Nitrogen-inflated tires are not science fiction. They’re an alternative to tires filled with air, made possible by recent technology. Using nitrogen to fill tires has some advantages over air, but it’s not always useful to everyday drivers. This short article will help you figure out whether or not nitrogen-inflated tires are right for you.
So, are nitrogen-inflated tires for you?
There are some more benefits when using nitrogen-filled tires, but they depend on how you use your vehicle. Tires that are filled with nitrogen are typically identified with a green valve cap. Take a look at the following to help decide if you should inflate your tires with nitrogen:
- Nitrogen-inflated tires retain inflation pressure longer and don’t fluctuate as much based on outside temperature as much as air-inflated.
- Nitrogen-inflated tires may be of some benefit to you if-
- You drive very sparingly and your car sits unused for long periods.
- You own collectible cars that are seldom driven for any great distance.
- You store your vehicle for an extended time.
- You have one or more cars that are primarily used on a racetrack.
Cost and convenience
Since using nitrogen to fill tires is relatively new, air pressure is much more readily available. You’ll find it at nearly every service station you visit, and it’s usually free (sometimes, you might have to pay a small fee). Nitrogen, on the other hand, is harder to find and costs more.
Despite some rumors out there, nitrogen doesn’t affect fuel economy – negatively or positively. Gas mileage is indeed connected to tire inflation pressure because low pressure increases rolling resistance. Rolling resistance, in turn, causes your gas mileage to drop. However, using nitrogen doesn’t change a tire’s rolling resistance.
Your tire’s aging process
A significant benefit of nitrogen is the way it helps slow down aging and corrosion. The big difference here is that nitrogen doesn’t create as much internal moisture as oxygen. When you fill your tires with air, they can retain moisture due to all the oxygen, which can oxidize the internal tire wall. In extreme cases, moisture can cause your tire’s steel reinforcing belts to rust.
While nitrogen sounds like a great alternative to air pressure, some experts say that a tire will wear out naturally before there’s time for oxidization to occur. So, while there’s an advantage to using nitrogen, it might be minimal under normal driving circumstances.
For more information, see Cooper Service Bulletin #110: “Tire Inflation”