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Properly inflated tires make a world of difference when it comes to driving and reducing the risk of blowouts. Nowadays, you can either choose good old fashioned air or nitrogen in order to inflate your tires. Nitrogen is slowly becoming a popular choice among car owners but the debate surrounding its advantages in comparison with air is still ongoing. So, what exactly are these advantages and how can you decide which one is right for you?

Nitrogen Advantages

In order to answer this question, you need to know the difference between air and nitrogen. Air is made up of many components such as carbon dioxide and water in addition to noble gases such as neon and argon. It is also made of 78 percent nitrogen and the remaining 21 percent is oxygen. Using pure nitrogen in your tires does have its own advantages and this includes long term stable tire pressure. Nitrogen particles are larger than oxygen and this makes it more difficult for nitrogen to leak out of your tires. This stability in pressure makes it ideal for race tracks where the temperature of the tires usually changes and eventually heats up during a race.

Stable pressure is equally important in your everyday car. However, the presence of air in your tires instead of nitrogen can easily jeopardize this pressure. As previously mentioned, water vapor is one of the components found in air and it is the culprit behind pressure changes that occur whenever the temperature of the tires fluctuates. Water also equals humidity and this increases the risk of corrosion when it comes to steel or aluminum rims. Nitrogen is a dry gas that can get rid of humidity found in tires since the inflation process involves filling and emptying the tire several times. This causes the oxygen or water vapor to disperse alongside the nitrogen.

In summary, nitrogen allows car owners to save money when it comes to fuel and tire maintenance. It also reduces the risk of corrosion by keeping moisture out and this contributes to the longevity of your rims. However, nitrogen does have its own disadvantages such as cost and availability.

Cost and Convenience

When it comes to cost, nitrogen is more expensive than air. For example, car owners who want to fill up their brand new tires with nitrogen gas will have to pay somewhere between $70 and $175 at some outlets. Those who wish to replace the oxygen in their tires with nitrogen will have to pay up to $30 for each tire. Air compressors are available in every gas station and this makes it more convenient when compared to nitrogen. Moreover, filling up tires with air is an easy process that demands less time and effort from car owners, especially during road trips. It is safe to say that air wins the battle of cost and convenience.

Tire Pressure Comes First

At the end of the day, both air and nitrogen are considered suitable gases for tire inflation because they comply with the Ideal Gas Law. This law states that pressure and temperature and directly related. When it comes to tires, this means that tire inflation pressure is affected by ambient temperature, so every time the temperature increases by ten degrees, the pressure also increases by 1 psi.

Owning nitrogen filled tires does not exempt your car from regular tire care and maintenance. In fact, maintaining the proper tire pressure is not only necessary for your safety, but it can also help you maximize your gas mileage. Always keep in mind that properly inflated tires have better handling and wear more evenly when compared to tires that are under-inflated. They also have a longer shelf life and this allows you to save money in the long run.

Where to Get Nitrogen for Tires

Nowadays, you can buy your own gas tank and use a nitrogen tire inflation kit to fill up your tires. These kits provide an easy and affordable way to fill up your tires with pure nitrogen. They  are also portable and safe to use. Smaller tire inflation kits are also available and their size makes them the ideal companion for outdoor events and race support.

Nitrogen is available in car dealerships, tire suppliers as well as Costco. You can also buy it from places that specialize in welding gases. Nonprofit organizations such as the Get Nitrogen Institute is an online source for nitrogen where you can type in your zip code and receive a map showing you all of the nitrogen providers located in your area.

Sources:

  1. How to Fill Air in a Car’s Tires – wikiHow
  2. Why don’t they use normal air in race car tires? – howstuffworks
  3. Will nitrogen-inflated tires save fuel? – howstuffworks

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