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Air typically features about 78 percent nitrogen, so why should you pay more to fill your car’s tires with pure nitrogen? Is there a tangible reason to spend more on this or are dealerships and auto shops just blowing hot air?

The short answer is that nitrogen is a waste of time and money and that mechanics are trying to make some money from a problem that doesn’t really exist.

When it comes to your tires, air is a big deal. Air contracts and expands depending on the temperature. For every change of 10 degrees Fahrenheit, a tire’s pressure will change about 1 PSI (pound per square inch). This is why it’s recommended to check your tires on a regular basis.

If it’s cold out, the pressure will drop, deflating your tires slightly, and there’s a chance your fuel-economy might go down too. To resolve this, you will have to pump some more air into your tires. On the flip-side, if it’s hot, the PSI of your car’s tires will increase, and you may get reduced traction or uneven wear of the tire. To solve this, you may need to let some air out of your tires.

Air isn’t the only gas to be affected by the weather like this, nitrogen is just as reactive to the temperature.
Read more about using nitrogen in your tires at AutoGuide.com
 

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My answer: No. Actually, you can use nitrogen if you want to and you genuinely think that it will make a $5 to $30 per tire difference in consistent tire pressure, less wheel corrosion, and whatever else is touted as the benefits of nitrogen. You won't get better ride, handling or braking. Lemme see...air is 78% nitrogen to begin with and through a fill and purge process they remove the oxygen and water vapor to give you 100% nitrogen...terrific. Actually, I prefer $1200.00 door moldings on a new car window sticker to $40.00 tire air makeovers. The moldings are at least more patently bogus.....
 

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IMHO, it does allow the pressure to remain more constant across the seasons though. Put in 40PSI in the summer and it should be closer to 40PSI in the winter.
I had an aftermarket TPMS on our previous vehicle and as you drove faster, you could see the temp and tire pressure rise. The tire temps settled at about 118F at 2** KPH. It climbed about one psi per 8-10F.
 

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Allegedly, key term there, Nitrogen molecules are larger and don't permeate as quickly as normal compressed air. Allegedly, AGAIN, the pressures aren't influenced as much by weather temperature. There will always be a controversy from both schools of thought lauding the praises of one over the other.

I can only speak for mine. I had Nitrogen installed on my new replacements [email protected] $5 a tire with free top-offs. Other than a nail and screw in one of the older OEM tires, my nitrogen pressures never varied more than 1-2 psi over 17 months and 31,000 miles. Two summers and one winter season of use. But just because I had it, however, I didn't get lazy. I still exercised prudent caution by checking the tires every week, or so. Besides, what's involved in checking your air pressures, regardless of what's used to inflate them? A decent $5-10 air gauge and an extra minute, or two, of your time? Cheap price to pay which yields BIG dividends.

BTW, that's a nice pressure gauge the tech is using. Overkill for us amateurs. He knows the correct way to use it. One of us would probably break off the plastic valve stem of our TPMS sensors. Not a pretty picture. There's a TSM from Hyundai that speaks to proper use and types of gauges when checking pressures.
 

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Yes, I don't doubt that there are pressure consistency benefits in using nitrogen so I wouldn't necessarily malign anyone for using it if it works for them. For me, and what they seem to charge here, it just takes on the idea of being a "margin enhancer" for whomever puts it in.

In my area, I have to search out gas stations that have free air ( usually 75 cents or a dollar ) AND maintain the pumps / air chuck..there's only a couple where they actively maintain it and the air chuck doesn't spray water half the time. Given that reality, nitrogen becomes a good alternative...but for me that would never make up for the cost and /or inconvenience. Barring a physical problem with the tire, they never lose air if I'm checking / adding every two weeks anyway. Also, I've been driving for well over 30 years and I've never heard of, or known, anyone who had a corroded rim due to water permeating the tire. I don't know, this might be one of those road salt / Midwest / East items that doesn't often apply to drier, snowless climates.
 

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I owned a new Santa Fe with nitrogen filled air. I had it one year and the TPMS light never came on and I traded it at 9,600 miles. My Sonata without nitrogen TPMS light went on with only 2,500 miles when the temperature dropped.

Yes, I think it is worth having it.
 

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Nitrogen originated in aircraft tires I believe; tires go from -40 in unheated fuselage to who knows how high skidding down the Atlanta runway. Justification on a 150 million plus investment , not too difficult.

Racing car tires another no brainier.

Mandatory US TPMS systems (thanks guys we are getting it too) has made the extra cost probably not worth it if you have a decent home air compressor and gauge. I think Costco automatically uses nitrogen unless told not to.

I have TPMS on my truck and I like it, useful option.
 

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Yeah, I think the TPMS systems are a good thing and I'm glad that they made them mandatory here in 2009. The majority of times I've put on new tires where I provided the valve stems they didn't charge me anything additional ( usually says $5.00/ea extra w/ TPMS ) so I can't complain.

My Accent and my former car both have had tire incidents that I wouldn't have known happened w/out TPMS. I had a large screw go through my OEM tire a few months ago and it held air at 25 psi, triggering the system, but it didn't change the steering feel at all...well, anything that promotes getting rid of the original tires is fine by me....
 

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Most people have seen that manufacture's are trying to push the time needed for maintenance as far as they can. Nitrogen is just a part of that. There really is no performance difference at all, but it has some validity in holding pressure over time and temperature differences. I also question that they can actually get 100% nitrogen in the tire. Most nitrogen you would buy from a compressed gas dealer is low purity, so ~90%. Then there is the issue of actually removing all the air that is present. Nitrogen is heavier that air, so if you were to fill and drain with the valve at the top of the wheel, in theory you would get most of the atmosphere out, except that the valve is not higher than the tire.

I think overall it is a marketing thing. Nitrogen is stupid cheap, and it takes no where near $5 to fill a tire. Probably more like 5 cents, and the equipment would pay back in no time. Its just a tank.
 

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Most people have seen that manufacture's are trying to push the time needed for maintenance as far as they can. Nitrogen is just a part of that. There really is no performance difference at all, but it has some validity in holding pressure over time and temperature differences. I also question that they can actually get 100% nitrogen in the tire. Most nitrogen you would buy from a compressed gas dealer is low purity, so ~90%. Then there is the issue of actually removing all the air that is present. Nitrogen is heavier that air, so if you were to fill and drain with the valve at the top of the wheel, in theory you would get most of the atmosphere out, except that the valve is not higher than the tire.

I think overall it is a marketing thing. Nitrogen is stupid cheap, and it takes no where near $5 to fill a tire. Probably more like 5 cents, and the equipment would pay back in no time. Its just a tank.
Actually, nitrogen is lighter than air by a very small margin. The molecules of nitrogen are less dense than air ( fatter molecules ) and that's one of the touted benefits of nitrogen in your tires...it doesn't permeate / escape through your tire walls. But...I think it's like you say...it would be interesting to see how close to 100% nitrogen the fill and purge cycle of these machines will get you....
 

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Actually, nitrogen is lighter than air by a very small margin. The molecules of nitrogen are less dense than air ( fatter molecules ) and that's one of the touted benefits of nitrogen in your tires...it doesn't permeate / escape through your tire walls. But...I think it's like you say...it would be interesting to see how close to 100% nitrogen the fill and purge cycle of these machines will get you....
Thanks for the catch! I always mix that up.

Pretty sad since I work with it regularly...
 

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Nitrogen is heavier that air...
Well, that explains my 1-2 MPG drop with these new tires, then. Maybe I should've had them filled with Helium!!!! :wink2:
 
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