According to one of our competitors, filling your tires with nitrogen may be one of the greatest discoveries since Al Gore invented the internet. They claim that nitrogen-filled tires provide safer driving conditions, better gas mileage, longer tread life and also cures chronic halitosis and improves your credit score.
Well, we have customers ask about it once in awhile so I decided to do some exhaustive internet research on the topic.
The science facts state that regular compressed air is made up of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% of water vapor and some other random gases. Nitrogen has larger molecules so it makes it harder to seep through the rubber of your tires. So, it is true that pure nitrogen will keep your tire pressure stable for a longer period of time. The danger of that is thinking that you don’t have to check your tire pressure as often. Consumer Reports says that you might enjoy the slight improvement in air retention, but it is no substitute for regular inflation checks.
As far as the claim about safer driving conditions, the only thing I can figure that makes it safer is that nitrogen is a non-flammable gas. This might come in handy if you’re driving through flames, landing space shuttles or driving in the Daytona 500, for the rest of us it will probably not have a huge effect, unless you’ve experienced your tires spontaneously bursting into flames.
Another claim is that it gives you longer tread life. Well, because regular compressed air contains oxygen, there is some oxidation going on inside your tire. But the truth is that your tires will wear out LONG before that oxidation causes any problems inside your tire. Also, it’s hard to escape the oxidation going on OUTSIDE of your tires, unless you park in a nitrogen-filled garage.
The real issue is these nitrogen generators. They cost about $4,000 apiece and when you’re getting $3-5 bucks to fill each tire up, they can generate some profit too.
The real story here is to make sure that your tires are always at the correct pressure. I wouldn’t pay to get the magical gas – and neither would Consumer Reports or the other websites I checked. Just drop by, we’ll check the pressure and fill them up with our special Take it 2 the House gas – for FREE!