Nitrogen tire inflation may sound kind of scary. In fact, you might think nitrogen sounds explosive or dangerous. However, nitrogen tire inflation is actually very safe, and it has a number of great benefits to it. Nitrogen is in the very air we breathe, after all.
A nitrogen molecule is slightly larger than an oxygen molecule, which makes it less permeable (less able to penetrate the tire material and leak out). This means it will stay in your tire longer. If you did not check your tire pressure on a regular basis, you may not realize when your tires are getting flat. By using nitrogen tire inflation, you will not have to worry about this as often since nitrogen keeps your tires inflated longer. In fact, if your tires are filled with 95% nitrogen, they will actually stay at the best pressure for up to four times as long as they would if they were filled with only oxygen.
Besides this fact, there are several other bonuses to maintaining optimum tire pressure with nitrogen instead of oxygen and other molecules. By keeping the proper tire pressure in your car, you can actually stretch your fuel dollars by increasing your miles per gallon.
Did you know you can lose as much as 3% of your gas mileage by driving on tires that are not properly inflated? With the current cost of gas, who can afford that? You want nothing less than optimum gas usage.
Your tires also last longer if they are properly inflated. Properly inflated tires distribute pressure more evenly, which means the tires will not wear out as fast. They are much less likely to blow. Research shows that the vast majority of tire blowouts are caused by under-inflation. Since nitrogen tire inflation lasts longer, there will be fewer under-inflated tires… this translates into fewer blowouts.
Another nice benefit to nitrogen tire inflation is that it is totally dry. This means there are no water vapors to condense on your tire rims. Over time, these condensed vapors can actually cause your rims to rust, but nitrogen inflated tires do not have this problem.
As I mentioned earlier, tires with 95% nitrogen stay at pressure up to four times longer than other tires. But why not fill tires with 100% nitrogen? Studies have actually shown that nitrogen over a certain percent really does not have any additional benefits.
The consensus is that for regular vehicles, between 93 and 95% nitrogen is a good level to maintain. That said, adding nitrogen up to that 93% mark can do a lot for your tires. You see, if you want to save money on gas, keep your rims from rusting, and generally maintain better tire pressure overall, nitrogen tire inflation is something you will want to invest in.
Some people that say nitrogen is not necessary… that it is one of those unneeded services and regular compressed air works just fine. Well, they are partially right – compressed air works fine if you check your tire pressure every 2-4 weeks.
As for being unnecessary, so is your radio, cruise control, air-conditioner, power steering, power seats, power windows, and the list goes on. Agreeably, those items are not necessary to get you from point A to point B.
However, these items do make your driving experience more comfortable while contributing to safety. Power steering and power brakes are good examples of this.
Nitrogen is one of those options that helps keep your tires properly inflated longer than compressed air, so the entire face of the tire maintains contact with the road. This improves fuel economy and driving safety by reducing heat related blowouts caused by under inflation.
There have been rumors of the EPA mandating Nitrogen inflation on all new cars rolling off the assembly line. As of now, some special Nissan vehicles (with Nitrogen already in the tires) are scheduled to be delivered only to dealerships that are Nitrogen certified.
What happens if the dealership does not offer Nitrogen? The automaker says no Nissan dealership will be certified to sell a GT-R unless it can provide access to nitrogen in order to maintain the tires in top factory-issue condition.