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CAR TIRES NITROGEN VS AIR

NITROGEN VS AIR IN TIRES: WHICH IS BETTER?

When it comes to your trusty vehicle, there are always important questions to consider, especially regarding maintenance like an oil change or getting tires rotated. One such question is whether it’s better to have tires filled with nitrogen or air. While nitrogen has become a popular choice among many drivers, it’s not necessarily the right option for everyone. Understanding the debate between using nitrogen versus air can help in making the best decision for your vehicle’s needs. Both have their merits and drawbacks, and learning about these can guide you to the most suitable choice for your tire maintenance.

THE NITROGEN ADVANTAGE

The notable advantage of nitrogen-filled tires lies primarily in maintaining tire pressure over time. Nitrogen molecules are larger and slower moving than those in compressed air, which means they are less likely to seep out of the tire. This helps maintain proper tire pressure for a longer period, which is crucial to keep your tires in good shape. The benefits of nitrogen are numerous: it helps tires last longer, improves the car’s handling, and can even maximize fuel economy. Additionally, it reduces the risk of blowouts caused by under/over-inflated tires. For drivers who may not have the time or know-how to regularly check their tire pressure, using nitrogen can be a step towards tire success.

Nitrogen in tyres: Disadvantages

While nitrogen in car tyres offers certain benefits, there are also notable disadvantages to consider. The most significant con of filling tyres with nitrogen is the expense. Unlike normal air or oxygen, which is often free, nitrogen inflation comes with a cost. Maintaining nitrogen levels in tyres can be tricky at times, especially since you cannot simply fill them with normal air once you’ve started using nitrogen. Doing so would mix the gases and lose some of the beneficial properties of nitrogen. Another issue is availability; nitrogen isn’t easily available everywhere. Only certain fuel stations and tyre dealers may have nitrogen stations, limiting your options for top-ups.

STILL WONDERING: WHAT ABOUT GOOD OL’ AIR?

While exploring the nitrogen vs air in car tires debate, it’s essential to recognize there’s nothing wrong with keeping your tires inflated with air. For many drivers, using compressed air has been the norm for years. Its advantages are evident: compressed air is not only easy to find but also often free, making it a highly accessible option. When you depend on air for tire inflation, you may go without incurring any cost, contrasting the sometimes higher expense and longer process associated with nitrogen. Especially when considering the convenience and cost, compressed air emerges as the clear winner for many. Its longstanding use and accessibility ensure it remains a practical and reliable choice for tire inflation.

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A COMMON QUESTION: CAN YOU MIX AIR & NITROGEN?

A frequently decided dilemma for those who inflate their tires with nitrogen is what to do when they notice a tire is low during a long road trip, and nitrogen isn’t available at nearby service stations. The short answer is YES, you can top off a nitrogen-filled tire with air. It’s a good idea to avoid driving on an under-inflated tire, and using compressed air in tires that were previously filled with nitrogen will not cause harm. While mixing the two won’t result in an adverse chemical reaction, it does dilute the purity of nitrogen and lessen its effectiveness.

In this context, the ill effect of topping off nitrogen-filled tires with air or vice versa is minimal. The main concern isn’t about any potential damage, but rather the fact that the benefits of using nitrogen might be less effective. Nonetheless, in situations where nitrogen isn’t accessible, adding air is a practical solution. The key takeaway here is to always prioritize maintaining the right tire pressure over the specific gas used for inflation.

CAN YOU MIX AIR & NITROGEN

Is it safe to mix Nitrogen and normal air?

Yes, from a safety point of view, there is no issue or hazard in mixing Nitrogen with normal air in car tyres. In fact, regular compressed air already contains about 78% Nitrogen and around 20% Oxygen. So, the next time you’re on a road trip and cannot find a nitrogen source for your underinflated tyres, you can go ahead and fill them with normal air. While the pros of using pure nitrogen might be reduced when mixed with normal air, it won’t compromise the safety or functionality of your tyres. Always remember, what matters most is maintaining the right pressure in your tyres, rather than focusing on the right chemical element for inflation.

Maintaining Pressure

In the larger scheme of things, maintaining the correct air pressure in tires is vital for the health of your car and for safe driving. Nitrogen offers a slight advantage over regular air because of its larger molecules. These molecules are more difficult to escape through the tiny pores of the rubber tubes used in tires, allowing them to maintain pressure for longer periods. However, the difference in maintaining pressure between nitrogen and regular air isn’t great in everyday use. For many drivers, the convenience and cost savings of filling up with regular air, along with regular inflation checks, are more important than the type of gas used. Remember, the key to tire longevity and optimal performance is consistent maintenance, regardless of whether you use nitrogen or air.

Maintaining Pressure

THE DECISION: PROPER TIRE PRESSURE TRUMPS EVERYTHING

In the nitrogen versus air debate for tire inflation, there’s neither a universally right nor wrong answer. Whether you choose to fill your tires with nitrogen or compressed air, the most important aspect is maintaining proper tire pressure. Tires that are properly inflated tend to wear more evenly, handle better, improve the fuel economy of your vehicle, and last longer. Getting started with maintaining tire pressure involves finding the recommended pressure for your specific vehicle. This can be done by heading to the Recommended Tire Pressure page, where you can select your vehicle’s make, model, and year from a drop-down menu to know exactly what is needed. Whether it’s through learning about tire inflation or having a talk with a technician at your local Firestone Complete Auto Care, remember that the key to tire longevity and optimal performance is always the right pressure.

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Cost Of Maintenance

The cost of maintenance for car tires is a key consideration when choosing between nitrogen and air. Regular air, which constitutes 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% various gases, is readily available at almost every gas station and often at no cost or for a nominal rate. In contrast, nitrogen filling stations can be difficult to find, and maintaining nitrogen-filled tires can be more costly. The molecules in nitrogen are larger, preventing them from permeating the rubber tubes at the rate that normal air does. For a car in regular use, you might need to refill air every week or ten days, depending on your vehicle and driving conditions. However, tires filled with nitrogen can last up to a month before needing a refill. Although the cost might be higher for nitrogen, it saves you the headache of constantly hitting the air station. Ultimately, while nitrogen offers a slight advantage in terms of maintenance frequency, the more affordable and accessible nature of air makes it a practical choice for many drivers.

Top 4 Myths Vs Facts About Using Nitrogen To Inflate Car Tires

Myth 1: Nitrogen Doesn’t Leak As Quickly As Air
Myth: It’s often believed that nitrogen does not leak from tires as quickly as compressed air and thus maintains proper tire pressure for a longer time.
Fact: In reality, tires naturally lose small amounts of pressure over time, whether filled with oxygen (compressed air) or nitrogen. A major leak will cause air to escape at the same rate, regardless of the gas used.

Myth 2: Nitrogen Is Unaffected By Temperature Changes
Myth: Some claim that nitrogen is not affected by temperature changes, maintaining proper tire pressure in all climates.
Fact: While nitrogen-filled tires can maintain inflation pressure longer in fluctuating temperatures (a reason why it’s used in airplane tires), it doesn’t completely eliminate temperature-related pressure changes under normal driving conditions. This offers minimal benefit to vehicle owners who maintain their tires properly.

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Myth 3: Nitrogen-Filled Tires Are Maintenance-Free
Myth: There’s a misconception that using nitrogen in tires makes them “maintenance-free” and eliminates the need for regular pressure checks.
Fact: Tires filled with nitrogen still require regular pressure checks to identify slow leaks. It’s also advisable to visually inspect tires for signs like cuts, tears, bulges, and tread wear that indicate impending tire trouble.

Myth 4: Nitrogen Prevents Tire Deterioration and Rust
Myth: Another belief is that the lack of oxygen and moisture in a tire filled with nitrogen reduces the potential for chemical deterioration of the tire liner and limits rust and corrosion.
Fact: Compressed air systems in tire shops often have moisture separators, limiting the water vapor in the air supply and thus protecting the tires and wheels. The occurrence of tire and wheel damage caused by moisture is not widespread enough to warrant special concern.

In conclusion, while nitrogen offers some advantages in maintaining tire pressure, the differences compared to using compressed air are not as significant as some myths suggest. Regular maintenance and pressure checks remain crucial, regardless of the inflation medium used.

FAQ’s

When it comes to tire inflation, the debate between air and nitrogen is ongoing. Several tyre service and inflation centres often argue that while compressed air isn’t necessarily a bad choice, nitrogen tends to do a better job at maintaining the desired pressure for a longer time. This is mainly because compressed air seeps out of the tyres faster, increasing the chances that you’ll need to get them re-inflated sooner.

Yes, it is safe to mix air and nitrogen in tires. When topping up nitrogen-filled tires with air or filling air-filled tires with nitrogen without purging the tire of air first, there’s no harm. However, doing so means that you lose some of the benefits, as the purity of the nitrogen will be diluted by air.

Filling your tires with nitrogen can be a wise decision since nitrogen molecules are bigger than those in normal air, making it harder for them to leak out. This means a tire filled with nitrogen will maintain air pressure for a longer period. Consequently, your tires will likely remain properly inflated, resulting in better fuel economy and a longer tire life.

On average, tires filled with air lose about 1.5 psi each month, while tires filled with nitrogen maintain their pressure for about 3-4 months, meaning you’ll need to top off your nitrogen-filled tires less often than those filled with air.

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