A couple of outfits are trying to sell me this equipment. It costs
several thousand dollars. Essentially it purifies ordinary air, which
is mostly nitrogen already, and stores the nearly pure nitrogen under
pressure. Then, for $5 or more per tire, I am supposed to sell this
"service" to customers. The main advantage for the seller, aside from
incremental income, is that this "service" supposedly "ties" the
customer to the seller, since few places have this equipment.
The vendors claim that because the nitrogen molecule is physically
larger than the oxygen molecule, filling the tire with pure nitrogen
will mean that fewer pressurized molecules will escape through the
inevitable small holes in the tire lining, thereby delaying the day when
tire pressure will be low. This slower loss of pressure is the main
reason that the vendors claim longer tire life, since a tire wears more
quickly when underinflated. Does not take a rocket scientist to figure
out that checking tire pressures once a week, and adding ordinary air,
is an alternate method of maintaining tire pressures.
A second claim made by the vendors is that oxygen is much more highly
reactive with rubber than nitrogen, and over time contact with the
oxygen in air causes the tire to age. By replacing the air inside the
tire with nitrogen, goes the argument, the tire's youthful suppleness is
preserved. What horse shit! Even if oxygen was to tires what termites
are to wood, what about the air surrounding the outside of the tire,
which is mostly nitrogen anyway?
From my perspective, filling your tires with nitrogen is simply a way
for a shop to transfer the contents of your wallet to their cash
register. Any benefit to your tires is apt to be vanishingly small, and
certainly not worth the cost.
You don't sound like the kind of guy who wants to make money off your
customers by selling them junk science. Therefore, I would skip the
whole thing because it's a waste to you, and to the customer. Oxygen
is quite a reactive chemical but air isn't oxygen, and rubber isn't
the most volatile compound either. As you pointed out, air doesn't
seem to wear tires out. Driving tires wears them out long before the
rubber will oxidize. Hehe.
The real problem here may be that someone is stealing your air! Or
maybe you have those leaky rims. Another possibility is that your gage
is wrong and you are letting too much air out during the checking
process. Pure nitrogen is not the answer to any of these problems.
PS. People with multiple personalities are sometimes hard to help.
Which one are you today, Tim, or ....Linda?
Its a gimmick to the auto industry, but Nitrogen filled tires have been in
use for decades in aviation (due to nitrogen being an inert gas it will not
promote fire easily in places like wheel wells). IIRC it has also been used
for a long time in some racing series. As for the increase in tire wear, I
doubt that it does much to help with that.
Worked in a Martin Oil station in the early 60's. Nitrogen tire fills were
less than 25 cents then. The claim then was the nitrogen was better for the
Some time we can talk about using alcohol to keep air lines from freezing
and spinning tires in the snow:)
There are some theoretical advantages, but it does not seem all that
practical. The question you should be asking is why you need to add air
twice a month. I've had cars that need added air only a couple of times in
the life of the tire.
Well if it increases tire wear I sure wouldn't want it! LOL Anyway,
I know what you meant but seriously.... waste of time and money. The
7% of oxygen in air isn't what's wearing your tires; it's the roads.
That's it. End of story. There is nothing to debate.
Actually, it is more like 21%. Can it oxidize the rubber...maybe, but that
is not a major problem.
Can it contribute to corrosion of the wheel? Yep. A lot of compressed air
will contribute to a little
water and oxygen can speed up wheel rusting. No water, no rust, at least at
What is the cost of repair/replacing corroded wheels from the inner tire
portion compared to the cost of putting nitrogen in every tire? Does not
seem to be very cost effective, IMO. In 45 years of car ownership, I've
never replaced a wheel, but would have spent a bundle on nitrogen.
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