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Is nitrogen better for tire inflation than normal air? According to a Popular Mechanics article, nitrogen has advantages, because it is less likely to migrate through rubber than normal air, which means that tire pressure remains more constant over time[1]. This is, in part, because nitrogen is a dry gas and, therefore, does not support moisture, whereas oxygen easily combines with hydrogen to produce water, thus water vapor, which reduces overall psi through basic chemistry. Think of your tires like a bowl with holes in it. Rubber is porous at the microscopic level; therefore, the gas inside, whether nitrogen or oxygen reacts with normal air through the pores. Since nitrogen is an inert gas, it is “happy” in its current state and does not readily react with other elements. Oxygen, on the other hand, is not inert and readily combines with other elements through a process called oxidation.

The Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] suggests that for every one pound of pressure drop in your tires, you have a 0.3 percent decrease in fuel economy[2]. The lack of moisture inside the tire can help prevent premature tire aging as well[3]. If you enjoy racing your vehicle, or put it through extreme conditions, such asoff-roading, it is beneficial to have nitrogen-filled tires, because nitrogen does not support combustion. During extreme use, tire temperatures can increase and decrease more rapidly, which can be unpredictable when used in a non-linear fashion[4]. To switch from air to nitrogen, dealers must deflate your tires, fill with nitrogen, and then purge the normal air until the tire is at least 95 percent nitrogen. This can take several cycles.[5]

 

Our service staff is frequently asked if accidentally inflating nitrogen-filled tires with normal air will damage the tires or cause danger. The answer is no. The normal air we breathe is mostly nitrogen, so mixing normal air with nitrogen causes no risk whatsoever. If you’re curious, normal dry air is composed of 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen,[1] 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases.6

At Performance Automall, we are happy to speak with you about what nitrogen-filled tires can do for your car. If you would like to switch from air to nitrogen, our service department is  happy to help you make the change. Most of our vehicles are delivered with nitrogen-filled tires because of the added benefits. Call, email, or visit us to learn more about nitrogen for your tires.

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[1] http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/a3894/4302788/

[2] https://www.tirebuyer.com/education/nitrogen-vs-air

[3] https://www.tirebuyer.com/education/nitrogen-vs-air

[4] https://www.tirebuyer.com/education/nitrogen-vs-air

[5] https://www.tirebuyer.com/education/nitrogen-vs-air

6https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Earth