Compressed Air Vs. Nitrogen

Manufacturers fill tires with pure nitrogen instead of just normal air. Here's why.


Always wondered what kind of air in visible in your tires? It’s just air, that’s the usual answer you’d hear from people. To break that question of yours, you’d be surprised to know that not all air is made equal.


It all comes down to moisture, regular compressed air contains a bunch of water in it, so when it’s heated up (on your hard or long drives for example), it basically expands unpredictably and rapidly. This would cause your tires to over-expand and work against the rubber’s effectiveness.


Depending on where you would be filling the tire and possible country climates, there could also be more or less moisture content that would cause even more unpredictability.


Nitrogen is a much drier substance. Nitrogen could give you the edge when it comes to monitoring tire temperatures on track. It doesn’t have much moisture as regular air when it is compressed to your tire. Nitrogen filled tires don’t have much moisture, they are less prone to expansion vs those that has compressed air. The expansion of nitrogen can be carefully and accurately monitored with temperature unlike normal air which means more predictability in harsh environments, stage rallies or road racing.


Green caps on tire valve usually mean that the tires are filled with nitrogen instead of regular compressed oxygen. Tire dealers, car dealers and, repair shops usually advises nitrogen for several years as a better alternative to air based on claims that nitrogen doesn't leak as much, so tires stay fully inflated longer.


It is true that pure nitrogen doesn't leak out of tires as quickly as oxygen simply because a single molecule of nitrogen is larger than an oxygen molecule, so nitrogen-filled tires should remain at or near their recommended inflation levels, or PSI, longer. Fully inflated tires last longer and improve fuel economy and road-holding ability.


The Rubber Manufacturers Association, a trade group for tire manufacturers, advises that nitrogen "may contribute to minor reductions in inflation pressure loss," but also notes that "use of nitrogen alone is not a replacement for regular inflation pressure maintenance."


Tire maintenance relatively important whether you opt for nitrogen tire inflation or you prefer to use regular compressed air. While you may be able to go longer between needing to add air, you still need to check your tire pressure regularly.


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