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Tire Inflation : Air or Nitrogen

Pros and cons of inflating tires with nitrogen

There is only a small amount of material that separates us from the hard surface of the road, and our soft comfortable seats. The most important barrier and safety factor undoubtedly is going to be our tires, and the invisible gas that is contained within them.

There are two forms of gas that are used commonly to inflate our tires, but which one is the best one to be used.

Most don't even know that you can use anything other than compressed air, so why consider an alternative like Nitrogen? Consider this!

Nitrogen the Pros:

1.) Rubber used for tires, inner tubes, and even the liners in tubeless tires is not impermeable, which means pressure loss can be expected over short or long durations of time. Nitrogen has an extremely lower rate of pressure loss, and will lower the need to frequently add additional air pressure in your tires. You should regularly check your pressure regardless of whether your tires have been inflated with nitrogen or air, but nitrogen will definitely have less pressure loss over time.

2.) Nitrogen stays cooler, so your tires achieve much cooler running temperatures. I would like to elaborate more on this benefit, but since it has little impact to an average driver I will only say this: Almost every race car, airplane, and emergency vehicle runs on nitrogen inflated tires, and the cooler temperature can sometimes mean the difference between a blow out, and just getting a flat. This also means that reduced temperature equals fewer incidents due to excessive expansion of rubber due to higher heat levels.

3.) Improved wear in your treads. This falls along with the cooler temperature but it also goes toward the less likeness of having your tires deflate. A tire that is running low will not be properly covering the road surface, and with lower pressure there is more friction across the surface of your tire. This causes unbalanced wear, which can eventually lead to mild steering issues, or the likelihood of developing a leak.

4.) Increased rim life: This is where science really kicks in. Oxygen contains water or at least vapor. Nitrogen has no H2o, so in theory with no water vapor present, steel is less likely to develop oxidization, which is what causes the formation of rust.

5.) Pressure build up: The racing circuit has been using nitrogen to fill up tires for many years now due to this benefit. Running tires at higher temperatures also means that pressure begins to well up within the tire, and once again nitrogen is less likely to increase in temperature opposed to oxygen. Pressure build up again is not a cause of worry for most drivers, but on the racetrack or drag strip, where tires reach almost melting point temperatures, nitrogen is almost imperative.

Nitrogen the Cons:

1.) Thee most formidable opposition to any choice would be the cost factor. Nitrogen is not readily available and it is much more costly than something that we can almost certainly find for free!

2.) Once you use nitrogen, you have to continue using nitrogen to extract any benefit that nitrogen exhibits. Once you introduce any amount of compressed air into a nitrogen environment, it negates any properties or benefits that nitrogen has to offer.

So there we have it five against two, but one being usually the ultimate decision we all choose to make. Air is free and it is just too easy to use, so really will anyone actually notice a considerable difference when using nitrogen. I have to say I have found no difference myself, save the frequent trips to the air pump. So really it is a choice between apples and oranges, or dollars and cents, but either way nitrogen’s benefits maybe for you!

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