With the growing focus on initiatives to improve fuel efficiency and vehicle safety, you may have heard friends or family members mention nitrogen tire inflation. It may seem strange that filling your tires with this gas can benefit your car in a range of ways, but it’s true: driving with nitrogen-filled tires can help cool your tires, increase your tread life, aid in tire pressure retention, and improve fuel economy.
Heat is the enemy of your car tires, as hot tires can suffer from excessive sidewall flexing, meaning that the side of the tire bends and stretches, weakening the rubber. Sidewall flexing wears tires out quickly and puts your vehicle at risk for serious issues like blowouts. However, filling your tires with nitrogen instead of compressed air helps ensure that your tires remain as cool as possible. When you fill your tires with normal compressed air, the air’s natural humidity can be problematic for the safety of your vehicle: water vapor absorbs and holds heat, making your tires run hotter as you drive. However, filling your tires with pure nitrogen reduces the risk of these issues, as this gas will not contribute to fluctuations in pressure. In addition, nitrogen itself does not heat up as quickly as compressed air does, allowing you to further reduce the risk of blowouts and other tire issues.
Increased Tread Life
Tire wear is caused by the oxidation of the rubber, as oxygen attacks and breaks down the bonds in this material over time. Nitrogen, however, is an inert gas, meaning that it does not react to many other substances and can be used to avoid chemical reactions like oxidation. Normal compressed air consists of 79.1% nitrogen, but using regular air means that your tires will also be filled with oxygen, which contributes to oxidation in your tires.
Better Tire Pressure Retention
Because nitrogen has a larger molecule size than oxygen, it is less permeable, meaning that it leaks through your tires much more slowly than oxygen does. This allows the pressure in your tires to remain stable over an extended period of time—which is very helpful if you’re one of the estimated 85% of people throughout the United States who doesn’t check your tire pressure regularly! In addition, nitrogen has the added benefit of helping your tires maintain a constant pressure even in hotter weather. Of course, the climate of the San Diego area is relatively mild year-round, but nitrogen’s added benefits are still likely to be noticeable during the region’s summer months.
Improved Fuel Economy
According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), underinflated tires reduce your gas mileage by 0.3% for each 1 PSI (pounds per square inch) drop in pressure of all four tires. Because nitrogen leaks through your tires at a much slower rate in comparison to air, you’re much more likely to maintain an accurate tire pressure with nitrogen-filled tires, meaning a noticeably improved fuel economy for your vehicle.
If you want to keep your tires from running hot, increase your vehicle’s tread life, aid in tire pressure retention, and benefit from an improved fuel economy, nitrogen-filled tires may be the best choice for you. Browse our website for more information on improving your vehicle’s performance, or contact us for more information about nitrogen-filled tires.