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Truth: Number listed shows maximum pressure allowed for that tire

proper tire pressure

Sidewall pressure is NOT the recommended pressure of operation. Credit: AGCO Automotive

The government estimates that only nine percent of vehicles have four properly inflated tires, so it’s time to clear up a myth or two about tire inflation. If you’re unsure about how to determine proper tire inflation for your tires, then here’s one piece of advice: DO NOT go by the number on the sidewall.

Sidewall tire markings (shown left) are found around the circumference of a tire, indicating everything from the brand and the wheel diameter to the load index, speed rating, tread wear, and traction. The pressure label (circled in red) does not indicate the manufacturer’s recommended tire inflation pressure, nor does it indicate the proper air pressure based on the vehicle the tire is mounted on. The number is the maximum pressure allowed for that tire. For the recommended tire inflation pressure, check the label located on the driver’s door or the owner’s manual.

Properly inflated tires can improve fuel efficiency by 3.3 percent and save $.06 a gallon at the pump. Approximately 1.2 billion gallons of fuel are wasted each year by motorists driving on under inflated tires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that under inflated tires contribute to more than 600 fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year.

All this information and statistical data may be a lot to take in, so on easy way to maintain proper tire pressure longer is with nitrogen tire inflation. Nitrogen tire inflation is exactly what the name says: putting nitrogen into your tires instead of air. Studies have shown that this method of tire inflation maintains proper tire pressure longer than regular air, and keeps them in better health for a longer period of time. Who says we have to change the entire car to improve safety and fuel efficiency? Why not do just one thing differently?

To learn more about nitrogen tire inflation and finding a station near you, check out Nitrofleet99. Don’t worry if you’ve never done this before, as it’s not necessary for you to remove all the air from your tires before inflating them with nitrogen.

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The current national average for gas prices is $3.83 per gallon. That’s three cents up from last week, and 30 cents higher than a month ago. It may be time to make a gas buddy by taking a few moments only to find the cheapest gas in your area. Or simply drive less and ride your bike, or walk more. There are plenty of ways to save money on gas, so if you haven’t started thinking of ways to save yet, now would be the time to start.

Now, one way to save gas money is to make our vehicles more efficient. I don’t mean turning them into hybrids. I mean simply maintaining your vehicle, or doing a few small things just a little bit differently. So, what can be done to make your car more of a penny saver instead of a penny pincher?

An informal study from Carnegie Mellon University found that the average person who drives 12,000 miles yearly on under-inflated tires uses about 144 extra gallons of gas, at a cost of $300-$500 a year. Keeping those tires properly inflated would save a few hundred dollars, which the average consumer could easily use in today’s economy. A better way to keep tires properly inflated longer is with nitrogen tire inflation. Keep in mind that regularly inflating your tire with nitrogen doesn’t replace the importance of checking your tire pressure regularly.

Inflating your tire with nitrogen also increases the life of your tire and your car. Nitrogen is a dry, non-corrosive gas and will reduce oxidation and rust due to the absence of oxygen and moisture. This will help minimize wheel corrosion to promote better bead sealing. Nitrogen tire inflation has routinely been used by airlines and racing vehicles, but the practice could prove beneficial for drivers who drive infrequently (car collectors, track drivers, snow tire users, motor home owners, etc).

The best thing about nitrogen tire inflation is that you don’t need to remove the air from you tires to make the switch. Why wait for your tires to lose pressure and risk something happening, when you can start saving money today?

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nitrogen tire inflation ford study

Ford presented the results of this study to the American Chemical Society

If air is 78 percent nitrogen, then what’s the big deal about filling your tires with pure nitrogen instead of air? The nitrogen atom is actually smaller than the oxygen atom, so wouldn’t pure nitrogen be worse because it could leak out much more quickly?

Well, for the average consumer, the benefits of nitrogen tire inflation lie in structural durability due to a significant reduction in what is known as rubber oxidation. Rubber oxidation is the deterioration of the rubber due to the molecular interaction between the oxygen and the rubber, which ruins the durability of the tire over time. Studies have been conducted to test and to compare tire durability between those inflated with air and those inflated with nitrogen.

Ford Motor Company, based in Dearborn, Mich., conducted a study in 2004 on the Effects of Nitrogen Tire Inflation, particularly the effects nitrogen inflation has on the aging performance of passenger tires. Tires were inflated with 96 percent and 99.9 percent nitrogen and were aged for three to 12 weeks. For comparison, tires inflated with either air or a 50/50 mixture of oxygen and nitrogen were aged alongside the nitrogen tires. For this study, the Goodyear Wrangler AP LT245/75R15 was used.

The overall conclusion of the Ford study was that when nitrogen was used, the change in rubber properties was either slowed or halted all together. It was also recognized in the study that the average consumer may not need to get rid of their old tires before making the switch from air to nitrogen.

If Ford’s 2004 study seems old and outdated, then consider a 2007 study from Canada’s Drexan Corp. that found similar results. A test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also showed that using nitrogen reduced tire pressure loss in new tires, improving your gas mileage and the tires’ lifespan over time. Dr. John Daws, of Daws Engineering, has conducted studies most recently as 2010, which have also found similar results.

The nitrogen tire inflation industry is still in its infancy, but multiple studies have shown that putting nitrogen in your tires is beneficial for the long haul. To learn more about how to get nitrogen into your tires, check out Nitrofleet99.

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The Clean Cities Coalition

On April 9, 2011, in Fuel Efficiency, Nitrogen Tire Inflation, by allisonmreilly
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clean cities coalitionConsisting of over 100 coalitions, the Clean Cities Coalition is a government-industry partnership designed to advance our country’s economic, environmental, and energy security by supporting local decisions to adopt practices that contribute to the reduction of petroleum consumption. The program’s 8,400-plus local stakeholders that have helped to reduce the use of petroleum, to add more than half a million alternative fuel vehicles on the road, and to encourage the construction of over 3,000 alternative refueling stations.

Since the inception of Clean Cities in 1993 by the Department of Energy, the program has reduced petroleum consumption by nearly three billion gallons! One way stakeholders can continue to contribute to the reduction is to utilize nitrogen in their tire inflation. Instead of spending time and money purchasing and developing new technology, why not just do something different with the old technology? If anything, it’s simply much more economical.

About 54 percent of Americans drive on under-inflated tires. An under-inflated tire can reduce fuel economy by five percent. This can be fixed with nitrogen, which provides a much more stable tire pressure for a much longer period of time. Nitrogen reduces the average rolling resistance of the tire, thereby improving fuel economy. Five percent may not seem like a lot, however, that five percent adds up to increased fuel and maintenance costs for the many company vehicles of which service and fleet managers are in charge. Besides improved fuel economy, here are a few other ways nitrogen can improve your fleet:

  • Improved Safety: Nitrogen enables more stable tire pressure for longer periods of time, thereby reducing the chances for a blowout.
  • Improved Tire Wear: By eliminating the moisture and oxygen through nitrogen tire inflation, the risk of oxidation of tire walls is significantly reduced, creating better wear characteristics.
  • Improved Tire Pressure Monitoring System Performance: By using nitrogen instead of air in your tires, you reduce “false positive” indications from your tire pressure monitoring system, thereby reducing unnecessary service calls.
  • Improved Rim Life: The moisture and oxygen contained in air accelerates rim rust, causing slow leaks in your tires. The dryness of nitrogen eliminates that condensation.

Whether or not you or your city is a part of the Clean Cities Coalition, it’s very easy for transportation industry professionals to contribute toward the cause. To learn more about how to get more nitrogen, and less air, into your tires, check out NitroFleet99.

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