We live in a fast paced world that is constantly discovering new things and modifying old thoughts. When it comes to creating new technology and reinventing the old, there is no limit to what they will come up with next. This is even true for the automotive industry. One of the most recent revelations is tires filled with nitrogen rather than compressed air.
Like most new ideas there is usually some debate as supporters for both sides argue the pros and cons of each, but let’s just skip that and get down to the facts. Compressed air is made of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and small amounts of water vapor as well as various other gases. Pure nitrogen is, of course, 100% nitrogen. Racecar drivers were among the first to use nitrogen because it kept their racing wheels inflated and stable longer. Many of the benefits that racecar drivers experience are the same for the average driver; however since most vehicles aren’t monitored as closely as racecars you won’t likely notice much except the price.
Nitrogen has been shown to keep tires inflated at a consistent level longer than compressed air. Part of this is due to the fact that it doesn’t leak out of the rubber tires as easily as oxygen. Also nitrogen is more stable under drastic temperature changes; which you are more likely to notice during the summer or after long trips on the highway.
Another concern about compressed air is the moisture (water vapor) that builds up in your tire. While it can affect the pressure level of your tires, especially during temperature changes, the bigger concern is the damage it can do to your tire over time. Corrosion of the interior rubber of the tire as well as the rims can occur over an extended period of time; however, most drivers are more likely to wear out the tread before this becomes a big issue.
Some research has shown that nitrogen can improve you fuel efficiency by as much as 3% but if you keep your tires properly inflated and check them on a monthly basis your not likely to notice much of a change.
We all like to make our tires last as long as possible to put off buying new tires but with nitrogen costing anywhere from $10-30 per tire for many people it is not a worthwhile investment. Not to mention driving to the local gas station to fill up your tires is much more convenient than locating a dealer that uses nitrogen.