Most tire thumpers are basically the same. They’re usually made of metal or wood to strike a tire with. If you already have a hammer in your tool kit, it should work just fine. Save yourself some $$$.
Response from Vicki:
Thanks for your money saving tip. Over the years, Mike and I have used tire thumpers of various kinds including a hammer.
The purpose of using one is to “hear” if your tires are at the correct pressure. (We always struck tires on the tread, never the sidewall.) If while you’re striking your tires during a pre- or post-trip inspection and you hear the sounds like “bounce, bounce, thud” you know that the “thud” tire is probably significantly low on air or flat and should be looked at more closely. (Note: you may not “hear” a tire that is a little low on air by the thumping method.)
I was fascinated to find some time back a technology that was not available when we teamed: a “tire pressure monitoring system.” Once, Mike heard that dreaded “thud” while doing a pre-trip inspection on a trailer that had not been used in a while. (I say “dreaded” because although very necessary, getting a tire replaced is a drain on both time and money.)
Mike called his driver manager for advice. (The tire was on a trailer with one of those tire pressure monitoring systems.) He was told to go down the road a little ways and see if the tire would “re-inflate.” He did and was very pleasantly surprised to find out it sure did! The “bounce” sound of the tire thumper off the previously low pressure tire was like music to his ears.
When we teamed and Mike drove regionally, we routinely carried a hammer in our tool chest (one piece of our tools and equipment). We didn’t use the hammer much except as a tire thumper, but there were times when it came in handy.
Contrast this with the prices of the tire thumpers or checkers in the photo above which was taken in December 2009. From left to right, the prices that were being charged were $21.99, $6.99 and $18.99! Depending on your preference, a good all-purpose hammer may cost much less than the two higher priced thumpers and be able to be used for much more.
Of course, the best way to check tires is still with a tire pressure gauge. Using one properly is the only foolproof way to know one’s tires are inflated to the correct pressure. Your trucking company may recommend different pressures depending on whether they are steer or drive or trailer tires.
Thanks again for sharing. We wish you safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.