- Car Care & Maintenance
Facts about tires filled with nitrogen
For several years now, it is possible to inflate your tires with nitrogen. It's a new technology and more and more drivers use it because when you use nitrogen the tire won't depressurize as much and will sustain tire flats. Nitrogen is a gas that can be found in the earth's atmosphere.
I will try to explain the main benefits of using nitrogen instead of oxygen for your tires and some of the myths about using nitrogen. It is more commonly used in countries where there are more drastic changes of temperature because it's a gas that is more stable.
Tire pressure when using nitrogen
Some people believe that when you use nitrogen that the pressure of the tire won't budge. It's a gas so it will react like any other type of gas meaning it will depressurize a little. But the fluctuations will be less important when using nitrogen. As a matter of fact, the more the tire is filled with nitrogen and the more stable will the pressure be because there is less humidity in the tire. It may take up to six months for a tire filled with nitrogen to lose 2 psi compared to not even a month with oxygen.
A benefit of having the good pressure in your tire is fuel consumption. Since the pressure is adequate, you will save money down the line. But don't think you won't have to check the pressure for six months. Making sure it's the right amount every two to three weeks should be alright.
Myth or reality? With nitrogen you will not get a flat tire
Myth. As stated above, it's a gas so a leak can happen just like when using oxygen. So don't think that there is no chance of you getting stuck by the side of the road. But it can prevent the explosion of the tire due to the absence of oxygen. I don't know if this happened to you but it's really scary when you're driving 100 km/h and a tire of a 18 wheeler blows right next to you. Not a cool experience! So big trucks could benefit of using nitrogen to inflate their tires.
Other people who could benefit of this technology are the cars equipped with pressure sensors for their tires. Most luxury cars are now equipped with sensors that detect any depressurization of a tire and having them with nitrogen could prevent the sensors from flashing in the dashboard. Tuned cars with low profile tires could also benefit from it as well as racing cars because the tires will warm up less faster.
How and where to go?
The process of filling tires with nitrogen is complicated. So if you opt for nitrogen the best way to go is go to a garage where they offer the service. Basically, it consists of emptying the tires of their oxygen and leave about 3 psi in it. Then, he fills it up with nitrogen and sets it to the desired pressure. I may be mistaking here, but I believe some garages offer a free refill of nitrogen after the first filling. A way to find out if a tire is filled with nitrogen is the color of the cap; they are green.
Using this technology is a bit more expensive than oxygen but it might save you money after a while. But price could eventually go down because more and more customers will want it and it will be common in a couple of years.