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Pure Nitrogen makes up around 78% of the earth’s atmosphere. Pure Nitrogen is odorless, tasteless, and colorless.
Nitrogen is used in many applications including making steel and purifying water. Nitrogen also is used to make fertilizers, explosives, and dyes.
Nitrogen molecules are larger than a standard oxygen molecule. Nitrogen is used in nitrogen tires because the nitrogen molecules are larger, and are less likely to leak out because of their size.
Proper tire pressure can be maintained longer with nitrogen tires, because nitrogen leaks out less when you have air filled tires.
Nitrogen is used in tires the same way compressed air is. Except the substance being pumped into the tire is nitrogen instead of compressed air.
Advantages of Using Nitrogen Instead Of Compressed Air
Having Nitrogen filled tires instead of air filled tires offers many benefits. The main benefits are due to the fact that the Nitrogen molecule is bigger than an Oxygen molecule.
Because the Nitrogen molecule is bigger, it leaks out of nitrogen tires slower than air. Air filled tires lose air substantially quicker than Nitrogen tires according to experts. This larger molecule gives your nitrogen tires more time to operate at a properly inflated level.
With this extra time that your nitrogen tires are operating on proper tire pressure, your vehicle gains some benefits. For example, having good tire pressure over a long extended period of time offers your vehicle improved fuel efficiency. Proper tire inflation is always a good indicator of fuel economy.
A vehicle with bad tire pressure causes your vehicle to work harder in order to push the wheels, so good tire pressure will decrease the workload of your engine, therefore increasing the fuel economy of your vehicle.
Another benefit to vehicle owners by using Nitrogen in your tires is that using Nitrogen in your tires keeps them on your vehicle for a longer period than usual. A vehicle with bad tire pressure will wear out quicker than a regular tire.
That’s because a tire that’s not working on a proper tire pressure will ride on the edges rather than the tread, and start to wear out the seams.
Using Nitrogen in your car tires will keep your tire pressure well maintained, and extend the life length of your tire. Lastly, using Nitrogen in your tires saves you from having to re-check your tire pressure every so often.
A Nitrogen tire will save you trips to the mechanic or air station to get your tires inflated.
How to Inflate Tires with Nitrogen
A nitrogen generator is a device you use to fill up your tires with nitrogen. Like an air compressor, the nitrogen generator pumps nitrogen into your tires instead of air.
A nitrogen generator pumps air through a separator. The nitrogen generator then separates Nitrogen from Oxygen along with other chemicals like Carbon Dioxide.
To get your tires inflated with Nitrogen follow the steps outlined below.
- Remove the valve core from your tire using a valve core removal tool and let all the air out of your tire.
- Next, use a Nitrogen tank or generator and hook up the chuck to the valve stem.
- With the valve stem hooked up, start inflating the tire to about 5psi.
- Let all of the Nitrogen you just added to the tire out of the tire. What this does is makes sure the tire is fully empty of air and water vapor. The Nitrogen carries these elements out when you let the air out.
- When there’s still a little bit of pressure left in the tire, put the valve core back into the tire.
- Fill up the tire all the way up to the recommended PSI with Nitrogen and check nitrogen tire pressure just like you would normal tire pressure.
Once you are finished with these steps, you are done with the task of Nitrogen inflation. Once you add Nitrogen to your tires, there’s no need to regularly check the air pressure, since Nitrogen’s overall performance at keeping proper pressure in your tires is superb.
If you want to be extra curious, you can buy a Nitrogen analyzer which tells you the amount of air vs nitrogen in your tire. But that’s not necessary.
Make sure when filling your tires with Nitrogen, you don’t forget to check the spare tire!
Mixing Nitrogen with Regular Air
Mixing air with your nitrogen tires will not cause any harm to you or your tires. You can feel totally safe when taking off a green valve cap and adding regular air to your tire.
The only thing you have to worry about when adding compressed air to Nitrogen filled air tires is diluting the Nitrogen. But while the Nitrogen levels may be diluted by mixing air and nitrogen, you will still have safe and properly inflated tires. Having Nitrogen in your tires offers your vehicle many benefits.
So you are risking losing some of those benefits by subtracting from the Nitrogen purity of the tire or tires. Some added benefits to using Nitrogen in your tires.
It’s ok to mix air and Nitrogen. Mixing Nitrogen and compressed air will not cause some form of a chemical reaction. Afterall, our atmosphere makes up 78% of the air we breathe!
A Mechanics View On Using Nitrogen
Using Nitrogen in your tire technically does add some benefit, but there’s a reason most auto shops haven’t fully committed to using Nitrogen to fill up their tires as a permanent solution.
The first issue is most likely cost. To use compressed air, you have to buy an air compressor and pay for the electricity to power it. That’s a one time purchase plus the monthly electric bill.
With Nitrogen, you have to either buy a very expensive generator that can cost up to $7,000, or purchase a bottle of Nitrogen every so often.
This fact alone makes Nitrogen sort of a luxury item. The most common place you’ll see Nitrogen filled tires is cars that come from the factory or from a dealership.
These types of facilities have deep pockets and can afford the Nitrogen generators or refills rather than just using regular old compressed air.
While using Nitrogen over compressed air does have its added benefits, to this mechanic, it’s not worth the headache to find a mechanic or dealership that uses Nitrogen to fill your tires.
Using compressed air is a solution that has worked for decades and continues to work today. Using Nitrogen is a nicety, but not a necessity.
If you happen to stumble upon a mechanic or shop that uses Nitrogen, by all means fill your tires up with Nitrogen.
But this may mean you're stuck with that mechanic to fill your tires up, if you want to keep your Nitrogen tires consistent all year around.
About The Author
Christopher Sparks has been servicing vehicles since 2012. After completing the automotive studies program at Camden County College, he was awarded an Associates's Degree in Applied Science. His first job was a lube-tech at Jiffy Lube, and is currently an independent B-Technician servicing vehicles for the United States Postal Service. Christopher is ASE certified and loves rebuilding engines.Read more about Christopher Sparks