Nitrogen Tires inflation: Is it Worth it?
The option to fill your vehicle tires with nitrogen is available at some service facilities and tire shops. In fact it might be one of the most promoted “great” thing to do for your tires in recent memory.
Is Nitrogen Filling worth it?
Some places offer it for free as a “value-added” whereas other facilities charge for it, and fair enough as there is a substantial cost for the equipment.
While Nitrogen certainly has benefits and is used in commercial aircraft tires and racing car tires, my conclusion is that the benefits are very minimal for motor vehicles.
Racing cars are operated under very stressful and exacting conditions where 1 PSI of tire pressure could win or lose a race. Jet airplane tires are subjected to extreme weather and heat conditions: a plane could take off in 40 degree desert conditions and land on a -40 degree runway. Also jet tires go from immobile to 200MPH instantly when the plane lands.
One of Nitrogen’s advantages is that nitrogen filled tires maintain their pressure more consistently than air filled tires; the reason being that compressed air contains some water vapour and this expands and contracts with heating and cooling.
Overtime, nitrogen filled tires apparently lose less pressure than air inflated tires due to its larger molecular size. Another supposed benefit of nitrogen inflation is longer tire life due to lack of oxidation of the inner tire rubber. While this may be true, is that of any value when the outside of the tires is surrounded by air?
When all is considered, there is no doubt that nitrogen offers some benefits, but for almost every motorist the benefits are negligible and I would say not worth paying for. Consumer Reports did a year long test on Nitrogen filling in 2006-’07 and concluded that “Overall, consumers can use nitrogen and might enjoy the slight improvement in air retention provided, but it’s not a substitute for regular inflation checks.”
Checking your tire pressures monthly is the best way to ensure they are properly inflated and you are keeping wear to a minimum and safety and fuel economy at its maximum.
As for the value of nitrogen tire inflation, you be the judge. I suggest you save your money.