Many customers are inquiring about running pure nitrogen in tires. Below are some common facts and myths to consider before filling your tires with nitrogen.
Fact: Air that we breath and put into our tires is roughly 78% nitrogen.
This is correct. Tires are typically inflated with air that’s a combination of approximately 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% miscellaneous gases.
Myth: I can only top-up my tires with Nitrogen.
Tires filled up with nitrogen can be topped-up with air (which already contains 78% of nitrogen). There will be no measurable difference in performance or safety because of it. It is virtually impossible to fill a tire with 100% nitrogen as it would require two valves: one for purge and one for feed.
Myth: Using pure nitrogen in tires will increase fuel economy.
A tire’s fuel economy is not affected by the type of air inside the tire. Lower air pressures can lead to lower fuel economy and nitrogen is a gas that is still affected by changes in ambient temperatures (about one psi for every 10ºF Fahrenheit). Using the correct inflation pressure not only provides the appropriate load capacity, it also contributes to the vehicle’s fuel economy. If you maintain proper pressure in your tires it makes no difference what gas is inside of it.
Fact: Pure nitrogen-filled tires will lose slightly less air over time.
It is true that nitrogen does not escape through a tire’s airtight seal quite as easily as oxygen. Most air-filled tires will lose about 1/2 to 1 psi per month, so a pure nitrogen-filled tire should lose less air pressure over time. Nitrogen reduces the loss of tire pressure due to permeation through rubber over time by approximately one-third. This does help maintain the vehicle’s tire pressure a little longer, but does not eliminate the need for monthly checks of tire pressure.
Myth: Pure nitrogen-filled tires will run cooler.
This is another myth that is tied to the assumption that consumers will not check their air pressures often enough. Simply having a different type of gas in your tires will not make them run cooler. Underinflated tire will heat up faster than a tire filled to the proper pressure.
Nitrogen for automobile tires is produced by nitrogen generators, which typically get about 95 percent purity. But, to actually get that level of purity into an automobile tire, you would have to deflate and inflate that tire with nitrogen several times. If you’re not careful doing this repeated deflation and inflation process, the purity level winds up being closer to 90 percent, compared to the approximate 80 percent nitrogen already in compressed air. Because of this those claims of less pressure loss with nitrogen aren’t valid.
Myth: Nitrogen-filled tires last longer.
The type of air inside a properly inflated tire does not affect the tire’s tread life. While there is evidence to suggest that nitrogen-filled tires will have less oxidation to the inner liner of the tire, keep in mind that a tire’s inner liner was specifically designed to handle standard air. There is no proof of any tire failing due to rubber oxidation caused from the tires having standard air inside them.
The only major benefit from running pure nitrogen in tires is the increased air retention (slower loss of air out of the tires over time). A tire that is normally maintained with the proper air pressure will perform exactly like a tire with a pure nitrogen fill. If you can get a pure nitrogen fill for free, there is no harm in doing so but very little (if any) benefit from it.