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tire care tipsTires are a crucial part of vehicle maintenance, but often get the least attention. Everyone focuses on the engine while simply ensuring that the tires are inflated, or checking to see if they need to be rotated or changed entirely because the tread wear it too low. However, tires need much more attention than that. They can’t be treated like other parts of the car where you can simply replace them when they wear out. How should you treat your tires? Our article roundup regarding tire care and maintenance has everything you ought to know about giving your tires the care they need.

How Maximum Tire Pressure and Saving Gas are Related – Your tire pressure affects your gas mileage, and an over-inflated tire hurts your fuel efficiency (and your tire’s tread wear) as much as an under-inflated tire. Some have recommended that maximum tire pressure is what you need to have the best fuel efficiency and the safest ride, but this isn’t exactly the case. Proper tire pressure is not the same as maximum tire pressure.

3 Things You Need to Know About Buying New Tires – When purchasing a set a new tires for your car or managed fleet vehicles, there are three factors you need to consider: size, performance, and weight. Size is of particular importance, as a tire’s fit can be off by a few millimeters, and those few millimeters can mean that yours will lose its pressure much more quickly. Obviously, the tires needed for a tractor trailer aren’t the same as those needed for a two-door, but determining the right size for your car is much more complicated than that.

How Water Harms Your Tires – Water isn’t good for your tires. You don’t want to be driving with it sloshing around inside, which can happen if the air you use to inflate your tires has water vapor (which happens more often than not). Water can deteriorate the rubber of your tire, rust the axel, and cause your tire pressure to fluctuate more often as the water heats and cools as you drive. Removing the water vapor from the air when you inflate your tire, even if you do it yourself, is much harder than it sounds.

The Cost of Under-inflated Tires – Under-inflated tires hurt your fuel economy, your tires, and even your safety. Under-inflated tires also hurt because it can be hard to tell when your tires are under-inflated. You can’t always tell by looking at them, and if you’re using regular air, then your tire pressure is likely to go up or down, depending on when you measure it because the heat from driving will increase the pressure.

Guess What? Air Isn’t Free Anymore. Nitrogen Tires are a Better Deal – One of the arguments against nitrogen tire inflation is that air is free, so why pay the money? But, not everyone offers the service for free anymore, where it can cost up to $2 to use an air compressor. With this in mind, comparing nitrogen tire inflation and air tire inflation becomes a product/service comparison instead of a straight price comparison. Does a $2 charge mean you’re only getting $2 worth of tire inflation?

Prep Your Tires for Summer Travel Season – Winter may not be over yet for a few more weeks, but summer travel season (especially Memorial Day Weekend) is the weekend with the highest incidences of tire troubles. This includes blowouts, flat tires, and other scenarios that require the help of AAA. Stay safe as you use your long weekend for a quick vacation by prepping your tires for the road trip ahead.

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nitrogen tire inflationWe’ve done out best to bust nitrogen tire inflation myths and other arguments against the practice. Some of these arguments are understandable and logical, but others are just plain wacky. These wacky arguments skew the discussion because some people may believe them, leading them to thinking nitrogen tire inflation is a scam because nitrogen tire dealers and providers are making wild claims about the practice. Not only are dealers and providers not making these claims (we can’t speak for the mechanic or the salesperson, but we assure that those who sell the equipment aren’t making these claims), but these claims are just wrong. Here are a few them that we found and would like to bust right now:

As for moisture, changes in humidity affect tire performance two ways. First, the density of humid air fluctuates more with temperature than that of dry air, so removing humidity can keep your tire pressure more consistent, especially when the temperature climbs over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That may be a legitimate concern in Formula One racing, but it’s not much of an issue if you’re just tooling around town. – The Straight Dope

The density of humid air has nothing to do with tire performance. Humid air is bad for your tires because it is humid, because the water vapor is very susceptible to temperature changes and causes the tire pressure to fluctuate. This also happens at temperatures below 100 degrees Fahrenheit because as you drive, you heat up the tires, no matter what the temperature is on the outside. They’re moving, there’s friction, and all that creates heat. All this is a concern if you’re just tooling around town, because tooling around town creates heat as well, and the water vapor in your tires is still reacting.

Another claim I’ve seen is that since nitrogen is slightly lighter than air, you’ll save weight and get better performance. However, we’re talking about a weight difference of less than 4 percent of the gas in the tire – in other words, a difference of less than an ounce for most vehicles. – Also The Straight Dope

We have no idea who said this, but the better performance from nitrogen doesn’t come from saving weight. It comes from the fact that nitrogen maintains proper tire pressure for a longer period of time, and its the proper tire pressure that creates better performance and handling.

The argument for using Nitrogen in your car tires is this: Air and Nitrogen would compress at different rates depending on temperature, with air being more squishy than Nitrogen, and that would cause your tires’ pressure to vary more with air than with Nitrogen. – Scienceblogs.com

More squishy? What does that even mean? Just because this argument is coming from a science blog doesn’t meant that it’s scientifically sound.

Proper inflation is the real issue. Under-inflated tires reduce gas mileage. They flatten out, creating more surface area and thus adding friction, which makes the engine work harder. The extra friction, and resulting heat, also increases the chance of a blowout. A properly inflated tire is always safer and more efficient than under-inflated shoes (unless you’re driving across a sand dune). – The Truth about Cars

If only it were this simple. Since air-filled tires are much more susceptible to temperature changes, there are chances for an inaccurate reading when checking the tire pressure of an air-filled tire. For example, if a consumer stops at a gas station after spending some time running errands and driving around, and decides to check their tire pressure, it’s likely that they’ll get a reading that is higher than what the tire pressure really is. The reason is the tires have been heated up from the previous driving,

This could mean that the consumer gets a reading that says their tire pressure is fine, or is too high, and will do nothing about a tire that’s really low or will make it low by releasing pressure to compensate for the high reading. This is why it’s recommended to check tire pressure when the tires a cool, such as before starting the car or after being parked for a few hours. Since tire pressure ought to be checked when the tires are cool, this means that tires would need to be refilled at home with an at-home air compressor (since most people would have to drive to the gas station to get to their air compressor, heating up the tires and ruining the reading).

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nitrogen tiresWe can all agree that drivers need to check their tire pressure regularly in order to ensure proper tire pressure and tire safety. Nitrogen tire inflation is never to be considered replacement for checking tire pressure at least once a month. However, this need would only exist, and this practice wouldn’t be necessary if tires didn’t leak, which leads us today to discuss how tires leak and the biggest sources of these leaks.

If your tire pressure is low, then at least one of three things are happening:

  1. A leak. Most tire leaks are the result of a hole or puncture, faulty valve, a porous or corroded wheel, or even a poor fit of the tire to the rim.
  2. Permeation. Permeation is the normal process by which the air in a tire bleeds through the tire’s body or carcass. It is typical for an air-filled tire to lose 1-2 pounds per square inch of pressure every month through normal permeation.
  3. Temperature Change. All gases expand and contract with temperature. If you live in an area that experiences dramatic temperature changes, you will have to adjust your tire pressure accordingly. Typically you will only have to adjust your tire pressure “up”, adding pressure as ambient temperatures decrease. Count on losing about 2% of your total tire pressure for every 10 degrees in temperature reduction (which can easily take place between daytime and nighttime, mind you).

Granted, most tire pressure loss can be resolved by replacing the tires if they’ve been punctured or have a faulty valve stem and by ensuring that they are properly fitted to the rim of your car. However, this doesn’t eliminate all possible leaks. It’s not as if fixing those leaks will mean that you never have to worry about your tire pressure again. We point this out because it’s been argued that nitrogen tire inflation doesn’t work because by fixing the leaks, you fix most of the tire pressure loss. Therefore, you don’t need nitrogen.

Nitrogen Tire Inflation Maintains Proper Tire Pressure for a Longer Period of Time

However, that argument doesn’t disprove the fact that nitrogen tires maintain proper tire pressure for a longer period of time. The argument doesn’t disprove that nitrogen tires are great against the other two conditions that cause low tire pressure. No, nitrogen won’t help you if you have a puncture in your tire, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t help at all.

First of all, permeation happens no matter what. It’s the process of a vapor, gas, or liquid penetrating through a solid. It’s why our groceries have a shelf life. Before product is opened, we don’t want oxygen getting in. We don’t want oxygen getting in because oxygen is a very reactive element, and will cause food to go bad if its exposed long enough. However, if product sits in our pantries long enough, long after that shelf date, it won’t be good even if it was never opened because oxygen is still slowly getting in through permeation. Permeation also happens with tires, and it’s why we lose tire pressure over time, even in the absence of leaks, faulty valves, and poor fitting. And, guess what? Nitrogen permeates slower than regular air! Tires lose 1 to 2 psi per month when filled with air, while nitrogen tires will take over six months to lose that same amount of pressure. Permeation decreases tire pressure, and nitrogen substantially slows that process.

Second of all, since nitrogen is less reactive to temperature changes than oxygen and water vapor (both of which are in the air you use to fill your tires), it helps to maintain proper tire pressure for a longer period of time. This is why the airline industry and NASCAR have used nitrogen tire inflation for decades; it prevents their tires from blowing out under the extreme temperature changes. As stated, we lose 2% of our tire pressure with every 10 degree drop in temperature. That easily takes place between morning and night, as, for example, it’s supposed to happen today in St. Louis and it happened yesterday in St. Louis. Sure, you’re not driving 200 miles per hour or flying a jumbo jet, but the planet is still spinning and the weather is still changing, so your tire pressure is changing with it. Don’t believe what Bankrate.com argues on this, if you can even understand the paragraph that tries to argue against this.

Overall, your tires will lose pressure over time. If there was a way to prevent this from happening all together, then we wouldn’t need to fill them up regularly or to check the pressure from time to time. However, that’s not the case, which means that tires lose pressure, and anything that can be done to retain that pressure is a good thing. Nitrogen tire inflation is one of those things.

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proper tire pressure

Don’t forget to check the tire pressure of your spare tire as well as your regular four.

With Memorial Day weekend  just around the corner, AAA projects that over 30 million Americans will travel during those three days alone. For the entire summer travel season, which runs from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, the organization estimates that 8.7 million motorists will get stranded on the roadways. Don’t be one of them by making sure all five of your tires are properly inflated.

“Roughly 1.2 million drivers will call AAA for help with a flat tire during the summer travel season, and many of those problems could be avoided by inspecting the tires before hitting the road,” said John Nielsen, AAA Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information. “Tire inspections are simple to perform. The only tools needed are a quarter and a tire pressure gauge.” Nielsen further explained that 85 percent of drivers “do not know how to properly inflate their tires, and more than half of all cars on the road have at least one under-inflated tire.”

While we can’t prevent every possible disaster that can happen on the road, we can at least make sure our tires are properly inflated and stay that way throughout the summer. The best way to do that is to utilize nitrogen tire inflation. Nitrogen tire inflation is simply filling up your tires (or topping them off) with nitrogen instead of air. Nitrogen enables more stable tire pressure for longer periods of time, thereby reducing the chances for a blowout. That’s good news if you’re planning to drive at some point during the travel season.

Properly inflated tires also can reduce fuel costs during a trip. The Department of Energy reports that correctly inflating all four tires can improve fuel economy by up to three percent, which is equivalent to as much as to 12 cents per gallon. As rising gas prices are doing little to keep Americans at home this summer, any and every way to save gas money is a good idea.

So, where can you go to get your tires inflated with nitrogen? Is this a service you can just ask for at your local mechanic? Well, not yet. But, a recommended dealer of these hybrid tires is Nitrofleet99. Keep in mind that it’s not necessary for you to remove all the air from your tire before seeing the benefits of nitrogen. You can still just top your tires off with nitrogen to keep them properly inflated.

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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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