Making sure the tyres on your caravan and motorhome are inflated to the correct pressure is vital. With a caravan, over or underinflation can have a significant impact on the towing performance. It can affect the handling and braking of the caravan. I’ve previously written two posts on how long caravan tyres last and a caravan tyre pressure guide. Both of those two posts both emphasized the importance of getting the caravan tyre pressure right. However, I didn’t really discuss the best means to monitor and test tyre pressures. Over the last few years, there has been a growing trend in remote/wireless digital tyre pressure gauges. I will discuss such products below. However, I also want to discuss the portable caravan tyre pressure gauges and their pros and cons. Furthermore, some of the portable pressure gauges are not actually suitable to monitor the pressure of caravan or motorhome tyres.
You have to be careful to purchase a tyre pressure gauges suitable for caravans and motorhomes: Image – Amazon.co.uk
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This post is fairly long, it would be great if you have the time to read the whole post but we are all busy people. Therefore, you can use the Table of Content below to jump to a particular topic or tyre pressure gauge you are interested in. Enjoy 🙂
Introduction to Caravan and Motorhome Tyre Pressure Gauges
So hopefully you already appreciate that making sure the tyres on your caravan or motorhome are inflated to the correct pressure is very important. If you are not sure what pressure you need to inflate your caravan tyres too, I recommend you read my previous post. Let’s assume we all agree that correct tyre pressures are very important. Great, but how do we accurately check caravan tyre pressures? Should you just trust the readout from the pressure gauge on your cheap foot pump? Probably not, John will provide an introduction to why not in the video below. I will then provide more details on applicable products etc.
As John explains in the video, the average foot pump or electric pump won’t generally have the best quality tyre pressure gauges. Everything is produced to a cost. Therefore, on the most common and cheap pumps its the tyre pressure gauges where savings are made. For instance, twice in the past with two different foot pumps I’ve been working away trying to get pressure into a tyre and the pressure gauge has literally blown off! Hence, if its that easy for the pressure gauge to become detached, its highly unlikely it was providing an accurate reading of the pressure within the tyre.
The Issue of Accuracy and Pressure Gauge Range
With the general poor quality of the pressure gauges built into cheap foot pumps and electric pumps, there is the issue of accuracy. Some cheap foot pumps and electric pumps have pressure gauges which can be several Psi off the actual pressure in the caravan tyre. A consumer portable pressure gauge is never 100% accurate. However, generally higher quality tyre pressure gauges such as those referenced below will only be around 0.5Psi from the actual tyre pressure. While accuracy is a problem with cheap pressure gauges there is another problem which you have to watch out for.
With caravan and motorhome tyres you are generally looking at tyre pressures between 50 and 60 Psi. That’s a lot higher than the tyre pressures for cars which are generally between 30 and 35 Psi. Well, the problem is most tyre pressure gauges on the market are designed for cars.Hence, their pressure gauges generally only display up to 60Psi. As John states in the video, as pressure gauges near their maxium display pressure, they tend to be less accurate. So with caravan and motorhome tyre pressures generally between 50 and 60Psi many portable tyre pressure gauges are just not suitable. So you really have to be careful when choosing a tyre pressure gauge to purchase. You really want to purchase a good quality pressure gauge that can read up to 100Psi. Therefore, for caravans and motorhomes, the reading you’re looking for will be near the middle of the tyre pressure gauges range.
Analogue Tyre Pressure Gauges
First, let’s discuss analogue tyre pressure gauges. Lets pressure you have a cheap foot pump or electric pump and you want a better quality analogue tyre pressure gauge to check the pressures on your caravan or motorhome tyres. Compared to a digital tyre pressure gauge the obvious benefit is your not relying on batteries. You can just leave it in the front locker of your caravan and not have to worry about keeping it charged up.
With or Without a Flexible Hose?
This analogue tyre pressure gauge from Race X reads up to 120Psi. It even includes a tread depth stick, but will the lack of flexible hose make it hard to use?: Image – Amazon.co.uk
You can get analogue pressure gauges with and without a flexible hose. Without the flexible hose, it can sometimes be tricky to get the pressure gauge onto the caravan tyre valve and see the readout. For example, say the caravan tyre value is currently at the top of the wheel. Therefore, purchasing an analogue tyre pressure gauge with a flexible hose generally makes it easier to read the dial. The only problem is over the years the flexible rubber hose can denature. The crimped pipe fittings begin to fail and leak air etc. Its ‘swings and roundabouts’, without the flexible hose it can be harder to use and read. With the flexible hose, it may have a shorter usable life. Personally, with a flexible hose they are still reasonably affordable I would go with an analogue pressure gauge with a flexible hose. Again, just make sure whichever analogue tyre pressure gauge you choose it can read up to 100Psi.
The Draper analogue tyre pressure gauge (69924) reads up to 100Psi and comes with a flexible hose: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Foot Pumps with 100Psi Analogue Tyre Pressure Gauges
If you already own a cheap foot pump or electric pump you could use one of the analogue tyre pressure gauges above to provide a more accurate reading. However, if you don’t already own a foot pump and you don’t want to be dependant on an electric pump you could choose to go with a good quality foot pump with a pressure gauge which reads up to 100Psi and is hence suitable for caravans and motorhomes.
A couple of years ago I purchased this Heyner foot pump and its still working well: Image – Amazon.co.uk
I own the Heyner foot pump above which I purchased a couple of years ago, it reads up to 140Psi. I’ve tested its pressure accuracy against another analogue tyre pressure gauge. There is probably a difference of between 0.5 and 1 Psi between the two. Therefore, its pretty accurate. I know the build quality is good because I use it once a week. You may be wondering why I would need to use a foot pump once a week? Well, the ride-on-mower I use for Horton Common has slow punctures in two of the tyres. I did look at the cost to replace them, but it was much higher than I expected. Therefore, I just top them up with air each week before I mow the caravan site. Granted, this Heyner foot pump is about twice the cost of your average foot pump. However, its been working well for several years now without the pressure gauge blowing off!
Electric 12V/230V Pumps with 100Psi Tyre Pressure Gauges
Now, using a manual foot pump can sometimes take more effort than you would think, especially if you have got to put quite a bit of pressure into the tyre. Therefore, you could consider an electric pump with a 100Psi tyre pressure gauge instead. Generally, these pumps come just with a 12V cigarette lighter power socket. However, there are some versions which come with a 3 pin/230V socket as well which can make it applicable for use around the home as well.
This is just one example of a 12V/230V electric pump with a 100Psi tyre pressure gauge: Image – Amazon.co.uk
What I would say when looking for a 12V electric tyre pump to run from your cars battery or your caravan leisure battery is to check the cable length. Some of the pumps have a very short length of power cable. Hence, if the 12V socket in your car is at the front and you want to pump up the caravan tyres when the car is hitched up, you’ve got no chance. However, quite a few cars now come with a 12V socket in the boot. This gives you a better chance of being able to reach the caravan tyres while hooked up to the car, but don’t take that for granted.
Now, you could use the 12V socket inside the caravan and run from the leisure battery. However, again the power cable may not be long enough to reach both wheels on either side of the axle. I’ve seen a guest before having to open windows on the caravan to pass the 12V cable through to reach the wheel. And even then it was only just long enough. Some of the electric pumps have digital tyre pressure gauges. However many appear to focus on using an analogue tyre pressure gauge.
Digital Tyre Pressure Gauges
With digital tyre pressure gauges, they have a few other abilities and features that analogue tyre pressure gauges don’t have. For instance, many digital tyre pressure gauges have inbuilt torches. This can be very handy if you are trying to find the caravan tyre valve in the dark. Some of them also have hold functions. Hence, you can push the digital tyre pressure gauge against the caravan tyre valve and it will hold the reading on the screen. You can then remove it from the valve and hold up the digital tyre pressure gauge to read the result. Some have a backlit screen, which again can make it a lot easier to read the caravan tyre pressure result in the dark.
For less than £10 you can get a digital tyre pressure gauge such as this model from the AA that reads up to 100Psi: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Obviously one of the biggest downsides with a digital tyre pressure monitor is that its dependant on batteries. So if you did choose to go with a digital gauge make sure you always have a spare set of batteries to hand. I also wouldn’t just leave a digital tyre pressure gauge in the front locker of your caravan without some for of moisture protection. Caravan front lockers have drain holes in the bottom. Hence, they are exposed to the general humidity of the environment. Therefore, if you do wish to store a digital tyre pressure gauge in the caravan front locker I would put it in a plastic bag and tie the top to protect it if the humidity is high.
Wireless Tyre Pressure Monitoring
Over recent years, there appears to have been a growth in the use of wireless tyre pressure monitoring products. Many modern cars today have this feature included and they display the live tyre pressure results on the dashboard. So to bring this capability to older cars (and caravans and motorhomes) a range of wireless tyre pressure monitoring kits have come on to the market. As you would expect some products are better than others. Some products from reading reviews appear to be more reliable than others. Personally I would never depend on such a system as the sole means to monitor tyre pressure. I would still have a portable or analogue or digital pressure gauge to hand. However, for monitoring the tyre pressure of your caravan or motorhome in transit these wireless tyre pressure monitoring kits could provide extra ‘peace of mind’.
This is just one example of a wireless tyre pressure monitoring kits. There are many different products to choose from: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Obviously these kits are primarily intended to monitor car tyre pressure pressures. However, you could use them on your caravan or motorhome as long as… you guessed it, they can read and display a tyre pressure up to 100Psi. They typically display the tyre pressure result within the last 3 seconds. And the batteries within the sensors should last for 3-5 years. To learn more you may be interested to read my posts on the best tyre pressure monitors for caravans.
Conclusions on Tyre Pressure Gauges for Caravans and Motorhomes
Whether you choose to go with an analogue or digital tyre pressure gauge for your caravan or motorhome, the important thing is it needs a 100Psi pressure gauge. Avoid the cheapest tyre pressure gauges. Not only are they likely to break but they could display a result several Psi away from the real tyre pressure. I encourage every caravaner to own some form of tyre pressure gauge and use it as part of their caravan maintenance schedule. I would also encourage you to read my post on the best tyres for tow cars.
I hope you found this post useful in helping you to make a decision on the best tyre pressure gauge for your caravan or motorhome. I also hope you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common in the near future. 🙂
Really, you should have a portable tyre pressure gauge to hand and check the caravan tyre pressure each time you take the caravan onto the public highway. Frequently using a caravan tyre pressure gauge means you have a better chance of spotting an issue (leak) before it can cause a serious accident.
No, during your trip your caravan tyres will have built-up heat from the rolling resistance and friction with the road surface. Tyre pressure calculations are based on cold tyres. Therefore, wait for the caravan tyres to cool and use the pressure gauge before you set off on your travels, not after.