Tire thumpers look like strange baton sticks, but, they’re very useful. They provide an efficient method to test the tire pressure. This removes the need for pressure sensors and other specialist tools. It’s no wonder tire thumpers are popular, particularly among truck drivers.
Topics we’re covering in our guide to tire thumpers:
- What is a tire thumper?
- Why do tire thumpers work
- How to use a tire thumper
- Types of tire thumpers
- Tire thumper buying alternatives
- Best tire thumpers to buy
- Alternative uses: Self defense
What Is A Tire Thumper?
The most popular way of checking tire pressure is by using a tire pressure gauge. This offers the most accurate means of doing so but takes a bit of time. This deters most people from buying one. Also, they aren’t practical for truck drivers with more than eight tires.
A tire thumper is a rod you can use to check tire pressure quickly. By hitting a tire with it and listening to the sound produced, it will give you a fair indication of the pressure in the tires.
Why Do Tire Thumpers Work
When hit, your tire will make a distinct sound at full pressure that is different from the sound it makes when it isn’t. But how does this phenomenon work?
Air pressure is the measure of the number of gas molecules in a tire or tube. Gas molecules are in constant, random motion. It’s impossible to determine where a gas molecule will be at a particular time. But there are generalizations we can make. For example, pressure increases with the number of gas molecules.
A tire is full of pressure when there is a significantly high number of gas molecules. These molecules collide with each other. They also collide with the inner surface of the tire. This causes the tire to expand and ensure it maintains its shape when full.
When you hit a tire with a tire thumper, you apply an external force. This causes a shift of motion within the molecules. This shift ensures the particles collide with each other. These collisions contribute to the sound you hear when you use a tire thumper.
High-pressure tires will have more collisions. They will produce a sound different from low-pressure tires.
Sound is a collection of tiny vibrations. It moves longitudinally through the air. This always makes a specific sound at the correct pressure, so is a good indicator when using a tire thumper.
How To Use A Tire Thumper
Tire thumping is the easiest and quickest method to check tire pressure. Its simplicity is laughable. Beginners can become well-versed in using a tire thumper after a few tries. Follow these three simple steps to use a tire thumper:
Have a sturdy grip
Your goal is to hit your tire hard. You need a decent amount of strength to do so. Grabbing your tire thumper in the middle will hinder you. You want to grab it firmly as far away from the end that hits the tire as you can. Some tire thumpers come with dedicated grips as an aid.
Hit Your Tire. Hard.
Unless you use the might of the Incredible Hulk, you won’t do a lot of damage to your tires. You want to give your tires a good whack. This will ensure that you can hear if your tires have enough pressure.
The Evaluation Process
If there’s sufficient pressure in your tire, the tire thumper will bounce off. It will do this in a spring-like manner. Try to imagine how you’d jump off a trampoline. This action will produce a loud, hard thud. If this isn’t the case, your tires need some added air pressure. Only a couple of thumps are necessary.
Types of Tire Thumpers
There are two main types of tire thumpers: wooden and metal. Each has its own pros and cons but they don’t differ in performance. You can get the same result from a wooden one as would from a metallic one. In truth, it’s a matter of taste, but we are still going to summarize what each type has to offer.
Wooden Tire Thumpers
Wood has a natural feel and aesthetic appeal that metal lacks. It’s not as durable as metal, though, and needs more TLC, with regular oiling a necessity.
Wooden tire thumpers are often cheaper than metal versions but, generally, won’t tend to last as long.
Wooden tire thumpers often come with a group.
- Aesthetic appeal.
- Have a good grip.
- Often cheaper than metal ones.
- No extreme changes in temperature — wood is an insulating material.
- Need maintenance.
- Less robust.
Metallic Tire Thumpers
Metallic tire thumpers are often more expensive than wooden ones. But they last longer and need less maintenance. Metal conducts heat, and because of this, your metal tire thumper’s temperature can differ in line with its surroundings. This could cause discomfort when using it.
- Robust and durable.
- Needs less maintenance.
- More expensive.
- Conducts heat.
Tire Thumper vs Pressure Gauge
Should you use a tire thumper or a pressure gauge? This is a question most tire enthusiasts debate over. The accuracy provided by a pressure gauge is amazing. But, the convenience and ease of use of the tire thumper is also great. Deciding on one or the other is a difficult choice.
It doesn’t have to be an “either/or” option. Both devices have their place. They’re appropriate in different circumstances. Ideally, purchase one of each.
We’ll explain how both devices complement each other. We’ll also highlight in which circumstances one is better than the other.
You need a pressure gauge to measure the exact pressure in a tire. We recommend you use one to check all your tires in preparation before the start of a long journey, as this accuracy comes at a price.
Measuring pressure with a gauge involves removing the tire cap. So, measuring the pressure of four or more tires is quite laborious and you can best do this when you’ve plenty of time.
Despite the accuracy offered by this device, one may argue that it’s often unnecessary.
Many experienced drivers can determine when a tire is roadworthy or not. They don’t need exact figures to get a “feel” for the tire. Even when driving, most people can tell whether there’s too little pressure in a tire.
If you’re not convinced with this argument, consider the following scenario. Road safety guidelines state that a driver should check tire pressure before driving. Checking the individual tire pressure every single day using a pressure gauge is hard to do.
Instead, for day-to-day driving, use a tire thumper and then check the pressure of the tire you’re unsure of using a pressure gauge. This method ensures your safety while saving you time.
Tire Thumper Buying Alternatives
Tire thumpers have no special design. They’re rods you can hit a tire with. Because of this, there are various alternatives to a tire thumper. But some methods work better than others. The following guide should help you decide which alternative to use.
Using Your Body
Many people kick a tire to check the pressure. Others force their hands on the tire to get a feel of it. Both these methods are bad and you must avoid them. Your hands and feet can’t exert enough force on a tire. Thumping a tire with your hands or feet won’t produce the desired tire sound. Doing so will only cause you injuries.
Using A Hammer
A hammer is a reasonable option. Ensure you use the flat end to l keep your tire safe.. In truth, if your vehicle only has four wheels and you have a good sturdy hammer, you don’t need a tire thumper. A hammer can do a brilliant job at tire thumping.
There are two main concerns with a spanner. First, is the grip. A spanner doesn’t have a natural grip for hitting it against a surface.
The second concern is the absence of a flat surface. Most spanners have curved surfaces. They’ll do the job, but they’re less than ideal.
Best Tire Thumpers To Buy
Tire thumpers have very little in the way of performance features. Making a comparison between one product or another is very hard. It’s unnecessary to carry out specific comparisons such as measuring the decibels of the sound produced or the exact force needed to produce the sound. Such information is inappropriate for these products.
Because of this, we have found other ways to compare the products. These include comparing aesthetics, size and durability. From our extensive research we have found the following three product to be the best:
Of these, the RoadPro RPTT-2 was our favorite. It’s a weighted wooden device that provides the force you’d expect from heavy metals. The other two products are great too. Read on and discover how.
RoadPro manufactures accessories for the road. It has several years of experience and now produces excellent products. Its cult following comes as no surprise.
It’s then a logical conclusion to have one of their products on top of our list. In fact, it’s such a reputable brand that two of the three products on our list are from the company.
The RPTT-2 comes in an attractive polished wood design. This competes admirably against metal tire thumpers in durability. Therefore, you get the visual appeal of a wooden accessory without the common drawback of a weaker product. A handy—pun intended—grip is also featured on the tire thumper.
The second item on our list was the first product created in the RPTT line. RoadPro listened to its customer base and produced a better product in the RPTT-2. But this doesn’t mean that the first one was bad. It was incredible. Its performance is so good that only its successor beats it.
This comes in a choice of two colors: dark or light wood. It’s longer than the RPTT-2 by one inch. This difference in length is hard to notice. The design is less uniform and resembles a baseball bat. The change in circumference along the device makes it more susceptible to breaking. RoadPro fixed this design flaw in the RPTT-2.
The Boone Aluminium Bat is a suitable addition to our list. This miniature baseball bat is lightweight and durable because of it’s aluminium construction. The firm grip is a welcome feature.
Alternative Uses: Self Defense
Rumors say truck drivers carry their tire thumpers as self defense weapons. This may seem laughable, but there’s logic in it. A tire thumper is small enough to conceal in a large glove compartment. It’s also strong enough to knock out an opponent. And it has no sharp edges that would be a danger to children when it’s not in use.
You shouldn’t be afraid to utilize a tire thumper as a weapon for self defence should the need arise. In the case of defending yourself you should use anything at your disposal. A tire thumper should be no different.
Tire Thumper FAQs
Is a Tire Thumper Essential?
No, it isn’t essential. But having something to hit a tire with is. Think of the tire thumping alternative you carry in your car. Do this before buying a dedicated tire thumper.
Will Tire Thumping Harm My Tires?
In most cases, no. If you use a regular tire thumper your tires should be safe. Also, you shouldn’t apply a huge amount of pressure. If you have a double-handed grip and are clenching your teeth, you will harm your tires or the rebound will cause you injury.
You’ve now read an extensive guide on tire thumping. Checking tire pressure is not only a requirement, it’s a necessity to ensure your safety and the safety of those you share the road with.
Make precise checks with a pressure gauge in preparation for a long journey. Otherwise, a tire thumper will give you a good indication of whether your tires are up to pressure or not.