Nitrogen or regular old air? If you’re torn about which to use in your tires, don’t panic – you’re not alone. All tires have microscopic pores through which any inflating gas, air and nitrogen included, will ooze out over an lengthy period of time, progressively lowering the inflation pressure. 

Nitrogen has larger molecules than air and will move through the tire more slowly than air, thus maintaining the inflation pressure longer.

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 advantage of Nitrogen: Long-term tire aging and wheel corrosion

Air is 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, with the rest being trace gases. Oxygen can retain moisture inside your tires and eventually can tarnish the internal tire wall casing, causing premature tire aging. In extreme cases, the humidity can even cause the tire’s steel reinforcing belts to rust. If the wheel’s paint protection is damaged, this can also promote rust in steel wheels.

Nitrogen, on the other hand, is an passive, dry gas and does not support moisture. The use of 93-95% pure nitrogen will avoid premature tire aging and wheel corrosion due to internal moisture. However, some experts say that under normal driving conditions, a tire’s tread will reach its minimum usable depth long before any effect of oxidation on the tire wall or wheel rust.

Although nitrogen has the technological advantage here, the practical benefit is minimal under normal driving conditions. It may be beneficial if your car is not driven regularly or is placed in storage.


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