March 4, 2024

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Is filling your tires with nitrogen really better?  |  My car and me

Is filling your tires with nitrogen really better? | My car and me

Fill your tires with nitrogen: Some drivers swear by this. Nitrogen will prevent tires from deflating quickly and make them last longer. But is this true? Automotive specialist Nick Schenk lists the facts. “Other things play a role, too.”

“First of all, I want to clear up potential misunderstandings,” Schenk begins. “The compressed air that tires are normally filled with is not much different from nitrogen. The air is actually made up of approximately eighty percent nitrogen, and the rest is oxygen.

Furthermore, I have never seen scientific research that proves the benefits of one hundred percent nitrogen in car tires. But there is reason to believe that there are benefits.”

Over time, air always escapes from the tire: not just through the valve, but also through the tire's rubber body, Schenk points out. “Nitrogen molecules are larger than air molecules, which may make deflation a little slower. So the tire stays at the correct pressure longer.

Is your car tire exposed to major shock? It can then deform and lose its content as well, whether it is filled with compressed air or nitrogen.

Automotive specialist Nick Schenk

But unfortunately, tires can become softer for other reasons, the specialist says. “Does your tire take a lot of impact from a curb or a speed bump? And then it can deform and lose its content as well, whether it's filled with compressed air or nitrogen.

Anyone who fills their tires with nitrogen will notice that those tires become softer after a while. “But you can also refill it with compressed air at a gas station or garage, if nitrogen is not available for a while.”

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Do tires last longer thanks to nitrogen?

Nitrogen proponents also point out that tires — especially wheels — last longer thanks to nitrogen. “It is a fact that nitrogen is dry, while the twenty percent oxygen in compressed air can contain water vapor,” Schenk knows. “Water vapor can condense as it cools on the cold rim. This can cause the rim to rust sooner from the inside.

But Schenk has not yet seen convincing evidence of this. “It is sometimes difficult to prove the cause of rust,” he concludes.

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