Nitrogen is cold gas, and if you live in an area where temperatures are hot, and you use your vehicle a lot, it will not get hot as regular air does. Therefore, your tires will be less prone to deflation or busting.
Many people think that you cannot put regular air in tires with nitrogen filled in them. In this guide, we will explain how you can use the top off your nitrogen-filled tires with regular air. They both can coexist, and it won’t take away any benefits that nitrogen has to offer.
When tires get extremely hot, there are more chances that the air inside gets hot and tries to escape out of the tires. It results in those bursts, and nitrogen can curb this matter differently because it is less likely to get hot.
Can You Put Nitrogen in Your Tires?
As far as the question goes, can you put nitrogen in your tires? There is no issue in putting nitrogen in tires. Car tires filled with nitrogen are slightly better in terms of performance, and they also deliver slightly better mileage. When there is nitrogen in tires, inflation pressure will remain stable, and there are fewer chances of flats as well.
Tires Filled with Nitrogen are Better
Tires filled with nitrogen are better in terms of road traction and grip because they stay inflated longer. Air and nitrogen can also work together and maintain tire pressure quite effectively. Overall, tires filled with nitrogen can deliver slightly more than the ones filled with air. So it’s not the matter of “can you”; it’s the matter of “should you.”
Nitrogen Filled Tires vs. Traditional Tires
Mostly, people are of the view that you cannot mix nitrogen with air, and air negates any advantages that nitrogen has to offer. But that is false because a tire that is completely filled with air is something different from the tires that are partly filled with air and nitrogen.
Here’s a video link that explains the difference in much more subtle detail.
The 80/20 Tire
In most cases, 80% nitrogen and 20% air is the most beneficial combination of all. These 80/20 tires are better than 100% air-filled tires because they have less water vapor in them. Therefore these tires won’t be susceptible to any temperature changes throughout the day.
But these don’t include any changes that occur while the vehicle is parked or when it is running on the road. These 80/20 tires also retain appropriate tire pressure for a long time. It means that your car will provide you with better fuel efficiency along with better traction on the road.
Why Put Nitrogen in Tires?
With the passage of time, small amounts of air leak through tires. This occurs at a faster rate when your tires are subject to huge temperature changes. Tire walls are slightly porous, and when the tire gets hot, it expands the air inside. With the added pressure, air starts escaping through the pores in minute quantities. Therefore, you need to top the air off occasionally even if your tires are not burst.
With nitrogen in tires, this frequent escaping with temperature changes doesn’t happen as fast as in the case of air-filled tires. Nitrogen molecules are bigger than air molecules. They don’t leak out as frequently. Hence, nitrogen inflation is less needed, and tire pressure stays longer.
Can You Mix Air and Nitrogen in Your Tires?
As we have just mentioned that most people think that air and nitrogen can’t coexist, but that is not true. You are not going to deal with any explosion just because you have topped off nitrogen in tires with some air.
The Great Advantage
The biggest advantage here is that you can conveniently top to tires off with air because it is readily available. Nitrogen is not available readily, and it is expensive as well. Even if nitrogen-filled tires don’t deflate that quickly, you still have to maintain tire pressure and go for topping off after a couple of months or so.
If nitrogen is not available, then you will have to go with air for this purpose. Nitrogen does a fair job when it comes to tire pressure, and tires with only air in them are prone to flats. They can also corrode on the inside due to water vapors in the air.
Fuel economy is another advantage that comes your way when you mix air and nitrogen in your tires. Proper tire pressure will stay for longer, and your car will also get better traction. Air-filled tires slightly lack these features. Therefore, you can mix compressed air with nitrogen.
Where Can I Fill My Tires with Nitrogen?
Here’s one of the issues that you will have to deal with once you consider filling nitrogen in your tires. It’s pretty tough to find inflation services that involve nitrogen. You are not going to find nitrogen as regularly as air.
Therefore, in some cases, you will have to top the tires off with air. But what if you are dealing with a completely flat tire! In such a case, you are left with only one option, and that is to go with the regular air.
It’s More of an Add-on Service
A number of tire shops and auto repair outlets only sell nitrogen as an add-on and don’t market it as a stand-alone option. The places that sell nitrogen tires don’t sell nitrogen filling services. A major example of this is Costco that inflates new tires with nitrogen, and it’s not an add-on service.
But you will only receive this service if you have new tires, which means any existing customers can top off their tires with nitrogen. But the good thing is that you don’t need to top it off with nitrogen and can use regular air for this purpose, and your tires will remain equally effective in terms of overall performance.
Is It Worth Putting Nitrogen in Your Tires?
The primary benefit of putting nitrogen in your tires is that your tires don’t lose pressure as quickly as in the case of regular air. Nitrogen escapees pretty slowly as compared to air. Therefore, your tire pressure is going to be very stable.
It means that you will also get better fuel efficiency and gas mileage as well because your tires remain fully inflated. As there is less water vapor as well, your tires will not rot or corrode on the inside due to moisture.
So the advantages are there, but they still don’t justify the inconvenience or the price tag. Nitrogen is, of course, more expensive than regular air, and you are not going to find it that easily as well. So you will have to go through a lot of pain to keep your car tires filled with nitrogen. And, of course, you will still need to top off your tires around every couple of months.
The NHTSA Research
According to a study conducted by the NHTSA, regular air tends to escape tires at a faster rate as compared to pure nitrogen. This study also found that nitrogen can reduce the overall wear and tear of a tire due to oxidation and corrosion.
In such a scenario, the rubber becomes brittle over time, but this might not be that big of an issue as most of the consumers tend to replace their tires far along before the degradation process even becomes a problem.
So Should You Go for It or Not?
When it comes to using nitrogen in your tires, you must keep in mind that there is no issue in using this gas in your tires. In fact, nitrogen does come with a slight advantage over regular air inflation.
Your tires become less prone to bursts or punctures, and they also provide your vehicle with better traction. Apart from that, with better tire pressure, your vehicle’s fuel efficiency increases significantly. Nitrogen filled tires will only work for you if you own a race car. Because you are driving at higher speeds, the tires do get hot, and they work better with alloy wheels as well.
Make sure to go for heavy-duty alloy wheels from a quality site. And don’t follow a trend! Auto repair shops do have their recommendations when it comes to tire pressure retention and pressure changes, and they will recommend some brands to you.
The Air Pressure Debate
The simple science behind this matter is that nitrogen molecules work well with rubber molecules. Your vehicle will perform well with nitrogen-filled tires, but it can do the same if you maintain the tire pressures.
Being a driver, you need to understand the importance of proper tire pressure because it can directly influence fuel economy. Hence you can also use compressed air, and there is no need to use nitrogen for tire inflation. Nitrogen inflation in your tire increases your cost per tire significantly.
Nitrogen is Not Readily Available
But these are only a few advantages that don’t matter significantly. And the reason we are saying that nitrogen is not readily available everywhere like regular air. Even the stores like Costco only provide regular nitrogen inflation services for new nitrogen tire owners, not the existing ones.
Nitrogen molecules are bigger than oxygen molecules, which makes it difficult for the gas to escape. So tire deflation is not a huge concern. But most tire stores don’t have nitrogen gas. Therefore, you only find these services as an add-on and not stand-alone, and it can be a massive waste-of-time and money.
Furthermore, as nitrogen is not readily available, it is expensive, and you will have to spend more on it. So it becomes less feasible for you to consider as your regular option, and the savings that it brought may seem to diminish over time.
When it comes to the air vs. nitrogen debate, it seems that proper tire pressure beats the rest. Whether you use compressed air or nitrogen, tire inflation and pressure is important. Compressed air and also make your tire perform well if it is properly inflated.
Additionally, compressed air is a better option because it is readily available and less expensive than nitrogen. The only matter with compressed air is that you will have to top it off in your tire more frequently as compared to nitrogen.
With proper inflation, your tire life will increase significantly. Nitrogen does more for the tire life because it has bigger molecules to escape and your tire remains inflated with the right air pressure. The question is not about nitrogen or air; it’s about proper air pressure, which you can achieve without using nitrogen.