Avoid pulling a flat-tired toad – or you’ll be sorry

Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
We tow a Saturn behind our motorhome. I think we should have some type of alarm system or indicator to warn us if a tire goes flat on the Saturn. While driving I can’t see or feel the car. It only weighs 2400 lbs. I know my husband can’t see it either, but he refuses to look into a system that will give us some warning if a tire goes flat. He says they cost too much and that he would be able to tell if we had a problem. I don’t agree and I don’t want to find out the hard way. Can you tell me how to pound some sense into him? —Flat Out Nervous in New Orleans

Dear Flat Out:
There are systems that work on tire pressure sensors. A lot of rigs come standard now with backup cameras for visual monitoring. Many people still do not have any way of monitoring their towed vehicle. I agree it is rolling the dice.

I can tell you from my wife’s experience that your husband will not be able to tell when and if the car has a flat. While I was doing a long hike through the mountains, my wife drove the motorhome ahead a couple hundred miles to meet me. She was crossing 30 miles in Idaho on a well-graded gravel road. She was following her sister’s van. Near their destination, her sister decided to let my wife take the lead. Once behind our rig she noticed the car looked odd and seemed to be dragging to the right. By the time my wife knew she had a problem, the tire was gone, the aluminum wheel was almost worn away, the strut was bent and the alignment was shot. I can tell you that the cost of all those items would buy you a pretty nice system.

When I first started towing a car behind the motorhome, I could hardly tell it was there. I would tell my daughter, “Go look out the back window and see if we still have a car – I haven’t seen it in awhile.”

“Out of sight, out of mind” works, but only if you never look. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

[Editor: Check out the TireTraker TPMS system. We highly recommend it, or we would not have run TireTraker’s ads for years.]

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8 Thoughts to “Avoid pulling a flat-tired toad – or you’ll be sorry”

  1. SkiCruiser

    This would be a great Xmas gift for him!

  2. John Koenig

    On my Super-C, anytime I turn on the four-way flashers, the rear-view camera activates. Although I doubt I could tell if a toad had a flat tire, at least I could see if the toad is still being towed.

  3. Peg

    This September we witnessed a friend losing his Mini Cooper because of a flat tire….by the time he realized it and got stopped, his tires were on fire and the whole car was lost. Luckily he had help getting it unhooked from the rig before he lost it and the motorcycle strapped on too. It could have been worse but he now has a TPMS. So do we. BTW, don’t ever put locks on your tow hitch for just this reason. You’d never get it disconnected in time. Just sayin

  4. Alex

    Beware the aftermarket TPMS sensors that screw onto the tip of the air valve of your tire. They weigh 13 grams (about 1/2 ounce). Car tires have rubber valve stems which will flex at the base from the weight of the spinning sensor. Sooner or later, the valve stem will develop cracks leading to a flat tire. If you choose to use that model of TPMS PLEASE change the valve stems to metal ones. Vendors of those systems recommend changing to metal valve stems but do not make it a requirement and they DON”T inform you what will happen if you don’t. How do I know? How about a flat tire at 2 AM on an Interstate, down to one lane, with jersey barriers on both sides with no place to pull off for 1 mile.

  5. Greg Woods

    Dear Flat Out Nervous,
    We have a Tire Tracker system on our MH and car. Cost: about $600 for 12 tires, costs less if you have less tires.
    Tell hubby to quit being so cheap with your safety and perhaps your life!

  6. Drew

    You could also keep track of what’s going on by installing a video cam in the toad- with audio preferably. That should give you a good idea of things while you have the monitor up in the rig..

  7. John Goodell

    I think a new tire, new aluminum wheel, fixing the bent strut, and wheel realignment on the toad will cost more than several nice TPMS systems!

  8. Denny

    I have tpms on the rv for six tires.
    I tow with a dolly, so I also have two installed on it. But the ‘17 Mazda already has them installed on the car! If I install 2 compatible valves on the rear car tires, I messed up the system when I am not towing the car!
    Is there a way to read the car tires remotely from the rv when towing?

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