A lot of drivers believe that adding nitrogen to their tires improves vehicle performance by increasing fuel efficiency and grip on the road.
However, this claim is often met with skepticism. At the end of the day, how much of a difference a gas inside your car’s tires really would make?
This write-up will discuss the effects of adding nitrogen to car tires.
How does it affect tire aging, fuel economy, performance, or other key parameters?
Is it too costly, or is it only a gimmick a section of car owners believe works better than air?
Let’s find out!
Regular Air vs Nitrogen-Filled Tires
Traditionally car owners have been filling their tires with compressed air.
It consists of Nitrogen, Oxygen, CO2, Water Vapor, and other gasses that you find in the air.
Nitrogen tires, on the other hand, have pure Nitrogen added to the tires, which somewhat performs better than regular in terms of thermal stability, pressure retention, corrosion resistance, and other parameters.
Here are a few key advantages of using Nitrogen tires instead of the regular stock options:
1. Enhanced Pressure Retention
All tires undergo pressure loss of air with time. Nitrogen is a heavier gas with larger molecules, which means that it retains its pressure for a longer time, leading to a more stable tire pressure on the road.
However, it’s important to note that Nitrogen tires will eventually lose their pressure as well.
The actual difference between the pressure retention depends on several factors including the tire condition, commonly used terrain, vehicle types, and much more.
But the average improvement in pressure fluctuations between the tire and correct air pressure hovers around 1.3 to 1.5 psi only because regular air also contains about 78% nitrogen by weight.
2. Reduced Corrosion
Tires have multiple protections against it and corrosion of tire life – as we know it, is unlikely.
But the presence of oxygen in the air means that there’s a potential for oxidation for certain materials like steel.
Nitrogen, being an inert gas, is free from all such issues as you’ll always be sure that no corrosion is affecting your tire from the inside.
3. Temperature Stability
Air expands a lot with higher temperature fluctuations and pressures, while Nitrogen has no such tendencies.
The main reason behind air’s thermal instability is the presence of Oxygen in the air. Any temperature change directly affects the pressure inside as Oxygen can quickly expand or contract with a change in temperature inflation pressure.
Nitrogen, on the other hand, is more stable as it doesn’t get excited due to temperature changes to its molecular structure and heat capacity.
4. Better Fuel Economy
The proper tire pressure also has a huge impact on the overall fuel economy of a vehicle.
A properly inflated tire has better rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag, which means better fuel economy for your vehicle.
Nitrogen tires remain inflated for a longer time, which means that you are always driving with properly inflated tires, thereby delivering better fuel economy and longer tire life.
5. Increased Tire Durability
Nitrogen tires also perform a lot better in terms of durability and tire maintenance.
Since Nitrogen tires remain more inflated, they don’t get as much uneven wear as regular tires during use.
This means that anything filled with nitrogen tires can theoretically last a longer time.
Nitrogen has so many benefits over regular air! Doesn’t it sound like an excellent choice for tires?
It may sound impressive, but it actually isn’t!
The aforementioned benefits are great but their overall effect is very insignificant.
For instance, the fuel economy, temperature stability, and pressure retention it offers are all under 5% at max, which for some people isn’t much.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Filling Tires with Nitrogen?
Nitrogen has a lot of benefits for tires, but there are a few drawbacks as well. The first one is the associated cost and availability.
Pure Nitrogen is expensive and hard to find whereas you can get compressed air from literally anywhere.
Even if you find it somewhere, you’ll always have to go through the trouble of reaching the same spot as Nitrogen will still need a top-off despite its enhanced ambient air pressure retention.
Furthermore, the price mix of nitrogen itself is another valid concern when it comes to relying on nitrogen-filled tires.
Pure Nitrogen is costly and there is a prevalent concern regarding the viability and benefits of nitrogen-inflated tires for regular drivers.
What is the Expected Cost of Filling Nitrogen in Tires
As stated before, Nitrogen is expensive, and using it to fill new tires cost around $100 to $150.
For existing tires filled with nitrogen, the overall service charges would be around $30, whereas a top-up will cost $5 per tire.
Now compare that cost with the convenience of using an air pump to take on low tire – pressures and inflate your tires for free or at a very minimal cost. What seems like a better option?
Common FAQs About Using Nitrogen Gas in Tires
TLDR? No worries, here are a few commonly asked questions about Nitrogen tires to help you determine if they are a smart option to fill tires or not.
1. Are Nitrogen tires better than regular air tires
Yes, Nitrogen tires have several advantages over their regular counterpart.
However, those benefits pale in comparison to the issues associated with Nitrogen tires, which are mainly related to their cost and availability.
2. Is it easy to find Nitrogen for tires?
No, finding pure Nitrogen for tires is quite difficult and expensive.
Generally, even Nitrogen tires have around 5% of nitrogen molecules and other gases added because of how expensive it is to dry nitrogen compress for automotive applications.
3. Who should buy Nitrogen tires?
Filling tires with Nitrogen is a common practice in racing and extreme sports circuits because of the thermal stability it offers.
Nitrogen’s boiling point is way below our ambient temperatures so the gas is already at its most excited state.
The heat generated by tires rubbing on the road is nowhere near enough to increase Nitrogen’s volume or cause any disturbance in the tire’s operations.
That’s why it’s always recommended to opt for nitrogen tires for extreme applications as it gives off a better, safer, and more consistent performance.
4. What is the overall cost of buying nitrogen tires
Nitrogen tires are expensive.
The cost of getting new tires can go as high as $150, which indicates how difficult it is to buy and maintain any vehicle with nitrogen tires.
5. I have regular air in my tires. Can I turn them into Nitrogen tires?
Absolutely. Simply get all the air extracted from your tires and fill them with nitrogen. It’s very easy and will cost around $30 per tire.
The Verdict: Are Nitrogen Tires Worth It?
Nitrogen tires offer pressure retention, better fuel economy, and other benefits.
It’s an inert gas that proves excellent thermal stability and is the prime reason why many in the racing community rely on it to move race cars and get them across the finish line.
However, despite all of its amazing benefits, Nitrogen tires don’t seem like an excellent choice that justifies the exorbitant price tag they come with.
The benefits it offers over normal air-filled tires are numerous, but their overall effect is quite minimal.
In such cases, it’s better for regular drivers to opt for filling their tires with regular air, which is both readily available and inexpensive.