Should I be using Nitrogen to inflate my tires?
A correctly inflated tire will have exactly the same ride quality, same fuel usage, and same tread life whether it uses nitrogen or just plain air. The main cause of reduced tread life and poor fuel efficiency is incorrectly inflated tires. Once the air pressure in a tire is low, the tire creates more rolling resistance which increases fuel consumption. Also, an underinflated tire becomes slightly deformed where it contacts the road which reduces traction and contributes to uneven, premature tire wear.
Regular air is naturally made up of approximately 80% nitrogen, so by using pure nitrogen you are only really gaining a 20% increase. Air can leak through a tire at a rate of about 1 psi per month. Nitrogen leaks about half that rate, so if you forget to check your air pressure, the Nitrogen inflated tire will leak less, and therefore will not run into under-inflation problems as soon as a tire inflated with plain air.
An advantage that Nitrogen does have is that is that is has less water in it compared to regular air. This moisture can start to corrode the tires’ internal materials which can potentially reduce the life of the tire. Using Nitrogen will reduce the amount of moisture that gets into the steel belts and beads of the tire.
Another thing to keep in mind is this: if you have nitrogen inflated tires you have to find a service center that offers nitrogen inflation to adjust the pressure. If you have Nitrogen inflated tires and then you top up with plain air, you are cancelling out the advantage of using Nitrogen.
In our opinion, if you are offered Nitrogen inflation for no charge, then there is no real harm in going that route. If someone tries to charge you for it, you are probably better off just using air, since its free and available everywhere. Nitrogen is relatively new for public use therefore it is not as commonly used. If you go with air inflated tires be sure to maintain your air pressure monthly (as you should be anyways).
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