How does nitrogen affect tyre inflation?
Furthermore, properly inflated tyres, checked at least once a month, can help boost fuel economy, reduce tread wear, decrease your vehicle’s braking distance, and reduce the chances of a catastrophic tyre failure such as a blowout.
Nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules, meaning that it’s more difficult for nitrogen to leak out of your tyres through the inner-liner membrane used to retain air. This natural process of air escaping is known as permeability. While both nitrogen and oxygen can and will eventually find their way through the tyre’s inner-liner, it can take up to six times longer for nitrogen verses oxygen.
Also, the compressed air in your tyres contains water vapour, just like the air we breathe – this is what’s called humidity. In tyres, this water vapour has two effects. Firstly, it can accelerate the oxidation process. Secondly, water vapour pressure varies a lot with changes in temperature, so this can result in increases (or decreases) in your tyre pressure. Compressed nitrogen in tyres, on the other hand, is dry, making it more stable than standard compressed air, even at the higher temperatures tyres are subject to at highway speeds.
Are there any negatives associated with using nitrogen?
For many drivers, compressed nitrogen for tyre inflation can be a good choice, but there are some drivers who might find standard compressed air to be the better option. Firstly, nitrogen is more expensive than compressed air, which means a higher up-front cost, but the increased time tyres remain at their correct pressure may make it worth the price to the vehicle owner.
Additionally, though nitrogen is available much more widely than it once was, tyres utilising nitrogen-filled tyres can still mean some extra planning for many drivers. Whereas with standard compressed air you’d be surprised not to find it available at a service station, with nitrogen tyre inflation you’ll need to familiarise yourself with your nitrogen dealer options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What tyre types does nitrogen work with, and can I use it now?
Dry compressed nitrogen air can be used in any type of tyre at any time and in all driving conditions. In fact, as we learned earlier, nitrogen is a component of standard compressed air, so your tyres already have some nitrogen in them already.
Will nitrogen work with my tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS)?
You won’t notice any differences in your TPMS if you switch to nitrogen in your tyres because it works the same as standard compressed air with your TPMS.
How much nitrogen should I put in my tyres?
There is no difference between standard compressed air and compressed nitrogen when filling your tyres. Refer to your owner’s manual or the tyre pressure specs. for your specific tyres.
Will nitrogen work in my tyres in the winter and summer?
Nitrogen works just as well even when the weather becomes it’s most extreme. However similarly to tyres that are inflated with standard air, tyres inflated with nitrogen will experience pressure changes with the temperature fluctuations, meaning tyre pressure needs to be checked when the thermometer either drops or rises significantly and it is more likely during these fluctuations that your tyres will need to be topped off with extra air.
Do I still need to check the air pressure of my tyres?
Yes, even when you’re utilising nitrogen, tyre pressure still needs to be checked regularly. Even though nitrogen is less permeable than oxygen, it will still leak out from your tyres, albeit more slowly.