Monthly Archives: March 2016

Who needs TPMS?

We never thought we needed tire pressure monitoring on our truck. Until yesterday. Last summer we upgraded our trailer’s TPMS to a really nice TST system sold by friends of ours. What to do with the old system? Aha! Put it on the truck tires. We can monitor the truck’s tires with the old system instead of junking it.

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TST with display turned off

We’ve been monitoring the truck tires pressure since last July. Everything’s been rock steady, just as we would expect. Until yesterday. An alarm sounded while we were towing the trailer north on Interstate 77. I looked immediately at the new TST system to see if a tire was flashing (while keeping the other 100% of my attention on driving.) No alarm.

I asked Debbie to read the old system for me and see what’s up. Yep, the RR tire had dropped from 73 to 50. No, it’s to 40. It’s going down fast! I was able to pull over immediately onto a wide paved shoulder. And the tire pressure monitor showed 23 pounds. The (600HP) brass and rubber valve stem’s rubber base was broken. It showed an break at the wheel rim when I flexed it. I anticipate switching to metal clamp-in stems, like the one below on the right, on the truck.

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We’d never had a tire incident on our trucks. 162,000 miles on this truck, 115,000 towing miles on it, and this is the first time we’ve pulled the jack and rods from under the truck’s back seat. Pretty intuitive setup, so we’re able to get the truck up, tire changed, and ready to go in under 45 minutes.

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Friends have expressed concerns over their ability to get 3/4 ton truck wheels off and on in a road emergency. My tire stores are torquing the truck’s lug nuts  120 to 140 ft lbs. Using the Silverado’s lug wrench I was able to break the lug nuts loose before jacking the tire off the ground. We didn’t need to lift the flat tire or the spare, we just rocked and rolled them into place. The spare tilted onto the hub easily, and the flat tire cranked up (in a mere 40 turns of the crank) into the storage spot under the truck’s bed. The biggest effort I expended was setting the jack under the axle and cranking the jack and the spare tire crank.

We frequently torque the trailer wheels so already have the socket for those lug nuts. I hadn’t realized I lacked a socket for the truck’s wheel lug nuts (when have I needed it?) so couldn’t have used my breaker bar and pipe extension. If one of the truck’s lug nuts had been especially tight I would’ve had a problem. Today I spent $5 on a 7/8″ six-point impact socket. I can now torque the truck wheels and more importantly I can break loose the most stubborn lug nut with my 3′ extension on my breaker bar. 8558058-21

One especially bright moment in our roadside stop? A big yellow truck pulled up behind us and raised his large traffic hazard warning sign. NCDOT State Farm® Safety Patrol is a free service that provides roadway assistance to stranded motorists – regardless of their insurance provider. He asked if there was anything he could do to help? I told him I was already putting the spare on and really appreciated him blocking from the rear.  His presence comforted me  – it reduced our vulnerability while we attended to the business at hand.

Thanks to State Farm® for sponsoring this program.  In NC, simply push *HP on your cell phone to call for assistance. They’ll change your tire, provide you a little gas or diesel, boost your battery, all to help you get back on the road more quickly and safely.

Lessons learned?

  • Keep using TPMS on both the trailer and truck’s tires;
  • Carry the lug nut 7/8″socket for truck wheels in my tool box;
  • Switch to metal clamp-in valve stems on the truck;
  • In NC, call *HP before I start working at roadside.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
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