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Weighing the Added Benefits of Nitrogen


Fillingtires with nitrogen is still viable, and probably will be for some timeto come. The only question facing the consumer is whether the price tofill tires with the gas is worth it, especially as the economystruggles. Some tire dealers are even offering nitrogen inflation forfree, which could be a good way to bring back customers in thisdifficult economic period.


Since 1967, the question of fillingtires with nitrogen has captured the imagination of scientists, tiredealers and consumers alike. Here’s what we know: nitrogen exceedsoxygen in better air retention. Those using nitrogen will experiencediffusion through the sidewall some 30% to 40% slower than thosechoosing regular air.

Also, maintaining proper tire pressureboosts fuel economy by lowering rolling resistance; some say as high as8%, others a bit less. But by any measure, restraining heat buildup inthe tire and reducing rolling resistance offers better fuel economy.

Nitrogeninflation leaves us with a cooler running tire, just ask NASCAR andother race series. With quicker heat dispersion, a cooler running tireextends tire life and reduces tire failure.


Nitrogen alsoprevents oxidation of exposed cords, which can lead to tread separationand belt failure, and when combined with moisture can corrode wheels.In fact, moisture can result in rust flakes that can fall into thevalve stem, blocking the valve and causing inflation problems. It caneven cause the valve stem itself to rust.

For at least 40 yearswe have known that filling tires with nitrogen significantly slows thechemical degradation process of the tire’s rubber components. We knowthat nitrogen-inflated tires result in fewer catastrophic failures,slower aging and a longer core life.
When it comes to big fleets,nitrogen inflation yields extra retreads and lower operating costs. Weknow also that nitrogen is not dangerous because it is an inert gas,meaning it will not burn.


Also, filling a tire with regular airafter it has been inflated with nitrogen won’t cause any problems. Theimmediate effects of nitrogen will be lost, but the tire will be finefor driving until it can be purged and refilled with nitrogen.

Theonly maintenance involved is in the nitrogen inflation generators.Dealers should calibrate nitrogen generators monthly, change filterelements every six to 18 months and replace the carbon element andoxygen analyzer every 18 to 24 months. If well maintained, a nitrogeninflation system should last more than 20 years.

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