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preparing teens to drive

Teen driving should also include how to take care of a vehicle.

When parents prepare their teens for driving and the driver’s test, what sort of things are covered? Well, things like maneuvering the vehicle, reading street signs and lane markings, and preparing for both the written exam and the driver’s exam. Although those things are certainly important, they certainly don’t make up the whole picture when it comes to driving.

Something that’s often missed is car maintenance. This is something that really ought to be covered, especially if parents plan to purchase a separate vehicle for their teens (actually, this might be a good idea even if you plan to share your vehicles with your newly licensed children). After all, what’s the point of the license if you don’t have a well-maintained vehicle to drive? Wouldn’t it be a good idea for your teen to know what to do in case an emergency happens, like if a tire goes flat or the oil starts to leak?

When educating your teen on car maintenance, a good place to start is with the tires. A car can’t go anywhere unless the tires are properly maintained, and it’s better for you and your teens to know when they need to be maintained instead of waiting for a flat or blowout to happen. Make sure to educate your teen about proper tire pressure and on how to fill up a tire if it’s below pressure. If the car your teen will be driving has a spare, make sure to let them know that it’s there, and that it needs to be checked for proper tire pressure as well. Having proper tire pressure will improve fuel efficiency, which will be a good thing to keep in mind. Filling up the tank can burn a hole in the wallet of a teen. If unsure about your teen keeping up with filling the tires, then utilize nitrogen tire inflation to keep the tires properly inflated for a longer period of time.

Next, show them underneath the hood. You don’t need to have the mind of a mechanic, or expect your teen to have one, but your teen should at least know his or her way around. Point out the basics, such as the battery, the engine, the alternator, the transmission, and the radiator. If you know how, show them how to jump start or to change the battery. Also, show them how to replace or to refill the necessary liquids, such as the oil, the coolant, and the washer fluid.

Finally, educate your teen about the emergency kit and the insurance, in case they are pulled over or something happens at night. The emergency kit should include flares, a blanket, and emergency triangles. An emergency kit can easily be purchased at a car parts or auto repair shop. As for the insurance and registration, show them where those are located in the vehicle and what to do to keep those up-to-date. In case your teen gets pulled over, or gets in a minor accident, having the insurance and registration on hand will make things easier for everyone.

Of course, all that good information won’t be able to apply until the teen gets his or her driver’s license. One way to prepare is through some free DMV practice tests. Another way to get out on the road, practicing on both the highway and in busy intersections. Overall, learning to drive a car also needs to come with learning how to maintain it, and learning what to if a breakdown or an emergency arises.

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proper tire care

This tire was made in 2007, in the 51st week of the year.

Industry suggests getting new tires once they are between six and 10 years of age. The reason why is that air migrates through the tire, making it brittle and reducing its strength. The only way to prevent the air from migrating and reducing the strength of your tire is to remove the air from you tire all together. Then, replace it with pure nitrogen with nitrogen tire inflation. That way, you extend the life of your tire, giving it more of those golden years on the road instead of in the dump.

Just like how you can find the maximum tire pressure allowed for your tire, you can figure out how old your tire is looking on the outside. If the tire was made after the year 2000, it has four digits. The first two indicate the week, the last two the year. If the tire has only three digits, it was made prior to 2000, with the first two indicating the week, and the last digit indicating the year of the decade. Tires that are older than 10 years old are considered unsafe for driving. Perhaps it’s because by then, they’ve become brittle and have suffered from the old tire disease of oxidation. Give your tires the fountain of youth with nitrogen tire inflation.

Nitrogen tire inflation has been proven to extend the life of your tires.  Many tires companies, including Michelin and Goodyear, support the practice of nitrogen tire inflation. It’s a practice that’s already being used by the airline industry and NASCAR. It’s about time that it’s used in the consumer market as well.

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self-inflating tires

Will these be obsolete with AMT? Not yet.

About a month ago, Goodyear announced that it is in development of a self-inflating tire. This tire will come with a miniaturized pump in each tire to ensure proper tire pressure at all times. Dubbed “Air Maintenance Technology”, these new pumps will enable tires to remain inflated at the optimum pressure without the need for any external pumps or electronics. All components of the AMT system, including the miniaturized pump, will be fully contained within the tire.

“While the technology is complex, the idea behind the AMT system is relatively simple and powered by the tire itself as it rolls down the road,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear senior vice president and chief technical officer, in a press release.

“A tire that can maintain its own inflation is something drivers have wanted for many years. Goodyear has taken on this challenge and the progress we have made is very encouraging,” said Kihn. “This will become the kind of technological breakthrough that people will wonder how they ever lived without.”

As great as this sounds, this technology DOES NOT eliminate the need for checking your tire pressure from time to time. After all, if this self-inflating tire receives a puncture, how are you to know without checking the tire? If the self-inflating system isn’t working for whatever reason, how are you to maintain tire pressure then? So, don’t throw away your tire pressure gauges and “set and forget” your tires quite yet.

The Department of Energy recently awarded Goodyear and PPG $1.5 million to study self-inflating tire technology, which is likely to initially be targeted towards trucks and other commercial vehicles. Meaning, that even if Goodyear successfully creates these tires, they won’t hit the consumer market right away. True, Goodyear is developing a self-inflating tire for the consumer market at its research facilities in Luxembourg, but there hasn’t been any word as to when these tires will be finished and will be released into the market. Until then, it will still be the consumer’s responsibility to maintain proper tire pressure and to have the tires checked for maintenance regularly. Also keep in mind that the cost of these tires is still unknown, and that these tires will only be from Goodyear. So, someone who doesn’t want to pay for these tires, or doesn’t want Goodyear tires, would still need to check and to maintain their own tire pressure.

Overall, this sounds really great, but doesn’t entirely eliminate the need for nitrogen tire inflation, and for you to get your tires checked. This isn’t the end of inflation as we know because if this technology comes out and we rely on it too much, we put ourselves in danger of something happening because we didn’t take the time to maintain this technology.

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nitrogen tire inflation mythsA few weeks ago, we busted two myths about nitrogen tire inflation. Today, we are busting two more (there are quite a bit of myths out there). Since the practice of putting nitrogen in your tires is still new, there’s still a lot of possibility of rumor and falsehoods permeating the scene. Which means, some of us out there need to accept the responsibility of disproving those rumors and dispelling those falsehoods. Here are two more myths, busted:

1) TIRES FILLED WITH NITROGEN ARE NOT AFFECTED BY TEMPERATURE

This may seem like the case, since that’s one of the reasons why NASCAR and the airline industry use this practice. After all, since both race cars and airplanes travel at fast speeds, the ability for nitrogen-filled tires to retain those speeds without bursting makes it seem like nitrogen isn’t affected by temperature. However, nitrogen and compressed air respond to changes in ambient temperature in a similar manner, a 1.9% change of pressure for every 10F change in temperature. The difference lies in the water present in conventional compressed air, where dew points (the dew point temperature is the temperature at which the air can no longer hold all of its water vapor, and some of the water vapor must condense into liquid water. The dew point is always lower than, or equal to the air temperature) can be as high as 70F, compared with -40F+ for nitrogen. As temperature increases, liquid water vaporizes to become a gas and its volume expands causing tire pressure to be higher than that of nitrogen, which goes into the tire as a dry gas. So, the presence of water in a tire contributes to wild pressure variations as temperatures changes. The bottom line is that you will still see pressure changes with nitrogen, but the pressure doesn’t fluctuate as much as it does with compressed air.

2. LOOK AT THE PERIODIC TABLE. NITROGEN MOLECULES ARE NOT LARGER THAN OXYGEN MOLECULES

The periodic table is separated based on molecular weight, not molecular size. That being said, diatomic nitrogen (N2) is slightly larger than diatomic oxygen (O2), and this difference allows it to fit through the relatively tight passage ways between polymer chains in the rubber. The difference in size between O2 and N2 is almost infinitesimal, only about 0.3 x 1o raised to the -10 meters, or 0.00000000003 meters. Thus, diatomic oxygen permeates approximately three to four times faster than diatomic nitrogen through a typical rubber, such as what’s used in tires. Just because oxygen is heavier than nitrogen, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s also larger than nitrogen.

Overall, nitrogen tire inflation is an excellent practice that will make your tires and driving safer and cheaper in the long run. Since this is something that is still new, there’s going to be plenty of people who don’t believe in the benefits and aren’t going to find this worthwhile. However, many have found this practice to be beneficial and to make a difference with their cars and with their wallets.

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Nitrogen Tire Inflation in the News

On September 1, 2011, in News Roundup, Nitrogen Tire Inflation, by allisonmreilly
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nitrogen tire inflation

Read all about nitrogen tire inflation!

It’s sad that when you Google “nitrogen tire inflation”, the top two related searches are “nitrogen tire inflation myth” and “nitrogen tire inflation scam.” There are a few arguments at as to why nitrogen tire inflation is a waste of time of money: using air is free, air is already 78% nitrogen, benefits don’t outweigh the cost etc. We’ve been doing our best here at Nitronomics and at Nitrofleet99 to bust to counter those arguments. But, it’s time to show that we aren’t the only ones who support the practice of nitrogen in the tires.

Yes, we’ve previously covered studies from tires companies such as Ford and Michelin, but news outlets and industry magazines are covering this topic as well. Surely, they wouldn’t write an article promoting the practice if the whole thing was a scam or a myth. One of the most recent of these articles is a piece from Modern Tire Dealer, a business-to-business information source on the tire industry. Authored by John Daws Ph.D, he studied the oxygen permeation of several different inflation methods. Daws concluded that nitrogen tire inflation does have its benefits.

Nitrogen tire inflation may seem like a brand new concept, but it really isn’t. Not only has the practice been used by NASCAR and the airline industry for a long time, this Fox News article from 2006 shows that the concept of consumers using nitrogen in the their tires was around even five years ago. For something much more recent, Leslie Silverman of the Connecticut Watchdog wrote an excellent post last month on the benefits of nitrogen tire inflation and how it works.

Overall, if you don’t take our word for it, there’s the word of many others who are saying the same thing. We’ve found a lot of skeptics, but we haven’t found anyone or any evidence that say nitrogen tire inflation is harmful for your tires or bad for your vehicles in the long run. If anything, it’s worth a shot, at least once.

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