Nitrogen or Air? What do you need in your tires?

Do you, the average driver, benefit from inflating your vehicle’s tires with nitrogen?

Should you spend the extra $10 average cost per tire, per inflation?

NASCAR drivers use nitrogen to inflate their tires. Commercial airlines are required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use nitrogen in airplane tires. And, the U.S. Government uses nitrogen to inflate tires in NASA and military vehicles.

Proponents of using nitrogen, not regular air, to inflate consumers’ tires contend as follows:

Statistics show that 85% of Americans don’t regularly check tire pressure. Inflating tires with nitrogen reduces leakage. So unchecked tires would stay inflated, and therefore safer, longer if consumers use nitrogen.

Air is composed of:

• 1% Water Vapor and Other Gases – Escapes up to 250 times faster than Nitrogen
• 21% Oxygen – Escapes 3-4 times faster than Nitrogen
• 78% Nitrogen – The largest molecule in air is dry and non-flammable.

Therefore, because of their large size, nitrogen molecules are the least permeable and stay in your tire longer – keeping it inflated longer, giving you better fuel mileage, traction and control, and so keeping you safer on the road.

Saving You Money

Proponents say: Converting to nitrogen in tires can improve your fuel economy by up to 10% and increase your tire life by 25% or more.

Here’s how that works: Nitrogen in your tires maintains proper pressure, which keeps the recommended “contact patch” on the road longer and reduces rolling resistance, which translates to better fuel economy. Properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage by about 3.3 percent. Also, with nitrogen maintaining more consistent pressure, your tires won’t wear as fast on the shoulders from under-inflation or in the center from over-inflation.

By replacing oxygen with nitrogen, there is less oxidation. Oxidation occurs when oxygen reacts at high temperatures and pressures, and it damages inner liners, belt packages and rims. Some tire manufacturers claim nitrogen use extends tire life as much as 25 percent.

With nitrogen, you won’t have to have your tires serviced as often and, in the long run, you’ll buy fewer tires.

Keeping You Safer

Every day as you drive, air is constantly escaping through the walls of your tires. A tire filled with “plain old air” will lose 1.5 psi in less than a month; with nitrogen, this can take six months or longer. Under-inflated tires account for 90% of blowouts, and we all know how dangerous a blowout can be.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at the U.S. Department of Transportation, proper tire inflation could help save 50 to 80 lives and prevent 6,600 to 10,600 injuries each year.

With nitrogen in your tires, they will maintain proper pressure longer. Properly inflated tires not only reduce the chance of a blowout, they also ensure that the recommended “contact patch” is on the road. That improves your vehicle’s handling so you can react more quickly and decisively in potentially dangerous road conditions and situations.

So, it comes down to this: Are all these benefits worth the cost of paying approximately $10 per tire to inflate with nitrogen, rather than using a free air pump?

Important note: No matter what’s in your tire, you have to check it at some regularly scheduled interval to maintain proper inflation. You can’t just fill up with nitrogen and forget it.

To read more about the pros and cons of inflating your tires with nitrogen, visit:

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