Nitrogen in Tires
Since tires are designed to operate best at a specific pressure to support the weight of the vehicle, the closer you can maintain the pressure in the tire to the recommendation, the longer your tires will last. Since Nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules, Nitrogen will not seep out of your tires nearly as much as air, so they stay much closer to the optimal pressure over a longer period. Therefore, the main advantages of Nitrogen are the following:
- Your tires will last longer. This benefit is of course greater for drivers that tend not to check their tire pressure on a regular basis.
- The vehicle will handle better, and have a more comfortable ride since the tires will be at the right pressure.
- Tires at the correct air pressure are less prone to failure due to an impact or contact with a road hazard. Again, nitrogen helps maintain the correct air pressure longer.
- Nitrogen is also much more stable than compressed air over a range of temperatures so tire pressure stays closer to optimal when super heated or in extremely cold weather. This, and the fact that it is less flammable, is why race cars and airplanes use nitrogen.
Another benefit of Nitrogen is that it is pure and does not act on the materials of the tire and wheel.Air is made up of about 21% oxygen, 1% water vapor and other gases, and 78% nitrogen. Oxygen interacts with the rubber and causes deterioration from the inside of the tire. This problem is compounded with the presence of even a small amount of water vapor. The result deterioration of the rubber of the tire, and the metal of the wheel. Pure Nitrogen has none of these adverse effects on the tire or wheel.
While there are some advantages, most tire dealers charge a premium for nitrogen instead of air. If the added cost is a concern, then your best option is to simply check your tire pressure on a regular basis. Since many service providers offer free pressure checks and air top-ups at no cost, you can save the added cost of Nitrogen while still getting the main benefits of extended tread life, better handling, comfort and less chance of flats.