Nitrogen-filled tires will give you longer tire life, a smoother ride, and better fuel consumption. This is a statement that’s bandied around freely, but is it true?
Air is 78% nitrogen, so will that additional 22% really make a difference?
We examine this question and give you some pointers on where to find nitrogen for your tires.
Where to Get Nitrogen for Tires
Tires for specialized vehicles such as race cars, aircraft, heavy-duty vehicles, and earthmovers have their home base to supply them with nitrogen for their tires, but where would you, as the ordinary motorist, get nitrogen for your car tires?
There are nitrogen dealers based all over the USA. These dealers will ensure your tires are filled with nitrogen. Many offer a range of attractive roadside assistance programs to ensure that you can find nitrogen wherever you are in the USA and Canada.
One of the most prominent of these dealers is NitroFill. They have a nationwide dealership network, so finding the one closest to you should be a breeze with the NitroFill Dealer Locator
Tire Fitment Centers
As the move toward nitrogen-filled tires becomes more mainstream, almost all tire fitment centers around the country will carry nitrogen to fill tires. Many of these fitment centers will also fill your new tires with nitrogen and then keep them topped up for you.
Many car dealers have the infrastructure to fill the tires of new cars with nitrogen if requested by the customer. Likewise, many used car dealerships also offer this service. Be aware that many ask for a fee to purge the tires of air and replace it with nitrogen. Be sure to ask before requesting the service, so you don't get a surprise when you’re charged for this service.
Almost every town of any size in the USA has a discount superstore, and most of these have tire fitment centers attached to them. At most superstore outlets, you can request that new tires purchased from them come filled with nitrogen. Asking for a tire to be topped up or have the air purged and replaced with nitrogen may well attract a fee, so again be sure to ask.
Home Top Up
Nitrogen is colorless and odorless and can be very dangerous if allowed to leak into an enclosed space displacing the air. It’s possible to purchase tanks of nitrogen and a nitrogen filling kit that will allow you to top up your tires at home, where you can check the pressures early in the morning.
You must be extremely careful that the tank is kept tightly closed. When you’re topping up the tires, be sure there’s good ventilation to prevent a nasty accident.
Small tanks are available online should you wish to carry a small supply if you’re traveling remotely, where the possibility of finding a fitment center or service station that offers nitrogen isn’t a certainty.
Advantages of Nitrogen-Filled Tires
It’s an established fact that many specialized tires, such as race cars, aircraft, and earthmoving, use nitrogen instead of compressed air. Here are some of the advantages that you can realize when using nitrogen over compressed air.
Maintain Tire Pressure for Better Fuel Mileage
Probably the fastest way to damage your tires and shorten their life is to run them with incorrect pressure. Nitrogen will help with maintaining tire pressures. You may think that your tires are airtight, but this isn’t the case.
Even the newest of tires will slowly lose pressure over time as the gasses permeate through the rubber. This isn’t something that you can stop. Nitrogen will also slowly permeate, but it’ll take around 40% longer to lose pressure.
This means that you’ll maintain a stable pressure for much longer. Stable pressure means the least amount of rolling resistance contributing to getting the best fuel consumption you can.
Longer Tire Life
Nitrogen will contribute to this in a few ways. As you know, as gasses heat up, they expand, and when they cool down, they contract. This is why you often get a low tire pressure warning in freezing weather; the gas inside the tire has contracted, so the sensor gives a warning. Nitrogen will expand and contract minimally, causing less stress on the sidewalls of the tire.
Also, compressed air contains tiny droplets of water. Many service station compressors don’t eradicate the water vapor, and this water vapor gets into the tires. The water reacts with the air's oxygen to cause rust on all the metal components in the tire. Nitrogen avoids this problem.
Disadvantages of Nitrogen-Filled Tires
We’ve examined the advantages of using nitrogen instead of compressed air, but as with most things in life, it’s not all plain sailing. There are a couple of disadvantages of which you should be aware.
Often finding somewhere to top up the nitrogen in your tires can be an issue. This could lead to people running their tires underinflated while trying to find a dealer close to you that’ll do the top-up.
To overcome this, take the time to research the area you live in and find those dealers who’ll help.
Filling your tires with compressed air costs nothing, and almost every service station will have a compressor you can use to check your pressures.
On the other hand, nitrogen has to be bought in, and many dealers and service centers will charge you to top up your tires. This can be anywhere from $5 to $10 per tire, so ask before dragging out the hose!
There’s no doubt that nitrogen is invaluable for specialized environments but is it worth it for your car? There’s no simple answer to this, but the science indicates that there are valuable benefits to maintaining your tire pressures and not having the gas expand and contract to cause sidewall fatigue.
If you have a fitment center or nitrogen filling station close to you, it would be a wise choice to convert to using nitrogen in your tires.
People Also Ask
There are inevitably many questions in a subject such as this that affects your car and your wallet. Here are a few of the most common questions.
Is it Worth Putting Nitrogen in Your Tires?
The answer to this is yes, it’s worth it, but it’s not a one-time fill-and-forget type of scenario. Correct tire pressure is significant, and nitrogen, like compressed air, will eventually leak out, and your tires won’t be correctly inflated.
The time period between checks will be lengthened, and your tires will have all the protection nitrogen can give them, but those pressures must be checked.
Can I Buy a Can of Nitrogen for My Tires?
There are no ”cans” of nitrogen for sale, but several online markets sell small cylinders of nitrogen. If you intend to have your own nitrogen supply at home, remember that you must purchase the correct regulator for nitrogen handling and only use it in a well-ventilated environment.
How Much Does it Cost to Get Nitrogen in My Tires?
This cost varies from one supplier to another, but it should cost between $5 and $10 per tire. When purchasing new tires, they’ll likely be filled with nitrogen for free if you request this.
Can You Put Air in a Tire Filled With Nitrogen?
Yes, you can. Topping up a tire with compressed air is vastly preferable to running your tires at the incorrect pressure.
How Long Does Nitrogen Last in Car Tires?
Nitrogen will slowly escape through the tire's wall, and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. The accepted rule of thumb is that it’ll last 40% longer than standard compressed air.