TyrePal Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
What is it
The TyrePal system continuously monitors tyre pressures and temperatures, and gives a warning if either pressures or temperatures stray outside a set range. It is a wireless, fully external, user-installable system that does not require the tyres to be removed for fitting.
Having read about the TyrePal tyre pressure monitoring system in 2010 we were very pleased to be able to get hold of a unit for testing.
The motorhome we used had 2 axles, with twin rear wheels, so we needed the TyrePal TD2200AX which can be set for 4 wheels; 6 wheels 3-axle (tag axle), or 6 wheels 2 axle (twin rear wheel) and can monitor a pressure range up to 180psi.
Unfortunately the first unit we were sent was part of a batch with a software fault and we were unable to get it set up properly.
When the replacement arrived it didn't take too long to get it set up and working.
What's in the box
The first thing to do is to insert the supplied 2x AA batteries into the monitor unit, this must be done before the batteries are inserted into the sensors, to ensure proper communication between the sensors and monitor unit.
The monitor can also be powered externally via a cigar lighter plug, oddly this has an on/off button on the end of it which is illuminated when on. We did find the bright red light from this a little disconcerting at night.
Once the batteries are in the monitor it must be left switched on whilst the batteries are inserted into the sensors. The sensors take one Lithium CR1632 cell each, the plastic cap is simply unscrewed and the battery inserted inside the sensor. Each sensor is numbered, both on the cap and inside on the body, and it is important that the appropriate sensor is fitted to each wheel so that the monitor indicates correctly. The manual shows which sensor goes on each wheel, in our case 1 is the front nearside; 2 is the front offside; 3 is the rear nearside outer wheel; 4 is the rear nearside inner wheel; 5 is the rear offside inner wheel and 6 is the rear offside outer wheel.
Whilst fitting the sensors we came across our first problem, the inner rear wheels had rigid valve extensions fitted and these were too close to the aperture in the outer wheels to allow the sensors to be fitted. This meant that we had to run the initial test with only 4 sensors instead of the full 6. We subsequently fitted flexible valve extensions which allowed the additional sensors to be fitted, but unfortunately this showed up another software fault as some of the sensors were now not recognised. TyrePal replaced the system again for us and we are happy to report that in subsequent extensive testing it has performed faultlessly.
The pressure sensors simply replace the caps on the tyre valves, they have an internal seal to ensure that there is no leakage but it is advisable to check for leaks by brushing a little detergent and water on the valve stems after fitting. If bubbles appear it is normally sufficient to simply loosen and re-tighten the sensor. The sensors come with locking rings which can be fitted to provide some security against theft, the ring is slipped over the valve stem before fitting the sensor, then positioned so that it engages with the sensor and locked into place using the included allen key.
With the sensors all in place we were then required to set up the monitor unit. The setup menu is accessed by holding down the 'mute' button on the unit. The setup procedure is quite straightforward, the first option is, rather misleadingly, called SET UNIT, it is used to set the units of measurement, i.e. PSI, KPA, BAR or KgCm, for the pressures and C or F for the temperature. The next option is SET THRESHOLD, this allows you to set the alarm thresholds for low pressure, high pressure and high temperature for each axle independently. Next is the option to SET CAR TYPE, here you configure the axle layout, the options are 2 axles with four wheels; 3 axles with 6 wheels; and 2 axles with twin rear wheels. The final menu option enables you to configure the monitor to work with any replacement sensors, if necessary.
The manual doesn't give much guidance in setting the alarm thresholds but the TyrePal website indicates that users may prefer to avoid nuisance alarms and be content to just have a warning if things are going wrong, suggesting that the low pressure alarm is set to 2psi below the normal 'cold' inflation pressure and upper limit to 10psi above. The temperature limit can be set to about 60 degrees Celsius.
When the whole system was set up we were slightly concerned to see that, although the monitor was active, it wasn't showing any communication with the tyre sensors. The system is vibration sensitive and it does state in the manual that the system goes into standby, switching the monitor off, after 15 minutes with no vibration, but we had assumed that when the monitor came to life it would indicate the tyre pressures. However, soon after we started the engine the sensors woke up and we had a full set of readings on the monitor.
We had deliberately set the upper pressure alarm thresholds to only just above the cold pressures for the tyres, sure enough after about 10 miles we started to get high pressure alarms as the pressures increased due to the tyres warming up. The ambient temperatures were between 3°C and 20°C during our tests and we recorded an average pressure increase of around 10%. The temperature readings increased to between 15°C and 30°C. We did not, fortunately, experience a puncture during our tests but we did check the low pressure warning by unscrewing a sensor to release the pressure, the low pressure warning sounded instantly.
Pressure and temperature warnings are indicated by 3 rapid beeps from the monitor and the affected tyre is indicated on the screen.
Despite the initial software problems, which have now been fully resolved, we were, overall, very pleased with the operation of the TyrePal system. Fortunately it wasn't put to the test with a real tyre problem, but having experienced problems with both front and rear tyres on vehicles in the past, which resulted in a tyre being destroyed on one occasion, we are sure that this system would have given the advance warning necessary to avoid an emergency situation.
In addition, as the system always shows your tyre pressures, you can be alerted to the slight loss of pressure that can occur over time. It is important to remember that incorrect tyre pressures can reduce tyre life, reduce road holding, and cause increased fuel consumption.
We thoroughly recommend this system as a useful additional safety device for motorhome users.
There is a range of different TyrePal systems:
The current (March 2011) price of the TD2200AX system that we tested is £249.00 including VAT
For full information and to order, visit the TyrePal Tyre Pressure Monitoring System website
[Review date June 2011 © UKMotorhomes.net]
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