FILLING UP CAR TIRES WITH NITROGEN: PROS AND CONS
Have you ever thought about replacing the air in your car’s tires with nitrogen? Owing to its stability which supersedes the stability of air, nitrogen is used for vehicles which require more precision tuning, such as race cars, aircraft and spacecraft. Is nitrogen then a better option for regular cars? This is precisely the question we will try to answer in this article.
Nitrogen vs Air
What’s interesting about nitrogen is that it constitutes 78% of the air we breathe in. Now, if we take into consideration that tires filled with nitrogen contain 93 to 95 percent of nitrogen, it becomes clear that the differences between a car tire filled with air and a car tire filled with nitrogen are not big - on the contrary -, but are existent.
The Pros of Using Nitrogen
1. Less Tire Bleeding
Due to rubber’s flexing and stretching while rolling, that is while you’re driving, the air exits the tires through their molecular structure. When it comes to nitrogen, its atom is slightly bigger that the atom of oxygen, which is why it escapes from a tire slower.
The math is that air exits a tire 1.6 times faster than nitrogen. Still, even if your car’s tires are filled with nitrogen, you should bear in mind that they are surrounded by oxygen which, in combination with its temperature, affects the tires from the outside.
2. More Consistent Fuel Economy
Having the right tire pressure optimizes your fuel economy. Moreover, the higher the tire pressure, the more constant the fuel economy, and seeing it as nitrogen stays within a tire longer than air, it automatically increases the distance your car can cover using a set amount of fuel.
Of course, if you maintain the right tire pressure by adding air on a regular basis, you won’t feel any difference.
3. Better Car Control
Don’t be fooled by this as having nitrogen in your car’s tires does not affect your car’s original features - it’s all about tire pressure again. We pointed out in the beginning that nitrogen is more stable than air, which makes the pressure of a car tire filled with nitrogen more stable compared to that of a car tire filled with air. And, the more stable the tire pressure, the better the traction on the road, meaning better car control.
This is the reason, as we have already stated, race car tires are filled up with nitrogen. Still, when it comes to regular cars, the difference in control is so minimal that chances are you, as an „amater“, won’t even register it.
4. Less Wear and Tear
Air contains water vapor, unlike nitrogen. Once it heats up, water vapor increases the pressure within a tire. What’s more, not seldom does it happen that the hoses and tanks of air compressors at gas stations have water in them, which leads to having excess water in your car’s tires.
Why is this important? Well, because water can cause rusting inside the wheels and the valve stem, or it can even affect the sensitive sensors of tire pressure monitoring systems.
The Cons of Using Nitrogen
1. It Requires More Effort
Aside from costing money, unlike air, nitrogen cannot be found on every corner. First you have to locate a tire store or a well-equipped car service.
If you’re not able to find nitrogen during a trip, you’ll be forced to use air, which will dilute the nitrogen that is already in your car’s tires.
2. It Requires More Time
Filling up car tires with nitrogen is slightly more complex than filling them up with air. It requires filling and bleeding the tires several times in order to purge as much air as possible.
Many tire stores own a machine which filters air out of nitrogen and carries out the purging process automatically, which is necessary, especially if you are filling up your car’s tires with nitrogen for the first time. Be that as it may, the aforementioned process requires more time and, as a consequence, more money out of your wallet.
3. It Costs Money
Logic says that, if something requires more effort and time, plus more expensive equipment, the price goes up. In Serbia, that price, when it comes to filling up car tires with nitrogen, is around 100 din. per tire, which is hardly considered a fortune, but it certainly represents a big difference compared to an air compressor which does not require the presence and time of a competent person, and, as a result, does not produce any expenses.
4. Nitrogen Has to Be Refilled too
Car tires release nitrogen slower than air, but they still release it, especially at low temperatures. In other words, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll go through a whole year without adding nitrogen to your car’s tires, and that, as we are very well aware of now, includes more effort and time, as well as a higher expense.
As is the case with most things in car industry, your choice as to whether you will fill up your car’s tires with nitrogen or air depends on your preferences and possibilities.
If you belong to a group of more sophisticated drivers, capable of feeling the benefits of car tires filled with nitrogen, and factors, such as additional effort, time and money, are not an obstacle for you, then there’s no reason you should not decide on nitrogen.
Of course, bear in mind that you can achieve practically the same results by measuring the tire pressure regularly and adding air if needed.
We hope that you’ve found this article useful. For any questions, unknowns, and suggestions you may have, please, feel free to contact us.