy to do. The instruction booklet takes you through this and a recommendation of setting the high value at 20% above the recommended pressure and 15% below. Likewise setting the temperature alarm is simple but I left it at the factory default of 70’C. The only other thing to do is check for leaks and tighten up the lock screws on the sensors. Conveniently there are 4 positions the lock screws can be located and you might need to move the screws into different positions depending on the wheel rims. In practice on both the Freelander wheels and the Sterling caravan wheels I didn’t need to reposition any of them.

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Radio Range

Like anything, sometimes the published figures don’t work in the real world and I was sceptical about the unit being able to detect the sensors on the caravan. However, in this case, we never had any problems with a loss of info from any of the sensors. The caravan wheels are about 25 feet from the display and were picked up without issues.

In use

Maybe it was the OCD side of me but there was 1 PSI difference in the front tyres and I wanted them both the same and it took a bit of adjusting the pressures to get them both the same. Probably being pedantic about it really… but that’s me.SPB_5D_098456

It was interesting to see the unit in action. As we joined the motorway to head south from Manchester to Plough Lane caravan site near Chippenham, the tyres on the Freelander increased pressure by about 3 PSI at the front and 3 PSI at the rear while the caravan tyres increased pressure by around 4 PSI. This remained fairly constant until we reached some slow traffic at the M6/M6 Toll junction and slowing down using the brakes increased the caravan tyre temps by around 10 degrees.

Now this struck me as being rather useful info simply because during the 80 or so miles driven so far the caravan tyre T’s & P’s had remained stable… if the simple act of slowing down using the brakes gently made that much of a change, then keeping an eye on any temperature difference between the left and right tyre would be a good indication of differential braking on the caravan axle… either one brake binding  or not braking at the same efficiency as the other. This is now getting us into Formula 1 levels of sophistication… well a few steps towards it, but the information is there and leads to a better understanding of what’s going on and early signs of any potential issues.

On a long sweeping motorway curve the tyres on the outside of the curve all showed a slight increase of one or two degrees which I guess makes sense as these will be ‘loaded’ up slightly more than the inside wheels…

Off the motorway it was easy to see other things as well. On A roads with lots of stop starting, the front tyres were doing all the work (The Freelander, although 4 wheel drive is not permanent 4 wheel drive but front wheel drive unless a loss of traction on the front axle causes the centre diff to transmit power to the rear axle) and this could be seen in the increase in T’s & P’s over the rear axle, especially on a couple of steep A road climbs.

On twisty sections, the rear tyres, as expected, were working harder and you could see the changes there too. With this information, it was now easy to see how you can keep an eye on what your tyres are doing. After all, in total you probably have less than a square foot of rubber in contact with the road and knowing a bit more of what is going on makes sense.

Summer and Winter touring

In December, if you are planning a trip down to the warmer climate of Southern Europe it is handy to know that you might have to adjust your tyre pressures. Checking your tyre pressure on a frosty morning before you head south will probably mean that some adjustment is required when you get there. Tyre Pal is a handy “aide memoir” to remind you to check… and of course adjust again as you head home!

Insurance discounts

A number of insurance companies have recognised the importance of monitoring tyres on caravans and motorhomes and if you are insured with:-

  • Club Care
  • Crusader
  • Shield
  • Lifesure

TyrePal earns you 5% discount on your insurance premium.

Is it just a gadget or a must have?

On the face of it, it seems like another gadget, but I’d argue that it is more than that, it’s a must have. A device that not only tells you if your tyre pressures are correct and warns you if there is any change… either a slow leak or relatively fast leak that may not be apparent especially on twin axle caravans or tag axle motorhomes, but could also give you an indication of any brake imbalance. I’m not a tyre technician or expert in any way, but I’m sure that a fuller understanding of tyre temperature affects on performance and tyre life must be important… well it is to the Formula 1 guys at least. I don’t know if you can detrimentally over heat tyres, all I do know is if the pressure is wrong or the tyre is overloaded they do get hot and having some indication of this before there is smoke or  blow-out has to be a good thing. If anyone uses a Tyre Pal unit already and has first hand experience of it saving the situation, please comment below.

Standard feature on Bailey Unicorn

With the launch of the new third generation Unicorn range, Bailey has become the first caravan manufacturer to add tyre pressure monitoring as a standard feature to their new model. Each Unicorn caravan comes “TyrePal TPMS Ready” with internal sensors factory-fitted inside the wheels. So all the user has to do is simply purchase a monitor. Now this to me is a leap forward and proves that this isn’t a gadget as Bailey recognise the importance of the tyres and tyre monitoring. I’d like to see other manufacturers offering this as standard or at least a factory option.

Would we buy one?

Unusually I’m looking forward to the drive home… not because I’ve not enjoyed our time at Plough Lane, but I’ll be looking to learn more about my tyre performance and the monitoring of them.

OK, the big question… well the unit we have has been loaned to us by TyrePal and I must admit once the review is over I don’t want to hand it back!

Caravan Chronicles Shopping...

I have been asked where you can purchase the product featured above. Here are the links to the product in the Amazon store. If you click on the links and purchase the items, a few pennies will go to helping the cost of running CaravanChronicles.com

TyrePal TPMS + 6 Sensors : TyrePal 6-wheel tyre pressure monitoring system for caravans and trailers

Additional Sensor : Sensor for TyrePal TC215B

Web: www.wheel-solutions.co.uk
Phone: 01543 870 170
TyrePal
Wheel Solutions Limited
2 Upper Keys Business Park, Keys Park Road, Hednesford, Cannock, 
Staffordshire. WS12 2GE United Kingdom