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Is It Better To Put Nitrogen In Your Tires Instead Of Air?

November 14, 2017

From car racing to military vehicles, the use of nitrogen to fill vehicle tires has gained popularity over the years. But is it really worth it for your average motorist? This article will explore the differences in nitrogen and air for filling tires.

Stability

Nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules which mean nitrogen is less likely to seep out through rubber tires, leaving you with low tires.

nitrogen

Nitrogen also remains stable even under extreme temperature changes. On the other hand, temperature mixed with air can result in changes to the pressure by one psi (pounds per square inch) for every ten degrees Fahrenheit.

Tire pressure is important because it affects how a vehicle handles, braking, traction and ride quality. If you own an accurate tire pressure gauge you can see this change for yourself.

Take your first pressure reading first thing in the morning when temperatures are cooler and the vehicle has not been driven. Take your second reading later in the day as the temperature rises and you have driven your car. Your first reading should be lower than your second reading.

Eco-Friendliness

An eco-friendly benefit of nitrogen is that nitrogen can improve fuel efficiency by saving you an average of 3%-6% of fuel per tire over the lifetime of the tire.

As mentioned earlier, air is usually accompanied by water vapor, especially if you use air from a facility that does not use system driers or proper maintenance. This water can cause damage to both the tire and the rim and the damage is often not visible until it is too late.

Availability and Affordability

While nitrogen has many great benefits, it is costly and not as readily available as air. Those who do not live in a metropolitan area may find it difficult to locate a facility that offers nitrogen fills.   

Compared to the cost of air, nitrogen is expensive. Air is usually $1 or free, depending on location, but a nitrogen fill can cost as much as $10 per tire. Nitrogen is also not maintenance free and will require pressure checks and refills, which makes cost and availability a major issue.

The Bottom Line

Nitrogen has many alluring benefits but, unless you are hitting raceway speeds, nitrogen just might not be worth the hassle for your daily driver.

About the Author

Kimberlea Buczeke is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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