Those green caps on your tires mean you have Nitrogen-filled tires.
A smooth-talking salesperson may have even encouraged you to choose nitrogen over air in your tires.
But did you get swindled? Are nitrogen-filled tires nothing more than a sales gimmick?
Let’s take a look and see!
The Difference Between Nitrogen And Air
Nitrogen and air are two of the most common gasses to fill inflatable tires. Nitrogen molecules are larger than air molecules, making it harder to leak over time. With air in your tires, you may lose pressure in your tires and need to top them off more often.
Nitrogen is also a dry gas, which does not support moisture. Moisture can cause the rubber compounds in tires to break down and cause premature aging for your tires. Using air can allow moisture to enter your tires and cause internal corrosion to the wheels on your vehicle.
No matter which type of gas you put in your tires, you should check your tire pressure regularly. Driving with underinflated tires can be dangerous no matter what type of gas is inside of them.
Proposed Benefits Of Using Nitrogen Over Air In Tires
Using nitrogen over air in your tires can be very beneficial. Let’s look at a handful of the reasons why you might consider using nitrogen in your tires.
Reduce Air Loss
All tires experience a loss of pressure, but the type of gas used can reduce this loss. Consumer Reports shares that a tire with regular air will typically lose about 1 or 2 PSI of air pressure per month. On the other hand, nitrogen tires lose about 1.3 PSI over an entire year.
Nitrogen contains larger molecules, which makes it more susceptible to leaks. Punctures from nails and other road hazards will still damage your nitrogen-filled tires and cause pressure loss. However, you’re less likely to experience changes in pressure under normal driving circumstances.
Improve Fuel Economy
Because nitrogen tires are less likely to lose pressure, it helps ensure proper inflation. Having your tires properly inflated is essential for optimal fuel efficiency. Driving on under-inflated tires reduces your fuel economy.
Tire sales giant Les Schwab states that for every 1 PSI drop in pressure for a tire, drivers can experience a 0.2% decrease in fuel efficiency. With the rising cost of fuel recently, keeping your tires properly inflated can result in massive savings each year.
Driving with underinflated tires is incredibly dangerous. When a tire is low on pressure, more of the tire comes in contact with the road. This increases the amount of friction between the tire and the road. Friction generates heat, which causes the rubber compounds to break down. This can drastically increase the wear and tear on your tires and reduce the life of your tires.
You’re more likely to experience a tire failure or blow out on an aging tire. A blowout while you’re traveling 70 mph down the highway, can be extremely hazardous. It can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and potentially cause an accident.
Keeping your tires at the proper pressure keeps you and others on the road safe.
Maintaining Tire Pressure
You want to maintain the proper tire pressure for your tires. Nitrogen-filled tires can maintain tire pressure even when not driven regularly. You’ll still experience some pressure loss over an extended time, but it is drastically less than a tire filled with air.
While you should still keep an eye on your tire pressure, nitrogen tires don’t require nearly as much constant attention as tires with air.
Do Nitrogen Filled Tires Really Work?
Yes, nitrogen-filled tires do work better than air tires. They perform better and help ensure your tires stay properly inflated. Research indicates that nitrogen tires are 74% more effective at maintaining proper tire pressure over tires filled with air.
There once was a rumor floating around that you couldn’t mix nitrogen and air in your tires. However, research indicates this just isn’t true. You can safely top off your nitrogen tires with air, and it won’t harm them.
It will dilute the purity of the nitrogen in your tires, but it’s better to keep your tires properly inflated than worry about the purity of the nitrogen.
What Are The Downsides To Filling Your Tires With Nitrogen?
While nitrogen in your tires has some definite perks, there are also a couple of downsides to consider. If your tires didn’t come pre-filled with nitrogen, the costs to fill them with nitrogen are substantially more expensive than air.
Due to the necessary purging of oxygen from the tires, you’re looking at approximately $30 per tire. You’ll also need to consider about $5 to $7 per tire when you need a refill.
Another disadvantage to nitrogen tires is that nitrogen isn’t as readily available as air. If you have air in your tires, you can simply visit a local gas station or use an air compressor at home. To maintain the nitrogen purity in your tires, you’ll likely need to visit a local tire shop to top off the nitrogen in your tires.
How Much Does It Cost To Fill Your Tires With Nitrogen?
Some new vehicles come with nitrogen in the tires. This typically adds about $70 to $175, a minimal price to pay when considering the price of a vehicle.
However, if your new car or truck doesn’t come with nitrogen, you can expect to pay an additional $30 per tire to convert the air to nitrogen. To properly convert to nitrogen, you must purge the tire several times to eliminate any chances of air remaining in the tire.
When Is Using Nitrogen Better Than Using Air
Using nitrogen is typically better when it involves tires with higher pressures or in heavy-duty applications. You’ll most often see nitrogen used in instances where consistency in tire pressure is of utmost importance. This is often the case in high-performance cars, racing, and airplanes.
Is It Worth It To Fill Your Tires With Nitrogen?
Nitrogen in your tires is extremely beneficial and can increase the life of your tires. However, if your vehicle or tires didn’t come with nitrogen, it might be worth waiting to make the switch. The added cost of switching over can negate any savings you might experience.
If you want to make the switch to nitrogen, it’s best to make the decision when purchasing new tires for your car or truck or when you’re at the dealership purchasing a vehicle. Do you have nitrogen in your tires?
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