Top 4 Myths Vs Facts About Using Nitrogen To Inflate Car Tires

AAA Auto Repair Article
By AAA Automotive
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Want to know if it’s better to use compressed air or nitrogen to inflate your car tires? Understanding the differences between the two can help you make an informed decision and possibly even save you money.

Myth: Nitrogen does not leak from tires as quickly as compressed air, and therefore maintains proper tire pressure for a longer time.

Fact: Tires naturally lose small amounts of pressure over time whether they are filled with compressed air (oxygen) or nitrogen. If a tire has a major leak, air is likely escaping through the valve or punctures in the rubber, or from where the tire mounts to the wheel. In these cases, both oxygen and nitrogen escape at the same rate.

Myth: Nitrogen is not affected by temperature changes, and therefore maintains proper tire pressure regardless of climate.

Fact: Tires filled with nitrogen maintain inflation pressure longer than compressed air-filled tires in fluctuating temperatures. This is why nitrogen is used to fill airplane tires, as temperatures can change dramatically between takeoff and landing. Since nitrogen does not completely eliminate temperature-related pressure changes under normal driving conditions, it is of little benefit to vehicle owners who properly maintain their tires.

Myth: Using nitrogen in tires makes them “maintenance free” so there is no longer any need to check the tire pressures.

Fact: The opposite is true. Even tires filled with nitrogen still require regular pressure checks to identify slow leaks. It is also a good practice to visually inspect tires for cuts, tears, bulges and tread wear, or other signs of impending tire trouble.

Myth: The lack of oxygen and moisture in a tire filled with nitrogen reduces the potential for chemical deterioration of the tire liner, and limits the possibility of rust and corrosion on the wheel.

Fact: Compressed air systems at most tire shops have moisture separators that limit the amount of water vapor in the compressed air supply. Limiting water vapor protects the tires and wheels as well as a shop's expensive air-powered tire mounting and installation tools. In relation to the number of vehicles on the road and the total number of tires sold annually, the occurrence of tire and wheel damage caused by moisture is not sufficiently widespread to justify any special concern.

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