nitrogen in passenger car tires?

good idea or waste of time?
what's the science behind it?
bob

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Waste of time - you're already running something in the neighborhood of a 75% nitrogen mix in your tires.

There is none - Unless the science of "separating suckers from their money" counts.
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Don Bruder wrote:

Closer to 80%, but who's counting?

There is a certain amount of science to it. Not so much that nitrogen is so much better, but that the purified nitrogen is generally free of moisture. Race tires often use nitrogen or simply "dry air". They claim that pure nitrogen is les permeable (leaks slower), but again atmospheric air is 79% nitrogen. Personally I think it's easier to just check the tires more often with an accurate gauge. The other claim is that oxygen will eventually oxidize th rubber. I think that's BS, since a tire has a liner that shouldn't readily oxidize. Oxygen will penetrate from the outside into the rubber anyways.
Most of the explanations I've heard seem more like pseudo-science that sounds like it might be worth an extra $40.
Most Costco locations now use nitrogen at no extra cost. I brought a car in (not mine) and they made sure to deflate the tires and fill with nitrogen after a free rotation. I wouldn't pay for it though.
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Nitrogen in your tires: an inflated idea? Advocates say filling your tires with the gas instead of air will help keep correct pressure and better gas mileage.
By TOM ZUCCO, Times Staff Writer Published September 28, 2005
Gassing up your car is about to take on a new meaning. Fill your tires with pure nitrogen and you'll get better gas mileage, advocates of the practice say. Your tires will be safer, and they'll last longer. A colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that makes up about 78 percent of the Earth's atmosphere, nitrogen could cost you as much as $10 a tire. But what you save on gas, tire replacement and peace of mind will make up the difference, according to the pitch. Already, retailers like Costco and Olin Mott stores offer nitrogen, and Pep Boys has test-marketed it. Starting Saturday, buyers of all new cars sold at select Crown dealerships in the Tampa Bay area will find their tires filled with nitrogen. Eventually, all 13 dealerships will offer it. The thinking is that nitrogen's larger molecules prevent it from seeping out of a tire as quickly as air. So inflating tires with nearly pure nitrogen - which has been done for years in race cars, commercial airliners and long-distance trucks - allows them to retain correct pressure longer. Pressure is vital because a properly inflated tire is a safer, more efficient tire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says most drivers can improve gas mileage by nearly 3 percent by keeping their vehicle tires within the recommended pressure range. The government also estimates the nation loses more than 2 million gallons of gas every day due to underinflated tires. Enter nitrogen. Chemical No. 7 on your periodic chart of the elements. At anywhere from $2 to $10 per tire. Besides attracting customers and addressing safety concerns, it's a way to fight inflation. Or rather, the lack of it, said Jim Myers, Crown's chief operating officer. "The whole theory is that air bleeds through the tire slowly," Myers said. "And if someone isn't diligent, any tire will lose air over time. But because of nitrogen's properties, that doesn't happen as quickly." Myers said Crown will also offer to replace air with nitrogen on any vehicle for $39. What happens if tire pressure drops and the driver is not near a garage or tire store that sells nitrogen? Topping off with compressed air won't hurt, tire experts say, and the tire can be purged and refilled with nitrogen later. So should motorists feel ... pressured to put nitrogen in their tires? "It sounds like it has mostly positive points," said Randy Bly, director of community relations for AAA Auto Club South in Tampa. "Nitrogen helps keep tires cooler under open highway conditions, and it's less likely to leak out, so that would help with fuel mileage. "The only negative would be the cost. But it may well be worth it." Nitrogen-filled tires stay inflated about three times as long as than air-filled tires, advocates say, and while a typical tire inflated with compressed air might lose 2.7 pounds of pressure monthly, one filled with nitrogen loses 0.7 pound. But Jim Davis, public relations manager for Goodyear Tire and Rubber, says replacing air with nitrogen is "a tough call." "The objective is to have the correct air pressure," Davis said. "And over time, minute amounts of air do leak out. "There is no harm to the tire from using regular air. But we urge people to check their tires monthly." What happens, Davis said, is that decreased air pressure flattens a tire, creating more surface area between the tire and the road. That added friction can make the engine work harder and cause tires to overheat, possibly leading to a blowout. "More tire surface means it takes more power to roll that tire," Davis said. "A correctly inflated tire is going to roll more easily." Checking tires for correct pressure also has a side benefit. "When you're down there, look at the tires," Davis said. "You may notice a nail or tread that is wearing abnormally, and you can catch it before the problem becomes worse." At least one tire manufacturer is even more skeptical about the advantages of nitrogen in the family car. Michelin officials recommend nitrogen only for tires used "in a high risk environment and/or when the user wants to reduce the consequences of a potential abnormal overheating of the tire-wheel assembly (for example in some aircraft applications)," according to a company statement. But for all other tires in normal use, nitrogen "is not required and does not necessarily bring the expected benefit. "It is true that the physical properties of nitrogen reduce the pressure loss due to the natural permeability of the materials of the tire and thus the broad use of nitrogen will in general assist motorists with pressure maintenance. "Nevertheless, the existence of several other possible sources of leaks (tire/rim interface, valve, valve/rim interface and the wheel) prevents the guarantee of better pressure maintenance for individuals using nitrogen inflation." So we can save the expense if we just check our tires regularly. The trouble is, we don't. As recently as two years ago, government and tire industry surveys showed close to 30 percent of cars, vans, pickups and SUVs on the road had at least one tire that was substantially underinflated, at least 8 psi below the recommended minimum pressure. But high gas prices and consumer education may be cutting into that number. According to a survey by Uniroyal Tire in mid August, nearly 50 percent of Americans said they are now checking the air pressure in their tires once a month. Still, that leaves millions of unchecked tires. "Most people don't take care of their tires on a regular basis," said Dave Zielasko, editor and publisher of Tire Business , an Akron, Ohio, trade publication. "Tires are one of the most underappreciated part of the vehicle. People take them for granted. But the reality is they do need to be checked. "Remember, it's the only part of the vehicle that touches the road."
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***********************quote************** Pressure is vital because a properly inflated tire is a safer, more efficient tire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says
most drivers can improve gas mileage by nearly 3 percent by keeping their vehicle tires within the recommended pressure range. The government also estimates the nation loses more than 2 million gallons of gas every day due to underinflated tires
**************
I suspect that rather than saving energy consumption on a national level, the use of nitrogen in tires would do the opposit. The energy used to accumulate, purify, and compres the nitrogen would exceed the energy wasted by low inflated tires. Moisture is the real culprit that causes unstable tire pressures as the temperatures change. A simple air dryer filter used on the compressed air would solve most of the problem.
Kevin
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Kevin Mouton wrote:

Another thing to note, is that if the oxygen leaks out of the tire faster than the nitrogen, the tire will act like a crude molecular sieve of sorts. You keep filling the tire with air at some 78% nitrogen, the 21% oxygen leaks out leaving the nitrogen, you top up with air, etc. and you end up with like 99% nitrogen after a while.
Pete C.
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wrote:

What does it sulfur? Ammonia novice at this, so I can only take a gas at it.
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I think you should take these bad puns and barium. --scott
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"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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On 20 Apr 2006 10:38:33 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@panix.com (Scott Dorsey) wrote:

I feel so lead, my shellfish in two, Hish, son!.
So you wanna x-ray deep into my bowels? I do have a new technique on the drawing board, but it's still intestine stage.
It's alimentary, my friend.
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On Tue, 18 Apr 2006 22:47:18 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net wrote:

Heh heh...
Circa 1970, we did just that... filled the tires with gas(oline) vapor. WE used those "Engineair" kits, which screwed into a spark plug hole, and pumped the tire full of carbureted mix as the engine idled.
I believe they have been outlawed in most states, now. Then again, maybe not: <http://www.aerostich.com/product.php?productid 780&cat&6&page=2>
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Don Bruder wrote:

78%, actually. And 21% oxygen, 1% other gases.

Apparently pure nitrogen is used by some truck fleets. The absence of oxygen means absence of moisture, and better control of inflation pressures over operating temperature ranges. Some race cars use pure nitrogen as well, for the same reasons.
I do question the cost/benefit ratio of nitrogen in ordinary passenger cars, though. Doesn't seem worth it to me when I can get regular air for free with a bicycle pump. I just use an ordinary bicycle pump to add a few pounds here and there as needed.
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I bet a nickel it's a good bit more than 1% in Los Angeles. --scott
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"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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Scott Dorsey wrote:

:)
Seriously, I was in Los Angeles this past summer. To the nose and eyes, your air is cleaner than that of Toronto, a much smaller city, and one that does not labour under a thermal inversion. I was impressed, actually. Perhaps it's due to a lack of diesel-powered city buses.
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Of course it's a good idea. I always fill my tires with a mixture of about 80% nitrogen.

It holds the tires and keeps them from getting flat, while costing much less than argon or neon mixes, and being less explosive than butane or propane. --scott
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"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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wrote:

thank you scott..do you work at comedy central on wknds?
bob
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wrote:

Its actually 6 of one, half dozen of another..... the only advantage I see with using nitrogen is that it will keep your tires up for a longer period of time and I believe the only reason for that is because it has something to do with density of nitrogen as opposed to oxygen. It takes longer to leak out (nitrogen). Another advantage is on racetracks.....but unless you use the road as one, there is no advantage there. Nitrogen will also not compress as quickly... it is a bit more stable than oxygen...
anything I missed?
Fwed
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wrote:

I have a proprietary blend of ozone, methyl bromide, sulfur trioxode, and water vapor.
I discovered it when I was a Weblo, retiring. It made such a boom in the trade, it was suppressed, just like the Pogue carburetor.
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bob wrote:

What are the claimed benefits.
It won't improve milage, extend tire life or improve the ride, but it will separate you from some $$.
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Some have claimed that the oxygen and moisture in compressed air lead to the decomposition of the elastomer used in the tire. I have my doubts about it.. Have never seen definitive tests one way or the other.
The ozone cracking, etc, is normally more noticeable on the outside of the tire, isn't it?
It certainly doesn't hurt anything to use nitrogen, just like it doesn't hurt to use deionized water in your coolant system.
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.nix wrote:

Unless one was considering keeping the tire mounted for 30 years on the same rim I don't think that is an issue.

Yup, that's what I would think too.

It won't hurt, and as long as it is free and easy to use then sure, why not use nitrogen.
I suspect that the only tire deterioration of any consequence is the result of tread-to-road contact. The rest of this supposed problem is the result of guys looking for some new automotive problem to worry about and a few entrepreneurs who are willing to provide an imaginary solution.
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