Using Nitrogen to inflate tires instead of plain old air or oxygen is not a new phenomenon, but it sure is getting some attention lately. I did some research on the subject and decided I was missing the boat. I’m one of the 85% of Americans that don’t regularly check the inflation pressure in my tires (I wonder who took that survey). Based on my research, I should be using Nitrogen. I learned that Nitrogen is all around us and we take in Nitrogen in every breath of air we breathe in.

Here are some facts I picked up during my research;

  1. Air is composed of:
    A. 1% Water Vapor and other gases and escapes up to 250 times faster than Nitrogen.
    B. 21% Oxygen and escapes 3-4 times faster than Nitrogen.
    C. 78% Nitrogen and is the largest molecule in air, is dry and non-flammable. Because of their large size, the nitrogen molecules are the least able to seep through the pores of the tire, therefore maintaining optimal inflation longer. By reducing the percentage of oxygen, water vapor and other gases in your tires from 21% to 7% or lower as compared to “plain old air”, your tires will hold proper inflation pressure 3-4 times longer.
  2. Increased Fuel Efficiency:
    By using Nitrogen in your tires, and maintaining proper inflation pressure, the rolling resistance is reduced, resulting in better fuel economy. In fact, properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage by about 3.3%. I’ll take that any day.
  3. Longer Tire Life:

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    By maintaining more consistent inflation pressure, and reducing rolling resistance, the tire doesn’t wear as fast from the heat caused by under-inflation.

  4. Increased Safety:
    Under-inflated tires are the cause of 90% of blowouts. Nitrogen provides more reliable inflation pressure and reduces blowout potential.
  5. Improved TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) Performance:
    By 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has mandated that all new vehicles have a TPMS as standard equipment. Most of the current systems being installed in new vehicles by the OEM’s, are put inside the tire. They are an electronic device that puts out a signal that indicates if the tire pressure has dropped below the minimum required inflation pressure. A warning light then flashes or lights up inside the vehicle, to inform the driver of a problem. Using plain old air to inflate the tire can be a potential disaster for the TPMS monitor because of the water vapor from the plain old air. As we all know, water and electronic components don’t play well together. I do know that the cost to replace one of these TPMS devices is very pricey, not to mention the other three.
  6. Helping the environment:
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an environmental wacko, but I am for helping get rid of the smog and other things that are a result of toxic emissions released by our beloved rides. Nitrogen used in tires can help. It can decrease fuel consumption by reducing rolling resistance, it can increase tire life which will mean less tires need to be produced, which means less energy is used by tire manufacturers, less emissions from the trucks that deliver the tires and yada, yada, yada. You get the picture.

In summary, I’m getting on the “band wagon”. I’ve got 5 cars (one’s a work in progress) and a Motor-home. I’m going Nitrogen and the 3.3% increase in gas mileage. In the long run, I’ll buy less gas and fewer tires.

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5 Responses to Using Nitrogen to Inflate Tires

  1. Another benefit of N2 is that there is little or no Oxygen (O2) to cause “oxidation” of tire / rim / tpms mateirals.

  2. If i buy nitrogen filled tires and if tire pressure decreases in the future, tires need to be topped off with nitrogen. What if no nitrogen is available, then air will be used. Any comment?

    • Nitrogen molecules are a lot bigger than standard air and so you should need less topping up. When you do top up air pressure you can use regular air as its at 80% nitrogen anyway so you won’t be diluting the nitrogen in the tires too much.

  3. Costco offers free purge and nitro refill to keep the tire full of nitro in the event you have to top off and do not have access to nitro.

  4. Why doesn’t this site sale personal N2 accessories and compressors? It is extremely hard to find N2 equipment for my home garage. I wish someone would carry the products.

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