nitrogen tire inflation

Nitrogen tire inflation got a lot of press this month! Check out some of the news you may have missed.

Just a few weeks ago, we wondered why there wasn’t a whole lot of news are regarding nitrogen tire inflation. However, it seems that we got our wish, and there’s quite a bit of news this month on the practice of filling your tires with nitrogen. The news covers the spectrum: four wheelers and 18-wheelers, consumers and commercial purposes, blogs and industry publications. Enjoy the good news!

The Advantages of Filling Your Tires with Nitrogen – Brant Shop Talk blog

The Reality Regarding Nitrogen in Tires – Automotive Parts blog

Are Your Ruining Your Tires with Compressed Air – Four Wheeler Magazine

Does Nitrogen Help Fuel Efficiency? – CBS Local

Consensus Scarce for Nitrogen Tire Inflation – Transport Topics

nitrogen saves moneyBack in 2010, G. E. Miller wrote an article about nitrogen tire inflation, and questioned whether or not the practice really provided the benefits that nitrogen providers claimed. Yes, the article is almost two years old, but it’s one of the most recent articles out there. However, G. E. Miller makes several factual errors in his arguments against nitrogen tire inflation, and this misinformation could be steering people away from a money-saving practice. We’re going to clear up some of that misinformation, and show you that nitrogen tire inflation does improve gas mileage and save you money.

About midway through the article, Miller says,“Dry air (the stuff we breathe) actually consists of 78.09% nitrogen, and 20.95% oxygen.” Although Miller’s percentages are correct, notice that they don’t equal 100 percent. That’s because the last one percent includes other elements, including water vapor. Meaning, the air we breathe is not dry air, and neither is the compressed air going into your tires. Miller’s statement isn’t accurate at all. Yes, air is over 78 percent nitrogen, but it’s the other elements of air that can damage tires and not be as reliable to maintain proper tire pressure.

After that, Miller refers to a Consumer Affairs article on nitrogen tire inflation, which says that “the person filling the tires would actually need to completely purge and refill the tire 3 times to get a 95% nitrogen consistency.” That may be the case, but a tire doesn’t have to be purged completely in order for the affects of nitrogen tire inflation to take place. Nitrogen helps maintain proper tire pressure for a longer period of time, and it is less affected by temperature changes than compressed air, even topping off your tires with nitrogen will help them in the long run.

Towards the end of the article, Miller says, “The other argument for nitrogen over air is that oxygen within normal air causes ‘oxidation’ within the tire. However, I haven’t seen any concrete evidence as to what oxidation really is or why its such a bad thing.” Oxidation is the interaction between oxygen molecules and all the different substances they may contact, from metal to living tissue. According to this definition, rust counts as oxidation, and I hardly believe that Miller has never seen rust before, or would argue that a rusty nail is as good as a non-rusty nail. Rust is concrete evidence of what oxidation is (even though it isn’t the only example), but to write off a scientific word just because it’s hard to understand doesn’t mean that it’s harmless or made up.

Miller also says that “If it’s rubber deterioration from the inside, I have a feeling that tire tread wear on the outside from normal use probably has a much larger impact, regardless of what’s inside the tire.” But, tire tread wear and rubber deterioration are not the same thing. Tire tread wear is obvious, but rubber deterioration is the break down of the actual tire. Both not only have an impact on tire performance, but both are also affected by proper tire pressure and nitrogen tire inflation. If you are driving on tires that are over or underinflated, then that will affect how your tire tread wears over time. The strength of the tire rubber is just as important as the tire tread wear itself.

The science behind Miller’s article is wrong and misinformed, misguiding readers into thinking that nitrogen tire inflation can’t be any good, when in fact it can do a lot of good once you understand the science.

nitrogen tire inflationWe at Nitrofleet99 ask this question because a quick online search of keyphrases like “nitrogen tire inflation”, “nitrogen for tires”, and “nitrogen in tires” reveals that there isn’t a whole lot of recent news regarding the practice. Most articles that come up in the results are from 2007 or 2008. Other than the articles that we’ve written on this blog or for other news sites, one of the most recent that we found was on a finance blog from 2010 (will respond to this specific article in an upcoming post).

So, what’s the news with the news? How did nitrogen tire inflation become a ‘passing fad’, when many managed fleets, auto repair shops, and auto dealerships are utilizing nitrogen, or are offering it to their customers? How did awareness of the benefits of nitrogen fall under the radar, especially when it seems that more and more people are learning about the practice, and discussing it on blogs and forums?

Unfortunately, we don’t know the answers to those questions, but we do know that with gas prices increasing (will also discuss in a later post), consumers need new ways in order to cut costs. We do know that the practice is becoming more common, and the use of nitrogen more pervasive, so nitrogen tire inflation is worth discussing for the sake of education. We also know that if someone doesn’t take the time to put the right information out there regarding nitrogen tire inflation, we are only providing the opportunity for nitrogen myths and misinformation to get out there and to control the conversation.

There hasn’t been a lot from us in the past few weeks, but we aren’t giving up on the conversation of hybrid tires and tire maintenance practices quite yet. Prepare to see a lot more from us in the future.



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